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Eagles of the Empire: Napoleon in the Desert» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Another Missed Opprotunity 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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Napoleon in the Desert is a tactical simulation of several of Napoleon's battles in the middle east such as the famous Battle of the Pyramids, the incredible victory at Mount Tabor, and Napoleon's last victory in the east: Aboukir. It also includes an alternate Pyramids and Aboukir scenario and a Mameluke vs. Turkish battle from 1786. It uses the system started in Eagles of the Empire: Borodino.

Gameplay (18 out of 28): Unlike other games in the Eagles series, which cover such titanic engagements at Eylau, these battles are small, so the French units are nearly always in command. Either way, there is a cap on how many units can be ordered to move and/or fire in a turn. Units do this, with artillery trading blows while the cavalry attempts to charge and the infantry are used basically to either defend or assault.

Combat utilizes a buckets of dice approach, with advantages not so much modifying dice as simply adding or subtracting from the dice you can throw. Units with morale tend to be much better. They can take more hits and most importantly in this game, form squares to defend against cavalry. This is important due to the Turks and Mamelukes having good cavalry, and essentially being unable to win without an effective use of their horsemen. The French player does not have much of a challenge to be honest. A few bad die rolls, or more importantly bad decisions, can give the Turks and Mamelukes a chance, but I doubt a competent French player will ever lose. It is no surprise that the best scenario in the box is the one where the French are absent.

Mount Tabor:


Tactical (1 out of 5): Here is where the game really fails. The system was made for epic battles, making it a grand tactical system employing divisions instead of smaller units, such as brigades. In addition, it was made with terrain rules that, while I am unsure as to how they worked, were apparently one of the most beloved aspects of the original games. Here you have little terrain, only desert, but what is worse is that the size of the battles make them duds. Instead of breaking the system down to brigades, the designers kept them at division level. So there really is not a lot of maneuver, as you have few units and often start with firing range. Large portions of the hideous maps are not used, particularly in both Pyramids scenarios. In spite of this, I think the overall system works in the grand tactical vein, but for such small battles it fails.

Accessibility (4 out of 5): Here is one saving point to Napoleon in the Desert. If you are an experienced wargame you can pick this up right away. Also, even critics agree it is a good introduction to the basics of the system, even if the lack of terrain hurts it as a primer for early titles, such as Eagles of the Empire: Friedland

Components (2 out of 5): The biggest complaint I've read is the maps and consensus is correct: it is another putrid effort from Avalanche Press (Check this out to see the ugliest map in the legendary Avalanche Press Pantheon: http://boardgamegeek.com/image/116000/war-of-the-states-chic...). As usual though, Avalanche puts out nice counters, so the contrast is almost comical during play.

Nice Counters on an Ugly Map:


Originality (1 out of 2): All my readings indicate this is not original, but it is a stripped down version of the original rules set, making it different. You've got to give them credit for at least trying to present these lesser known and hard to simulate battles.

Historical Quality (3 out of 5): Actually, I think this is one of the game's better points. The area movement map is a little strange, but all around I did not find wacky results or gamey tactics. I'm no expert on these battles, but they fell along reasonable lines. I'd gladly play anything else from the series, such as the newest title: Eagles of the Empire: Spanish Eagles.

Overall (29 out of 50): Napoleon in the Desert is a missed opportunity from a company synonymous with that phrase. The rules are accessible and the game is not too wacky, but the bland maps and poor use of the grand tactical system cannot be excused. Napoleon's campaigns in Egypt in Syria need an operational treatment, because tactically they are hard to simulate. While I salute the effort, a tactical game with an emphasis upon brigades, and not divisions, was needed here.

At Least the Box Art is Cool:
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Jon Badolato
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Thanks for the review. I have Spanish Eagles but have not been able to get it to the table yet. It is a much more attractive package overall. I enjoy some Avalanche games. The rules are usually not too bad in comparison to other company's rules. Their counters are usually quite attractive, but they do indeed have map issues with too many of their games. After seeing the picture you posted and the one you linked to I have to wonder who originally looked at those within the company and said something like "yeah that looks great, lets go with it ! " or if they actually did like the way that maps look.

Have you tried their Austerlitz game which utilizes the same system I believe ? I have heard conflicting reviews. Most did not seem to complain about gameplay and felt that was solid enough, but the overly extravagant counter art apparently made the counters very difficult to read as one played. Then again I have heard a few comments that the counters were not as bad as claimed by some. I do not know how I would fare with this game but I have been tempted to pick it up on e-bay for a reasonable price.
 
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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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Thanks for the review. I have Spanish Eagles but have not been able to get it to the table yet. It is a much more attractive package overall. I enjoy some Avalanche games. The rules are usually not too bad in comparison to other company's rules. Their counters are usually quite attractive, but they do indeed have map issues with too many of their games. After seeing the picture you posted and the one you linked to I have to wonder who originally looked at those within the company and said something like "yeah that looks great, lets go with it ! " or if they actually did like the way that maps look.

Have you tried their Austerlitz game which utilizes the same system I believe ? I have heard conflicting reviews. Most did not seem to complain about gameplay and felt that was solid enough, but the overly extravagant counter art apparently made the counters very difficult to read as one played. Then again I have heard a few comments that the counters were not as bad as claimed by some. I do not know how I would fare with this game but I have been tempted to pick it up on e-bay for a reasonable price.


I have not taken a crack at the Austerltz game but it does not look good. As for Alavanche, they do make good counters and their rules usually aren't too bad, but maps vary from good to crap, with crap getting more of the spotlight.
 
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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!
badge
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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I look forward to reading you review of Spanish Eagles, if you ever get round to playing it.


I hope I can play it someday, but I've got a feeling it won't be any time soon.
 
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Charles Stevens
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I agree completely with your review except for one thing: The map for They Shall Not Pass: The Battle of Verdun 1916 is the most putrid of all their maps. yuk

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/187913/they-shall-not-pas...

 
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Louisiana
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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!
badge
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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I agree completely with your review except for one thing: The map for They Shall Not Pass: The Battle of Verdun 1916 is the most putrid of all their maps. yuk


Another terrible map, but I am fond of the game.
 
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nick P
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Poor old Avalanche, getting stick as usual. The map is quite good in my opinion, certainly no worse than some I've seen from other companies, including many dating from the so-called 'golden age of wargaming.' I like this set a lot and absolutely love the box cover - reminds me of an Airfix box of figurines from the 1960s. Good stuff.
 
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mochara c
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Bah! The real screamer is here: http://boardgamegeek.com/image/137971/war-of-the-states-gett...

Are those hills or protozoa?
 
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nick P
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Come on - it's not that bad.What about the map that came with that GMT Arnhem game (can't recall the title)? That was far worse but no-one says a word against GMT.
 
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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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!
badge
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?
Avatar
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Quote:
Come on - it's not that bad.What about the map that came with that GMT Arnhem game (can't recall the title)? That was far worse but no-one says a word against GMT.


Their early games had some average maps, but even in 1995 they were making good ones:



GMT addressed these issues. Avalanche has yet to do the same. Sorry, but I am a GMT fan. Without them, my wargame collection would be much smaller.
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