Nick picked up a copy of this recently and wanted to give it a go – I had bought the game when it came out (probably before I was gaming with Nick), but just couldn’t get my head around the rules, so my copy currently resides in the loft. The fact that we were both learning slowed us down quite a bit, but I do think it would be fast playing if we knew what we were doing. I could have done with reading the “How to win the game” section a bit more – there are victory locations, but the main way of losing is through army morale points which you get deducted for losses taken in losing melees – I think I won 1 fight in the entire game, so the morale points slipped away at a rate of knots!
The fog of war aspect is well handled as you can’t see the strength of your opponent’s pieces until you attack them. I was the Austrian and Russian player, so I set up with a really weak right flank, meaning to put my main effort in the left flank and left centre. This was fine until I realised that my heavy cavalry were marching into an area to the left where cavalry were useless and by the time I redeployed them, they couldn’t catch up with any French. Even worse, I had left my guard infantry in reserve to bolster my weak right flank, and the first French attack went straight towards them. I had to attack to stop the French discovering my weakness on that flank, but a guard attack also costs army morale points and if it fails (as mine did!), the army morale goes down even more. I also spent several turns attacking an artillery piece across a marsh, taking loses and losing morale points, before we worked out that the attack could never succeed – there is no random element in the game, so outcomes can be worked out with certainty.
I think that until I get more familiar with the rules it’s pretty much impossible to figure out any strategy or pick fights I can win. It’s nice that there are quite a few run throughs, both written and videoed, on BGG, but I didn’t have a chance to watch any of them, so we’re going to have to try the game again soon or any experience will have been wasted. It’s not the most enjoyable gaming experience I’ve ever had, but whether this is just frustration at the rules or whether this just isn’t the game for me is hard to tell. Watch this space.