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Field of Glory: I’d Like Some More Please

November 23rd, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 10 Comments · Ancients, Slitherine, Wargames

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.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Ian Bowes (spelk)

    I’ve done very little miniature gaming myself, so I’m not really that familiar with the rules, although the in-game help page is quite informative. I have only played a few scenarios, but am having a bit of trouble clicking with the idea that its all about demoralising rather than eradicating. I think the impact rules on top of the melee rules are fooling me a bit. And units I expect to do well against others seem to become disrupted and fragmented far too easy. I probably just need to spend some quality time digesting the rules a bit more, and getting into the ancients mindset.

    I think the photographed miniature graphics are admirable (I believe they were painted and photographed for the purpose of the game by a modelling/miniature school/group in Scotland), but don’t quite do the models justice, they’re not defined enough to make them pleasing to the eye. They seem to come across as a jumble of bright colours with fuzzy borders, sometimes one or two of the pieces at a particular angle look like the miniature they’re meant to represent, but not enough of them do. I’d like to have seen something more stylised, more pleasant to look at.

    The setting itself is something that really appeals to me, and there haven’t been enough decent turn based ancient warfare games out there, I just wish it was a bit more polished. The editor of course should help with the initial scenario drought. And apparently the multiplayer via PBEM is a doddle, and should maximise its longevity.

    I only wish I was any good at it.

  • Hose Hemayonaise

    Two things I noticed instantly about this one is it has no random battle generator or a purchase armies battle system ala Combat Mission style or even Total War series. The TW series even as bad as the regular game is has a very good custom battle setup system whereby you can input how many points from 10000 to 100000 which allows for many unique and different types of army makeups to be created and battles to take place.

    The empty colored bases are an eyesore and would have been better if they had just made them solid color and not changed them everytime sides changed. How hard is it for a player to know which side is which turns time to play? We don’t need that kind of activity and change of colors everytime it’s someone else’s turn.

    It comes with 18 canned scenarios which two of them are tutorial and/or supposedly a balanced setup between two human players for multiplayer but that one is so lopsided in favor of the Romans it’s not even a good balance for multiplayer.

    It does have an editor and well if it takes off which I’m not sure it will then one can get some more canned scenarios to play if someone else makes them or if they have any interest in modding their own.

    I’ve played three scenarios so far and won each one as the side that should be defeated in the actual historical battle (even after the patch). I was pretty disappointed in the setup of the Ticenus battle between Hannibal vs Scipio battle as this was not the setup or the strategy of the battle at all (the terrain is also pretty bland and featureless). In effect this was an ambush and in this setup everything is exposed and inline. I also won as Spartacus in another battle. Pompey in the last one. The ai isn’t totally braindead though and I would give it an adequate for learning the game if you are into multiplay later on.

    I have Great Battles series as well and I’m just not sure this game is really an upgrade to it. I like the initiative feature of GB and this one is more like just a cardboard game of igo ugo throw everything in the middle and let’s see who wins. Not exactly quite like that but not a whole lot of tactics to it. It also favors standing in defense as the attackers initial strike takes devestating losses compared to the defender in 9/10 attacks. I’ve seen attackers take 177 dmg to 14 dmg vs defender a lot. It also plays a lot like Hoplite with the cohesion being more important than anything. The player objective is not to destroy just to rout and break so hit those flanks and rear often is the basic tactic.

    Graphics wise it’s rather behind the times and doesn’t look much better if any better than the Great Battles series and certainly doesn’t match the graphics of the Tin Soldiers series.

    I think it is priced right though for what you get and if the player made scenarios takes off like the GB series then it might turn out to be a classic for the ancients series. Otherwise it will just get lost in the pile of played that and no replayability left to it type of games.

    It really needs either a random battle generator or a purchase armies feature to have longevity though imho. I’ve never been much of a fan of canned scenario games anyway. I am an ancients fan though and that is main reason I purchased it to see if it hit the mark. It’s not quite a 7 overall but it’s not a 6 either so somewhere inbetween as far as how much I will play it after the first week. All n all it feels and plays more like an entry level game instead of minatures style complexity. It’s not a Punic Wars or Gallic Wars by HPS either.

    Also, Iain seems to want to push multiplayer and I’m still pretty adamant that most gamers buy games for the solo element and the multiplayer element as an afterthought or a bonus only. I looked at the multiplayer board that is included and nobody was there or had issued any challenges.

    You’re really better off buying the HPS ancients series of Punic Wars, Gallic Wars and Alexander because you get so much more as in the 50′s of scenerios to play. A much more detailed combat system and the graphics are far above this games.

  • Angry Gamer

    “HPS ancients series of Punic Wars, Gallic Wars and Alexander because you get so much more as in the 50’s of scenerios to play. A much more detailed combat system and the graphics are far above this games.”

    HPS NEVER has better graphics than anything, but I agree about the amount of scenarios. Too bad all their games are rehashes of the same engine they want to charge you 50 bucks for. No thanks

    I also agree about the multiplayer, which is the last thing I take into account when I get a wargame. Weird right?

    I dont own great battles but that game is pretty old so anything new is nice to me.

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  • Dirk

    Hose, I think you are missing what makes this a good game.

    I *hate* multi-player. I dislike RTS’; when I play an RTS, I play it like a turn-based game pausing all of the time. Move, pause, move pause. Needless to say, almost all of my gaming is solo.

    The multi-player on Field of Glory is, I daresay, spectacular. It is dead simple to get a game set up. When your turn is over you push “Done” and you truly are done until you get an email letting you know it’s your turn again. Perfect.

    While perhaps only for a certain type of player – who still prefers board to computer games; who likes turn-based as opposed to RTS games – I think they are hitting precisely the right note. I’m recommending it to literally all of my game playing friends, and I do not recommend games to friends. As opposed to my typical computer gaming, I expect to play this almost entirely with other people. I consider that an eminently good thing.

  • Charles Robinson

    As a miniature wargamer and fan of the Field of Glory table top rules, I was very excited when I heard that Slitherine was publishing a PC version of the ruleset. I was fortunate to be chosen as one of the beta testers and my initial impression was less than stellar, but that soon changed.

    First, the things that I do not like – AI needs to be more aggressive – of course I am an experienced gamer so you do have to take into account new gamers; no campaign, and no army builder. Making an AI good is a very hard thing to do, especially for a game like this that will cover everything from the earliest armies of history to the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire. Every army fights differently so it is real hard to reproduce a decent AI that plays all armies well. This is something that the team is working on and one of the constant points brought up by the beta team. Campaign? Do not know if that will happen, it would be a big boost to those who do not want to play multiplayer. Army builder, it is on its way and is in development. This will be the key to keeping this game alive!

    Now for what I do like, graphics is just fine – I really like the idea of using actual painted miniatures for the game (just to cool!), the editor is easy to use and you can put together a scenerio quickly and share it with friends. One of the things mentioned in earlier posts is the small army list, but more are coming and what they do not mention is the absolutely awesome convertability built into the game. You can change the stats on any of the game pieces and create your own units for historical games – I have been having a ball playing Maccabean Jews versus Seleucids even though the Maccabean Jews are not one of the armies listed. The figures provided are very flexible and it was easy to find the right pieces to put together the Maccabeans. You can adjust everything, change weapons, unit types, quality of troops, armour, command units, and level of training. Again, absolutely awesome. The last thing I want to talk about is the multiplayer aspect of the game – and boy did it evolve in leaps and bound from it’s origional setup. I love the multiplayer! Yes it is turn based, and if you are both online at the same time the game can go very quickly. If you want to take your time then it reminds me more of chess with carefully thought out and crafted moves. It has a built in chat that helps to create that miniature games feel in that you and your opponent are chatting away with each turn that you send and you develop friendships that you just don’t do with other games (that is part of why I enjoy table top wargaming). The last thing about multiplayer that I want to let you know about is the amount of games you can have going at the same time. Unlike most other PC games you can have up to 20 games going on at the same time! This is wonderful – I have turns to play almost everytime I turn on my computer! Also, because of the way that multiplayer is designed you never have to worry about wether your computer can keep up with your opponents – it is all about you and what skills you bring to the table. I really love the adaptability that this game has, a army builder is on its way, and more armies to boot. Yes this game has some growing to do, but this game will blossom quickly! Thank you.

  • Hose Hemayonaise

    I just want to make one small addendum to Angry Gamers post:

    You can get HPS games for $29.99 at a couple of places online now NWSonline.com is one and there’s another on Amazon.com advertised with cheaper shipping than NWS.

    While the official site the games are $49.99 you hardly have to pay that if you just look around so really the $49.99 price is rather a moot point.

    The price comparison is the same both games are $29.99 and you get a whole lot more with the HPS games than you do this one. I don’t care how spectacular they think multiplayer is, PBEM is PBEM it’s move and wait no matter how you put it.

  • JonathanStrange

    I would buy Field of Glory if it had the army builder; I’m a big fan of being able to fight a battle with the army of my choosing.

    I’ve HPS Gallic Wars and HPS Punic Wars too; I was looking for something a little more visually pleasing or with a superior AI than either.

    I’ll think I’ll delay purchasing for now but I definitely enjoyed your comments and would welcome more.

  • Charles Robinson

    Multiplayer Video Tutorial – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41t0ZM2rpxM

    Scenario Editor Video Tutorial – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPKmgzQtLvM

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