Field of Glory is a name that has been in and out of tabletop and PC gaming catalogues for decades. Starting as a tabletop wargame from Slitherine Ltd., it captured the hearts of players looking for an enjoyable strategic wargame experience spanning the likes of ancient wars, the Renaissance, the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte, and more. Now after a few years off of PC, Slitherine has returned to the nostalgic series with the help of Byzantine Games to craft and release Field of Glory II. What players will find therein is a new turn-based strategy wargame experience that brings the best features of its previous tabletop and PC gaming outings together in a deep and enjoyable tactical experience, albeit one that will take some serious practice to master.
The set-up of Field of Glory II takes players back to the first, second, and third centuries B.C., during the rising threat and dominance of the ancient Roman Empire. The game offers turn-based war zones that run from small skirmishes to epic large engagements based upon various real-life historical battles and the tribes, nations, and generals who oversaw them. In fact, there are 48 different factions to use against one another. Though it might sound impressive at first, not all 48 sides are fully utilized fully in every mode. Much of Field of Glory II’s historical focus is centered on a handful of forces with Rome, Macedonia, Carthage, and a few other heavy hitters receiving the lion’s share of attention.
That said, there are tutorials to get the gist of the game, quick battles to take on some random tactical action, epic battles centered on specific events, and multiplayer and map editor modes to explore and create your own fun in the game. Among all the options, Campaign Mode is one of the stars. It allows players to play through five unique scenarios, four of which are focused are focused upon famous generals like Julius Caesar and Hannibal Barca and their conquests. The fifth campaign is an open-ended Rise of Rome campaign in which you can choose to play as one of the other 48 factions from which you can conquer enemy armies on randomized maps in a gauntlet. The main campaigns feature the entire gist of what each general was trying to accomplish and all of them feature choices in between battles that bear some effect on your next battlefield.
Battle in Field of Glory II is a multi-tiered affair. Each map is a square-grid board with vastly varying landscapes such as open plains, marshes, hills, and forest. At the start of engagement, players will either choose among a collection units to decide their army composition or be offered a set army. Units are a vast collection of mostly faction-accurate infantry, cavalry, melee, ranged units, and more, ranging from light-footed armies capable of traversing the land quickly and fighting on various terrain to heavily-armed warriors who can deal out stiff damage, but suffer when forced to fight on uneven ground.\
Whether you get to choose your armies or simply work with what you’re given, there are numerous rules in play for most units and how they interact with terrain and considering your army deployment and the direction and formation in which they will move can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Putting a set of rock slingers behind a hill means they won’t be able to target enemies through the terrain. Likewise heavy-armed infantry will have a hard time moving over rough terrain and suffer combat penalties if engaged anywhere but level ground. Considering each unit and where they will be most effective before and during the battle is a tactical decision that will delight strategy fans, although it can feel overwhelming at times to remember all of the rules and avoid difficult maneuvering.
Once the battle is on, it takes place in a turn-based faction with each side moving as many of their forces as they choose to before ending the turn. When two enemy units meet for a melee, a clash will occur. After an initial dice roll on the first clash, the units will remain locked up until one unit’s composure is broken and they either retreat from the fight, are routed and attempt to flee the field, or are outright killed. Direction of troops is also important. Sending a sneaky unit to the back of an enemy engaged in a clash or trying to flee can result in a flank or rear attack heightens the odds of doing more damage to the unit or outright breaking them.
Combat outcomes are based upon dice rolls for success, equal damage to both sides, and loss with unit types, terrain on which they fight, and their composure upon entering the fight taken into account. There’s a chance that a shaken set of slingers can hold firm against charging cavalry, but the cavalry will nearly always overcome outside of a miraculous or disastrous bit of random chance on the dice roll. Most battles are effectively won when a certain percentage of the enemy’s troops are killed or forced to flee the field. All of this makes for an incredibly technical strategic consideration from the beginning deployment to the final push through the enemy’s front lines.
Field of Glory II excels most in giving players vast amounts of strengths and weaknesses to consider and strategize with. That said, it doesn’t always roll a success. There are so many rules to consider with each unit and not all of them are fully made known, even in the tutorials. It’s easy to forget, overlook, or simply come across a rule by chance that can benefit or sabotage your strategies. On the flipside, while Field of Glory II offers a wealth of battle depth, it skimps a bit on other features. Sound and visuals are fairly active with warriors clashing and staying visually engaged in fights. However, before that engagement happens, the idle sounds for your troops sound a little bit like office chatter and sounds off in comparison the intense war cries in combat.
Performance & Graphics
OS: Windows Vista / 7 / 8/ 10
Processor: 2GHz Processor
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: 1 GB DirectX 9 Compatible Graphics Card
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Storage: 1541 MB available space
Field of Glory II came from a tabletop game and is built to remain more like one than many other strategy games of the same ilk go for in this day and age. It doesn’t feature anything particularly flashy and won’t challenge many systems to keep the action going. That said, it does what it does fairly well. Troops form up and move on each other in and out of combat pretty well. They stay engaged with foes when clashed and moving around the map, zooming in, and rotating your viewpoint is smooth. There’s a weird little thing when certain troops or cavalry enter a clash and retreat, sliding backwards a couple tiles, but otherwise, Field of Glory II does a serviceable and functional job of keeping players engaged in the battle.
FIELD OF GLORY II VERDICT
Field of Glory II is a testament to the sheer wealth of consideration and ingenuity that Slitherine and Byzantine games have put into hybridizing a tabletop and digital strategy experience. The game’s battles feature a depth that will invite new players to explore and learn while making veteran strategy gamers work overtime to wring success from its turn-based battlefields. Learning the rules can be overwhelming, but putting them successfully into action against an enemy force feels great. Some sound elements could be better and it’s a shame that the vast number of factions aren’t utilized a little further, but with creative modes like the map editor, we may very well see some fantastic user-generated campaigns down the line. All-in-all, Field of Glory II lives up to its legacy and delivers a sheer technical depth that will keep tactical minds engaged from start to finish.
TOP GAME MOMENT
The moment when you route a particularly strong enemy or general and cripple the morale of surrounding units is a glorious tide-turning delight.
Tons of factions and units
Vastly in-depth battle system
Varying maps that encourage strategic deployment and advance
Detailed map editor for user-created battles and campaigns
Difficult to pick up and play
Some factions and features underutilized
Occasionally iffy sounds and visuals