Review: Field of Glory 2 - Legions Triumphant DLC08 Mar 2018 2
Review: Field of Glory 2 - Legions Triumphant DLC
Released 08 Mar 2018
The weather has been unseasonably warm, some flowers have begun to bloom and the most famous groundhog in the Colonies has responded by sending yet another winter storm our way. Yes, it’s that time of year. It’s time for another for another DLC (Downloadable Content) package from Matrix games in support of Field of Glory II (FOG2). This time the add-on module goes by the name Legions Triumphant (LT) and covers the rise and eventual fall of the Imperial Roman military in 476 AD. Grab your Lorica Segmentata and let’s march.
Like most DLCs, LT comes with a host of non-gameplay related add-ins and extras. Rules don’t necessarily change, but the forces controlled by those rules do, with extra countries and troop types. Once again Matrix has really done a good job with all the additions included.
For starters there are now 17 new unit types, or 19 if you count two units previous found in the game but never used. Naturally, a lot of these are Roman, an odd assortment of units and formations specific to the late Roman Empire (or what Hollywood History rarely shows). For example, included are the Legio Palatina, Legio Comitatensis, Auxilia Palatina and Limitanei. The Palatina were elite palace troops and their supports, whilst the Comitatensis referred to the regional mobile field armies vice the legions assigned garrison duties along the Rhine frontier and elsewhere. The Limitanei were the latter and not expected to fight far from their fortifications. Nevertheless, not everything new is Roman and you will find a good heaping of Jewish Zealots and Sassanid Levey Foot along with Huns and the like.
As previously, the troop figures and units are superbly rendered with excellent, but appropriate animation. Anatomically correct, the dress, attire and weaponry are all historically accurate down to the last sword and sandal. No, you will not find the red tunic Romans with the rectangular shields emblazoned with the Praetorian winged thunderbolt motif. Instead these legionaries are dressed in off white carrying oval shields displaying a variety of patterns that do not look Roman at all, at least so far as Cecil B. DeMille is concerned. Yet there they are, completely accurate and playing these forces is a real hoot. The elephants are especially drop dead gorgeous.
With these new and older units, you can now produce 10 new factions such as Romano-British, Sassanid Persian, and Caledonian and so on, backed by an additional 22 new army lists. Here we are talking about not less than six new Roman related lists, plus Sarmatians, Picts, Palmyrans, Goths and even Hephthalites (look it up, I had to). And with these forces assembled the DLC now provides 36 new custom battles begging their participation as well as four new campaigns (Third Century Crisis, King of Kings in Sassanid Persia, Stilicho and Empire of the Huns) and 10 new Epic Battles (Watling Street 61 AD, Adamclisi 102 AD, Hormozdgan 224 AD, Emesa 272 AD, Argentoratum 357 AD, Maranga 363 AD, Adrianople 378 AD, Frigidus 394 AD, Chalons 451 AD, Nedao 454 AD, all either side playable). Don’t take stuff like this lightly. Many people assume these DLCs are merely digital versions of the miniature army list books, but none of them include things like campaigns and historical battles. The books are often more expensive to boot.
Finally, LT comes with a free patch that impacts the entire game to include the base software and its first DLC Immortal Fire. The patch allows players to continue fighting after a battle has been lost, has increased the maximum number of battles in campaigns and now allows victorious units to not only increase their quality from battle to battle, but move from one troop type to another. By switching off date and real estate filters, oddball campaigns such as Sassanid Persians vs Spartans are now possible. This sort of thing was popular in ancients miniature tournaments many years ago, and I suppose at least partially explains the Hobbit Hovels that rankle me so much. Such tournaments were also notorious for having the most pristine and detailed figures on the planet (seriously, I know one churl who painted eyeballs in his 15s – in different colors) and yet some of the shabbiest terrain. Given the hand of ancients miniatures guru (and FOG pewter author) Richard Bodley Scott is evident in FOG2, it may make sense.
LT also has a few upgrades under the hood, and to test these out I decided to take the Late Imperial Romans and fight it out with the Sassanid Persians at Maranga (363 AD). The Roman army was typical for this time and boasted all those peculiarly named infantry chaps above in the center deployed as a checkerboard, and backed by several Ballista. On the wings were a combo of light and heavy horse, so include some fully armored Kataphraktoi. The Persians had their super heavy cavalry in the center with armored horse archers on the wings. There was no infantry whatsoever, none, nada, nein, nyet. There was, however, Dumbonius the Elder and his Persian PAC (Pachyderm Assault Corps) backing up the entire operation, and after this battle I will pay much more attention to these critters in the future.
The Persians advanced with their archers and proceeded to shoot up my infantry, while the armored horse stayed put. The fire was far deadlier than I anticipated so I advanced with my cavalry to drive them away knowing full well that if the AI understood Sassanid doctrine they would evade. They did and to my surprise, the AI responded by peeling off the left and right squadrons of his armored lancer line and sent them to shore up the situation. LT does advertise that the AI in this DLC is a bit smarter and that one digital decision showed me this was no spin. I’ve not seen the AI in this game respond as quickly as it did here. Also advertised as a change, even though the armored horse archers were able to evade every time I went after them, they suffered some casualties regardless.
Nevertheless, with the mounted bowmen at bay, the Persians had no choice but to advance and try to break my line with his own Kataphraktoi. These units are tough and did inflict grievous losses, but the one thing I’ve learned playing this game is the advantage of geometry. This means that keeping an intact, geometrically perfect checkerboard is essential and seems to really bewilder the AI, which I suspect assumes the player will maneuver his units independently like a bunch of Ferraris at Lemans. The AI seems to control its own units this way, independent of each other as opposed to collaborating as a single, large formation. Regardless, I was able to slowly make headway against them by pinning and then hitting the flank, while still keeping an intact line and reserve. It was quite helpful – this is the third advertised change – my infantry did not automatically pursue after each enemy unit broke or fell back. Heck, although the casualty count percentage was close, I could smell a Triumph in Rome just over the horizon…
But then, all of a sudden, the battlefield began to look like a Republican GOP political convention as four units of really, REALLY big elephants came trampling forward. The things inflicted very heavy losses and despite throwing everything at them but the proverbial kitchen sink, they proved nearly indestructible. This kinda surprised me, as you might have thought after Hannibal the Romans would know how to handle elephants. I finally was able to turn the tables by using a combination of pin and flank after, but only after shooting every Ballista I could bring to bear (note to self, save all Ballista ammunition if there are elephants anywhere on the table). That finally worked and the beasts routed, bumping into their own units and sending them packing as well. About turn 17 or so, the Sassanids collapsed and the casualty count swung dramatically in my favor. Victory at last.
I came, I saw, I kicked butt!
Given everything this package includes, and the excellent quality thereof, LT is excellent value at $14.99. Certainly a much bigger bang for your Denarius than the paper version, which is going for $ 31.01 on Amazon right now.