Legacy of Glory Playtest

As I get back into the gaming hobby, I find that my tastes are changing as I get older.  For the most part, the main appeal of the hobby these days has to do with the aesthetic elements: painting, nice terrain, and an appropriate level of ‘mass’ that is pleasing to my eyes.   In many cases the rules used are almost of secondary importance.  As long as they feel more or less ‘right,’ I don’t often care much about how slavishly they follow history or not.    I take a long look at 40K ever-so-often for that reason… the rules aren’t the greatest (Though I haven’t seen 5th edition yet), but the minis are very nice in many cases.

When I was a younger gamer with few responsibilities other than going to school and working a mindless part-time job, I gravitated towards very complex miniatures rules that promised to deliver the most accurate and detailed ‘simulations.’    Some of the older guys I played with (in this case older being a nebulous term for ‘not in school and has a full-time job’) either avoided these type of games or if they did play, would happily take subordinate roles where they could just roll dice and push lead.  At the time I looked at them with a mixture of condescension and pity.  Now that I’m firmly in the ‘older’ camp, I understand where they’re coming from.   I get more than enough complexity in my day job that when I’m playing games for fun, I don’t want to bother with all that.  I usually only get 3-4 hours for gaming, so I want to get on with it and come to a firm conclusion in that timeframe.

There’s only one period where the above aims do not apply:  Napoleonics.

Something about this period fascinates me like no other, and I keep searching for a better set of rules to simulate what I think happened with regards to combat in this period of history.   For a long time I’ve played Napoleon’s Battles.  It provides a fast game and allows you to get the largest battles of the period played without requiring a PhD in history or engineering.  As time goes on, though, I’ve become less and less satisfied with it as a model for Napoleonic combat.    It’s quite popular locally, and my 15mm Russians are based up for the game, so I’ll continue to play it occasionally for the big games that are put on.   At the same time I am starting to build other forces for a different set of rules.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m looking at 28mm for some more tactical games.  The search for exactly what I’m going to do is ongoing, but in general I’m looking to model lower-level tactical situations where each player runs a brigade or (maybe) a division.    I’m also looking for a more hard-core set of rules to provide a more accurate model of combat at the corps level.   As I continue to read or re-read about the period I find myself getting more interested in trying to find an accurate model for simulating combat at the corps level.   

The classic set of rules for this was the Empire family of rules, which I used to play often back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.    As I revisited the rules over the last year or so I have come to realize that it tries to do too much.  You’re a corps commander but at the same time you’re making deployment and tactical decisions for each battalion every turn.   It’s too much, and the game seems to bog down horribly when more than 1 corps per side makes contact.  There’s also way too much freedom given to micro-manage individual battalions in my opinion, leading to a-historical maneuvering in the heat of battle as units try to exploit every gap in lines to try and catch units in the flank.   Considering these things, Empire was out.

As luck had it, I made contact recently with another local Napoleonics gamer who wasn’t playing much but was working through the entire French Army of 1806/07 in 1:60 scale.   After chatting a bit, it seemed like we had common interests in the period with regards to the level of combat and historical accuracy we were looking for.  The rules set he was looking at was Legacy of Glory, an old 1:60 set from the early 1990’s that was set up to be a competitor to Empire.   LoG had some very interesting concepts, but they were buried in a rulebook that had some organizational issues.  Jeff J. and I tried a playtest battle to run though things back before we had decided on Napoleon’s Battles as the next standard, and we both agreed at the time that any merits the rules had were offset by a hard-to-follow layout.  We shelved the rules and I didn’t think about them again until making contact with David earlier this year.   

After chatting about the rules a bit I acquired a new set cheap and started re-reading them.  I still think the book’s layout does the rules themselves no favors.  They are complex rules to begin with, and you have to jump around a bit to find charts, chart explanations, and terminology, which doesn’t help things much.    That said, the rules have several things going for them:  the ‘wave’ concept, the way artillery is handled, and use of order timings and ‘action points’ to force the player to think ahead.   In the past I wasn’t interested enough in things to try and bull my way through the roadblocks put up in front of me.  This time around I’m more willing to do the work.

David and I decided to meet last Saturday to run through a short 1807 test game of the rules.  We put some arbitrary forces on the table equating to more or less a corps per side, consisting of two divisions of infantry and a brigade of cavalry.  There was no real purpose to the scenario other than to provide a framework through which we could test out the order sequencing along with running through the tactical battle system.  David’s friend Eugene attended as well… it was his first Napoleonics game, and he was thrown in the deep end, being given one French division.

A few general concepts about Legacy of Glory:

  • 1:50/60 Figure ratio.  Each unit is a battalion/battery/regiment.
  • Each turn is 2 hours, with 6 20-minute Tactical Segments (TAC’s) for tactical combat.
  • Artillery fire is handled differently between bombardment (engaged status) and direct fire (combat status).
  • Changing orders is a laborious process, especially for poor commanders or good commanders with terrible staffs.  It pays to have a good initial plan,  for poor commanders may take hours to change their orders.

We went through a very limited branch of the order sequencing.  The Russians were on the defence, and the two French divisions were given ‘standard’ assault and ‘sustained’ assault orders so we could see the differences.   The French cavalry was ordered to support the left French infantry division, guarding it’s flank from the Russian horse.     Running through the order sequencing, one French division took two TAC’s (40 minutes) delay to start moving while the other one took 3 TAC (60 minutes).Both French assaults were ‘prepared’ assaults, so the infantry moved up to engagement range of 18″, at which point their attached artillery unlimbered and spent three TAC’s (60 minutes) bombarding the Russian line to soften things up for the assault.     

The first two-hour grand battle turn was spent transmitting orders and having the French move up to engagement range and then spending an hour trading artillery fire with the Russian defensive line.  On the flank, the Russian and French cavalry tangled in an indecisive melee as units charged and counter-charged.   Having multiple lines of cavalry is a big advantage, for the Russian front line was repulsed, but in the next TAC the second line was able to charge the disordered French front-line unit and throw them back.  There was a great back-and-forth feel to the cavalry action, and even though I’m sure we messed some things up, it felt ‘right.’

The second grand-battle turn started and the French guns fell silent as the lines of infantry lurched forward.   One of the French divisions should have waited an extra TAC, but it was getting late in the day, so we decided to let them go early so we could process more combat.  It took two TAC’s for the infantry columns to close with the Russians, and during that time they took a terrible amount of punishment from the Russian heavy artillery.   The Russian front-line units had taken some abuse from the French artillery during an hour’s worth of bombardment, so the front lines of both sides were in rough shape.    

When the lines finally collided, the combat process was fairly straightforward.  When infantry attacks other infantry, you simply throw the attacking units forward, making as many 1-on-1 combats as possible.  Flanking attacks (or ‘enfilades’ as they are called in the rules) only happen when you both outnumber the defender and have a wider frontage.  The idea is not to be tactically cute, but to simulate the real battlefield, where there was so much noise, smoke and chaos happening that units simply kept alignment and trundled forward as best they could.   Units are lined up, and the combat is simple.  Each side takes their basic morale value, adds and subtracts numbers based on casualties, mass, cover and some other tactical variables.  Subtract the defender’s modified morale value from the attacker’s, and that gets used as a die roll modifier (positive or negative) to 2 d10.   There are several charts you compare the result to depending on whether or not the attacker has ‘impetus’, or if there’s a firefight, or cavalry attacks, etc.   The process is designed to be quick, and in all honesty, the net effect of a single combat is not important.    Some units will win, others will lose.  The important thing is how many of the attacker’s units win the combat, for after combat is completed for the TAC, both sides take ‘assessment’ tests to determine results.  The defender goes first, and obviously the more units of yours that lost, the worse your die roll modifier will be.   Once the defender is done, the attacker does their assessment, using the results of the defender’s test as a modifier.

In our case, the right flank French division took terrible abuse, but won 2/3 of their combats.  In the resulting defense assessment, the Russian infantry had a ‘fall back’ result where the entire first line fell back in disorder behind the second Russian line.  The opposing French division got a ‘fatigue’ result, meaning they lost impetus and took a morale loss in addition to becoming fatigued.   In essence, the French had knocked back the Russian front line, but took enough damage that they were unable to follow up right away and were set up for a counter-assault from the Russians.  The other divisonal attack had the Russians ‘Retire’ 12″ in disorder whereas the French received a ‘stall’ order, meaning they lost the impetus but were otherwise in good shape.  Again, the French front line took terrible damage and would have to feed the second line through the first to keep going.

We called the game at this point since it was getting towards dinner time and everyone had plans for the evening.  The turns took a long time to process since we were constantly looking things up.  Overall,  we enjoyed the game.  it felt like it had a lot of ebb and flow to the game, and once we ran through a few combat turns things seemed to be easier to understand.   This is a complex game, and it feels a lot like learning Advanced Squad Leader or another dense rules system.  There is a learning curve that must be mastered before you can fully appreciate what’s going on.   We’ll be playing it again in the next month or two depending on everyone’s schedules and including more of the ordering sequence next time.

A few takeaways:

  • Having a good scenario ahead of time is mandatory.  We blew at least an hour picking figures and laying out terrain.
  • Once enough players get familiar with the rules, it will run in real time if not faster.  Rank newcomers like us managed to get through 1.5 game turns (3 hours of combat) in around 3.5 – 4 hours.  As we get with the program this will speed up.
  • A large table space is necessary.  I put out an 8 x 5 foot table, and we were able to comfortably put out a corps per side on that frontage.  We could have used more depth, though.  My Russian infantry division that was forced to retire fell back all the way to the table edge.  Another 8 x 2.5 table may be necessary.
  • With beginners, everyone running a division or so seemed to work well.  As we get more advanced a corps per person would work.  Any more than that would be overkill.
  • It was fun running something other than 1812-14 armies.  The 1807 French and Russians are something different, and I enjoyed having the greater number of grenadier battalions out there.
  • LoG seems to work great, but it would require just as much tablespace and troops as Empire to run the largest battles of the period, along with a large number of gamers well-versed in the rules.   Since that’s not likely to happen, it will function best for running smaller battles or sections of larger ones.  

Legacy of Glory’s second edition has been in development for years.  We’ll see if anything ever surfaces.  If not, the current edition seems to work well.  I look forward to rediscovering this rules set.


6 Responses to “Legacy of Glory Playtest”

  1. 1 Doug Ferguson May 5, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Thanks for giving these old rules a chance. Believe it or not, the Second Edition is still in the process of being finalized, and will come out, when we can find time in the publishing calender to finish them and get all the artwork completed.

    All of your comments regarding the difficulty of the existing rules are quite valid. We think these have been resolved in the new rules, which will feature far fewer phases and much less bookkeeping.

  2. 2 Kenny May 17, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    I followed this link from over on The Miniatures Page. Thanks for the write-up, I’m always looking for an interesting period to play in (and Napoleonics is definitely on the list, I read too many Sharpe’s books back when), but I want a game that isn’t like Warhammer. The only time I want to command individual units is in scifi skirmishes like Infinity. Legacy of Glory sounds interesting, and I’d like to give it a try sometime.

    Any recommendations for where to find a copy if napoleon-journal doesn’t have any left?

    • 3 Bart May 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm

      Thanks for your comments.

      Kenny, I got my recent copy from Old Glory (www.oldglory25s.com). They were/are selling them for $15.00 plus shipping, which is a good deal IMO.

      Good luck!

  3. 4 Matt DeLaMater July 29, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Wonderful stuff. An extremely fair analysis.

    I’ve spent years kicking myself for the games organizational issues. In those days you “bought” pree time and sceduled it months in advance. Very unforgiving. We blew it at the deadline.

    I would love to post this on the yahoo group.

    Thanks guys.


  4. 5 Matt DeLaMater July 29, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    that’s press time


    Now you see where the typos came from….

  5. 6 Bart July 29, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Hi Matt,

    I posted an abridged version on the Yahoo group back when I originally posted this with a link to this article. If you want to post it in its entirety, feel free.

    And yes, the printing business is radically different than it was 20 years ago… and that’s a good thing.


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