When it comes to the 19th century, the wargaming crowd is usually split between the Napoleonic War and the American Civil War. But you know what other very important war happened in that century? The Franco-Prussian war! I guess it was too short – only lasted six months – to leave a lasting impression. This historical (wargaming) injustice is rectified by
Eagles of Empire, a very interesting miniature wargame!
Listen to the Fortified Niche episode.
In Eagles of Empire, you’ll command squads of infantry in skirmishes that will be but a small episode in the larger battles of the war. That’s right, in this war of mass mobilization, you’re playing with 1:1 representation! Not a brigade to be seen in sight!
There isn’t any army building, either. Some scenarios will outright tell you what forces you’ll have while others will merely restrict what you can bring on the field. For you see, a match starts with no troops on the field before buying the units you want.
The currency used for building your army is called “command points” and they’re gained by capturing and holding important locations of the battlefield. They’re also used to buy victory points, the accumulation of which is the default goal of the game. But wait, there’s more! Units with officers can have doctrine cards attached, giving them three abilities to choose from – guess what you pay with to activate them? That’s right, CP. The economy game is so powerful here that you may even sell victory points to regain some CP.
So buying and army is fairly simple. Knowing what you buy isn’t. We missed having any sort of guidance of what troop combinations are appropriate for which battle or period of the war. Like I said, only a few scenarios in Eagles of Empire feature anything like a list. Another issue with this system is that troops are relatively slow and armed with somewhat short-ranged guns. Anyone you bring in on turn four or so will never make it to the actual battle. That is unless freak dice results leave you playing for twelve turns – technically possible as the game has no turn limit by default.
This where Eagles of Empire would benefit massively either from Chain of Command‘s scout phase or Conquest‘s deployment behind advancing units. Between this and having actual guidance of who to play when, most of the issues of the game would be resolved.
Other than that, Eagles of Empire plays fast and you only need to look up rules every now and then. Even when you start adding stuff like cavalry, artillery, and doctrines, the game runs fast, especially with the cheat sheets. This is a roundabout way of me saying that I don’t understand why the main rules are split into two books ostensibly for easing into the game.
To sum it up, Eagles of Empire is a great little game about a great little war. Plus, the developer is also making miniatures for the period, so you’re rapidly running out of excuses for not playing it.