Back in April of this year, my good friend Keith Flint released his Napoleonic ruleset, 'Shadow of the Eagles'. Normally in its gestation I would have spent many a happy game playtesting these face-to-face with Keith, but for obvious reasons this was not possible due to Covid. Since their release we still haven't been able to meet up, but Keith kindly sent me an authors copy in the post, so that I can get to grips with the final version, in advance of some games, all being well, in the Autumn.
So I will give some initial impressions of the book, but first a few photos of the book and some of the pages therein:
|A very nice cover by Chris Collingwood.|
|As you can see, the book is the same size as BPII, but less thick as it's not padded out with unnecessary verbiage.|
|The contents page.|
|James Roach has provided many fine photos of his lovely 28mm armies of the period.|
|The diagrams to accompany the text are concise and clear.|
|More artwork by Chris Collingwood.|
|An example of an 'Army List'.|
Well the book is very nicely produced and a pleasure to read, as the font is not too small and the double columns across the page are well laid out. There are plenty of diagrams to accompany the text and references to other pages where relevant. For those familiar with Keith's 'Honours of War' rules, these rules have a nice similarity in concept, but are certainly not HoW with some Napoleonic rules added on. They are very much a standalone set, but reading through I felt comfortable that I would enjoy playing these.
Introduction & Notes to the Rules
Keith sets out his stall early on and again in his notes after the rules themselves. I like this in an author as it allows you to understand why they have done certain things, something which Neil Thomas has been doing for many a year and something I wish more authors of rulesets would do. Whether you agree with them is another matter entirely.
Basics & Pre-Game
As one would expect, a guide to the die etc you will need kicks things off, followed by basing suggestions for the various arms of service. I really like the 4 bases per unit approach and a similar frontage, which works for me. I will have to make a sabot base or go for some more artillery, as these have half the frontage of other units. No big deal and not sure which route I will take yet.
After this the basics of the rules are covered, which all feel right and have a nice familiarity having played many games of HoW. So nothing drastically new to learn here, which as I get older becomes more important to me, as i prefer to concentrate on core rules with similar mechanics, so that I can focus on the game rather than trying to remember different rules during a game, which I find too disruptive.
Playing 'Shadow of the Eagles'
Naturally this is the core part of the rules and I must say I found them very easy to follow and understand, with nothing standing out as confusing or unclear. Where required there are references back to other pages where relevant, which should make searching for things much quicker when playing the game.
There are some very useful examples of play at the end, which having read the rules, just help one understand them. There is also guidance on playing larger games at Corps level and above, for those that like to put on larger, possibly multi-player games. Personally I will be sticking at Division size games for the most part, as that fits in nicely with the time and space for my games these days. However Keith often puts on a 'big game' now and then which would be fun to play.
Wars and Campaigns
Essentially this section could be classed as 'Army Lists' in many books, but here they are more a guide as to how to create an Army for a game, dependent upon the period played. So no points here or proscriptive limits on troops, but enough information to create a plausible force for say the 1809 Danube Campaign. Given the huge difference in say the various French forces for said campaign, this is quite nice as you can fit your force to a specific action or go for a more generic one which feels 'right'. Personally I like this sort of approach but naturally some players may not agree with Keith's approach.
Ancien Regime to Grand Armee
I found this section on the differences in the Napoleonic period compared to the 18thC very informative as I'm a complete Nappies newbie, having only a basic knowledge of the tactics used. For many players this will be well worn territory but I think it nice to have this for players like myself.
There are 3 scenarios that could be called Small, Medium and Large, which are useful to allow the player to get to grips with the rules without trying to refight Waterloo in their first game. This is something I advocate to new players of Blitzkreig Commander. As the rules are dedicated to the late, great and greatly missed, Stuart Asquith, the last scenario is one of his and shows how to play a manageable Corps level game as mentioned earlier.
A selection of books that Keith found useful when developing the rules. Given there must be thousands of books on this period, this I still found interesting, as some of them I might get and some I already have.
The last page is a double sided QRS that you could cut out if you wanted too, but aside from the heresy of doing this, Keith has put up QRS' on the website set up to support the rules.
So there you have it. I like what Keith has done in producing a set of rules that are easy to understand and make the whole Napoleonic period approachable for those players such as myself, that are not au fait with it. I'm certainly looking forward to giving these rules a run out in the next day or so and have set up a small board in anticipation of such.
I know some may find the rules on the expensive side, given that they are around the £30 mark, but you have everything you need in one book, with no need to purchase additional supplements etc, that you might need to do for say Black Powder, so worth bearing in mind.
Keith also has set up a website and forum to actively support the rules, which is well worth checking out. For another review and an excellent one at that, check out Norm's review here on his Blog.
So I hope this may have proved useful to some of you considering these rules, which I can heartily recommend. I look forward to trying some simple games out soon with my mdf figures and working my way up to something more involved in the days and weeks to come.
Until then stay safe and keep healthy!