Selecting Countries for Playing the Napoleonic Wars OnLine

In the Napoleonic Wars OnLine (NWOL), players can choose to play from a broad range of states: six major powers, five minor powers, and a number of fragmented states in Germany and Italy which can change as game play develops. The experience you will have in the game depends on which type of state you play for, and you are more likely to enjoy NWOL if you select a state which matches your interests in the game. This document goes over the differences between the types of states and offers some suggestions about which one may match your desires best.

There are four important differences between the types of states: number of citizens, degree of involvement in campaigns, access to different modules, and degree of national freedom to set policy. Different states offer different combinations of game opportunities and you should consider those differences as you select your choices of state. In particular, minor powers are more likely to be neutral, or at least not actively involved in operations, during the game than major powers and fragmented states. In major states, the larger number of citizens may make it possible for citizens to briefly reduce their activity in the game, whereas a fragmented state represents somewhat more of an individual commitment.

  1. Number of citizens
    Playing for a state with many citizens (as many as 8 or 10 or 12) is different from playing for a state with only one or two citizens. In a state with many citizens, you are more likely to be able to specialize in one module (land war, naval war, diplomacy) or in one area of operations. On the other hand, if you do so, you may find that you are not aware of the details of things that other citizens of the state are doing. In a smaller state, you are likely to need to play in multiple modules in a variety of roles. Also, you are likely to need to serve in one or more ministerial positions, whereas in a large state you may be able to avoid doing so. In a small state, each individual citizen has more influence over the policies of the state than in a large one; but each citizen will bear greater responsibility for making policy as well.
    France will usually have the most citizens; in past NWOLs she averaged 8 to 10. Other major nations usually had 5 to 8 players. Minor nations tended to have between 3 and 5 players depending on size. Fragmented states almost always had 1 or 2. The number of players in NWOL 3 may be more or less depending on how many players register, but the proportion of players in each state is expected to be about the same.
  2. Involvement in campaigns
    Different states are likely to be involved at different levels, depending on where they are on the game map and how powerful they are. States that are located in the center of the map are likely to find other nations wishing to move through their territory to fight others. It is hard for these nations to stay uninvolved in the conflicts of their neighbors. Nations on the edges of the map are less likely to be in the path of operations and thus more likely to be able to stay neutral in conflicts they are not directly part of.
    The major powers are generally fairly centrally located - Britain and Russia somewhat less so, but their navies tend to give them mobility, as they did in the real wars. The minor powers, with the exception of Holland, are located on the edges of the map. They have better options for staying out of wars and may have difficulties in becoming involved when they want to be. They are more likely to be neutral for long periods of time. The fragmented states are in the center of the map and will almost always be involved in operations; it is very difficult for them to remain uninvolved in the conflicts of their large neighbors.
  3. Access to different modules
    Different states have different abilities to participate in the different modules of NWOL. The most obvious one is that only states with ports and sufficient financial resources can participate in the naval module. Austria and Prussia have limited port access; most German and some Italian fragmented states may have none. States with more financial resources may have more options in the economic module as well.
  4. National freedom to set policy
    Larger states have more diplomatic leverage, and are more likely to be able to choose the policies they follow. This gives them flexibility but also can lead to long discussions about options and difficulties in choosing among them. Smaller states are likely to come under the influence of larger neighboring powers and find themselves with little or no choice about what policies to do. This is particularly true of small and centrally located states whose actions are important to the major powers.
    The larger powers tend to have the most choice about what to do, although in all cases they are subject to the actions of other large powers; for example, a state which is attacked must defend itself. This is somewhat less true for France because of its particular status in the victory conditions. Smaller powers are more likely to find themselves facing demands from other powers they must accede to. In general, diplomatic play is likely to be more intense in the smaller states. In the fragmented states, state survival depends as much, or more, on diplomatic play than on military action.

In general, in choosing between powers, one makes a choice between discussions with citizens of one's own state, and citizens of other states. Larger states require more discussion among themselves but are less constrained in diplomacy; citizens of smaller states have more say in their state's choice of policy, but are likely to find that other nations reduce the number of choices they have. In particular, in the past some players have been interested in playing fragmented states in the belief that they would be free to do whatever they wanted. This belief usually turns out to be false because of the influence of major powers on the fragmented states. Players should not register for fragmented states unless they are willing to accept the risk that their nation will become in whole or in part subjugated to (or overrun by) another nation.