I hope to do several reviews in the next week or two, each about a pre-Napoleonic gun-powder battles. Besides the normal review, I going to add a little extra called "The Line of Battle". What is this?
Well all these pre-Napoleonic battles involve armies that fought in a very linear style. The games tend to all involve long lines of troops grinding into each other. This can either be quick or bog down the game, so as to truly give you a taste of what a game might entail, I will be doing a little demo @ the end of each review, that demo's a small infantry line assault on another line. These assaults will be with semi-random forces, on pretty much open terrain, despite any scenario rules, just to show what a "standard" assault might entail.
So with all that out of the way here is "Fields of Glory" and its Line of Battle:
Summary: "Fields of Glory" (FoG) takes place during the War of Spanish Succession time period, and is a game of two battles. It is a follow up of the game "A Famous Victory" (aFV), using a refined set of rules from the aFV. The FoG rules can be used, with out change in aFV according to the FoG rule book, and should be used such. The two battles in FoG are Oudenarde, a rare meeting engagement, and Malplaquet, the single largest musket battle until Napoleon, and a battle in which both sides still claim victory!
Components: The components, oh the components. You get standard small war game units/counter, 840 in fact, and a two sided map, paper. The rest are pretty standard fair also, expect no d6, a D10 instead!
The map is above functional, and quite interesting to look at, and while it is not art, it is better than it had to be, but with out sacrificing any playability.
The counters/units are pretty, but there is one issue. While it gives you a sense of the period, it is hard to read all the damm names on all the damm different units, not only that, it is hard, at a glance to tell if some units are from different countries of origin (CO). CO matters for stacking and else, and matters quite a bit, and there is a bunch of different CO's, and it is some times hard as heck to read. This is my one complaint besides the misprints, which annoy me to no end. Not many, but enough to make me mad!
C+ (can't get away with misprints!)
Rules: Aww rules, well, despite being a burg written game, these rules are a little hard to read. They are far, far, far, from the worse rules I've read, BUT, they could have been a bit clearer. They are complete, (I think) but it did take me a re-read, to understand what was up. Not too many pic examples (almost none) but several examples in text. Also the whole text is sprinkled with notes from the designer, and historical facts, both of which are interesting and funny. Reading the rule book alone can be interesting, and a laugh if you’re a historian.
B (could have been a little better, but good enough!)
Play: Well now, let’s get into the meat! The uses a chit draw system to activate commanders on the field who have to be in range of a wing/overall commander. If activated, they can do any number of choices, like moving, assaulting, and rallying. Lets jump to individual units, and there attributes for a second.
A unit has 3 main numbers. It’s moral mod, which ranges from +1 to -1, worst to best. It’s strength points, 2-8, and movement, about 5 for infantry, and 8 for cavalry. Each unit can be disordered (Back side), which reduces it’s movement some (to 4), and lowers it’s moral mod by 1. (from -1 to 0, from 0 to +1, and so on remember, lower better!). Units have facing, facing a hex vertex giving two front hexes, two flank, and two rear. Changing facing costs a bit of movement, and moving forward is into either. ZoCs only happen with normal order units, and into only the front two hexes. SP for infantry greater than 4 matters minimally, but we will get to that.
As for stacking, a unit can only stack up too 14 SP strong, and only with units of the same CO. Units from the same regiment can stack more up too three strong, but it’s generally better to spread them out for more fire power.
For movement, well your restricted to the fact that all units must be part of a line. A line is units, with in the line leaders Command range, all adjacent to each other and so on. This means it must move as part of a line. If you got to swing around one end before you can move in a reasonable fashion, so be it.
Rallying simply allows you to auto and fully rally a few units that are with in command range, all depending on the skill of the commander.
Assault is where the fun is, after you have moved your units around in these big honking lines, trying to get an advantage on the enemy, you begin the slow process of whittling them down. Assaults for infantry are 1 hex move affairs, while cav can move 2-3.
Infantry assaults come in two types: Moving and Standing. Both get full fire, which means that each hex can fire 4 SP, from the top unit in the hex only, if that top unit has 4 SP (which all infantry do happen to have!) Even if you have more, tough! Moving has how ever, a first fire, which is @ half strength, or two. After fire, any undisrupted units can, at the attacking players choice, shock (aka melee).
Since fire is limited to 4 SP for infantry, results are rather predictable, at least, over the long haul. Cav that fire pistols (caracole) can fire all their SP, but this is rarely more than 4 anyways! Fire combat results in d results. A d is a disorder if a morale test is failed. Some times the moral bonus gets a positive or negative mod, from -3 to +3. Add your morale mod, and try to get a lower than 6 score. If you do really well in your shooting, can produce a D, which is auto. A unit that is already disordered rolls a morale check when it’s disordered, if it fails, it routs, and if it succeeds it gets reduced. Each unit can take 2 hits, the third reduction kills. Reduction has no effect on strength of a unit.
Shock uses it’s own mods, and , and quite possibly ends with the enemy routed.
Play can take forever with the assault model, as units roll once too hit, once to see if the enemy unit disorders, and if already disordered unit tests 4 time. 1 to hit, 1 to roll for disorder, 1 to for rout.
Besides some arty, dismounting dragons, and attempts to rally ( which are the same) that’s about it. You have a lot of units to fire each turn, and it might benefit you too have 2 dice, rolling both the to hit, and possible disorder in one turn. That’s a lot of rolling, and I would like to mitigate some. It’s like playing a miniatures game, with out miniatures.
Well it’s a good system. The components are nice, and the rules are ok. Plenty of choices to make, and plenty to do. Some concerns about the dice fest and misprints. Both battles have their charm, and should present many many many many many many hours of enjoyment.
Now for the Line of Battle:
This line of battle is a random assortment of units that could have been at Oudenarde. French vs Prussia in a battle of two small lines 12 vs 10. The French have a slight advantage as most of their units have a -1 morale mod. To get this ball rolling I set them up next to each other and then, with the French roll right in with a moving assault front on front. 7 units assaulted the front of 6. Both lines had several units in reserve.
Total dice rolled: 69 for 7 vs 6 units!
Prussia was having a bad day, and the dice were not with them. It was not about quality and more about luck. 4 of the 6 of the line disordered in first fire, while only 2 of the French. Then in Full fire, all were disordered again and several routed. 1 more French disordered and 1 reduced (not routed, not a single routed French the whole demo). A couple of good assaults put some gaps in the Prussia line.
Total dice rolled: 57 for a mix bag of things for 8 units on 7, with only some moving fire.
After Prussia rallied some last turn, so did France. The second turn, saw a bit better rolling by the Prussians, Still overall the French pushed them back harder and harder. The line was in disarray and cut in several places from Shock, and routing. Things look bad, for Prussia, and a withdrawal is order. Which they do, in a real game, they would withdraw, regroup, and reform (once far enough away, takes only 1-2 turns to do this). How ever the French could do the same + now they control more ground, perhaps even an objective.
Analysis: Well a lot of dice rolling, a lot of a lot. Luck played a big factor, watching the French roll 1 and 2 for their morale tests and the Prussians roll 7-9, and the whole Prussia line melts away. They kind of got back a little turn 2, but it was a little late. Over a whole game, the luck should even out, and there will plenty of rolls to make it even out over. This was a small assault, most lines have 15-30 infantry! Several lines, clashing @ once, would mean up too 200 rolls in a single turn. OUCH. Do that for around 10 turns and you get a monster of a game. Luck can play a large part, but the morale mods should make a dif in the end.
- Last edited Wed Sep 19, 2007 2:47 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Tue Sep 18, 2007 11:29 am
Very good review, you described very well the game...
I would add that many of the "historical notes" in the rules are in fact not historical at all...
Also several features of the system bring unhistorical behaviours, like the rules for cavalry charges, the artillery system, the rule preventing stacking from different nationality and many others...
On the same line, the order of battle and the scenario design are not totally historical... So it is a bite frustrating to spend hours searching for all the exact regiments with their names hard to read for the setup when you found out that it is in fact not an historical setup anyway and that you could have used almost any unit...
Malplaquet is the better of the two and Oudenarde is very far from historical reality...
But it is the only game covering these battles at that level and the graphic art is quite nice, so I keep playing it...
So it is a bite frustrating to spend hours searching for all the exact regiments with their names hard to read for the setup when you found out that it is in fact not an historical setup anyway and that you could have used almost any unit...
I would be interested in finding a historical setup for a possible miniatures scenario. Which reference books would you recommend?