Have You Played… Fields of Glory?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

In an era where wargaming mostly meant hex-grids and counters, Fields of Glory seemed to fulfill the promise and possibilities of the PC. Long before the Total War series or Sid Meier’s Gettysburg!, it gave us real-time battles on gorgeous battlefields, covered with little miniature-style soldiers wearing detailed and historically accurate uniforms.

Does the AI work? Not really! Fog of war? Dubious to nonexistent! But who can worry about little things like that when there are mixed formations of French infantry bounding across the fields of Belgium, drums beating double-time, while artillery booms from across the battlefield and little red-and-blue corpses begin to litter the ground?

Fields of Glory is still impressive when you compare it to many of its contemporaries, and while it didn’t really work as a great wargame, it was vivid and exciting. It’s a game that more wargame developers should have taken a cue from: Fields of Glory brought history to life, and even if it made a hash of the details, it felt true.

16 Comments

  1. jeeger says:

    I guess this game is hard to find (legally) as well. Shame, looks fun!

    • SundiataWTF says:

      This is one of my nostalgic favorites. Got me into wargaming!

  2. banski83 says:

    I remember spending hours with this game back on my old Amiga A500, great game.

    Can anyone recommend me what would be the closest to it as a modern day spiritual successor?

    • fredc says:

      Me too, but on the PC!

      The closest thing to it would be Napoleon: Total War (or Empire: Total War). Similarities include the obligatory whining about the AI and the game’s preference for look and feel over some attempt at exacting historical precision.

      What is missing from N:TW, assuming my memory isn’t playing tricks, is the comprehensive unit and leader information that FOG had by the bucketful.

    • klops says:

      Closest to it modern day spiritual successor?

      “Real-time battles on gorgeous battlefields”
      “Does the AI work? Not really!”
      “But who can worry about little things like that when there are [lots of cool and pretty stuff]”

      Like FredC said, Total War(s).

    • kutya says:

      The closest is the Scourge of War series. Not too many people know about them, because they’re more hardcore than the Theme Park Simulator that Total War became over the years.
      Anyway, the Scourge of War games have crappy graphics (almost like FOG), but the AI is good and the game is deep. The most recent one is Waterloo and the older is Gettysburg. Both are distributed at link to matrixgames.com

    • kutya says:

      And there is also Ultimate General: Gettysburg

    • Shiloh says:

      Well, it’s not exactly “modern” but something like Austerlitz: Napoleon’s Greatest Victory from BreakAway Games might fit the bill maybe (if you can find it). AI was decent as I recall, and it looked pretty for its time… There’s also John Tiller’s Battleground Napoleonic Wars, but again it’s dated and the AI isn’t spectacular – still great fun though and looks nice, like lots of little miniatures.

      Otherwise, yeah, Scourge of War (and the earlier Take Command series) from Norb Timpko.

  3. popej says:

    This was one of the earlier titles I had on PC. Was great fun, spent many hours playing Quatre Bras and Waterloo.

  4. Talbot says:

    Wow. I’d never have thought anyone would reach in and bring this game out of the long black hole of obscurity. Along with MicroProse Formula 1 Grand Prix, this was a childhood staple. It also had an extensive encyclopaedia in it and a pretty nifty soundtrack.

  5. RanDomino says:

    I have! I hardly remember anything about it other than flashes of jostling formation-changes and little gun barrels poking out of building windows. And utter confusion about how to order around my troops, or even which troops were mine. Still, it was more or less the first wargame I ever played and it was a blast even if I had no idea what was going on.

  6. Velko says:

    I have! I seem to recall that the cavalry swung their swords in this rather silly windmill-like fashion when they charged. And oh, the gun barrels poking out of windows…

    I remember having problems choosing scenarios. There was a map that you clicked, maybe? And there were some cities on that map that were battles, and others that didn’t seem to do anything (Berlin?), and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out whether or not I was missing some of the battles due to a bug or maybe some obscure gameplay-related requirement, or if the cities were on that map just for flavour and weren’t actually meant to be clicked at all.

    Ah, old-school UI’s.

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    Syt says:

    Wow, that’s a blast from the past. :D Didn’t it also have order delay when you tried to direct your troops?

    I wish more games would model the problems of being in command in that day and age. HistWar Les Grognards tried, but it was not exactly a looker. Too many wargames have you as all seeing commander whose orders reach the troops on all levels immediately and without error, whereas armies often have Borg vision, where if one unit spots an enemy, all know about it.

    One of the biggest challenges in combat is communications and flow of information and it’s rare that a game manages to incorporate in its systems

  8. Zephro says:

    God I loved this game back in the day. It was a total classic.

  9. Daryl says:

    I had a copy of this for DOS back in the day. We bought it from an older kid down the street who was a big PC gamer at the time. I remember some stuff about this game but not much because I was very young at the time (9, 10 years old). In retrospect I was terrible at the game and I had no idea what I was doing, but I remember having a lot of fun with it regardless.

  10. hygroovy says:

    Was well into Sharpe as a kid, and bought this to enjoy my Napoleonic fantasies. Did the job at the time, although I remember the relationship between your mouse clicks and what actually occurred being tenuous at best. Napoleon:Total War does the job for me now, although I might check out Scourge of War…