Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Field of Glory: First Impressions

I finally had a chance to read through the Field of Glory rules. At first glance, they look pretty cool, although i'll have to play them to make a final judgement.

Every troop type has five different characteristics: quality (poor to elite), training (drilled or undrilled), type (heavy infantry, knights, light horse, etc.), armor (unprotected to heavily armored), and weapons (swordsman, bows, spears, etc.). In addition, certain troops are designated as skirmishers while others are termed shock. The different characteristics help define the capabilities of the various troop types. Troops are organized into units, which contain anywhere from 4 to 8 stands. Players can organize the units into battle lines by combining battle groups.

The game is played in alternating player turns. Each turn has five phases: impact, maneuver, shooting, melee, and joint action. In the impact phase, the active player makes all charge declarations and the inactive player responds to each of them. After the units have charged, there is a special round of combat. In the maneuver phase, the active player moves his battle groups across the map. Some maneuvers are more difficult and require a successful die roll to perform while simple moves are automatic. Eligible units can fire in the shooting phase, and close combat occurs in the melee phase. In the joint action phase, both players move commanders, move routing troops and their pursuers, and attempt to rally units.

Combat is performed in a similar manner in all three phases. Each side totals the number of stands in contact or shooting, which determines the number of dice they will get to roll. To determine the score necessary for success, the system uses an interesting mechanism called "Points of Advantage" (or "POA" for short). The POA define matchups that provide an advantage for one side or the other. For example, Longbow vs Knights is a POA for the Longbows, Impact Foot gets a POA during the Impact Phase, and so on. As you can see from the examples, the POAs vary between the three types of combat (shooting, impact, and melee). This allows the system to model interesting differences between troop types. Gauls are Impact Foot, so they have an advantage when they charge, but Romans are Skilled Swordsman, and will gain an advantage if the combat drags out. On paper, it is quite elegant.

That's the game in a nutshell. I have glossed over a few details but have described the major features. The rules are fairly clear and contain illustrations that help clarify each concept. I'm really looking forward to trying them out.