Campaign Eckmuhl

By Richard Moore

Campaign Wagram

Napoleon's Russian Campaign


Austerlitz: The Rise of the Eagle - the premier play-by-email Napoleonic wargame


The 1809 Campaign along the Danube is one of the great military challenges for Napoleonic wargaming buffs and it has been captured superbly in Campaign Eckmuhl by John Tiller's team at HPS Simulations.

Based on the Talonsoft's Battleground engine - although featuring much-improved gameplay - Campaign Eckmuhl allows players to take command of either the Austrians or the French.

It begins with the French caught out of position by an aggressive Austrian army launching a surprise invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte's trusted ally Bavaria.

The talented-but-conservative Austrian commander is the Archduke Charles, while the French are poorly led by Marshal Berthier - a brilliant chief of staff, but way out of his depth in the field.

Things become desperate for the French and even outstanding marshals like Louis Davout find themselves hemmed in against the Danube River and fighting for their corps' very lives.

The arrival of Bonaparte helps stabilise the situation and then it is on for young and old as the Austrian attack runs out of ideas and steam.

Campaign Eckmuhl covers the early major battles of the 1809 Campaign - including include Eckmuhl, Abensberg, Landshut, Ratisbon and Sacile - the later ones being simulated in Campaign Wagram.

There 100+ smaller, more manageable 10 to 30-turn scenarios to play in a few hours, or you can try your hand at the bigger challenges that include a whopping 534 turn entire Eckmuhl campaign.

Now a game of that size does take some hard gameplay, but one of the beauties about the games from HPS is that you can easily turn the AI off and on.

This means that instead of having to click your way through the massive number of units you command - you can get the computer to do the hard work and automatically move your men for you.

And it does open up the chance of the machine not doing exactly what you wanted, but that adds to the challenge and puts more realism into gameplay.

After all, Napoleonic communications were pretty basic and misunderstandings did occur. So when you want to take over for a bit of hands-on leadership you switch off the auto and unwrap your baton.

Gameplay itself is fantastic and while turn-based, it does have reaction phases so that opposing units get defensive fire opportunities when an in-range target moves, changes facing or formation. This fluidity enlivens the whole feel of the game.

There are four levels for watching the action - easily accessed by pressing hotkeys - and they range from satellite view to a close-up 3D.

Like in the Battleground series I prefer moving via satellite view and then getting up close for the firefights.

The game's sprites are not the greatest - and are a bit disappointing on bird's-eye level - but overall the game is easy on the eye.

The screen layout is clean with informative panels on units and that can be adjusted to have a full-screen map.

The music is from the period and features both Germanic and French styles.

The game styles are normal, direct-play host, direct-play caller, play by email and two player hot seat.

Campaign Eckmuhl is highly recommended for strategic and tactical wargame fans.



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