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David G. Cox Esq.
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
When Eagles Fight
The First World War in the East
Designed by Ted Raicer
Published by XTR Corp. (Command Magazine #25, November-December 1993)
I am unable to find a reference, but I have a recollection of one of the German Generals of World War One commenting that fighting in conjunction with the Austrian army was just like trying to dance while handcuffed to a corpse. I will search and see if I can find it – if one of you has a reference I would appreciate it.
When Eagles Fight is one of Ted Raicer’s early game designs. It is a traditional hexagon-type wargame.
As far as wargames of this type go, When Eagles Fight is one of the simpler games. Throughout the rules there are many suggestions regarding rules that can be ignored by people who are new to this type of game.
The basic game is very basic – but is well suited to getting inexperienced gamers into historical simulation games with a minimum of rules.
When using the full rules the game is still fairly simple to play and moves along fairly quickly.
Key Aspects of the Rules
1. There are no Zones of Control – this certainly simplifies movement.
2. Control of Cities and Towns is crucial. Cities and towns are used for strategic movement – units using strategic movement must start and finish in a friendly city or town. They are also used as supply sources – at the end of your own turn, any units that are unable to trace a path of non-enemy occupied four hexes or less to a friendly city or town is eliminated. Victory is also determined by control of cities – the Russian player can achieve an automatic victory by holding enough cities in Germany OR Austria – for the Central Power player to win he needs the Czar’s government to collapse and this will occur when the number of Russian cities held by the Central Power player PLUS a die roll is equal or greater than the appropriate number which increases as time goes by.
3. Russian Ammunition Shortages – each turn the Russians will have a variable number of combat units that have their factors halved due to ammunition shortages.
4. OberOst – every second turn the Central Power player has access to an OberOst marker – this basically allows the German player to have a second combat phase in a very limited area.
5. Combat – die roll modifiers are very important in combat. The defender gets modifiers for terrain. The attacker gets modifiers for having the defending unit surrounded. The Germans have some elite units that receive beneficial modifiers on both the attack and defence.
6. Replacements – the replacement system in the game is simple and yet quite interesting. Some units have two steps (different strengths printed on both sides of the counter) while other units have only one step. Each turn players receive replacement points. It only costs one point to build up a unit already on the map – it costs two points to bring a unit out of the replacement pool and place it on the map. Careful management of troops in combat is important if yo want to run your army in an efficient manner. Take into account also that during combat attackers can never retreat (they must take losses to absorb negative results) while defenders can absorb one loss point by withdrawing all troops. The micro-management of troops in combat is really very important if you don’t want to use replacement points in a wasteful manner.
The photo above is of the Battle of TANNENBERG after the first German move.
Playing the Game
In the game there are three quite different armies. The German army is small and very strong – as time goes by it will increase in size. The Austrian army is initially larger than the German army but is very fragile – units start with relatively strong factors but once they take a hit they are eliminated and when they come back as reconstituted units they will be much weaker. The Russian army is very big and has quite good units and gets lots and lots of replacement points.
The Russians are strong enough to beat the Austrians but will have trouble against the Germans at the same time. To win the Russians must fight to hold their cities for as long as possible or even go for a quick win by holding Austrian cities early in the game.
The Austrians are not strong enough to beat the Russians but must fight to hold enough cities to avoid an automatic loss.
The Germans have a quality army but must advance deep into Russia to gain enough cities to cause the collapse of the Czar’s government. They may also need to give some support to Austrian.
The Pripet Marshes basically divide Russian into two separate sectors with little operational movement taking place in the marshes due to the movement cost.
Due to the relatively small number of units the game moves along quickly. It is an excellent introductory game. The full-blown game is okay – not brilliant but certainly worth playing. The magazine that accompanies the game is excellent and has some great articles related to the game – if you have an interest in the Eastern Front during World War One the magazine is really worth having. The physical components are quite good – I particularly like the large counters. There are a small number of errors on the map – the most significant is Austrian towns missing from the southern side of the map – you must get the errata and put these towns on the map otherwise the Austrians will have enormous problems operating in the southern part of the map.
- Last edited Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:57 pm (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:23 am
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Great review for an underrated game.
It was The german staff officers that remarked re the 'quality' (especially later on in the war) of the AH army was as if:-
-'Austrian Chief-of-Staff Conrad von Hoetzendorf. The increasing alienation between the Austrian and German high commands caused some German officers to cynically state "we are shackled to a corpse."