Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

March of the Eagles

Review: March of the Eagles

5:00 PM on 03.01.2013 // Fraser Brown

Two very different war games

I keep believing that I know what to think about March of the Eagles, Paradox's not-quite-grand strategy Napoleonic war game, and then I go and do something mad like play it a bit more which inevitably causes me to question my previous assumption and lose many hours.

The game itself has a somewhat confused identity, and the likelihood is that the folk it was designed to appeal to won't play it, and the people who should rightly love it may very well not know about its "hook."

The hook I refer to is the glorious, hour-gobbling, back-stabbing multiplayer experience. The single-player could cease to exist and I'd barely notice its absence, which isn't to say that it's terrible, or even remotely bad, it's just a bit boring after you've dined on a bounty of multiplayer wars. 

March of the Eagles (PC)
Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Released: February 19, 2013
MSRP: $19.99

Paradox-developed titles aren't exactly known for being welcoming. They are vast, complex grand-strategy affairs that, at first, can be exceptionally daunting. While the developer made great strides in explaining the complicated systems in last year's Crusader Kings II, even going so far as to add a tutorial that was genuinely helpful (shocking, I know), the best way to get into these titles is still jumping in and simply experimenting. Failure is a great teacher. 

With March of the Eagles, Paradox is trying something a wee bit different. Gone are complicated relationships, the web of deceit and political intrigue, vast trade networks, and a period that covers decades or centuries. In fact, March of the Eagles isn't even a grand strategy title; it's a war game.

Set during the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars, players can take control of one of the major powers such as France or Britain, or a minor nation like Bavaria, and duke it out across Europe and the Middle East in an attempt to gain victory over the other powers. Yes, victory. Another major difference between March of the Eagles and Paradox's other games is that your goal is to actually win, rather than just play as a nation and get to the "end."

The focus is exclusively on warfare, and though there's a spot of economic management and building, everything ties into constructing massive armies and fleets, and marching them across the rather lovely map. To win, a nation must have complete land and sea dominance, and this is gained through conquering specific provinces.

Only the major powers can actually do this, while the minor nations are left with only one real option: join a coalition and help the lead nation secure a victory. It doesn't make playing as these somewhat insignificant countries all that interesting, which is something of a shame, as I'm always fond of playing the underdog. 

For the life of me, I couldn't get properly invested in the single-player experience. The AI is spotty at best, diplomacy is threadbare and always seems like a duller option -- especially when dealing with small powers, where just conquering them is a lot more fun than trying to be their chum -- and in the end it just feels like I'm not doing much beyond building armies and sending them into foreign territory. 

The scraps themselves are actually rather good, however, and while battles are still hands-off affairs, there's a lot more indirect control compared to, say, Europa Universalis. Armies can be assigned generals, one to lead, two for the flanks, one for the center, and a final general for support, and each of these grand sideburn-toting chaps has a certain expertise and skill level, making these choices at least a bit meaningful. 

Several tactics can also be employed: some that every nation has access to, and some that can be unlocked through ideas, bought with points earned through fighting. On top of providing new tactics, ideas can confer bonuses to a nation's economy, unit defense, rate of fire, the speed of ships, and all manner of other rather helpful things. 

Idea points are gathered in a rather novel way, as well. France, the big kahuna, starts off with rather a lot of ideas, being more advanced than most nations when it comes to military matters, but through losses, the other nations can catch up. With each failure they learn more, inspiring even the most cowardly players (like my fine self) to jump into wars with wild abandon. 

Playing through the campaign, I couldn't shake the idea that March of the Eagles was aiming for a demographic that I wasn't really a part of -- which isn't really a bad thing at all. With its goals, clear victory objectives, tight time frame, and obsession with war, it seemed to be designed to get new players interested in Paradox titles. In many ways, it does a good job. It's certainly easier to get into, and a damn sight simpler than any of their previous strategy offerings, but some odd choices hold it back from being something I would recommend to new players over my regular advise of "just player Crusader Kings II and stop caring if you mess up."

Firstly there's the balance issues. It's a historical war game, so, strictly speaking, it shouldn't be all that balanced. France was more powerful than Spain; Sweden should get its ass kicked if it goes head to head with Russia. In a game about winning, however, that's a hard pill to swallow. Then there's the over-complication of units. It gets a bit silly. There is a ridiculous number of historical troops that can be recruited, all with their own statistics, cost, and specialties, and most of them are completely unnecessary. I stick to a very small pool, ignoring the rest, but it would be all too easy to get all in a muddle.

Yet despite these issues, I've been staying up till 6:00am playing the damn game. Why? The multiplayer is something really special. When each major power has a human player behind them, the issues with the AI, diplomacy, and the serious lack of intrigue vanish. Suddenly it becomes a tense game filled with shaky alliances of convenience, betrayals around every corner, and lots of nasty surprises. 

In my current multiplayer match, I've been playing as Spain (again), and I've essentially been France's lapdog. France starts a war with someone, I start one with them too. France needs more troops on the Prussian border, I send my Spanish forces up north. I have plans though, oh yes I do.

Unfortunately, these plans keep being cut short but The Ottomans, of all powers. We clashed over our separate conquests of North Africa, then Sicily, and now they are close to winning the game, to the surprise of almost all the other players. Yet, because of all the rivalries that have developed, nobody had the time to actually fight them. 

Even more surprising things can come from a multiplayer match. In the same game, France and Britain made peace, ending their respective coalitions against each other. This dissolved some pretty serious alliances, but as I was still at war with Britain separately, we remained at each other's throats. I'd conquered and held onto Gibraltar throughout most of the game, so I sent a peace offer to Britain, looking to end the war while keeping the infamous fortress.

My offers went ignored (the swines!), so I responded by sending a huge army into Ireland, and held the whole country hostage until Britain gave in. There was some desperate bargaining, a whole bunch of lying, and none of it would have really worked in the single-player mode. I went from not feeling like I had enough to do in single-player, to making secret alliances, baiting enemies, planning sneak attacks with allies, and wheeling and dealing like a used car salesman.

The absence of some of the more attention-demanding aspects of Paradox's grand strategy titles frees up March of the Eagles to offer a multiplayer that is built on meaningful interaction and rivalry, and doesn't require the sort of manic juggling one finds in its larger counterparts. 

There still remains some obstacles to an enjoyable evening of name-calling and war-declaring, unfortunately. Throughout my multiplayer matches, there's been players dropping, a shoddy "metaserver" that simply didn't work, the need to connect directly via IP as if we were still in the '90s, and the weirdest issue so far: the checksum of half the players changing, stopping us from being able to play together for about 30 minutes. Get past that nonsense and it's bloody marvelous. If you have the patience. 

I'd happily recommend March of the Eagles based exclusively on the multiplayer, but if you prefer your gaming to be a solo venture, then it might not really offer quite as much. Those looking to get stuck into a historical war and not a lot else may still find conquering Europe and giving ol' Bonaparte what for entertaining, though, and as a game doesn't tend to go on for longer than eight hours in single-player, it won't devour your life. 



March of the Eagles - Reviewed by Fraser Brown
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Fraser Brown, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure FraserIBrown Tips
Fraser Brown is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming who is not Alasdair Duncan. Got a splinter stuck in his hand nineteen years ago and just left it in there. True story. ... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
March of the Eagles

  Mar 18

March of the Eagles getting mod tools

Create custom scenarios and campaigns

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

On The Fence

Persona Still Reigns Perfection

Cblogs of 11/30/2015 + Saudi Arabian Ban Hammer

Eleven indie games that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE in 2016

Should 'Mercy Spoilers' be a thing?

Thankful It's Over: Assassin's Creed 2

Virtua Memories: Virtua Fighter/Remix (Virtua Fighter Month)

FNF: Christmas toime is hear

Tales of Zestiria Review (PC)

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Man, I completely forgot how awesome Pokemon Black and White's soundtrack is. The Vs. Trainers theme is probably one of the best I ever heard, if not the best in the entire series: [youtube][/youtube]
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Indivisible's campaign is over $1.4 million! just a little more!
Dum, dum, dum! Another blog bites the dust! And another done, and another done! Another blog bites the dust! #RIPtumblrbecausefuckit
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Ugh, I've been sick for what feels like 3 weeks. If I die I leave all my games casket because they're mine. Stay away! *hiss, hiss*
TysonOfTime avatarTysonOfTime
Apparently the upcoming Tri-Force heroes update makes the local-play only items possible to get for everyone. That's pretty great!
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
What youtubers y'all watch? I need more.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Playing For Glory earlier today, some guy beat me and changed his name to "ifukdu_up". I won next round and he changed it to "ILETUWIN". I then 2-0ed the little sucker, and he left the lobby. I took great pride from this incident.
Dalek Sex avatarDalek Sex
Henshin into a person with a larger disposable income.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Why the hell are we suddenly accepting micro transactions in fully priced games? It used to be only acceptable in free-to-play games but its sickening that even AAA developers like microsoft are on the bandwagon.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
If you're ever writing about something from the heart, and you stop and think "I don't know how people will react to me if I write this" then you absolutely should go ahead. Passionate conviction is often the only voice you'll have.
VeryImportantQuestion avatarVeryImportantQuestion
Wait a second...has the blog editor been changed with the idea being that the formatting be done in Word or something and then pasted in? Have I been using it wrong these last few posts?
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
guys I'm standing in a Target looking at a Xenoblade X special edition what do I do
Zer0t0nin avatarZer0t0nin
Dear Dortmund Zoo: how's it possible for people to steal 3 monkeys, 3 squirrels and 2 penguins while killing a manatee and another penguin since April and you still have no clue how to stop this?
WryGuy avatarWryGuy
We got Xbone! We got Xbone! We got Xbone! We got Xbone! We got Xbone! [img][/img]
Flegma avatarFlegma
Two more reasons not to preorder: the game might appear in stores before release day (Hello, Xenoblade Chronicles X for 60EUR at my local mall) or the mail workers may be on strike (well, they were until Monday).
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
ModDb's MOTY (Mod of the Year) votes are up, there's quite a TON of interesting mods this year, give it a look and vote for your favorite! ---
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Hey, US Pokemon fans! Apparently if you just rename your SSID to Mcdonalds Free Wifi, you don't even need to go anywhere to get your Hoopas. Seems like they could've just made this one a normal download.
Archelon avatarArchelon
It may have been a war of attrition, but I just took out a Snowspeeder on foot in Battlefront. Aww, yeah.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, for one reason or another I watched the endings of bloodborne via vaatividya, and in so doing made myself sad that I will never get to play it. Still cool that they seem to have really nailed that lovecraftian exestential horror and despair.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[img][/img] やらないか?
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -