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"Napoleon in Europe"

Walk into any games shop and you are going to be faced with a great many based on that short period in European history when Napoleon dominated politics and there was almost constant war between France and one or more other countries. The fascination of this period is well established, and playing one of these games might seem like a wonderful way to recreate the epic battles and campaigns of the time. However most such games use cardboard counters or other simple devices to represent armies, and for many this simply is not satisfying. 'Napoleon in Europe' from Eagle games does not pretend to reproduce the glittering scenes of the time, but it goes further than most by providing large numbers of playing pieces to mark infantry, cavalry and artillery, and joy of joys, they are 1/72 scale figures. Therefore whether you actually play the game or not any Napoleonic miniatures fan will need to know something of what this game supplies.

The game includes an impressive 564 miniatures as well as a number of counters and a very large and attractive map of Europe as a game board. All the miniatures are in the industry-standard soft plastic and average around 24mm in height, so are entirely compatible with the sets of figures we have reviewed elsewhere on this site.

So, what do you get? Well, there are 7 different pieces and they are provided in eight colours. Each sprue holds 39 pieces, but there is more than one sprue of some colours. Below is a summary of the colours and quantities:

 

Infantry

Elite Infantry

Flag

Leader

Light Cavalry

Heavy Cavalry

Gun

Dark Blue

45

9

6

9

21

9

18

Dark Green

30

6

4

6

14

6

12

Grey

30

6

4

6

14

6

12

Light Brown

15

3

2

3

7

3

6

Red

15

3

2

3

7

3

6

Yellow

15

3

2

3

7

3

6

Light Blue

15

3

2

3

7

3

6

Purple

15

3

2

3

7

3

6

That's 468 pieces. In addition there are 96 horses (48 brown, 24 black and 24 grey) which gives us the figure of 564. The price of the game might seem quite high but in terms of the price per figure it is broadly in line with the sets from the usual manufacturers.

Here we see the first of the figures, in this case in the light brown colour. The first is the 'infantry' figure. He is a generic Napoleonic figure, as might be expected, and can’t be said to accurately represent any type of nationality or unit. His shako has cords front and rear, and his coat is of the open lapel type. However this is like no coat seen on any soldier, since it seems to have no tails (it is hard to tell) and the waistcoat has two large external pockets. The man also wears trousers with a vertical fly - very un-Napoleonic - and what looks like knee-length gaiters which become boots once they get to the feet. He carries a sword but no bayonet scabbard, and has unusual-looking equipment. In short, he has the flavour of a Napoleonic soldier but close inspection reveals several problems.

Next there is the ‘Elite Infantry’, apparently modelled on the French Imperial Old Guard. However again we find some strange features such as the long sword with a curve towards the point, the lack of any pouches or bayonet scabbard, and, most obvious of all, the short pike that he is carrying. At the top it has a bayonet of sorts, but it is otherwise a long thin pole with absolutely no resemblance to any firearm. A good deal of detail has been missed here, particularly the coat tails, so again a guardsman but only in a loose sense.

Third in line is the flag-bearer, which again might suggest French infantry at a distance but has much detail either missing or inaccurate. His flag is of particular note, being quite wide but not very tall and therefore not particularly useful for any nationality.

Finally we find a 'leader', or mounted officer. This is perhaps the most lifelike figure in the box, with a fairly simple coat and his bicorn fore-and-aft. Not a great sculpting job but quite useable.

The next picture shows the cavalry and artillery. The cavalry is represented by two figures, which are generic light and heavy types. The first is the 'light', and perhaps most closely resembles the French Line Chasseurs with his shako. However his jacket is of a post-Napoleonic cut. The 'heavy' is a cuirassier, and has a helmet which is suggestive of the Austrian model. Again some parts of his costume are too modern for Napoleonics, but like many of the figures there might be some possibility of use for a later period.

The artillery is only represented by a cannon. This comes with carriage and barrel as one piece, with only the wheels being separate. The gun has a single trail which is too short for the real thing but was presumably designed this way to ease placement on the board. This is the same gun that can be found in other Eagle games based in much later campaigns, and doesn't really past muster as Napoleonic.

The mounted figures all fit on the one horse pose in the box. This is the same horse as used in other games, and is also available seperately (including a white version). The figures fit it very well, but the style of equipment is not Napoleonic and the animal is not a convincing sculpting effort. It is worth pointing out that there are 120 mounted figures in the game, but only 96 horses - presumably Eagle do not expect every single figure to be in use at the same time, which is reasonable.

Eagle say that they provided their pieces in the comparitively large 1/72 scale so players could substitute figures from other manufacturers such as Italeri and HaT. This seems like a very sensible idea and allows the connoisseur to make the units as realistic as they like. However for traffic going the other way - using the game pieces as stand-alone miniatures - the quality and attention to detail, while perfectly adequate for the purposes of the game, do not compare well with the sort of figures made today by many companies. However if quantity is more important than quality, and large numbers of one pose might be useful, then this source of figures is well worth considering.

Anyone considering buying these figures will be happy to know that it is not necessary to buy the whole game to get them. In a shrewd marketing move Eagle also sell individual sprues (containing 39 pieces) of these miniatures. They are available in all eight of the colours to be found in the game, plus white. The horses too are marketed separately, in boxes of 72.

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