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March of the Eagles

By Bis18marck7013-03-2013
StuntmanLT (editor)
Bobfish (editor)
March of the Eagles

The Defence

Paradox Development Studio
Paradox Interactive
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz
AMD Athlon 64 3500+
Nvidia GeForce 8800
AMD Radeon X1900
2 GB
2 GB

The Case


Paradox Interactive is a curious company. They are fathers to gems such as Hearts of Iron, Europa Universalis and my beloved Crusader Kings, yet also spawned abominations such as Gettysburg: Armoured Warfare, a game that should never have seen the light of day in its release state and continues to hit the company every time its name is spoken. Did the expertise of Paradox with similar titles and the realization that a game that is not finished is…well, not finished and thus not ready for release, combine itself into a beautiful symphony that could well be their next big release to make Grand Strategy fans like me rejoice? Read on to find out.

The Trial


I must admit, I am a sucker for the Napoleonic Age. Ever since that day I stepped on to the plains of Waterloo, the era has never quite loosened its grip on me. It inspired, transformed and fused this deranged, long-haired, foolish young teenager into the magnificent specimen who exists today. From painting small, 1:72 models to drawing massive, albeit aesthetically suboptimal, battles over to giving serious thought on the idea of joining a reenactment group – which never happened because that is an expensive hobby and even though me saying that a German can’t live off gunpowder goes against all stereotypes, it is simply not possible…at least for a prolonged period of time. In short, the Age held me in trance and continues to fascinate me beyond belief.

But I, as always, digress. So let’s get back to what you actually came here for: March of the Eagles. In a few words, the game can be described as a simplified yet more in-depth version of The Creative Assembly’s Total War: Napoleon. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s talk about the former first. Paradox is known for making games that are not so beginner friendly. Hearts of Iron, Victoria and others continue to make newcomers cry in pain over their first few hours simply because the tutorial experience leaves them with little more knowledge than the overall feeling that they perhaps signed up for something that they did not expect. March of the Eagles is different. The tutorial is brief but the game has been streamlined to the degree where the short introduction gives one all the necessary means, to play out the game and still provide the opportunity for the player to slowly discover the more intricate parts by him or herself.

Bismarck would be proud.

Bismarck would be proud.

March of the Eagles truly took this simplification, compared to other games from the same studio, to the extreme yet somehow it pays off exquisitely well. The overall presentation is a great improvement with both the graphics and interface bringing together an environment that both works and looks decent enough for the purpose it has. While the nature of a long-running Strategy game from Paradox always brings forth the problem of musical boredom, MotE manages to change things up a bit by alternating between different peace and wartime music. Ultimately, you’ll still load up your own tunes and go off conquering to those.

The game itself boasts no great focus on technological advances – in fact, all you do is wait until you have enough points to research certain general or nation specific bonuses - and because a few decisive battle and mop up skirmishes are enough to decide a war, the importance to build up a wide front to vanquish your enemy has been greatly diminished from games such as Hearts of Iron. Neither will you see the dynasty building aspect of Crusader Kings. As well as that, the limited options for building up ones own economy would make a Victoria veteran laugh until the end of time. But then again, March of the Eagles doesn’t aim to entertain the player in any of these categories. Instead, it’s all about building up your empire and using both diplomacy and your military to whack other nations over the head.

Indeed, the former is very forgiving and changing coalitions, making new alliances and signing accords goes so much easier than in any other game Paradox has made before. Giving you the ability to expand quickly and be able to secure yourself after, the game has probably the shallowest learning curve of the aforementioned games. Yet, while the beginning might be easy for various nations, the more you conquer and fill up the two victory conditions known as Land and Sea dominance, the higher are the chances that you, suddenly, become the most targeted nation across Europe. But that’s just confirmation that you’re doing it right.

Go back to making cheese.

Go back to making cheese.

The conquering aspect saw a lot of tweaking but while you can fine-tune your army’s set-up, the Paradox style of battles is kept in the game and as such battles will be fought automatically by the AI. With an unlockable idea – MotE version of ‘technology’ - the game now allows you to activate an option on each separate army under your command called ‘March to the sound of the guns’, which, you guessed it, makes your and allied armies automatically march to a battle in a neighboring province...provided none of them are deaf from all the noise of a previous encounter. This helps when engaged on multiple fronts or during a prolonged campaign, yet the trade-off is that sometimes one detachment after the other walks to certain doom in the hope of saving that little skirmishing force that was engaged by Napoleons Grande Armee itself.

Another pleasant improvement is the province system. Each province now has a key point in the form of a major city which is defended by a garrison that can gain defensive benefits from forts which prevent easy capture. Unless this city is taken, all pieces of land belonging to that province will not remain captured by your nation unless you keep a token force within it. Also, an uncaptured province will not be on the bargaining table when it comes to striking a peace deal with your enemy. So unless you want your units to run out of supply, taking key points along the way to your eventual goal is necessary for a successful campaign and territorial expansion.

Without the ability of actively influencing the course of a battle save by sending in new buggers to help out a beleaguered force, you need to think carefully about how you set up your army and men. This is where we come to the in-depth part. With each country needing manpower to recruit new battalions in specific regions, a balanced army set is necessary and the individual skill and progress of your matter in this regard. Some become utterly incompetent; others might shine with a certain unit type or give overall bonuses. To build up a hard-hitting strike force, regular checks, fine tuning and recruitment is needed unless you are one who enjoys nasty surprises. Oh, and while we are talking about armies, after each battle, you are presented with a nice little log and account of the battle with various generals being mentioned for heroic actions and what not. A pleasant read at the start, it becomes repetitive soon and all that is really important to you will be who won, how many useless bastards died on your side and how many enemies they managed to take with them into the darkest pits of hell.

You go there, you there and you...nope, I don't need you.

You go there, you there and you...nope, I don't need you.

Unlike HoI, big battles are now a major deciding factor in a military campaign. Losing even one might mean that all your plans go to smithereens and in the worst case it will weaken you for several years. Fear not however, the AI will often accept minor gains in peace treaties and while that might give the impression of a weak diplomatic system, it really is the opposite. A country that has been defeated often remains weak militarily speaking for some time and as such has been taken ‘out of the game’, enabling you to focus on other, more juicy targets. Countries such as Prussia, Spain or Sweden really can’t afford – at first - to go into long wars and for them, minor gains or loses become a matter of survival.

That being said, Paradox veterans should start this game off on Normal or higher. Personally, I found Normal with Prussia to be too easy which is peculiar since this nation is beset on all sides from nations with higher military and economical capacity. Yet, for some reason, I went all Bismarck on the case and smashed aside Denmarck, Sweden, Austria and even France – yes, I admit, I went for them after they had been fighting for years on end with the UK but that’s called Strategy - in the fight for domination of the German homeland. For Paradox newcomers however, this is the game you want to introduce yourself to the kind of Grand Strategy this studio is known for.

The Verdict


Paradox has done an exceptional job at making this game beginner friendly and removing those ‘unfair’ fail moments of their previous titles. MotE is a smallish game yet brilliant and addicting with many moments in which you truly feel like you can take on the whole of Europe yourself – and succeed.

Case Review

  • Variety: 32 Nations with 8 Great Nations
  • Army management: Manage Generals, Supply, Units and Recruitment
  • Diplomacy: Quick and Easy to Understand
  • Conquer: Enforce your Will on those that fall before you
  • Shallow learning curve: Probably Paradoxes easiest to understand game
  • Nation building: Technology and the Economy are not greatly developed within the game
  • Audio: Repetitive and on mute before you know it.
  • Difficulty: Too easy for Paradox Veterans
Score: 4.5/5
One of Paradoxes finest. A great introduction to Grand Strategy.


March of the Eagles represents a new form of strategy in Paradox's line-up, meant to be less grand, all encompassing, more tactical and focused. With a limited timeline and a fix on the Napoleonic period of Europe, March of the Eagles is all about combat. In this regard it does very well, offering more complexity than Paradox's other titles such as Europa Universalis III and Victoria II. It is also easier for a Grand Strategy genre beginner to get into MotE, with clear victory conditions and a focus on waging war after war, with minimal nation management.

Thanks to this smaller scope, the game is also quite polished for a Paradox game, with minimal bugs and well performing AI. You can choose from countries such as France, Prussia, Great Britain, Russia and more. In fact, every European nation at the time (all the way down to the minor German states) is playable. Playing through an 1805 - 1820 campaign with these nations is fun and varied, depending on which you choose. Britain offers naval action and room to breathe, whereas France puts you in the driving seat, allowing you to direct the flow of wars and action on the continent. The map is beautiful, the game performs well and, if you remember that this isn't meant to be Grand Strategy on the level of Paradox's other efforts, you can find a lot to love in March of the Eagles.

Score: 5/5


The appeal of Paradox games is their uncompromising depth - you get a lot of power and historical accuracy at the cost of nobody knowing how to play your games. It's ok, Paradox players can still look down on some of the hardier armchair Generals, the kind of people who buy Combat Mission games. Victoria II is so intricate that aliens will kidnap you if you manage to finish its campaign.

March of the Eagles, however, shows that Paradox is moving towards, you know, sales. This is a straight up military game, with other aspects of nation running blissfully set aside. Yours is the business of raising an army, using diplomacy to strike forge alliances and then rolling over the smaller countries. And it has a tutorial that lets you actually understand stuff (...unlike Victoria II). Furthermore, the game is dotted by question marks you can press to get information. I think that this is their spearhead into a more mainstream public that will be followed by Europa Universalis IV.

Score: 4.5/5
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