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Clash of the Eagles: Borodino & Friedland» Forums » Reviews

Subject: It Had Me Until the CRT rss

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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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?
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Clash of the Eagles is a tactical game covering two of biggest Napoleonic battles: Friedland and Borodino. Friedland was among Bonaparte's greatest triumphs; Borodino is the text book definition of a Pyrrhic victory. The system used is the one pioneered Napoleon's Last Battles.

Gameplay (18 out of 28): The system is simple enough, an IGO-UGO series of turns in which army commanders give orders to corps commanders who in turn are used to send brigades into battle. The command and control is simple, but the addition of it offers a layer of reality with few hassles. The basic rules are simple and the battles play fast. There is no grand combined campaign like Napoleon's Last Battles. These are battle scenarios, although Borodino is like a mini-campaign since it can cover three days of fighting and maneuvering.

Where I got discouraged was the bloodless CRT that turns combat into a shoving match. This is a common feature from 1960s-1970s wargaming and I can forgive it in older games or even really simple ones like Battles of the Ancient World Volume II. Ancient warfare, however, seems more prone to being a shoving match than Napoleonic warfare, where units, even if successful, usually suffered severe losses. Instead units seem to revolve in and out of battle, without losses having any impact on their fighting trim. In fact the same brigade could charge the Great Redoubt many times over and still be able to fight in a moment's notice. Once again this doesn't bother me in earlier games, but for a 1999 game it seems out-dated and unimaginative.

Tactical (2 out of 5): While not hyper accurate, command control and the basic rules force the player to be sure of committing men to an attack. The bloodless CRT though forces me to see this as a mediocre tactical experience.

Accessibility (4 out of 5): The rules are a breeze, although a tad disorganized. I was playing the game ten minutes after it came in the mail.

Components (4 out of 5): The units are basic, but I really like the maps. The more muted colors are a good contrast to those from GMT

The Components:


Originality (0 out of 2): As far as I can tell the system is lifted right from Napoleon's Last Battles with chrome for each battle as the only addition.

Historical Quality (2 out of 5): There is some good chrome, like Russian command rules for Borodino, but the CRT hurts a title that otherwise, for its low complexity, has some good historical lessons, particularly for those ignorant of the battles. Playing Friedland taught me how terrain and command confusion almost doomed the Russians, because to be honest I didn't know a lot about the battle.

Overall (30 out of 50): The almost strict tactical nature of the game strips it of the operational feature that made Napoleon's Last Battles a hit, but these tactical games are good and should delight fans of the system. Otherwise, stay away as this title is neither original nor striking, unless you use Markus Stumptner's Last Battles of Napoleon. Or take a look at my own variant: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/372655.
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Jason Cawley
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Sean - you have to try this with the updated rules that make combat a matter of firing on a firepower table. It completes transforms these games and makes them into gems - it is one of the best third party game redesign efforts ever.

It is called the Markus Stumptner system after its designer. You can find a thread about it here -

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/782349/markus-stumptner-vari...

You can find the rules - quite simple and including the revised CRT - here -

http://www.dbai.tuwien.ac.at/user/mst/games/lbn/nlcrules203....

The way the new combat system works is that the total factors involved give you a "fire" line, you roll 2d6 and get a number of resulting "hits". Then the defender has the option to cut the "hits" in half before taking them - rounding 1s down to 0 - if and only if he gives up the hex and retreats. If he does, both sides have their "hits" halved, not just the retreating defender. The attacker can then make the same choice, and back off like an AR result if he wants - doing so again halves the hits taken by both sides. If both sides chose to stand, full losses occur.

In addition, when a side decides to "stand" it has to "check morale" and retreats involuntarily if it fails - defender checks this first, and the attacker doesn't need to if the defender retreated.

The losses are unit "flips", step losses that is, not just single strength points TSS style.

Thus if a stack of a 6-4 and a 5-4 attack a 4-4, instead of rounding to 2 to 1 and almost assuredly only moving the front one hex, instead this happens -

11 fire and roll a 7 - the firepower table has a "2" on that cross indexed location. The 4 defenders fire and roll a 3 (ugh), there is a zero at that location. So the defenders will likely choose to halve the losses, and the 4-4 will be flipped and retreat.

Bloodless indecisive combat, gone. Games with hex row alignments and stacks in alternate hexes to avoid surround pushes, gone. Quick, simple, decisive, attritionist combat.

There are more detailed rules for cavalry and artillery that make them behave much more like the real thing - the cavalry especially.

There is also a complex "orders" system which may be more chrome than anyone really needs. A chit pull activation system for commands is a great addition to the system, though, like the one in Napoleon at Leipzig.

Night and day difference from the cartoon-simple original, without the unplayable "giantism" of systems like Wellington's Victory. Try it, you will be impressed.
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Giuseppe Gessa
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Played 15 years ago napoleon last battles ( waterloo, ligny, quatre bass), never liked it and never understood what people find in it... Definetivelly not my cup of tea.
 
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pablo mactaggart
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Thanks for the explanation - as I'm struggling to get to grips with combat. In your example, what happens if 11 is rolled producing 4 hits? Is the unit eliminated or are hits capped at 2 per unit?
 
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