Scouting Report and Game Review
By Few Good Men (FGM) member Badger73
“The LORD was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country; but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the plains, because they had chariots of iron.” Judges 1:19 – circa 1370 BC
[Reader Note: FGM (the Few Good Men – http://www.thefewgoodmen.com/) is a place where “History and Wargaming collide”. This report reflects that perspective.]
At the end of September 2018, Matrix games released “Field of Glory II: Rise of Persia”. This is an expansion of the computer wargame “Fields Of Glory II” (FoGII) and requires that you already have the base game in order to download and play. “Rise of Persia” (RoP)begins 500 years after Judah conquered Hebron and covers chariot warfare in ancient Mesopotamia from its apex through its decline and eventual replacement by horse cavalry. It is the period of military history when Biblical empires rose and fell preceding the Classical Age of Greece. The RoP extensions fit in very smoothly with the FoGII parent game.
With regard to FoGII itself, other reviewers have already done much better justice to identifying it as a superb Ancient Warfare computer game. I agree with them. This is a turn based game wherein the first player moves, shoots, and melees with all of their units after which the second player (orAI in single player games) does the same. Games end when one of the sides loses too many troops to continue fighting which leaves the victorious in possession of the battlefield. Battles finish decisively and quickly,usually in twenty-some turns. The gamemanual is concise and clear with a smattering of wonderful Angus McBride illustrations that set the mood for your games to come. FoGII is a really sweet little title and an excellent value for every Ancient’s wargamer. I am very happy that I own it.
This is the stuff for grognard miniature gamers who painted 15mm or 25mm lead figures and cut their teeth on WRG, DBA, DBM, Tactica, or Shock of Impact. However, the serious ancient gamer no longer needs to pack, haul, and store boxes of hand painted figures to and fro. RoP provides a supremely satisfying tabletop miniature game experience fully aligned with well established troop types and army lists. It is also a wargame eminently approachable to neophytes and tyro’s anxious to jump in and learn how to enjoy chariot warfare.
So, what does one get in RoP? The game adds 21 new army lists to FoGII which expands the total number of combined FoGII module army lists to 191. RoP provides twelve factions involving the major empires which arose in the Fertile Crescent in the land of greatrivers then extended from the Persian Gulf west to Egypt and northwest to the Bosporus. They are the great peoples who rose and fell primarily during the 9th to 6th centuries BC; Assyrians, Babylonians, Cimmerians, Cypriots, Egyptians, Elamites, Hebrews,Kushites, Mannaeans, Medes, Phoenicians, Urartians.
We know of them by way of museums and archeology. RoP takes their bronze and iron artifacts off the display shelf and breathes life once again into these ancient campaigns; the resurgent Neo-Assyrian Empire, the rise of Media and Babylonia through their eventual conquest as well as that of longstanding Lydia and Egypt by the great and mighty Achaemenid Persians. I haven’t seen all these peoples in a single game since playing Excalibur Games board game “Ancient Conquest” back in college. It is good to see them collected together again.
Within the biblical era armies of these factions serve both shared and individual unit formations where slings, arrows, javelins, and spears dominate the battlefield when horsemanship was still a rudimentary skill. RoP provides 26 distinct unit types, the most common influenced by and copied from Assyria yet adopted for each particular kingdom.
Generic unit types include Near-Eastern archers in both loose and massed formations, early cavalry of javelin armed horsemen and unarmored horse archers as well. And there are camels, of course!
The Assyrians field the defining army of this era. Assyrian Players command Heavy Chariots, regular and veteran Cavalry, Assyrian-style infantry of mixed front-rank spearmen and rear rank archers who include units of Guardsmen, Heavy Foot, Medium Foot, and Raw Medium Foot.
Elam, Media, and Persia field soldiers similar to Assyria along with units unique to them. These include Elamite Light Chariots, MedianSpearmen, Sassanid Heavy Foot and Massed Archers.
Uniquely Egyptian Army units include Egyptian-style Heavy Chariots, Egyptian Spearmen, Egyptian Massed Archers, Egyptian Light Archers, Egyptian Light Javelinmen, Egyptian Irregular Foot.
The declining kingdom of Israel comprises Hebrew Foot, Hebrew Light Archers, and Gibborim (“Mightymen”) better armed veteran infantry.
The Greek influenced Phoenicians and Lydians field specific kinds of Spearmen and Hoplites.
Cimmerians by the way are not Robert E. Howard’s formations of Conan the Barbarian style herculean axe men but rather early steppe armies of bow armed Skythian light horsemen.
So,what can one play in RoP? The game supports four approaches to battlefield encounters. The first is “Quick Battles”. This is the easiest and best method for new players to enjoy the game. RoP provides 35 new Quick Battles, each playable from either side. In a Quick Battle, the player picks the side they want to play (Start with Assysria; you know you want to!!) and then chooses who to fight from a selection of historical enemies. The AI commands those opponents on a selection of historically appropriate battlefields. Quick Battles do not allow fighting historical battles. (But the sandbox does. Read more below.).
The second approach to game battle is “Epic Battles”. These are based on actual and historic encounters as best as can be recreated from the records available to date. RoP offers six and challenges you to either fulfill or reverse the course of history.
- Ulai 653 BC (Assyrians vs Elamites). This is The Battle of the Ulai River (called by moderns the Kerkhaor Karkheh River), also known as the Battle of Til-Tuba. It was a battle between the invading Assyrians, under their king Ashurbanipal, against the kingdom of Elam, which was a Babylonian ally. The result was a decisive Assyrian victory. The king of Elam, and his son were killed there.
- Nineveh 612 BC (Babylonians and Medes vs Assyrians). The Battle of Nineveh is when an allied army composed of Medes, Chaldeans, Scythians, and Cimmerians rebelled against the Assyrians. The allies successfully besieged the Assyrian capital and sacked 750 hectares of what was at that time, the greatest city in the world. This led to the destruction of the Neo-Assyrian Empire over the next three years as the dominant state in the Ancient Near East. The Assyrians were the most hated people in the regions and after this battle this capital of the once mighty Assyrian Empire was razed and erased. The rise of Babylon began from this Assyrian defeat.
- Megiddo 609 BC (Judeans vs Egyptians). Megiddo is the site of numerous ancient battles. This Battle of Megiddo is when Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt led his army to Carchemish (northern Syria) to join with his allies of the fading Neo-Assyrian Empire against the surging Neo-Babylonian Empire. The Judaean king Josiah refused to let the Egyptians pass through Hebrew lands for this purpose. The Judaean forces met the Egyptians at Megiddo where Josiah died and his kingdom became a vassal state of Egypt. The battle is recorded in the Bible, the Greek 1 Esdras, and the writings of Josephus. While Necho II gained control of the Kingdom Of Judah, the combined Assyrian-Egyptian forces failed to defeat the Babylonians, after which Assyria largely ceased to exist as an independent state.
- Carchemish 605 BC (Babylonians vs Egyptians). The Battle of Carchemish was fought between the armies of Egypt allied with the remnants of the former Assyrian Empire against the armies of Babylonia, allied with the Medes,Persians, and Scythians. The Egyptians met the full might of the Babylonian and Median army led by Nebuchadnezzar II where the combined Egyptian and Assyrian forces were destroyed. Assyria ceased to exist as an independent power. Egypt retreated and was no longer a significant force in the Ancient Near East.Babylonia reached its economic peak after 605 BC.
- Pasargadae 550 BC (Persians vs Medes). Also called the Battle of Hyrba,Pasargadae was built on the site where king Cyrus (r.559-530) defeated the leader of the Medes, Astyages as mentioned in the Nabonidus Chronicle. It was the first battle between the Persians And Medians after the Persians had revolted. The only authority with a detailed account of the battle was Nicolaus of Damascus, other well-known historians such as Herodotus, Ctesias, and Strabo also mention the battle in their own accounts. The outcome of the battle was such a great blow to Medes that Astyages decided to personally invade Persia.The hasty invasion eventually led to his downfall. In turn, the former enemies of the Medes tried to move against them, only to be stopped by Cyrus. Thus Persia Formed a new empire.
- Opis 539 BC (Persians vs Babylonians). This was a major engagement between the armies of Persia under Cyrus the Great and the Neo-Babylonian Empire under Nabonidus during the Persian invasion of Mesopotamia. Babylonia was the last major power in western Asia not yet under Persian control. Fought in or near the strategic riverside city of Opis, north of the capital Babylon. it resulted in a decisive victory for the Persians. A few days later, the city of Sippar surrendered to the Persians and Cyrus’s forces entered Babylon without a fight. Cyrus was subsequently proclaimed king of Babylonia and its subject territories, thus ending the independence of Babylon and incorporating the Babylonian Empire into the greater Persian Empire.
The Third method of battle in RoP comprises four (4) new historically-based campaigns. These are the Epic Battles on steroids. The campaigns string a series of successive battles together sequentially using the results of previous battles to lay out subsequent ones. The Specific historical campaigns are those of:
- Ashurbanipal (Neo-Assyrian Empire)
- Fall of Assyria
- Nebuchadnezzar II (Neo-Babylonian Empire)
- Rise of Persia
Finally,for players interested in “what if” matches more in the vein of WRG or DBA, RoPsupports the expanded Field of Glory II Sandbox Campaigns module. The Sandbox now includes all 191 army lists from Immortal Fire, Rise of Rome, Legions Triumphant, Age of Belisarius andRise of Persia modules as long as you have purchased each of the appropriate FoGII DLCs to access them all. Section 8 of the Game manual explains this. I recommend you gain experience playing Quick Battles, Epic Battles, and Historical Campaigns before delving into the Sandbox Campaign.
The sandbox campaign (“Rise of Rome Campaigns”) pits any nation against any other. You choose between a 3, 5, or 7 battle campaign. The armies for Sandbox Campaigns are chosen from historically-based army lists of a particular nation and date range. If you choose to select the nations involved,you can either pick them from historically possible opponents or turn the campaign setup “Date” / “Geographical” filters off and chose from the entire list. Historical contemporary nations may join inas allies to either side during the campaign depending on the original sandbox campaign nations and dates selected. You choose the size of the first and last battles in the campaign. The last battle must be larger than the first battle. Other battles during the campaign will scale between these values.
In summary, I judge RoP an excellent game with very high play and re-playvalue. Anyone interested in tabletop tactical war-gaming for this historical era will be fully satisfied by this computer version.
So, hesitate no more. Go forth and get “Field of Glory II: Rise of Persia”. Gird your loins! Mount your chariots! Advance before your divisions. The armies of Pharaoh and Assyria’s DreadLord and the Great King of Sumer and Akkad await your commands. So let it be written. So let it be done!