Monday, June 3, 2013

Through The Ages - Cards - Napoleon Bonaparte

This is a series of blogs written about each card in Through The Ages.  To find more, simply click on "Cards" label.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica on 15 August 1769.  His family was an affluent, noble family which afforded him a better education and opportunity than other Corsican.  He studied in France to learn French in 1778, and in May 1779 he was admitted to an military academy.  With a strength in mathematics, history, and geography it was decided he would make a great naval officer.  Always
wanting the best, Napoleon considered joining the British Royal navy until he was accepted to the Military Academy in Paris.  At that point he turned away from the navy to land based artillery.  

As France erupted in revolution, Napoleon returned to Corsica to avoid the political turmoil.  He became embroiled in a three way war and overstayed his leave.  However, he was promoted to captain upon returning to mainland France as he support the Jacobins, who power was rising.  In 1793 he fled with his family to France when Corsica split from France.

On the mainland, Napoleon found himself fighting for the Jacobin Revolutionaries by laying siege to the city of Toulon.  Recognizing the heights as an important feature, he led the charge which captured the heights, and with his artillery drove out the anti-revolutionary forces.  For his actions the City of Public Safety promoted him to Brigadier General.

Napoleon successfully navigated the landmine of French politics.  He dealt directly with the Robespierre brothers, but managed to keep his head (literally), unlike so many other military leaders.  When the Jacobins fell from power, Bonaparte entered hard times.  In desperation to put down a Royalist Uprising, Bonaparte was put in charge and successfully routed them.

From there Bonaparte led successful campaigns in Italy and Egypt.  Returning to France, he was convinced by a partnership of two others the time had come to remove the current government and put in place a strong leader.  Expecting to outsmart Bonaparte, and possibly use him as a patsy if things went wrong, his partners gave him the resources he needed.  However, when Bonaparte's plan was enacted, it was Bonaparte and not one of his partners who was First Consul of France.

Napoleon would go on to become one of the most successful military leaders the world had seen until World War II.  Using his power and national popularity with the resurgence of France as a Great Power,  Napoleon would be crowned Emperor of France.  Thus Bonaparte ended the strive towards democracy which his original goal when younger.

Napoleon's military campaigns expanded throughout Europe.  His military tactics and strategies added maneuverability which was previously unprecedented.  He often defeated armies larger than his through skillful and positioning of his troops.  Unlike many other national leaders, Napoleon accompanied his armies into battle and directed them, putting himself in danger of being captured or killed.

Despite this, Napoleon was not without faults.  He stretched his army too thin.  His conquests, although militarily successful, were not capable of completely subduing the lands he marched through.  When the end came, his army was worn down from fighting and incapable of continuing.  Napoleon was captured and sent to the island of Elba.

He would escape Elba and for a "Hundred Days", Napoleon was once again the Emperor of France.  Despite a nationalist fervor at his return, his people and armies were still too worn from the earlier fighting.  At the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon fought his final battle.  Upon its loss, Napoleon was exiled to the land of Saint Helena, where he would remain until his death 6 years later in 1821.
Game Stats
Napoleon is a popular leader, being played 81% of the time. His ability seems unusually good for a military leader, which adds to his popularity. Statistically, Napoleon shows his abilities and popularity are not a function of his usefulness. Perhaps Napoleon is used to try to bolster a weak position (beyond the scope of this analysis), but in the end this ploy is unsuccessful.
I believe Napoleon is a highly overrated card, at least based on popularity.  Compared to Robespierre, Napoleon has significantly reduced odds of winning.  This discrepancy may be the difference between Robespierre's "hidden" science reduction compared to Napoleon's "obvious" military gain abilities.  I truly believe Robespierre is by far a better card which yields better results, yet Napoleon remains significantly more popular.

What thoughts do you have in comparing Robespierre and Napoleon?  Which do you believe is better, and why?
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