A few weeks ago I had a bit of an accident on the Eagles of Empire website. I’ve followed this company for awhile as I liked the look of the models and find the period really interesting (the Franco-Prussian War was in many ways one of the first modern wars). Particularly, the uniforms are absolutely ace - both sides are gorgeously colorful and very striking on the gaming table. I was a bit put off by it being a skirmish game but slowly came round to the idea through watching Real Time History’s excellent series “Glory and Defeat” - a week by week accounting of the war (seriously go check it out, all the stuff Real Time History and The Great War puts out is fantastic). I never quite realized how many “small” actions there were and how even the larger battles at the war’s start could be broken down into smaller “moments”. A few clicks and weeks later a box showed up at my post office containing the starter set - two bags of French and Prussian line infantry along with the Infantry Drill Book (which can be called the basic rulebook).


This review will be broken up into three parts - the French models, the Prussian models, and my impressions of the rules after a few read throughs. Caveat this with I have not yet played the rules - so these are really just my impressions.

FrenchBox FrenchRifleBoxContents

The French models are quite nice. Very detailed with dynamic poses and a certain character to them that really comes through in the photos. The models are definitely more 28 than 32 (always a question these days). I really like the figures- they create a good impression of French soldiers rapidly firing and reloading their Chassepot’s into a block of advancing boches. The figures do NOT have fixed bayonets but - for the French - this is not an issue as the bayonet was only meant to be fixed in the event of a charge as it interfered with the Chassepot’s great accuracy. Given that the figures are posed in much more a “firing line” than “delivering a charge” this is perfectly OK with me and I feel no need to add them.

FrenchOfficer That being said…it isn’t all praise. The weapons are VERY thin - several rifles came bent (expected) and one snapped in the process of bending it back. Fixable - but annoying. The revolvers carried by the officers are also a bit too thin to show detail - something looks “off” to my eye on these ones. I feel that the sculptor would have done better to “chunk up” the weapons just a bit - sacrificing a bit of scale purity for durability and detail but completely get the choice to stay as “in scale” as possible.

A second “hmmmm” comes in the form of the missing flagpole for the French. I noticed that the Prussian set contained one so contacted Eagles of Empire on Facebook to make sure it was expected for the French to NOT come with one. Indeed it is - Soren responded to me almost immediately explaining the French were a very early part of the range and do not include a flagpole though latter sets do. A bit annoying but not catastrophic, a wire spear will work just fine. Can’t fault the customer service even if I have to supply my own flagpole!

Onto the Prussians - these fellas are posed (fittingly) in a more “in motion” fashion than the French. Lots of guys running, matches well with how I think they will play in the rules (more on that later). Unlike the French which are all monopose metals these have a few multipart options - the fits are clean. Apologies for the low quality primed photos - I forgot to take any before whacking them with a rattlecan

Prussians PrussianOfficer

Again my mostly positive impressions are not unreserved - there was a decent amount of flashing on the spikes on the helmets and I had two figures missing spikes entirely (they both look like the same pose so I’m not sure if this was intended or just a miscast - the spikes on these helmets are removeable after all - I do in fact own one!). Nothing that isn’t easily fixable with a good hobby knife and maybe some extra metal (I may leave the missing ones off though, like I said it is detachable and in the midst of a skirmish Hans may not care too much to replace it immediately if Pierre has shot off his helmet spike!)

The more substantial issue is with the lack of bayonets. To my knowledge, the Dreyse needlegun was damn near always supposed to have a bayonet fixed, to the point where it was a part of the rifle more than an accessory. The thin weapons might make this challenging to remedy - I am considering improvising something with my 3d printer. It isn’t a COMPELTE deal breaker (and I should mention the range does include a set of bayonets in a separate pack ) but to me the Prussians are iconic with them so I’ll be doing some “modification” to make it happen.

Onto the rules!

As I mentioned, I was a bit skeptical about a skirmish set in this period but came around to the idea. You will lead a platoon or two of infantry with some support in the basic game (I have not yet looked at the expansion adding in cavalry) - support being a field gun most usually. The system is basing agnostic but does have a recommended system built around its (simple) game mechanics that I find quite appealing and will be using for my troops (easy since I have both sides and will likely be running games at my local club and FLGS).

Production value on everything is quite nice (I did notice a typo or two in the rulebook but nothing too distracting). I should mention the artwork is AMAZING - very evocative and inspiring. FrenchInfantry PrussianInfantry

Honestly the system kind of explains itself in terms of “mechanics” - its what you would expect from a skirmish game. IGOUGO unfortunately but the other bits outweigh that black mark. Unexpectedly there is a very simple shooting priority system which I was pleasantly surprised to encounter (no gamey “my dudes are about to get the bayonet but will shoot at that weak unit way over there instead of the full strength mob charging them”). The unit cards make everything easy (its all on the card, ranges, special abilities, etc). While this isn’t a detailed tactical simulation of late 19th century warfare, I feel that the rules do a perfectly fine job of capturing the period and should reward historical tactics. The interesting bit comes in the way objectives and “doctrine cards” work as well as the command point system.

Each army (I should mention I am aware of four - Prussia. Imperial France, Republican France, and Bavaria at the moment) has a “doctrine” card - your force gets one and only one of these. On this card are abilities that cost “command points” more on that after some pictures.

FrenchDoctrine PrussianDoctrine

Here we come to the truly innovative part of the rules and something I’ve never really seen in a tabletop game before. A series of objectives are on the table (typical fare). You generate resources by holding objective a la Company of Heroes the video game. You can then spend these CP on abilities OR convert them to victory points. You can also use them to summon reinforcements - again very much like CoH. You also trade the CPs into VPs (how you actually win) so there is a balancing act between pursuing the long term goal of “game victory” vs reaching into your doctrine bag of tricks to solve a tactical problem.

Is this a super historical system? No - but hot dog does it look like a good time, I love CoH and was not expecting to see it translated to the tabletop in the 19th century! Its also not completely “immersion breaking” - your level of command in this game is rather low so I can justify it mentally as “someone more important than me sees its going well so is dedicating more resources to my area of the battle”. Board control looks to be very important - more objectives held = more VPs.

This looks to play fantastically with the Imperial French VS the Prussians - the French have a huge range and shooting advantage thanks to the outstanding Chassepot rifle however the Prussians will “move move move” better and can seize board area (and objectives) faster than the French. This will let them spend their CP on abilities like artillery strikes (I was happy to see the Prussian artillery represented so elegantly). It’ll be the French player’s job to try to strike a balance between standing off to take advantage of their more powerful rifles whilst also controlling enough objectives to prevent the Prussians from unlocking their powerful “shift you off a hill” abilities.

My overall impressions are VERY positive and I am furiously trying to clear my painting table so I can do up both sides and give a few games. I look forward to sharing more updates on painting the figures soon!