TITLE : Field of Glory – Wargaming Rules for Ancient and Medieval Tabletop Gaming (2008)
AUTHORS: Richard Bodley Scott, Simon Hall and Terry Shaw
PUBLISHERS: Osprey Publishing Ltd. and Slitherine Software UK Ltd.
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2008
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE: £25.00 GBP/$34.95 USD/$44.00 CAD (in 2008)
REVIEWED BY: Scott K.
PERIOD COVERED: Ancient & Medieval Land Warfare, 3000 BC – 1500 AD
7.6” x 9.6”, hardcover, 172 pages in length, full color cover and interior. Includes all rules necessary for play, special rules for elephants and camels, scythed chariots, field fortifications, portable defenses, and all-round “orb” formations, along with a large reference section that includes appendices for scales, basing, troop types, effects for terrain, visibility and disorder, a glossary of terms, set-up rules, army compositions and points values, and play sheets that may be photocopied for gaming purposes.
Field of Glory is designed for fighting large-scale battles of the ancient and medieval periods, in either points-based tournaments or scenario play. Players take command of battlefield armies, usually comprised of 10-15 units organized into 2-4 large commands, each led by a sub-commander serving under an overall commander-in-chief.
A 600-point “starter army” would include 1-3 commanders, about 90-220 figures in 15mm-28mm, and a supply camp.
An 800-point tournament army would include 1-4 commanders, about 140-360 figures in 15-28mm, and a supply camp.
The base unit is a Battle Group consisting of 2-12 bases, varying by troop type.
All measurements are made in Movement Units. The rules book defines a Movement Unit as either 25mm or 1 inch, by player agreement or tournament rule. In effect, it can be any consistent unit of distance agreed upon by the players.
- Ground Scale: defined by effective bow range (4 Movement Units).
- Time Scale: each game turn represents a phase of battle, rather than a fixed amount of time.
- Figure/Base Ratio: variable, depending on the size of the battle being fought.
- Recommended Figure Size: compatible with all figure scales from 2mm to 28mm.
- Table Size: 4’ x 6’ is recommended, although larger tables can also be used.
- Game Length: 2-4 hours, depending on the size of the battle.
- 2mm-18mm Figures: 40mm frontage.
- 20mm-28mm Figures: 60mm frontage.
- Base depths vary by troop type.
Field of Glory is fully compatible with the “standard” basing system for ancients. The rules also allow for deeper bases, or fewer figures per base, to accommodate armies mounted for other popular systems.
The game is played over a number of turns, with players alternating as “active” in each successive turn. For each game turn, the active player performs the following phases, in strict order:
Impact Phase – declaration and resolution of all charges;
- Manoeuver Phase – normal (non-impact) movement and maneuver;
- Shooting Phase – missile fire and related cohesion tests;
- Melee Phase – post-impact close combat and related cohesion tests;
- Joint Action Phase – movement of commanders (for both sides).
Command and Control: is modeled in part by limits to the size and make-up of each battle group/unit, and by the organization of these units into larger groupings, or Battle Lines. Each battle line is led by a sub-commander, under the over-all leadership of the army commander-in-chief. Battlefield control is represented by command radii, which vary according to the level and competence of each commander. Differing command styles are also represented, with each commander having the option to control entire battle lines, join individual battle group units to bolster their morale, or even fight in the front line of a battle group. Trade-offs in command abilities and radii are designed to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of each command style.
Movement: is performed in three different turn phases, one for Impact (charging/closing to combat), one for Manoeuver (all other types of voluntary troop movement), and one for Joint Action (movement of commanders). Some troop types must pass a Complex Move Test in order to perform certain formation changes or maneuvers when in close proximity to the enemy. Initial routs and pursuits occur at the end of the Impact, Shooting, or Melee phase that caused them. Movement through certain types of terrain may slow and/or disorder some troop types.
Combat: is divided into Impact, Shooting, and Melee phases, with each following a similar procedure. Players roll a number of D6’s per base, with adjustments from the appropriate table of modifiers, with the goal of scoring as many “hits” as possible. Troops rated as elite and superior can re-roll 1’s and/or 2’s, while poor troops must re-roll 6’s. Certain troop types may enjoy one or more Points of Advantage over specified opponents, or in favorable tactical situations, increasing their odds of scoring hits. Units may also receive points of advantage if armed with certain types of primary or secondary weapons. Troops armed with bows, slings, javelins, early firearms, crossbows, and artillery may all use their weapons in the Shooting phase. Troops that receive a certain number of hits from combat must take a Cohesion Test (see below), and may also be required to take a Death Roll to determine if any bases were lost as casualties.
Morale: If a battle group receives a specified number of hits from impact, shooting, or melee combat, or suffers from certain other blows to its morale, it must perform a Cohesion Test by rolling 2D6, with adjustments from a table of modifiers. Unless otherwise specified by scenario, all troops begin the battle with a cohesion level of Steady. Failing a cohesion test may cause the level to drop to Disrupted, Fragmented, or Broken, with each state carrying penalties of increasing severity. Fragmented battle groups may choose to retire, while broken units must rout. Commanders may attempt to bolster disrupted or fragmented battle groups, or rally ones that have broken. Units that have lost a certain total percentage of their bases may Autobreak, and are removed from the table at the end of the turn. Routed, broken, fragmented, and straggling (voluntarily off-table) troops cause an army to accumulate Attrition Points, as do camps that have been sacked by the enemy. When an army’s total number of attrition points is equal to or greater than the number of battle groups at the end of any phase, it suffers an immediate Army Rout, and its opponent wins the day.
Players may use historical orders of battle, or points-based army lists. The main Field of Glory rule book includes four sample “starter armies,” along with an appendix for calculating points per base for all troop types, commanders, camps, and field fortifications. No scenarios are included.
Companion army list books organized around historically-based themes are also available. Each army list includes historical descriptions, restrictions, and illustrations, but no additional rules. Army list books currently in print or scheduled for publication in 2008 include:
- Rise of Rome – Republican Rome at War (18 lists + allies)
- Storm of Arrows – Late Medieval Europe at War (28 lists + allies)
- Immortal Fire – The Ancient Greeks at War (18 lists + allies)
- Swords and Scimitars – The Crusades (20 lists + allies)
- Legions Triumphant – Imperial Rome at War (22 lists + allies)
- Eternal Empire – The Ottomans (17 lists + allies)
- Decline and Fall – Byzantium at War (23 lists + allies)
According to the publishers, additional army lists books covering the chariot era, the Dark Ages, far eastern armies, etc. are planned for publication in 2009.
Field of Glory is a beautifully designed and presented product, with very few typographical errors. This is by far the most professionally-produced miniatures rule set I have ever seen. The table of contents is clearly organized and color coded by section. The text is fairly lengthy and complex, but also very consistent, clearly written and well organized, with numerous colorful diagrams, photographs, and illustrations to provide examples of play, clarify areas of potential confusion, and add period color. Flexible game scales allow players to represent a wide array of ancient battles, while army compositions are designed to represent forces varying in size from 5000 to 80,000 men, using a ‘top-down’ system emphasizing common organizational structures. While few of the rules mechanics come across as startlingly new, all of them are combined and sequenced in ways that show considerably more subtlety and originality than might appear at first glance. The index and glossary of terms are also very welcome features. New players may have some difficulty absorbing the rules at first due to their length and detail. I would recommend that newcomers read the book one section at a time, rather than attempt to digest the entire text at once.
Creating tabletop armies for Field of Glory, using either historical sources or the points system together with the companion army lists, is a relatively simple process. Since I play only historically-based scenarios, I have not used the optional terrain and army deployment system, although it seems to be clear and well designed. The rules mechanisms for movement, combat, and cohesion work together in very subtle ways, with almost none of the gamey “mini-maxing” or geometry issues that figure that dominate the tactics for some other competition-based ancient-period rule sets. The rules for commanders give them a clear set of battlefield roles, and utilizing commanders to bolster troops, thereby minimizing attrition points, is crucial to success on the battlefield. Other key factors include using terrain features to advantage, avoiding having to take complex move tests, deploying and maneuvering troops to create and exploit weaknesses in the enemy battle line, using light troops to prevent broken enemy battle groups from rallying, and protecting the army’s supply camp. All-in-all, the rules mechanisms work together to create a very good “feel” for managing a variety of ancient troop types and armies on the battlefield.
On the other hand, Field of Glory is by no means a simplistic rules system. Newcomers may be daunted at first by the relatively large numbers of figures needed for play, as well as the length and apparent complexity of the rules. This may also cause their first few games to last somewhat longer than the average 3 hours stated in the rule book. I would recommend using relatively small armies and simple set-ups to begin with, expanding gradually as players gain experience and confidence with the rules mechanisms. After 3-5 complete games, players should feel much more comfortable with the rules, and playing times should decrease accordingly.
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