March of the Eagles preview
If I had my way, I’d probably force schools to teach kids history in quite a different fashion then they teach them now. And when it would come to the era of the French Revolution, Napoleon’s rise to power and the eventual Napoleonic Wars, I’d probably let kids learn about it from March of Eagles.
Ok, calm down, put down your angry pen, I didn’t really mean it that way. The kids will be safe in stuffy classrooms with a bored teacher reciting the same litany of distilled, bland facts, over and over again. There will be no games to make that learning more fun for them. But some, just some may pick up an awesome game like this and develop real thirst for more knowledge and affection towards history. I recall that my true love for history began that way; all we need is the teachers to leave us alone. If you don’t take my word for it, listen to Pink Floyd.
Alas, unto the breach, once again! Paradox brings us yet another great strategy, aiming this time at the incredibly tumultuous period of Napoleonic Wars. That was the time when the armies of France, under leadership of a brilliant (albeit a bit short) strategist of Corsican descent have nearly conquered the entire Europe, and only the combined strength of many major powers of the time managed to keep them in check and eventually defeat the French revolutionary forces. (Note to myself: please, keep the “short” jokes to yourself, if possible at all. You’ll get letters!) However, what now seems to us as a given fact was by no means a definite, unavoidable outcome we’ve come to regard it as from the distance of 200 years, and it could have very easily turned the other way around. Dealing with Napoleon was no small feat (ha!).
It is up to you to decide whether you will take up role as one of the major powers and confront the new France that rose from the ashes of the Revolution or will you attempt to get into the shoes of the French emperor and try to improve on his shortcomings (ha!). Playing this from different countries will provide you with interesting new strategic context, and it is recommendable to test them all out. Sadly, you might not be able to pick your own country if it was under the rule by some major power at the specific time (or hasn’t existed at that specific period of time, like Germany, for instance), but there will be more than enough options for opinionated players.
March of Eagles is a great reference to the very character of the game; Napoleon has awarded his troops with eagle standards, finely crafted military symbols that represented a certain unit, thus imitating the eagle standards from the Roman period of time. The eagle was a highly sought and respected symbol, again just like in times of Roman legions, and the regiments that fought under their eagle would do everything to protect it, as much as their adversaries would do anything to get their hands on them. Capturing an imperial eagle from French armies was a great success for the allies, as well as a great loss and dishonor for the troops that lost it. It becomes immediately apparent that in this game the military conflict and not the diplomatic prowess will take the day.
Now, this being a preview and despite the massive fun I’ve had with the game, I won’t be covering it too extensively at this point in time. I’ll be saving the details for the final review, which should be in some ten days, so I’ll keep this sho…erm, brief. March of the Eagles has, understandably, a lot from prior Paradox strategy titles, but it brings some new twists to the fold as well. Each of the eight major powers that are struggling for power is controlling a magnitude of provinces, and these provinces are generating wealth and supply. Creating armies is relatively easy, but once you’ve created an army, it needs to be supplied with food and ammunition, clothes and other necessary equipment. Each province has a limited supply before your soldiers start dying of starvation, so take care that you have enough supplies being brought to that province. Actually, most soldiers in these years died from deprivation, starvation, lack of food or exposure to elements, and often there were more casualties due to these factors than the actual fighting. Remember Grande Armée and their Russian campaign!
To completely understand the game, one needs to understand the era. First off, there have been complaints about people not being able to really conquer an opponent. Believe it or not, that was in the spirit of the age, and for the most time, the conqueror would not actually occupy the defeated party, but simply impose them with a set of terms, usually forcing some financial reparations upon them, taking away some provinces for themselves or declaring parts of the defeated country an independent country of its own. One notable exception was Spain, which the French tried to conquer and hold, but instead they merely managed to provoke brutal, fanatic uprisings from the Spanish guerrilla before being driven out of the country from the combination of the constant harassment the guerrilla doing and Wellington’s superior tactics. Expect similar conditions in March of the Eagles as well, and when it comes to the diplomacy and allies, expect them to be as fickle and unreliable as they come.
As far as the visual department is concerned, the game looks very nice, with a neat 3D map and overall quite satisfying display. Of course, have in mind, this is a strategy, not a modern shooter, and I’m pretty sure one of the commandment goes “Strategies shall have mediocre graphic in all eternity!”. Oh, and one most important thing worth mentioning and that was omitted thus far; for all those inexperienced with the Paradox type of strategies, this is not a “hands on” real-time battle engagements game. March of the Eagles is a strategy game where you set up your army, determine its commanders and set some rudimentary overall combat tactics, but that is about it. The very battle is a calculation of the combat value of different units, the bonuses gathered by their commanders, their experience, equipment and so forth.
Overall, I am loving the March of Eagles, and would recommend you to keep an eye out for this game. It wasn’t an easy thing to restrain myself from going into a full blown review, however I hope to have transmitted a good vibe about the quality and the spirit of the game. Even though this is not the complete, finished game, there were hardly any bugs or problems with this version, I am still looking forward to the final release. March of the Eagles is set to be released on February 18th and it seems safe to expect that it will be nothing shorter than great.