|Wargamer Home - Forum Home|
|8 JUL 2012 at 2:37am|
Posts : 1099
Joined: 12 AUG 2011
Status : Offline
Posted In: Articles : PC Game Review
Some games capture historical accuracy through detailed mechanics; others are able to reach a high level of accuracy through abstraction. Slitherine’s Field of Glory series falls into the latter category. The base game and seven subsequent add-ons have covered European and Mid-eastern warfare from antiquity to the Late Middle Ages. The simplicity of mechanics and broad scope, developed from tabletop rules, has made the series a favorite with wargamers. The latest addition to the series, Battle Pack, continues the fun.
Simplicity is Good
Battle Pack requires patch 1.8, which allows access to the pack and fixes bugs to the battle generator and scenario editor. Terrains cover many types with villages, forests and ridges. These features can obstruct line-of-sight and hide units when fog of war is used. Units are shown from a top-down angle and are slightly oversized for the hexes, allowing great graphic detail and colors using the zoom feature. Animation includes flights of arrows, floating casualty figures, death heads and text showing unit cohesion states. Sound effects emphasize movement and melee combat.
The game’s mechanics are simplicity in itself. Selecting a unit brings up five characteristics, such as experience and strength, in an info bar at the bottom of the screen. Accessible hexes are highlighted as is firing range for missile units. Missile targets are shown with a bull’s eye—mousing over a missile target shows the chance of it undergoing a cohesion test. Similarly, a red sword indicates a possible melee target with the chances of both defender and attacker attaining victory. Right clicks will allow facing changes and give skirmishers evasion options.
Once in melee, most units can’t disengage until one is routed or eliminated. However, cavalry is allowed to disengage while fighting infantry—if the infantry isn’t disrupted. Adjacent units affect melee results and units that are out of the control range of a commander may go their own way—depending on the troops and their commander. Combat results are shown in casualties and cohesion degradation. Cohesion steps are “disrupted”, “fragmented” and “routed”. The first two reduce efficiency but a rally during the intra-turn phase can bring units back to snuff. Routed units can rally, but most of the time they continue their route and retreat off the map. Furthermore, routed units can degrade adjacent friendly units and units through which they rout.
Cohesion is the key to victory: each army has a break point limit. The different levels of cohesion steps have point values that increase the number of break points. Once the limit is reached, that side loses. Since larger armies have higher limits, small armies must rely on quality or maneuver to win. The AI player is fairly crafty but the online system run by Slitherene makes multi-play so easy that players will want to challenge their peers. A scenario editor, a map editor and an army generator assure great variety.
Slaughter through the Ages
Unlike the other add-ons, Battle Pack doesn’t concentrate on a single theme or period. It also doesn’t add any new units to the “Digital Army Generator”. Rather, it adds twenty scenarios that range from the first recorded battle, Megiddo, during the Bronze Age to Bosworth Field in 1485. The beauty of the pack is the wide variation of battles. Players can pick battles like pieces from Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. However, a more sophisticated and interesting approach is to sort battles by year. Players can then follow the evolution of Western warfare from chariot armies to light infantry, heavy infantry, cavalry and, finally, massed pikemen. Results can be surprising. For instance, most sources describe the Battle of Morgarten as a Swiss romp over stupid Austrians. The game, though, is very tight with the Swiss having to be clever to win. Al-Qadsiyya may be the most zoo-like battle. This three-day slug fest between the Arabs and Persians featured camels, elephants and fine Arabian horses. Hastings is a very tight game for either side and will draw history buffs almost automatically. One regrets the absence of Pavia. That battle was not only crucial to the Valois-Hapsburg rivalry in Italy but also marked the emergence of the harquebus as a key feature of the battlefield.
The battles are accurate enough given the game's scale and Slitherine's nice balance between history and gameplay. Some players may turn to more complicated games but this product has something for every level of wargamer. All in all, Battle Pack is a fine and entertaining addition to the Field of Glory series.
Review written by: Jim Cobb, Staff Writer
About Jim Cobb
Copyright ©1995-2013, Wargamer Ltd. All rights reserved in the United States and throughout the world.
All other products and copyrights mentioned on Wargamer Ltd are the property of their respective companies, and Wargamer Ltd makes no claim thereto.