multi-lingual edition; AKA: Legion
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Legion -- What do you imagine when you hear that word? Never ending drill, steel, blood, sweat... Glorious victories and cruel losses? Armor glittering in the morning sun? Marching night and day without any rest? Dusty roads of exotic countries? Dry deserts and sky-high mountain trails? Death waiting on the battlefields and on the roads? All of this is a part of life of the simple soldiers as well as the generals. All of this is Legion.
I almost missed my copy of Legie (Czech Board Games, 2005 - Zbynek Vrana) because it was underneath the cardboard insert in another game they sent me. I thought that the box was a little heavy, opened up the insert, and was pleased to see another game in there! Upon examination of the game itself, however, I was less happy. There were only ten pieces for each player, and the game rules looked too simplistic and easy to make for an interesting game.
I did enjoy playing this two player abstract, though - although I'm concerned that the replay value may be less than desirable. Legie is very similar to another game, Castle (by Bruno Faidutti); and while it certainly doesn't have the chaos evident in that game, Legie may have lost a bit of fun along with it. The advanced game adds a bit more flavor and diversity but not enough that I ever felt I should play anything other than the basic game. Nice components, an easy going and pleasant game but nothing spectacular here. I'll gladly play a game or two, since it's fast and interesting, and I like the idea - get all your pieces onto the board for victory.
Four small three by three boards are placed together to form a six by six grid of squares on the playing board. Each player is given a set of identical pieces and another neutral piece, a flag, is placed near the board. The player with the black token goes first, and then play alternates for the remainder of the game.
On a player's turn, they simply take one of their game pieces and
place it in an empty space on the board. This token is considered
"activated" and may possibly cause an opponent's piece to be removed
from the board. The pieces are:
- Soldier (2) - These pieces have an attack value of "1" and a defense of "2". When a soldier is placed adjacent to another piece, the adjacent piece is attacked by the soldier and all other adjacent pieces. If the total strength of the attacking pieces is greater than the defense value, the player controlling the attacked piece must remove it from the board, placing it back into their supply.
- Knight (2) - The same as soldiers, except they have attack values of "2".
- Scout - The same as a soldier, except it has a defense value of "3"
- General - The same as a knight, except it has a defense value of "3"
- Tower - The same as a soldier, except that it can never be removed from the board - by anything!
- Archer - After placement, the owner can choose to remove one of the opponent's Soldiers, Knights, Archers, or Kings. It has a defense of "1".
- Catapult - The same as an archer, except it can never be removed from the board.
- King - removes all adjacent opponents' pieces, except for the Catapult and the Tower.
Whenever a piece is removed from the board, the neutral flag token is placed in its place. No piece can ever be placed in this space until the neutral token is moved.
The game continues until one player has placed all of their pieces on
the board, at which point they win. There are advanced rules, in
which terrain has some effect on the game.
- Forest: Attacks cannot be made out of these spots, and archers cannot attack units placed in them.
- Water: Only "light" units - Soldiers, Knights, and the King can be placed here.
- Fortification: Add one to the defense of Soldiers, Knights, the Archer, and the King.
- Mountains: The Catapult and Tower may not be placed there.
There are also some scenarios in which one player is trying to control the most forest, or have the longest continuous line of units, etc.
Some comments on the game…
1.) Components: These are thick, chunky tiles included in this game; ones that really are easy to manipulate and place on four board pieces, which are just as substantial. The four board tiles are double-sided, which doesn't mean much in the basic game, but allows for a myriad of combinations when the terrain rules are used. Each unit has symbols on them, showing their abilities (i.e. the General has two swords - its attack value - and one shield, showing that it is +1 to defense and cannot be attacked by the Archer). The entire game fits inside a nice compact little box, and the entire game's artwork is very well done with a good medieval theme.
2.) Rules: The rulebook is six pages of illustrated examples of the pieces and does a very decent job of explaining the rules. It is in Czech, but an English translation is available at www.boardgamegeek.com. Teaching the game is easy, as I simply point out what each of the symbols mean. In fact, I usually avoid telling players what the names of the pieces are, since that merely distracts them from their use.
3.) Theme: And since I exclude the names, I must admit that the theme is basically absent from this game also. Actually, that's not completely true - the attacking and defending makes sense from a thematic standpoint. But in reality, Legie is simply an abstract strategy game. It's a clever and interesting one; but the theme doesn't hold to it as tightly as I like, except perhaps using the terrain rules.
4.) Simplicity: I'm not sure that I really am a big fan of the terrain rules; for while I feel they make each game rather unique from others, they detract from how simple and easy the basic game is. Legie is a game that can be explained AND played in about ten minutes, and that's one of its strongest suits. Once the terrain rules are in effect, several limitations are placed on pieces, and references to the rules will constantly be made to see which piece can be placed where. As to the scenario rules, I thought they made for a diversion from the basic game but nothing that would replace it.
5.) Tactics: Placing pieces is an easy yet interesting study in tactics. One can do a lot of damage when placing a king, so trying to set up a scenario in which the king can decimate much of the enemy is tantamount to winning; yet a player who works too hard at that may not make use of their more important pieces. Placing the Tower and Catapult are nice, because they can never be removed; but one should not place them lightly, either, as they can never be moved. Most games that I've played have come down to a difference in one piece, and it's usually obvious when one player has run out of options. Perhaps the game has a finite number of options - it seems that it might be able to be "solved"; but played lightly on occasion, I don’t foresee this becoming a problem for most folks.
6.) Fun Factor: I think most of the fun for me in Legie is in how quickly a game plays out. The problem is that there is another game called Castle which has the same general principle as Legie, with an interesting theme included. Castle is very chaotic, and some games can be rather wild; but it does handle up to six players and has a more interesting background. Legie is for the times when I want something quick, yet not too terribly compelling.
There are a few quick, simple abstracts that I enjoy playing, such as Pentago - and Legie will most likely be added to that list. It's a game that I can use in my math logic classes, as it is simple to explain and understand. However, it seems to lack a certain spark to keep it from being a game that I play more often - perhaps it is TOO simple for me. If you're looking for a light, easy-going abstract game, then Legie might be what you want; but if you're looking for deep, heavy strategy, there are perhaps dozens of others that would fill your needs in a better way.
"Real men play board games"