Fellow Vagary.TV staff member Tony Odett and myself have been playing through solo games of March of the Eagles when it occurred to us that we could be playing it together. Games are always better with friends, right? So we decided to sit down and play through a campaign together and make an event out of it.
March of the Eagles is a more casual war simulator than Hearts of Iron (another famed Paradox Interactive title based on World War II), but there’s still quite a bit of depth to it. It takes place during the Napoleonic era as players guide a country through that turbulent European epoch.
The two of us will proceed by playing a year and then highlighting the most important things happening in our countries. I chose France and Tony chose Russia. We figured putting us at opposite ends of the map would make for an entertaining finale.
1805, January through June ~ France (Don Parsons)
Starting as France put me in an awkward position. On one hand, history says France loses the war and if Napoleon can’t win this, how am I supposed to? On the other hand, at the start of 1805, France is a freakin’ powerhouse! But the worst part with my position in 1805 is the war with Great Britain.
Great Britain called in a few allies early in 1805, namely Brunswick and Piedmont. Brunswick was annexed very quickly, giving me a bit more land while Piedmont negotiated white peace. I spent a good portion of time trying to end the war with the British, though. They guarded the Strait of Dover with brutal force. Every small group of ships I built up there or sent in that direction was forcefully destroyed. It’s nerve racking due to the high cost and build time of boats, too. But I was determined to land a few brigades on their little plot of land and wreck havoc on them. Of course, the English never let that happen.
Instead, I wreaked havoc on Europe and anyone that opposed me. I punished everyone that joined the war against me and gobbled up plots of their land as a reward. I also pushed into Nassau on April 5th for a chunk of territory, annexing the country by April 19th. Oldenburg received the same treatment in late-May. But I was also running out of small countries to run over at this point. And the war with Britain was eating into my resources.
1805, January through June ~ Russia (Tony Odett)
Russia has what I believe is the most commanding position in the game. Set on the corner of the map, with huge territories with horrifying attrition rates, the country is practically unassailable. So, not worried about defense, I’m planning my attack. My advantages in defense are also my disadvantages in attack. My armies are far flung, and bringing their force to bear is difficult. I start out these first six months in a war against Persia, and my armies are not even close to being in position. And, when I crush the Persian horde, what then?
Victory over Persia is a sure thing if I bring enough troops, so I spent the first two months of the game moving soldiers into position. I built a couple of small Cossack units in the Caucasus to hold my flanks, but I can conquer the Persians with pretty much what I have available. Most of my construction focuses on building up troops on the Ottoman European border- the Ottomans hold several dominance objectives for me, and any troops used in the Persian war can be moved into the Ottoman Middle Eastern holdings pretty easily. Additionally, I selected my first idea- March to the Sound of the Guns. I think it’s a no-brainer; anything that allows you to march dispersed (to avoid attrition) and fight concentrated (to, you know, win battles) is a must-have.
The Persian army is easily beaten- I have more men, more artillery, more cavalry. I seize the uppermost three provinces and cities with ease, and begin to march on the Persian capital. This war will end quickly. But, what’s this? The Ottomans are massing troops on my Asian border. Nearly 50,000 of them are in position to strike at Maikop and points north (Rostov perhaps?). I have assembled sufficient troops to dominate the Ottoman European forces, but this army? I have no one in position to fight them. Perhaps my second war won’t be as close on the heels of the first as I had thought.
1805, July through December ~ France (Don Parsons)
The second half of the year for France was focused on more land-grabbing. Two armies were sent to Sicily, another partner of my mortal enemies, Great Britain. Those two armies took no prisoners and Sicily was beaten to a pulp, offering over half of their land in tribute. Sicily really wasn’t bothering me. It was more about making an example of them: partner with my enemies and fall.
A month later and the British disbanded that coalition against me, but the war with them continued. They kept battering my small navy as ships were built, so I sent my southern fleet to regroup with a few transports I had positioned out of Britain’s wrathful sight. Portugal, the last partner of the British, decided to sink that small fleet before it reached its destination. This sent me into a flying rage. Up until this point I had let Spain battle Portugal, and they were doing a fine job. So I sent 70k troops marching that direction to clean house. After two sieges on my behalf, a chunk of Portugal belonged to France.
Now was decision time: does France war with Austria or Prussia? I still had a steady income of money to buy troops. All of the smaller territories around me had fallen. Bavaria was the initial target, and I lined up my troops to make a move. However, Bavaria had both Prussia and Austria watching their back. On November 1st, France declared war with Prussia. The two months remaining in 1805 were less eventful. Counties were taken as I pushed into Prussia. There was resistance, sure, but nothing I did not overcome. At the end of 1805, I was winning this war my a small but growing margin. Of course, on the other side of Prussia was Russia.
1805, July through December ~ Russia (Tony Odett)
Persia falls and falls quickly. I take the northern 3 cities, leaving the rest to be taken in a second war later on. I’m really in no hurry here, but none of the cities are fortified, the garrisons are small, and the Persia army is a non-factor. The historical war between Russia and Persia lasted nearly a decade- this one is over in seven months.
But now- to position myself to take on the Ottomans. That army of 50,000 needs to be confronted, and while I have moved in a force of about 14,000 from Sevastopol, I’m going to need to build most of the rest. And so I do- a force of 70,000 troops, to be completed and assembled by November. Ah yes- on the verge of Winter.
The biggest enemy to armies of the period was attrition. Far more people died of disease, malnourishment and to the elements than ever fell to enemy bullets. And so, with a massive army poised to seize Wallachia, Moldavia and the rest of Ottoman Europe, another to clear the eastern shore of the Black Sea, and a couple of smaller forces to take the Middle Eastern possessions, I’m torn as to whether to invade. The weather can be brutal, and I’d prefer not to suffer the winter losses. But, instead of waiting until spring, I choose option 3- a limited November-December attack.
My armies march across the border, seize all the coastal cities, and then wait. A massive battle takes place near Socci, as that army I feared so much earlier is shattered and sent scampering into the interior. A second victory of similar scope occurs at Bender in Moldova, as I defend the recently seized city against a counterattack by an army 70,000 strong. March to the Sound of the Guns is key here, as I bring nearly 100,000 soldiers to bear from the surrounding area. The border holdings taken, I pull my troops back across the border, to await the end of the snows.
Come back next week for episode 2 of “Marching Eagles: A Tale of Two Countries”.