: We will actually be playing a game today, Meowth…
: Ooh, what sort of game?
: In the good old days of 2005, the game Legion Arena was released. Its graphics might not have been much to sneeze at, but it had something more important: Gameplay. Fun. Strategy. Tactics.
: There’s a difference?
: Yes. Anyway, the slogan of “ROLE-PLAYING STRATEGY ON AN EPIC SCALE” was not entirely pompous bullshit.
: Enough about that. Let’s play the game already!
: Cool, there’s one of those puzzles where you have to slid pieces around! And there are musical notes when I slid over the options! You know, what let’s play the game later.
: No. Anyway, here are the options I will be using. I will attempt Very Hard on as many maps as possible, but some of them… well, you’ll see. The game can shift from laughably easy to sadistically hard in a heartbeat. Also, I’d like to have larger screen resolution, but the game steadfastly refuses all such attempts.
: I’d like to begin with the main campaign right away, but let’s play the tutorial for completeness sake, and to explain some things.
: Our task is to defend a random Latin tribe from the Roman juggernaut. I can sort of guess how that’ll end…
: Here’s a screen you’ll be looking at a lot, managing your army in-between battles. Our leader is Gaulish for some reason…
: Those green bars indicate our stats, which are very handy. In this case, for example, a quick glance reveals that this Militia stinks.
(A Scottish accent appears)
Latium. On your father’s orders, you will lead the warriors of your tribe, to meet the Romans on the field. Stop them before they reach the crops and destroy the harvest. Fail, and your people face a harsh winter of starvation and death.
: I wish I could have such an awesome voice!
: Damned lies. I could win this battle blindfolded and eating noodles.
: The game shows us formations, and in this case we’re forced to use Defensive on our Scouts. I mostly use Offensive because of the massive melee attack and order point bonus you get, at relatively little cost.
: The tutorial shows us that utilizing the terrain to the greatest effect is a generally good idea – we’ll become intimately familiar with terrain bonuses and maluses later.
: We’re also acquainted with the concept of pre-battle orders. Most of them are useless or more trouble than they’re worth, and the ones we’ll be using is Charge, Long Wait, and occasionally Advance.
: Less talking, more playing!
: The talking goes on and on…
: Finally some action! It looks like we’re doing good… the horses are our enemy, right?
: Naturally. You’ll want to see yellow numbers rather than red ones. You also want to have those squares green. “Ordered” means that morale is high. “Shaky”, or yellow, and you have a problem. If you see “Routed”, or red, you’ll notice that the troops are fleeing the field and will be of no more use that battle.
: The red arrow indicates death by missile.
: Weren’t you supposed to show off trampling?
: Er… shut up.
: Then there’s the global orders. They’re useful in that they don’t use up any order points. Signal tells those who stand still or advance slowly to step on the throttle and charge with full force. Halt can be useful in hindering a squad from doing something retarded. Retreat makes you automatically lose the battle, and is an order you’ll be using a lot, as will the pause and fast-forward buttons.
: Sending your leader head first into enemy forces is a surprisingly useful tactic sometimes.
: A medal! And money!
: Some statistics are given after each battle, like how much experience each squad gained, if any promotions became available, and how many were wounded.
: Back in the army manager, we are forced to select Swordsman as a promotion. I usually don’t like it because so much melee attack is given by having an offensive formation. More on promotions later.
: The Latins’ variety of units are a bit weird, not that it matters in the least. Anyway, you’ll use most of your money to recruit units, pimping your units with gear being the other use for money.
: This is one of my favourite features of the game.
: Silly Romans, they couldn’t possibly defeat us! Right?
: You’ll always want to have all your units on the field, but sometimes there are some maps where you only can have a certain amount.
: This is fun!
: I’m awed by the amount of control I have of this battle…
Although you won another victory over Rome, you could not win the war. By fair means and foul, Rome spreads its influence. On your return from the battle, you are met by men loyal to your father. They tell you that your uncle, always jealous of your father’s power, has betrayed the tribe. He has poisoned your father and taken control, then betrayed you to the Romans in return for his safety. Roman troops already occupy your village, and your uncle is now Rome’s puppet.
: We’ll get out of this. Let’s start by liberating the village and-
Disoriented and surrounded, you have no option but surrender. You have been captured, and will be held hostage in Rome.