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Last year saw the release of Field of Glory Empires  from AGEOD and Slitherine. It represented a new chapter for AGEOD, best known for their...

Field of Glory: Empires - Persia 550-330 BCE Field of Glory: Empires - Persia 550-330 BCE

Field of Glory: Empires - Persia 550-330 BCE

Field of Glory: Empires - Persia 550-330 BCE

Last year saw the release of Field of Glory Empires from AGEOD and Slitherine. It represented a new chapter for AGEOD, best known for their deep, yet infamously difficult to get into, series of historical grand strategy games. Empires took most of their best ideas, added a few new ones, and combined it all with a much more user friendly interface. Another interesting twist was linking traditional grand strategy gameplay with the tactical battles of Field of Glory II. This allowed the player to assume direct command of any battle if they so chose, by launching FOG II, an entirely separate game, playing out the battle, then sending the results back to Empires. This was a bold decision that worked quite well, though you certainly wouldn't want to play out the majority of your battles this way, as it would take ages. All in all, I really enjoyed the game and how it encouraged the idea of civilizations rising and falling over time, allowing the player to "win" even after their glorious empire had faded into a has-been. 

The recent release of Persia 550-330 BCE, steps the game start further back in time, and as the title suggests, features the rise of Persia as a central highlight. The player can step into the shoes of Cyrus II, aka Cyrus the Great, and see if you can match his conquests. Although your neighbors at the start, Babylon and Media, are massive, they are old and worn down empires that have rotted from the inside. It won't take you long to overrun their lands, but after that you will find yourself facing stiffer resistance from the Greek city states. Lucky for you, this DLC also introduces some new features in addition to the new campaign.

Regional Decisions will be immediately familiar to any fans of the older AGEOD games. These are essentially bonuses or special powers that you can apply (for a cost) to qualifying regions. They represent all sorts of historical events and realities, but do so in a simple and abstract way that doesn't over complicate things. For example, you can invest resources in attempting to turn the Greeks against one another so they don't have time to ally against you. You can federate barbarian warriors on your borders to improve relations and sap their manpower, or you can invest in building up newly conquered lands. There are many different regional decisions, and all have a cost and potential benefit. Some are unique to certain civilizations, while others can be employed by anyone. This is a perfectly natural addition to the game that makes things more interesting without adding any additional complexity.

Another new feature adds a bit of randomness and replayability to the game. Impediments and Boons are, respectively, bad or good features of any given region that you may find as you go about painting the map your color. Things like an impenetrable forest or a bandit infestation which can slow down development in a region until you find a way to deal with the issue. Occasionally you can also find an especially good boon that makes a region far more important than it might be the next time you play the game. This feature isn't quite as meaningful as the Regional Decisions, but anything to mix up strategy and increase replayability is a win in my book. Both of these features are also added into the original campaign timeline, in case you were wondering.

Special effort was also made to add extra flavor to playing as the key nations of the time by giving them unique events, missions, and more, so that playing Persia won't feel anything like playing as Athens. So far, I've only played a campaign as the Persians, and I have to say it was a new experience compared to my plays of the base game as Rome, and then as various barbarian tribes. I happily found that, much like in Europa Universalis IV, playing as the big names and the little names of history can be fun in different ways. Playing as Persia was a delight. Finally, a chance to play as a rapidly expanding and wildly successful (for a while) empire not named Rome! That said, you can play this campaign as Rome if you wish, though you will be starting from very humble beginnings. Dozens of other tribes and empires are available to play as well, from the Picts up in the far North, to a still powerful Egyptian state, or perhaps you'll lead the Spartans in kicking people into wells all over the Mediterranean. 

Field of Glory Empires might not have dethroned the Paradox grand strategy games, but I maintain that it is still a very strong contender in the genre. As I discussed in my original review, the combination of multitudes of trade goods, semi-random construction options, and deep but accessible empire management make it a great choice for anyone interested in the genre. Being able to play out your battles in tactical turn based combat is a cool twist, though entirely optional. The Persia DLC seamlessly strengthens that gameplay with its additional features, and the timeline chosen is perfectly suited to the core theme of the game, the never ending balance between progress and decay.

Field of Glory Empires - Persia 550-330 BCE can purchased from Slitherine directly, or found on Steam.

- Joe Beard