March of the Eagles Review (PC)
By the same studio that brought you Crusader Kings II, March of the Eagles is set in the Napoleonic wars time. The game gives you a choice of eight main forces of Europe at the time, France, Britain, Russia, Spain, Austria, Prussia, The Ottomans and Sweden. Unlike Crusader Kings II you are actually able to win the game, by gaining both a land and naval domination. The provinces that you need to capture for each domination type depends on your choice of nation, and at the start of the game the French already have a land domination, whereas the British already hold a naval domination, making it tempted to pick one of these for your first play through. However, this causes somewhat of a standstill between the two.
Playing as the British you might be tempted to try to invade France, especially considering a few of Britain’s land domination targets are in the north east of France. You’ll send your primitive army across the channel, but once on the coast of France they will soon be forced back into the sea by the superior French troops. On the other hand, playing as France you might think of invading Britain. Again many of the French naval targets are in Britain. However on this occasion, you won’t even get across the channel due to the superiority of HMS fleet and will likely find your army sinking without a fight. Paradox Interactive’s own trailer video show this clearly:
These of course are not your only options. Will you march France through Europe and succeed in conquering Russia? Or will you play as Russia and put France in it’s place? Will Britain ever get off their island and insert a dominance to mainland Europe? The choice is yours, but you had better make it early as you only have 15 years to reach your targets. This is probably one of the key differences to Paradox Interactive’s other strategy games. It’s a very tight time frame comparatively. That doesn’t stop it from still being in-depth, and a play through will still take you in the region of 10 hours. If after the 15 years have passed no nation has claimed both a naval and land dominance, then a winner is declared based on prestige value.
To help you reach your targets, there is a wealth of troop options available to you. From infantry and militia, to cavalry and artillery, all added to by a variety of ship types to help on the naval front. You can train these assets from any of the settlements that have the required buildings, but this will result in you having to rally them together before sending them to war. You can instead chose to train from one or two main settlements, but this will take time, and as mentioned before, you don’t have a lot of that. Fortunately when the game starts, you do have a large amount of mobile forces (depending on your faction) to get your warring underway.
There are a couple of tactical options you can make for your armies, but like with other Paradox Interactive games, the battles are automated. Sieging a large settlement will take a lot of men and a lot of time. In order to get your hands on the settlements you need for victory, you will need to either go to war against the owner and take it off them, or become a protectorate of them. Taking it off them is not as simple as just capturing it in war. You will need to get your war score high enough through battles to give you enough to sue for peace and demand it/them as payment.
Losing battles isn’t all that bad either though, as you will gain idea points when you do lose. You then use these idea points to advance your technology in a variety of fields, including a nation specific area. This is an excellent way of evening up the odds and it automatically restores a balance as the other nations will soon catch up with the big powers. This adds to the stalemate nature of the game which, while historically accurate, can leave you with a sense of “how do I win this game?”
While the game does offer a strategic look at a key point in history which, until recently, has had very little coverage by video games, it just seems to be lacking in a few areas. The alliance negotiations can be a bit frustrating as you only get a few advisors to use each month, and there are only a few choices available to you. Only the factions dominating land and sea can start a coalition against one another. The battles can be frustrating too as you can lose when you expect to win, and once the battle starts, all you can do is sit and watch numbers. And those numbers can be pretty huge, which makes it even more frustrating when something goes wrong as you will need to spend months licking your wounds before heading back into the fray.
If you have played Crusader Kings II and like it for it’s in depth family politics, sneaky backstabbing and “grand scheme” story plots, then you probably won’t like March of the Eagles. If however you liked Crusader Kings II but wanted MOAR WAR! or better multiplayer then March of the Eagles could be for you, but as war based RTS games go, there are better ones out there.
6 deflated coalitions out of 10