On Campaign

My daughter dug out one of my old board games to keep us amused today. I remember it from my childhood as being one of the games that I wanted to play but struggled to get anyone to join me. This was a great shame because it was right up my street, describing itself as ;

“A compelling game of military and political strategy in the age of Napoleon.”

The game (first marketed in 1971) uses a board featuring six Napoleonic European countries; France, Prussia, Russia, Austria, Spain and Italy. Italy, not being an independent country at the time, does not take an active part in the game but is still subject to being invaded and its cities changing hands. Three different pieces represent either cavalry, infantry or a general and each of these pieces have their own attributes and abilities. To win the game, one must either capture enough cities / territory across the board, capture the opponents capital, or – less likely – to destroy the entire army of the enemy.

My daughter adopted the powers of Austria and France while I selected Prussia and Russia as allies. Understanding the game was difficult first off and she never really felt she understood it even at the end! For me, I enjoyed it and can see that repeated play would help my understanding of the elements of Napoleonic campaign strategy (boldness, caution, lines of communication, etc).

The edges of the game board are decorated with some fabulous illustrations of Napoleonic troops by an illustrator called I. Thompson:

A YouTuber has posted a detailed a multi-part examination of the game (five parts!). He mentions the ‘very attractive cover’ with its convincingly real Napoleonic shakos, cuirass, bugle and other militaria. It’s a sentiment which I fully agree with and which probably attracted me to the game in the first place back in the 1980s:

The game booklet suggests that “as players become more experienced they will recognise the parallels between the moves they make and the military and political strategies of the Napoleonic years…”. One YouTuber described the game as sharing ‘a lot in common with Chess, but is more asthetically pleasing and has a luck element in it’. The Campaign booklet itself concludes with the sage words “…Campaign is a game to be studied as well as played.”

Now, I wonder if I can tempt anyone else to another game?

8 thoughts on “On Campaign

    1. Your dad sounds a bit like me! I could only barely remember it having only played a couple of times many years ago. I can see its potential as a really nuanced and interesting strategy game.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s an interesting game but an entirely strategic one rather than about the combat itself which is simply about who has more troops. I guess the more it is played the more it could be enjoyed.



      Liked by 2 people

  1. I had that in the early 80’s and remember playing it with the neighbors kids. It was a fun game. It was one of my first board/war games. My copy I’m sure went to the charity shop years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s interesting – great to hear from someone else who played it too. Finding anybody who wanted to learn the rules and play it with me was my problem when I first received Campaign as a birthday present. Being relatively un-played, my copy is in pretty good condition for a 30-odd year old game.

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  2. I haven’t heard of this game but 40 years ago when I lived with a family in Polstead Suffolk the boys had a game called Risk ,it sounds similar to the one your talking about but all the world continents were involve .We had a riot of a time ,so much so I asked for it as Present some years ago but after a few games the wife and the girls were reluctant to play it so it sits forlornly in the cupboard .

    Liked by 1 person

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