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Bonaparte at Marengo Solitaire Rules

Introduction

With the standard rules, Bonaparte at Marengo is a difficult game to play solitaire due to its use of limited intelligence. The purpose of the solitaire rules, as presented below, is to maximize the game’s solitaire playability while preserving as much as possible the character of the two player game. It should be noted that the rules do not ‘auto-play’ either side – the player still actively plays both sides, he just does so without the cognitive dissonance caused by the combination of limited intelligence and solitaire play.

References to “the Austrian player” and “the French player” are present in these rules even though in fact there is only one player – the terms indicate whether the player should be acting as the French or Austrian player when he carries out the indicated actions.

Playing Pieces

French cavalry and artillery are placed face-up during the game. Both players are permitted at all times to see the strength and type of French artillery and cavalry. Standard rules calling them to be turned face-down are ignored.

French infantry is played (literally) face-down during the game. Neither the Austrian nor the French player is permitted to see the strengths of French infantry pieces except where the solitaire rules specifically permit it.

When shuffling French infantry, it is necessary to do it dominoes-stye: that is, with a swirling motion that mixes the pieces without turning any of them over but keeps them all (literally) face-down.

All Austrian pieces are played face-up. It is not necessary to place them literally face-up (sitting behind the Austrian position works fine), but both players know the types and strengths of the Austrian pieces.

Setting up the Game

The standard rules for French set-up are not in force. Instead, French set-up proceeds as follows:

Movement

Whenever French infantry pieces that had previously been separate are moved into the same position, they should be shuffled to conceal which pieces came from where.

In reinforcement entry, the French player is still free to bring his reinforcements into play in any order he likes, but he does so without knowing which of his infantry pieces are which.

Maneuver Attacks

In making maneuver attacks across a cavalry-obstructed approach, it is not necessary for the French to turn a piece face-up to reveal that it is infantry – which French pieces are infantry is always known.

Artillery Bombardment

To indicate that the French artillery is declaring a bombardment, it can be turned so that it faces the player rather from its normal solitaire position of literally face-up, and then returned to face-up at such times when the standard rules call for it to be returned to face-down.

In choosing a piece to take a loss due to an artillery bombardment, the French player may choose to take his loss from any face-up cavalry and artillery among the target pieces however he likes, or if he has some face-down infantry among the target pieces, he may turn over one of them to give himself an additional choice. He may continue turning face-down pieces face-up until he finds a piece from which he wants to take the loss (turning a piece face-up does not require him to take the loss from it – he can still choose a different piece). After taking the loss, any French infantry turned face-up is turned face-down again and shuffled with any other French infantry present.

Assaults

In selecting leading pieces in an assault (attack or defense), the French player may choose as his leading pieces any face-up cavalry present if he so wishes. If he has any faced-down infantry pieces, he may widen his choices to include them. To do so, he turns them face-up one at a time until he is satisfied that he has the pieces he wants to use as his leading pieces (which may be the cavalry – turning infantry face-up does not obligate the French player to choose it). Any French infantry pieces not chosen are turned face-down and shuffled with any other French infantry taking part in the assault.

If the French are the attacker in an assault, and as a result of turning the pieces face-up, it turns out that there are no French pieces legally able to conduct the assault, or even if the French player doesn't like what he sees, the assault is cancelled. Any face-up French infantry is turned face-down again and shuffled with any other French face-down pieces in the approach. (Note: a cancelled assault is not a defeated assault; it doesn't happen at all.)

If the assault requires that French losses be taken from among non-leading pieces, the French player may choose to take his losses from non-leading cavalry and artillery however he likes, or if he has some face-down infantry pieces among the non-leading pieces, he may turn over one of them to give himself an additional choice. He may continue turning face-down pieces face-up until he finds pieces from which he wants to take the losses (turning a piece face-up does not require him to take a loss from it – he can still choose a different piece). After taking the losses, any French infantry turned face-up is turned face-down again and shuffled with any other French infantry present. (Note: if the French player is the defender and is about to retreat, he can instead simply turn all the pieces face-up and choose. Retreating pieces all have to be turned face-up anyway).

Retreats

Casualties among French retreating pieces are selected after the pieces are turned face-up (even in the standard rules, retreating pieces are turned face-up during a retreat).

When French infantry pieces are turned face-down again after a retreat, they are shuffled as necessary with any other French infantry present with them to conceal their identities.

Self-Balancing Victory Conditions (optional)

Different players have different skill levels playing the Austrian and the French sides. To keep the solitaire experience enjoyable, a player has the option of using self-balancing victory conditions. The mechanism for this is to adjust the demoralization levels for the opposing sides based on their past performance.

In the first solitaire game, both sides have their default demoralization levels. In subsequent games, the demoralization levels for the two sides are affected by the results of previous games. To use this option, a player should keep track of how many solitaire games each side has won.

If the Austrians have won more games, the French demoralization level is the default value, but the Austrian demoralization level is reduced by the difference between the number of games they've won vs. the number of games the French have won (for example, if the Austrians have won 5 games and the French 2, the Austrian demoralization level is reduced by 3).

If the French have won more games, the Austrian demoralization level is the default value, but the French demoralization level is reduced by the difference between the number of games they've won vs. the number of games the Austrians have won.