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Field of Glory

Ancient & Medieval wargames rules from Slitherine/Osprey


Well I think I can safely say our of DBx as some had feared/hoped. Instead punters were
normally sedate little wargames complaining it was an amalgamation of other popular rule
world had never been subjected mechanics, such as Armati and Warmaster Ancients, set
to such fervour before as it against a backdrop of WRG 6th Edition.
has recently with the arrival of
Field of Glory (FoG). This rule So were does that all leave us … well in my opinion it
book actually made it onto the leaves us with a set of rules which are going to take the
Amazon top sellers list and the ancient wargame world by the scruff of the neck and give
pre-orders apparently (so those it a good damn good shake but are they enough to lure the
wonderful rumours would have younger player back into the historical fold? The simple
us believe) actually outstripped answer has to be; unlikely.
the original print run, which in
turn created more hype and Before I go on to discuss the actual mechanics a comment
demand. Whatever the reality, FoG has actually caused about the layout and production. These are without
a bit of a stir! doubt the highest quality set of ancient rules I have ever
seen. The production and presentation of the rules is a
People were pre-ordering the army list books before major draw card. The 170 odd pages packed with rules,
actually getting to play a game. Everyone it seemed examples, terrain and painting guides as well as a section
couldn’t wait for the rules and boxes of ancient figures on tactics for the ‘newbie’ are packaged inside a very nice
were being dusted off and got down from the loft. People hard cover. Inside the combination of Osprey’s expertise
who hadn’t played since WRG fourth edition and Shock in publishing and Slitherine’s in all things computer has
of Impact (which were out when I was still at school and produced a heady mix of computer generated diagrams
playing!) were getting revved up to play a new set of and pictures and hand drawn ‘Osprey’ prints.
rules.
GAME PLAY
The forums (especially TMP) were buzzing with posts So how do they play? Basing wise the designers have
predicting that FoG would do for ancients what FoW stuck, not unsurprisingly, with DBx style basing so that
had done for WWII gaming. You know, drag back the at least most people do not have to rebase their armies.
youngsters from the dark side of fantasy and sci-fi gaming! Unfortunately this means that Warmaster Ancients cavalry
The tantalising teasers from the publishers seemed to and ‘shock’ troops need to be rebased or ‘fudged’. The
support this... an excellent hard backed book written in standard unit is a ‘Battlegroup’ (BG) which consists of
a Games Workshop/Flames of War style of presentation a number of stands (normally ranging from 2 -10) and
- lots of pictures, diagrams, examples and hobby support a starter (approx 600 point) army will have approx 8-12
information was to be on offer. Battlegroups. The game is designed to be played on a
basic 6’ x 4’ foot table, which is standard fare nowadays.
After the official release date the hype (by this time it
seemed to be more like hypertension as people were not This does mean however that the unit of measurement
getting their pre-orders on time) seemed to give way to a (the MU) is an inch for all scales of figure. While double
bout of depression. It seemed that the kids were not going moves are possible when you are not near the enemy and
to get as excited by a ‘BG’ (battlegroup) of ‘HI’ (heavy with a commander once your opponent has worked out
infantry) that moved 3 inches at a time as they were a what their light troops are for (more of this later) you will
whopping great KING TIGER which could shoot the entire be moving between heavy infantry at 3” and light cavalry
length of the battlefield and have a ‘Tiger Ace’ capable of at 7” coupled with shooting ranges between 2” (javelins)
doubling your rate of fire as commander! and 6” (longbows).

Also, the reality of just what ‘quick play’ rules seemed to In 28mm these distances have irked a lot of people. Indeed
set in. Quick play in regard to most other ‘popular’ ancient in our first two test games when we got our Roman Legions
battle rules didn’t necessarily mean 1-2 hours per game, on the table it left us deflated as it seemed the troops
as some would have hoped, but more like 3-4 hours, were not really doing anything and everything seemed
which I guess for some is an improvement over 5-6 hours! so cramped. This feeling rapidly left us though when I
One thing was agreed on though: FoG isn’t just a remake dragged the 10mm forces (cavalry rapidly rebased) I had
for Warmaster Ancients. Suddenly everything looked right impact troops decide not to wait for the order (more of
and it looked more like a battle; in 28mm it had looked like this later). The commanders can also be used to perform
a very slow skirmish game. Now it looked like a massed a double move if it occurs outside of 6 inch of the enemy.
battle. But did it feel like one? So you can readjust your formations if you do it quickly or
send some light troops on a flanking mission, again this
One of the designers has said that their aim was to: “Make seemed impossible to achieve in 28mm as the bases took
the player feel like a General and not a lawyer.” up most of the width of the table, but in 10mm (and we
used the same bases as the FoG rules prescribed 15mm)
So the rules have clearly been designed to oust all those there is room.
niggly little measurement mechanics which always seem
to cause so many ‘debates’, especially in competitions. Commanders are used well – you can have them fighting
They have achieved this really well, once you have your on the front line, where to be honest they are a nice bonus
head around the movement system everything is straight as they effectively make your troops one class better. As
forward, you can ‘shift’ up to a base width on a ‘simple’ this normally means you being able to reroll ones or twos
forward move which gets rid of the oblique measurement, on your ‘to hit’ and ‘cohesion’ (morale in a way) dice then
series of tiny wheels etc. Moves are classified (by troop) they can often make a big difference. Once they are in
as simple or complex and a complex move needs a simple though there they stay until that melee has ended (which
test, fail and you have to stay still or make a normal full can be quite a while) and you can’t do any of the other
move advance. handy things with them. These include ‘bolstering’ your
troops when they have gone down a cohesion level or
This simply limits (along with a ruling concerning undrilled two (catch them before they break), helping undrilled
and ‘difficult’ moves) the amount of micro movement you troops manoeuvre better (well they are out to impress
can do within dangerous range of the enemy and also it seems) and keep everyone in line. So it is a personal
models how drilled troops found it easier to make complex decision – as they can be killed if fighting in the front line
manoeuvres in the heat of battle. A player can use the it is risky, but sometimes it just needs doing. I find with
commanders to form ‘battlelines’ which is a number of my Romans they don’t need the additional help fighting,
battlegroups moving together. This means you can keep but they often need a bit of a morale boost after a bit of
your line of battle fairly regular until you get close and your a nasty session. Conversely my warband normally needs

28mm games look superb on a table this big. Using FoG for this type of game would be huge fun!
to make a BIG impression in the impact stage and having the authors have mixed and cooked them all together to
your commander fighting along side can make all the create a gourmet treat. The specific things I am finding a
difference. breath of fresh air (although I imagine someone can tell
me what other rules do them) are the way that terrain
ON THE FRONT LINE is handled and its effect on troops; the way cavalry can
Melee is well handled. There is an ‘impact’ phase which break off from steady infantry at the end of the turn to
models the man to man HIT of the first impact – this is a bit charge in again; the way commanders are used in subtle
of a leveller and the most even part of any of the fighting. ways and the way skirmishers are a hassle, but can’t hold
Survive the impact, which is at the start of the turn, and up a horde of adrenalin topped up heavy foot!
you can later fight again (or continue on) in the melee
phase. Here the quality, quantity and skill of the troops In fact skirmishers and shooting are an area where I suspect
play a greater part. Some troops, like the warband, need it people are going to love or hate the rules depending on
BIG in the impact, they need to break the cohesion of the your view of the effectiveness of ancient ranged weapons.
enemy as normally they will be fighting at a disadvantage It fits in well with my view, at the level FoG is pitched you
in the following melee phase if they don’t. Cause a bit of are going to be lucky if a little firing is going to reduce a
cohesion loss and the enemy begin to lose dice big time BG base wise, it may however cause a loss in cohesion
and your warband numbers will begin to tell! which in turn if not dealt with can be added to next
shooting stage (both armies fire in each shooting phase)
Basically you are hitting on a 3-5 on the die depending on the and eventually it will take its toll. Softening up troops with
Points of Advantage (POA) you have over your opponent. firing (and getting them to lose dice in combat) before
The chart for calculating this looks complicated at first, charging in with foot/mounted troops is a good, and dare
but we are finding you soon know what to look for and I say, ‘historical’ tactic. How armies with masses of bow
after the first melee stage the POAs tend to stay the same do I have yet to see but give us time and our English
anyway, as it is the amount of die thrown that is reduced longbowmen will test it out for you!
due to the cohesion of a unit. The purpose of melee in FoG
is two-fold really and taking bases occurs quite slowly, So mechanics wise the rules are very sound and to me
while it is the cohesion you tend to whittle away and which play really well and, to be quite frank with you is just what I
eventually causes breaks. I haven’t actually kept score, have been waiting for. Presentation wise you would be hard
but I seem to suffer about equal amounts of breaking from pressed to wish for more … the rules are well described
base loss as opposed to cohesion loss. It is for a unit to and seem to be written so that the rule lawyers have very
break without taking any stand losses. Battlegroups auto little to work with, everything has an example and are is
break when they have lost a percentage of their stands, easy to read. There is an amount of acronyms used, less
based on quality. What this does mean is you often have than in other sets maybe, but I was out of practice with
two long battlelines clashing and grinding each other the whole ‘armoured, HF, Imp, ss’ stat line world, but have
down, there is no push back mechanism, which actually picked it up again with gusto! The rule book does include
means far less fiddling. sections on collecting and painting an army, tactics for
new Generals and reams of definitions all of which may
What you can do is feed troops into the combat and sooner well help a new player to the genre.
or later someone is going to turn tail and run! In our games
so far this has led to some very tense fights where they There is a lot of ‘defining’ situations, again obviously aimed
are balancing and then something just tips one side over, at cutting down on ‘rule lawyering’, which to be honest
be it a flanking unit hitting, loss of a commander or even does make it a bit of a turgid read. If you skip through
just a bad round of dice by one group. Clive, a member of the book, see the pages of ‘defining situations’ look at
our club, who is a repository of ancient knowledge and a the number of charts in the QRS and you could well be
competition player of various rules summed the fighting in discouraged from actually trying them … unless you are
FoG up by saying: a DBx type competition player you really do need to give
them a couple of games. There are some very subtle
“At last a set of ancients rules which look and feel as they mechanics in the rules which do not jump out of the page
should …” at you; you need to play a few games to see how they all
meld together.
Indeed this is the way I am feeling. Yes it is a grind, a
slugfest if you like, but surely that’s what it was really like. I think they are going to be quick to play, note I didn’t say
Doing away with small push backs and moves also speeds a fast play set. At the moment we are playing a 700 - 800
the combat resolution up. Even large multi-battlegroup point game in about 3 1/2 hours, veterans are saying they
(BG) combats are easily worked out on a BG by BG basis easily finish a 800 point game in about 2 to 3 hours. If you
and give a set of results which ‘feel’ good. But it is this can get a standard 800 point game down to 2 ½ hours
‘grind’ that my best wargaming mate, Shaun, doesn’t like they certainly will take the competition world by storm.
– things don’t tend to disappear quickly. It just isn’t bloody
enough for him, although he does admit this niggle is far There was a lot of debate on the Internet about the rules
outweighed by the things he does like about the system. being a 28mm set, fuelled by the fact that a manufacturer
had joined forces with the ‘team’ to produce high quality
It would be unfair to enter the debate of which mechanism plastic 28mm figures. My thought is that the main core of
comes from what set of rules and which are truly unique. players are definitely going to be 15mm and below, 28mm
Frankly who cares, even if they ALL came from other sets on a normal table just looks too packed and most people
Although this is the wrong basing for FoG... 10mm scale does show how a ‘large battle’ can look. 6mm Romans from
Baccus and based for The Battle of Zama. Here 40 figures to a 40mm square looks rather imposing.

I have spoken to have the same opinion. In the UK the made. This is slightly unfair I think as the army lists will
standard competition scale is really 15mm which will have not, as I understand, have rule update or modifications in
a bearing I imagine. But time will tell… … but the moaning will go on I suspect.

So what, if anything, is going to spoil this ‘ancients So I am waiting with baited breath to see how the rules
revival’ party? The initial hype possibly has proven to do … I really like them, they have dragged me back into
have a slightly negative effect now they are out. After ancients and I am actually considering competitions
such fervour the rules would have had to have been really which is something I never would have thought was going
innovative and have ticked everyone’s collection of boxes to happen! An old friend of mine, in fact we were playing
to live up to it. As I alluded to people were thinking this WRG and Shock of Impact back in ‘the old days’ said the
was going to have people converting to ancients in their major thing for him (he is an avid DBM competitor) was
masses – they were deemed to be the set to do a Flames that in a competition overseas he played 4 games in a
of War for ancients. What they have turned out to be is an day and didn’t feel like he had been dragged kicking and
excellently produced set of ‘proper’ wargames rules that screaming through a ringer or lost his mind with geometric
will be familiar to old time gamers, but innovative in their puzzles – in fact he wanted to play another game!
game delivery.
Let me know what you think …
Will they deliver a horde of new players to the fold? I think Rich Jones
it is too early to tell. There is a lot of enthusiasm, but is it
just disaffected gamers being pulled back to ancients, or
does it show the arrival of new blood? I doubt the rules Written by: Richard Bodley Scott,
are off the kind to convert the 40K or Warhammer crowd – Simon Hall, Terry Shaw
what it will do is pull gamers from other ancient rules over.
Then there is the issue over army lists … only 4 in the core Cover Artist: Peter Dennis
rule book the rest of the lists are being supplied in a large
amount of army list books. Now I have no problem with Price: £25.00 UK / $34.95 US/ $44.00
this … I have a limited period interest which are already CA
covered and the army point builder section will see me
through the urge for samurai lists. BUT not everyone www.fieldofglory.com
feels this way and comparisons to GW codexes are being