There’s not a lot of mainstream strategy games set in the Napoleonic era. Aside from the classic Napoleon: Total War, most titles set in the period are wargames or tabletop versions aimed at enthusiasts. March to Glory tries to change that, offering a stripped down wargame with the kind of combat found in Civilization games that plays almost like a puzzle.
March to Glory is a simple game. It features a campaign mode made up of 14 historical maps that chronicle Napoleon’s path from France to Russia, each taking place in an irregular grid area. There’s also a Quick Game option for skirmishes and a multiplayer mode consisting of random maps.
Unlike its sister company Matrix Games, publisher Slitherine is focused on more mainstream strategy games with a wider appeal instead of niche wargames. March to Glory almost tries to bridge that gap, offering a game set in a period rarely explored but with a simple gameplay that requires little knowledge of historical formations. You don’t need to really be aware of the difference between husars or dragoons – although knowledge of their specificities won’t hurt – in order to achieve victory.
Each unit aside from the general can only occupy a grid alone, requiring a good deal of forethought and manoeuvring to get your troops in place. Line of sight, terrain, and range are all factors that need to be taken into account when forming a battle line, and care must be taken so that no unit is too exposed around flanking enemy troops.
While hovering over ranged and melee options gives you a nice prediction of what’s going to happen, March to Glory still suffers from normal wargames penchant for obscurity. The tutorial gives you no information whatsoever on the various icons and stats, forcing you to either read the PDF manual or play completely in the blind. It also has zero transparency regarding units’ range and sight before you move them, constantly making me stumped about why an artillery unit couldn’t fire from a hill or why a unit couldn’t move to another grass tile adjacent to it.
Terrain is similar to tabletop play areas, lacking any sort of standardized shape and made of roughly equal sized grids. Each one has a terrain attribute – hill, grassland, town, etc – that dictates what effects it has on units and battles. Hills provide elevation to artillery and allows it to shoot over other units, for example, while rivers are hard to cross and prove costly to charges.
Gameplay in March to Glory is surprisingly interesting, thanks to the myriad of variables at play at any one time. It has enough depth to raise above a puzzle game, but not enough to classify as a comprehensive tactical game – while cutting off enemy units from towns causes them to lose supply lines and you can upgrade units at the start of a scenario, there is no manual toggle for formations or marching/fighting stances, among other more specific military .
Technically, the game is pretty simple when it comes to graphics and sound design. Maps and units are 2D, respectively represented by static assets and animated sprites, while the sound effects and music are simply serviceable. Infantry charges with the clash of bayonets, horses gallop forth, and cannons boom to life with a deep roar, but the quality of sound files is noticeably far from high fidelity.
I didn’t encounter any bugs during my time with the game, but did notice a couple of idiosyncrasies. Aside from the aforementioned apparent lack of reliability on some units’ movements and firing arcs, the game uses the left click button to both pan and give out orders – meaning that you’re unable to cancel unit movement if you accidentally click on a tile or change your mind before executing the action.
In the end, March to Glory almost feels more like a puzzle game – one where matches can easily take an hour to complete. While it is fun and definitely requires strategy, it lacks the sort of freedom and tactical simulation options that would scratch any sort of deep itch for strategy. If you’re looking for a fun, slightly casual wargame-y title about Napoleonic era without all the complexity of a niche title, check out March to Glory.
MARCH TO GLORY VERDICT
A slightly casual wargame-y title that doesn’t offer a lot of tactical options, but offers enough depth to be engrossing.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Bombarding a troublesome town with cannons to take it without suffering casualties.
Detailed combat system with several variables
Campaign, skirmish, and multiplayer options
Good voice acting
Lack of transparency regarding battle conditions
Simplified gameplay is less Total War tactical strategy and more Civilization battle puzzles