The computer version of Field of Glory satisfies two itches at once. First, it is a very simple and very fast playing wargame, well adapted from what is, by all accounts, a very good miniature rule set. Second, it is an ancients game, and we all know that I can go on forever about that setting.
I only had a passing familiarity with the rules until I got the PC game so I wasn’t quite sure how all the support rules and rallying worked but like its predecessor, Great Battles of History, it is a good enough translation of the table top rules that I am actually confident that I could pick up a Field of Glory manual and play the game.
The computer game has 18 scenarios and I’ve already blown through almost all of them from at least one side. The scenarios play very quickly and have some of the funky stuff that inevitably happens in miniature gaming. The battles break up into two or three discrete portions, there is a rush to hit to the victory point cap (based on routing or disrupting a certain number of enemy units) regardless of the real tactical situation, the role of leaders in ancient warfare is fudged, unit definitions are not subtle or malleable…
And all I can think of is how much I want to keep playing this game. The 18 scenarios are not nearly enough, especially since a lot of major battles aren’t touched (Zama, Cannae, Pydna, Telamon, etc.) and a lot of armies are just absent. The Late Macedonians are the only Successor army, there are no Pontines or even an Alexandrian army. And there are some really stupid spelling errors in parts of the game.
On the battle side, Field of Glory comes with one of the most user friendly editors I’ve ever encountered, so I expect good scenarios to come to light very quickly. I could even build a few, I suppose – it’s that easy to use. There’s not really an army builder, though, which is a big part of the appeal of miniature gaming. You can’t have everything, though, and the editor is a real gem as it stands now.
The AI needs to be stronger, and I wonder if this is a problem inherent in the simple wargame rules of a miniature set. Though the calculations here are relatively simple, I see little evidence of the computer thinking too far ahead or putting itself in a position where it can roll up a flank with superior units if not superior numbers. The victory system puts a premium on routing the enemy, of course, but the computer opponent seems to be a little careless about putting its own weakened units in harm’s way. The Great Battles games had this same problem, and that’s a much more complex game than a standard miniature ruleset.
In spite of this, the elegant editor, strong MP game and faithful translation of the rules – not to mention the setting – makes Field of Glory my favorite wargame of the year so far. Is it the best of the year? Not so sure about that. But I look forward to new content.
EDIT: Just realized how negative this post seems…
I love how simple and clear the game is. Skirmishers aren’t just cannon fodder, but are useful arms. Legions and Phalanxes feel properly balanced in spite of the fudging with scale and frontages. Terrain effects are important, but not over riding concerns, reflecting the fact that – most of the time – an army wouldn’t fight anywhere near terrain that would screw it entirely.