Non-Series Games → When Eagles Fight
Before the award-winning World War I designs Paths of Glory and The Great War In Europe, Deluxe Edition, designer Ted S. Raicer had revived interest in gaming the Great War with a series of WWI campaign games for the late lamented Command magazine. GMT is proud to present a set of revised boxed editions of these classic “players-games”.
Winner of the Charles S. Roberts award for best pre-WWII boardgame, When Eagles Fight covers the eastern front in World War I, the last war of Tsarist Russia, Habsburg Austria, and Imperial Germany. From 1914 to 1917 the armies of the Tsar battled from the Carpathians to the Baltic against the outnumbered but logistically superior German army and the badly-led multi-ethnic forces of Austria-Hungary (the Central Powers). Though repeatedly inflicting massive defeats on the Habsburg armies, the Russians were ultimately undone by the skill and firepower of the German army and the collapsing political structure of the Tsarist autocracy. By March 1917 the 300 year-old Romanov dynasty was no more, and the stage was set for the coming of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. But the empire of the Habsburgs was left mortally wounded, and the Kaiser’s Germany would meet its own doom less than two years later on the battlefields of the western front.
When Eagles Fight recreates this titanic struggle from the initial clashes at Tannenberg and in Galicia to the revolution that brought down Tsar Nicholas II. The large-hex map covers the eastern front of the Great War from the northern tip of Romania to Petrograd, and from Berlin to Smolensk at a scale of 25 miles to the hex. Turns represent one or two months, and combat units range from division to (mostly) corps.
When Eagles Fight is a game of vast offensives and counteroffensives across Polish plains, Hungarian mountains, and Russian swamps and forests, fought by three very different armies. The Tsarist forces are large, with some powerful units and seemingly endless replacements, but suffering from potentially crippling shortages of arms and ammunition. The Austrian army is initially capable but losses will permanently reduce the combat power of Habsburg units, caused by the deaths of junior officers and NCOs, the glue holding this polyglot army together. Though outnumbered, the Imperial Germany army is in a powerful class by itself, but the demands of other fronts of the Great War limit the forces the Kaiser’s generals can bring to bear.
The German need to win an early victory in the east to free up forces on the western front places the Central Powers in a strategically offensive role: they must bring down the Tsar by April 1917 or lose the game. But the weakness of their Austrian ally means that the Germans must beware a Russian offensive that might see the “Russian steamroller” flatten the Habsburg Empire. This creates a dynamic situation in which both players get to attack and defend.
When Eagles Fight has a set of low-complexity rules, without sacrificing the historical elements of this unique theater of the Great War. The combat results table is bloody and attritional, but allows for breakthroughs with the right tactics or artillery support. The greater operational skills of the German army is shown in the use of the OberOst HQ, which allows additional attacks on a select part of the front. The Russian supreme headquarters, Stavka, in turn has the ability to concentrate their limited supplies to overcome logistical shortages. And the surprise tactics of the Brusilov Offensive can allow a late game victory over the Austrians.
Other rules cover the slow pace of Russian mobilization, Austrian Lock-Step Planning in the opening days of the war, German heavy artillery, fortifications, Russian Guards forces, Cavalry Retreats, and the effects of events on other fronts.
But the new edition of When Eagles Fight is more than just a reprint of the original version. The Random Events Table has been modified. The effects if the Germans do not launch a Verdun offensive in France-which sometimes threw off the balance of the original design- have been revised. Changes in the stacking rules for combat after 1914 more accurately reflect the effect of trenches on the course of the campaigns. And the map now contains the rail lines removed by Command from the first edition. The game also includes a short alternative-history scenario in which the bulk of the German army goes east rather than west in August 1914.
These changes make this an improved edition of an already award-winning design. Tense, historical, and just plain fun, When Eagles Fight is a game that belongs in the collection of everyone with an interest in the Great War!
One 88 counter 5/8th countersheets
One standard large hex mapsheet
Two player aids cards
Two Event Chit Cards
Two standard dice
- One 176 counter 5/8th countersheets
Designer: Ted Raicer