March of Eagles Preview

March of Eagles Preview

Fight the Napoleonic Wars all over again.

Some people just like to wage war. In Paradox Interactive's flagship series, Europa Universalis or last year's Crusader Kings II, there are many aspects to consider in running an empire like trade and diplomacy, and the players who just like to blow stuff up might be a little bored with all that. Paradox's upcoming offering for the warmongers is March of the Eagles, a distillation of the military aspects of Europa Universalis set in the ten years of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. For a history buff, and a fan of board games set in that era, it was fun to play such a refreshingly focused strategic war game. The best part? Unlike Europa Universalis, you can actually win or lose March of the Eagles.

At the invitation of Paradox Development Studios, I got to tickle the keyboard and mouse with a beta build of March of the Eagles. This was no hands off, let-the-developer-show-you-the-neat-little-fiddley-bits demonstration. Chris King from Paradox Development Studio just let me play the game. I picked the middle-ground Prussians, avoiding the major powers of England and France, but still able to win the game on my own merits. Aside from a few unique units, the major difference between the big nations is their objectives and the strategic position on the map, which is a major consideration. I could have picked any one of the many smaller states like Hanover or Mecklenberg, but their only goal is to make sure they are on the winning side at the game's end. "The historical precedence for this is Saxony, which switched sides on the second day of the battle of Leipzig," King told me. "They actually walked over and turned on Napoleon. We tried to set up that kind of tension in the game."

Each of the major powers has 7 land provinces and 7 coastal provinces that you need to control to win when the clock reaches 1815. For example, Prussia needed two provinces controlled by Mecklenberg so it made sense to declare war on them first. Once I occupied them and annexed Mecklenberg, it became Prussian territory and my land dominance score rose. Prussia was on its way towards challenging France, but I also needed to make sure Napoleon held less than 7 of his land objectives. Focusing the game on holding and capturing specific provinces instead of overall conquest made for some intense decision-making. It was definitely fun to try to determine when to strike, balancing patience against allowing your enemies to gain too much of an edge.

Many of the mechanics work exactly like EU. The game is played in "pausable real-time" - meaning you can fast forward time as quickly as you want but you always have the option to stop and consider your next moves. You levy troops by clicking on provinces and picking a cavalry unit or a piece of artillery to train. There are a huge number of options from the start and you have to balance costs versus training time versus available manpower. Each nation has a set value called manpower which represents the military age population, and it slowly grows over time. If your armies are quickly depleted because, say, you brazenly declared war on France like I did, it will take a long time for you to remobilize your forces.

The differences to the design from EU all serve to focus the action on a military campaign. Instead of a complex technology tree, you only have military ideas and these are purchased using idea points. You gain the currency slowly over time, and you also gain idea points through fighting battles, but it's cool that you actually gain more when you lose a battle. That way even in defeat you can improve your army with abilities like quicker marching or tactical bonuses. Speaking of tactics, March of the Eagles definitely rewards combined arms though specific bonuses you only get through having the requisite number of regiments in the flanks of your army. Other than that though, battles are only fought by watching numbers tick up or down - March of the Eagles is definitely a strategic-level game.

As I mentioned earlier, Prussia perhaps was a little too aggressive in declaring war on France in the game I played last week. Maybe I should have listened to Chris King's warnings, since he helped design the game after all. The might of Napoleon quickly rose up and thwarted the great Prussian invasion of the French homeland. Sure, I got to besiege Paris, and even assaulted the city and occupied it with Prussian forces, but 60,000 Frenchmen swooped down and quickly liberated the capitol. My army was destroyed, and it was going to take several years to rebuild. But at least my generals were able to sup on rich French cheeses, drink full-bodied French wines and entertain full-bodied French women, if only for a few days.

I look forward to picking up March of the Eagles and avenging my Prussian countrymen when it comes out early 2013. If you like the war, but don't care so much about the other parts of grand strategy games, then perhaps you should too.

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Interesting, I've been looking for more games of this sort since Knights of Honor II seems a very distant prospect ...

Seems a bit to militarily focused for me. I got HoI3 for that if I want it. I think I'll stick to Crusader Kings 2 and EU3 for now and then see how EU4 turns out.

Also: what is it, Mr. Tito, with you and Rob Zachny? You seem to both have a Prussia bend, as does half of my friends who play these games and Empire Total War.

I'm genuinely curious where it comes from? Because the other half of my friends tend to stick to France and Sweden a lot, as do I, with a bit or Aragon thrown in.

Is it geographically based? I ask because the Prussia people I know (including you and Rob) seem to be either Austrialians or from the US while the France brigade tend to be Europeans. I wonder if the dominance of Prussia in European history and politics has led us to shy away from it and instead trying to relive the glory of Louis XVI or the Revolution? Aaand that's enough meta speculation for now. :)

A very well written preview, for which you have my thanks. we don't get enough of that around here.

Edit: just read it again. Who am I kidding? I'm going to buy this game. I can't help myself.

Heh, a very nice little preview... well played Mr. Tito. I'm now interested in checking this out.

awesome to see the grand strategy games getting some love on this site. i cant wait for this

teh_gunslinger:
Seems a bit to militarily focused for me. I got HoI3 for that if I want it. I think I'll stick to Crusader Kings 2 and EU3 for now and then see how EU4 turns out.

Also: what is it, Mr. Tito, with you and Rob Zachny? You seem to both have a Prussia bend, as does half of my friends who play these games and Empire Total War.

I'm genuinely curious where it comes from? Because the other half of my friends tend to stick to France and Sweden a lot, as do I, with a bit or Aragon thrown in.

Is it geographically based? I ask because the Prussia people I know (including you and Rob) seem to be either Austrialians or from the US while the France brigade tend to be Europeans. I wonder if the dominance of Prussia in European history and politics has led us to shy away from it and instead trying to relive the glory of Louis XVI or the Revolution? Aaand that's enough meta speculation for now. :)

A very well written preview, for which you have my thanks. we don't get enough of that around here.

Edit: just read it again. Who am I kidding? I'm going to buy this game. I can't help myself.

Screw Prussia, France and Sweden. The Roman/Byzantine empire is where the real fun is! Nothing beats taking the empire from the brink of destruction and turning the situation around on the Ottomans only to take over the rest of the old imperial territory afterwards. ;)

Especially fun starts for the byzantines is during EU3 earliest start and the earliest start in CK2 where you've got Seljuks and Fatimids itching to take a shot at you...

Anyhow all that aside, this game sounds rather interesting and I look forward to seeing what countries we can play. It doesn't sound or look like we can play as the Holy Roman Empire from what I've seen so far, which is somewhat disappointing as the last emperor it had disbanded it during the napoleonic wars(1806 according to wikipedia). Would be so interesting to see if that could've been prevented. Still if this is up to the quality of their other games then it's definitely on my "Must Buy" list.

Ooooh I'm so eager for this and Europe Universalis. I played CK2 and after getting the hang of it after a couple of sit downs (and video tutorials later) I was really in love with it.

Oh yay, I've always wanted a game that simulates real events in real life, past or present.

SNORE.

What's the point of being a videogame developer if you don't use the medium to it's fullest creative extent?

You have the power to create entire UNIVERSES, and you squander it making a bland simulation of our own?

Syzygy23:
Oh yay, I've always wanted a game that simulates real events in real life, past or present.

SNORE.

What's the point of being a videogame developer if you don't use the medium to it's fullest creative extent?

You have the power to create entire UNIVERSES, and you squander it making a bland simulation of our own?

So, using the medium to it's "the fullest creative extent" includes abandoning settings and gaameplay mechanics that people would be interested in, just because they don't fit into your dogmatic definition of what games arte allowed to be about (and nothing else, ever).

Entitled:

Syzygy23:
Oh yay, I've always wanted a game that simulates real events in real life, past or present.

SNORE.

What's the point of being a videogame developer if you don't use the medium to it's fullest creative extent?

You have the power to create entire UNIVERSES, and you squander it making a bland simulation of our own?

So, using the medium to it's "the fullest creative extent" includes abandoning settings and gaameplay mechanics that people would be interested in, just because they don't fit into your dogmatic definition of what games arte allowed to be about (and nothing else, ever).

wow the arrogance.

they make it because thats what people want. seriously turn based grand strategy games are a niche market and you expect them just to abandon the customers who want historical games purely because you happen to think its bland.

its harder to make a historical simulation than a fantasy one as people can look up facts themselves

wombat_of_war:

Entitled:

Syzygy23:
Oh yay, I've always wanted a game that simulates real events in real life, past or present.

SNORE.

What's the point of being a videogame developer if you don't use the medium to it's fullest creative extent?

You have the power to create entire UNIVERSES, and you squander it making a bland simulation of our own?

So, using the medium to it's "the fullest creative extent" includes abandoning settings and gaameplay mechanics that people would be interested in, just because they don't fit into your dogmatic definition of what games arte allowed to be about (and nothing else, ever).

wow the arrogance.

they make it because thats what people want. seriously turn based grand strategy games are a niche market and you expect them just to abandon the customers who want historical games purely because you happen to think its bland.

its harder to make a historical simulation than a fantasy one as people can look up facts themselves

I think you may have quoted the wrong person mate. But I agree with you.

Besides, games, when you get right down to it is not about creating worlds. It's about creating systems for the player to interact with and within. And Paradox does that very, very well. The setting is incidental to that. CK2 or EU3 could as well be fantasy games with the same mechanics. People just like the historical setting for these games.

teh_gunslinger:

Also: what is it, Mr. Tito, with you and Rob Zachny? You seem to both have a Prussia bend, as does half of my friends who play these games and Empire Total War.

I'm genuinely curious where it comes from? Because the other half of my friends tend to stick to France and Sweden a lot, as do I, with a bit or Aragon thrown in.

Is it geographically based? I ask because the Prussia people I know (including you and Rob) seem to be either Austrialians or from the US while the France brigade tend to be Europeans. I wonder if the dominance of Prussia in European history and politics has led us to shy away from it and instead trying to relive the glory of Louis XVI or the Revolution? Aaand that's enough meta speculation for now. :)

For me, I lean towards Prussia because they were the first modern nation to use gaming as a way to instruct the generals. One Prussian invented a war game - the Kriegspiel in German - and it became popular among the officers. Playing the game was one of the major factors in the success of their army, and I think that's really cool.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_226/6726-Wargaming-Through-the-Ages

Greg Tito:

teh_gunslinger:

Also: what is it, Mr. Tito, with you and Rob Zachny? You seem to both have a Prussia bend, as does half of my friends who play these games and Empire Total War.

I'm genuinely curious where it comes from? Because the other half of my friends tend to stick to France and Sweden a lot, as do I, with a bit or Aragon thrown in.

Is it geographically based? I ask because the Prussia people I know (including you and Rob) seem to be either Austrialians or from the US while the France brigade tend to be Europeans. I wonder if the dominance of Prussia in European history and politics has led us to shy away from it and instead trying to relive the glory of Louis XVI or the Revolution? Aaand that's enough meta speculation for now. :)

For me, I lean towards Prussia because they were the first modern nation to use gaming as a way to instruct the generals. One Prussian invented a war game - the Kriegspiel in German - and it became popular among the officers. Playing the game was one of the major factors in the success of their army, and I think that's really cool.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_226/6726-Wargaming-Through-the-Ages

Amusing fact: I just learned that last night when listening to an episode of Three Moves Ahead that had slipped me by due to being filed under Troy Goodfellow instead of Rob Zachny on my MP3 player.

I wasn't aware but with that knowledge it makes perfect sense. Thanks for the reply. And you should pester Rob to invite you to 3MA again soon. I really like what you've done there so far. And thanks for that link.

Great preview, thanks for this. I was initially sceptical about how this would turn out but this is one I'm looking forward to.

teh_gunslinger:

Also: what is it, Mr. Tito, with you and Rob Zachny? You seem to both have a Prussia bend, as does half of my friends who play these games and Empire Total War.

I'm genuinely curious where it comes from? Because the other half of my friends tend to stick to France and Sweden a lot, as do I, with a bit or Aragon thrown in.

Is it geographically based? I ask because the Prussia people I know (including you and Rob) seem to be either Austrialians or from the US while the France brigade tend to be Europeans. I wonder if the dominance of Prussia in European history and politics has led us to shy away from it and instead trying to relive the glory of Louis XVI or the Revolution? Aaand that's enough meta speculation for now. :)

If we're talking exclusively of European powers, Austria is the real deal, and I hail from Britain. I enjoyed dominating the heck out of Prussia in Victoria 2. Something about being a sprawling, beautiful empire with all the Hapsburg style.

 

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