Legion Arena Impressions - First Look

This upcoming strategy game will let you wage huge wars on an abstract scale.


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We recently took a look at Legion Arena, the upcoming strategy game from Slitherine Software. Publisher Strategy First suggests that the game is a hybrid that includes elements of both role-playing and strategy games, especially considering its unusual combat model. The game will chronicle the rise of one of the ancient world's greatest empires, Rome. Rome will appear in the game as an actual faction, as will the nation's rivals, the Celts and the Carthaginians. The single-player campaign will be playable from the perspective of one of three nations, while the game's multiplayer will undergo a closed beta-testing phase shortly.

The armies of the ancient world will be at your command. The real question is, how quickly can you plan for battle?
The armies of the ancient world will be at your command. The real question is, how quickly can you plan for battle?

The game's name comes from its combat system, which doesn't follow the traditional real-time strategy model of churning out units and group-selecting large quantities of them to give them orders. Instead, battles in Legion Arena begin with a paused "planning" phase in which enemy armies begin their campaign on opposite sides of a 3D battlefield, somewhat similar to the Total War series, except that companies of units are represented onscreen by "stacks"--individual units that "count" for multiple soldiers.

This planning phase can then be used to maneuver units into different formations before you cry "havoc" and let slip the dogs of war. Exactly how many times you can shuffle your troops around in the planning phase depends on your general; less-experienced generals to reflect their poorer strategy and lesser influence on their troops. Once battle begins, everything takes place in real time, and you can attempt to send individual orders to specific companies, though this process may be delayed somewhat. The idea is to model the way that generals would require runners to ferry their next orders to their troops in battle. Since battles take place in huge 3D environments, the game will also model the effects of terrain, such as the role of forests to provide cover from arrows and javelins.

It will definitely be better to have a higher-ranked general to issue more orders in advance. Your units will improve as you gain fame and coin by conquering your neighbors. More-famous generals will have better strategies, and wealthy players will also be able to purchase various upgrades for their units, including heavy armor, infantry shields, and various weapon upgrades. The game will have about 20 different basic units that can be upgraded and customized with your own personal colors. The game will feature units and skirmishes modeled on real historical information, so Slitherine took the opportunity to include not only swordsmen and javelineers, but also fanatics, which are half-naked (and half-crazed) soldiers that show up to battle wearing nothing more than a cape. Legion Arena is scheduled for release later this year.

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