My first thought after playing a few hours of Legion Gold was, “Huh. Why on Earth did this ever get the ‘Gold’ treatment?” My second thought was, “If this is the bigger, better, Gold version, I’d hate to see the original.” Unfortunately, more play time only reinforced these early observations. Legion Gold just isn’t a fun game.
Legion is a turn-based strategy game set around that time when Rome was stomping through most of Europe, bullying the other nations. In each of the campaigns, players take command of Rome or one of the other nations, and try to conquer everybody else. This can be done through diplomacy (which never seemed to work very well for me), or the more traditional application of force. There’s very little back-story or plot in any of these campaigns. Players just choose a side and begin.
Play focuses around the buildup of cities and armies, as in most strategy games. Cities are the center of both military buildup and resource gathering—there are no resource collection sites outside of the city walls. Depending on the size, each city has a certain number of building spaces available. These spaces can be filled with resource-producing buildings, such are farms and mines, productivity enhancements, such as shrines and temples, or military-unit producers. Each city also generates workers, which can either harvest resources or be converted into military squads. At first there may seem like quite a few different building choices, especially when considering all the different nations available for play, but it quickly becomes apparent that there just isn’t all that much variation. There may be different graphics and names for buildings of different nations, but play-wise things are identical. Which doesn’t do much to increase the replayability factor. Military units are much the same way—different countries boast lots of different units, but as far as I can tell, the mid-grade infantry from one nation has exactly the same combat effectiveness as any other.
One annoying aspect of building structures and buildings is the timing involved. Only one building can be built per year, although any number of troops can be built. All troops and buildings are completed in the spring. Since each turn is one season, most of the game is spent building, clicking the “next turn” button 3 times, and setting up the next building cycle. Unless you’re embroiled in a fairly heated military movement, you’ll only find yourself actually interested in about one quarter of the turns of the game.
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