Monday, May 10, 2021

Shadows of the Eagle - solo try with French vs Prussians circa 1813 (wordy and pic heavy)

Managed to set up and (solo just for a change) play through one of the included scenarios from new Shadows of the Eagle rules.

These are by Keith Flint (Honours of War author) and touted as a low complexity/playable set (10-20 units per side) of Napoleonic rules, and indeed that is essentially what they are. 

Units are of the fashionable standard sized (16-24 figures depending on scale used and on 4-6 bases) on equal frontages and as no figure removal this is of course functional and user friendly, and represent Battalions/Regiments organised into Brigades (up to 3 units can operate independently) with a standard sized game being roughly Divisional (options to scale up to Corps level).

There is no points system but a section does give guidelines for unit types and ratings for various periods and campaigns of the Napoleonic period, with things such as Old or New Regime army types, variance from the standard units, such as units being rated Inferior for Training but Superior for Motivation or visa versa to allow variety to portray units such as Young Guard, Landwehr, Provisional troops and suchlike.

Standard D6 used (Average dice for recoils) with 4+ to hit/activate etc with several modifiers for shooting, combat and so on.

Units are rated as Standard, Inferior or Superior with number of Morale Hits/Casualties they can sustain based on this and subsequent level at which they become Weakened or Routed (destroyed). 

Units are rated for 'Fighting Ability' ie number of dice they roll based on formation or number of bases in contact for Combat.

As an example Infantry in Line fire with 4 basic dice, those in Attack Column use 1 dice whilst in Combat a Line still uses 4 dice but a Column uses 2 (although 2 Columns could make contact). Squares can be 'wrapped around' to maximize dice but they always fight with 4 dice and are a tough proposition to break as they do not recoil and achieving hits on them is difficult. 

Cavalry is divided into Light and Heavy with lights being bit faster and heavies better in combat.

Artillery fires with 2 Dice with hit number of 4+ adjusted for range, weight of cannon and can achieve 'Grazing Fire' (ie bounce through) with ball shot. Artillery seems rather under powered compared to some sets but not played enough to be sure.

Skirmishers appear as units of suitably deployed Light Infantry types or as Skirmish screens to individual Battalions.

Sequence of play sees and Initiative Roll to determine who can go first then its Side 1 Moves (including Charges), Side 2 Moves, both fire (simultaneous results), both conduct Close Combat, then both can Rally.

Charges are simple being a function of movement but are resolved in the same Move Phase with units either recoiling (usually if one has been weakened) or remaining in contact and Light units can Evade.

The standard formations of Line, Attack Column, March Column and Square are all present and seem to interact as expected.

Movement is fairly free and easy outside close range of enemy units with bonus inches for differing types/formations/changes of formation etc. As example in 15mm (2/3rds of 28mm ranges) a Line Infantry unit moves 4" with 2" bonus if in Column and halved in difficult ground (Infantry fires to 6", Skirmishers to 8")

Command and control is represented by Commanders (Brigadiers and a C in C) that exert a Zone of Control with units outside their Commanders range being required to pass an Activation test to operate normally, otherwise no Orders System as such. 

Commanders can also join units to assist in Rallying off hits (2 hits are permanent) and with Standard units being Weakened on 4 hits and Routed on 7 hits this is an important function for Generals.

So overall nothing really 'new' in the rules but nothing jarring or odd encountered, they sort of fall into a similar vein and level of complexity to Rank and File, Imperial Eagles, Black Powder or Over The Hills (basic version). 

They are well presented with decent illustrations and the actual rules themselves are fairly short with rest of book (hardback by the way) consisting of Army outlines, good examples and Designer Notes which I always enjoy reading.

Obviously only a very brief overview of the rules here with several aspects skimmed over or not mentioned, and on balance I do prefer the recently released Lasalle 2 and it innovations for same 'scale' of game, but these are a perfectly playable alternative set with a sort of old school feel. 

Scenario has one side defending a river line and its bridges/fords with bulk of force arriving as reinforcements over several randomly determined turns on set road entry points. 

For this I choose French as attackers and Prussians as delaying side circa 1813. I keep units as standardized as possible for ease of play and similarly with Generals (who can be Inept, Average or Inspiring).

French have 3 Infantry Brigades with Foot Guns and a Brigade of Chasseurs (Light Cav) and a Brigade of Dragoons (Heavy Cav) with a Horse Gun Battery as an Independent unit.

The Prussians start with 3 Independent units to the fore being 2 units of Fusileers (Light Inf) and 1 Uhlan (Light Cav) with an Infantry Brigade and a Hussar Brigade in support (in the towns). The Prussians have 2 more Infantry Brigades and a Dragoon Brigade to arrive.

Importantly the river can only be crossed at the two bridges and two fords (one of which starts under French reach), these plus two towns are objectives.

The field of battle from French side

French deployed (with Dragoons in reserve off table)

Later action as French Dragoon columns threaten Prussian Hussars in line.

Overview as Prussian reserves arrive

Prussian Fusileers in skirmish order delay in wooded areas as Uhlans bounce of a French square

Another unit of Fusileers suffer as they try to delay in centre.

Prussian Infantry reserves deploy to protect a ford

Attack Columns clash on French left on approach to large town

As final Prussian reserves appear along road.

Units start to weaken (yellow 'puffs') as hits inflicted

Prussians trying to keep French pinned back

Prussian Dragoon Brigade struggles to find room to properly deploy

French have numbers in centre

But Prussians massing on right

Overview from Prussian right

Prussian Fusileers under severe pressure 

Don not fancy Hussars chances against French Dragoons.

Unlikely to finish this game as new edition of L'Art De La Guerre has arrived and keen to get to grips with its changes.

Roll on face to face gaming, which will hopefully be 'legal' from 24th of May here in N.Ireland, we are allowed to play outside in a garden but as the weather has been consistently awful (such a contrast to last year !) this has not been an option.



  1. Gary good to see these rules on your table. In 15mm, are you using 4 bases (double ranked for infantry) per unit (24?).

    I just can’t make up my mind whether to go for L’Art De La Guerre, I have his Bataille Empire, which I like the look of.

    1. A decent set. Yes 4 bases (40 x 30mm mostly) with 6 figs per base so 24 Inf or 3 Cav for 12 fig units. This basing suits me for numerous rule sets. Dont think basing is very crucial as long as both sides same. LADG is good set with smallish sized armies. I am torn between it and Mortem Et Gloriam as fav ancients set. Bat Empire I found very complex and with several contradictory rules (think translation from original French nor perfect) but it certainly ticks a lot of boxes. Just found them frustrating to use/play so stuck with easier sets. Your mileage may vary :-)

  2. Thanks Gary, I like the info in Bataille Empire more than the rules.

    1. Yes the varied and extensive force lists are great.

  3. The game looks good, but this is more a factor of your figures and terrain than any rules, I suspect! It is pleasing to see skirmishers in clear evidence in a game of Napoleonics.
    Regards, James

    1. Skirmish representation in this way suits the Bttn scale of the game. Note some Bttns can be deployed entirely in skirmish order.