I know it's passed a lot of time, but I still play Legion sometimes. I'd like to know if someone could tell me how to get the phantom soldiers when commanding the celtiberians. I already know how to get then when using Romans, also I realized you can build a Cronlech (like Stonehenge) in one campaing. If anyone knows, I'll be pleased.
Though Legion doesn't have a lot of superfluous details, it also lacks the essential elements that make strategy games with authentic settings so appealing.
Legion is the latest gaming foray into the classical civilization that gave us Julius Caesar and Caligula. This strategy game from Paradox Entertainment and Slitherine Software looks at early Roman history, featuring on four campaigns that focus on the conquest of Italy and expansion into Gaul and Britain. It features a real-time battlefield with 22 different units representing Rome and numerous barbarian tribes, epic gameplay with more than 20 AI factions competing with you for dominance of the map, and an economic model where you gather resources and build an empire. So, on paper, there's a lot to Legion. Yet once you start playing it, Legion seems stripped down. Everything seems to have been done on the cheap.
The game apparently wasn't created with the same "everything but the kitchen sink" philosophy that Paradox used in its recent games, the highly acclaimed Europa Universalis and its sequel. While those games overwhelmed players with events and personages taken straight out of the history books, this one employs a softer focus. Yes, you can fight Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, but you don't get the chance to command as him on the battlefield. Nor will you get the opportunity to deal with authentic British tribal leaders of the first century when you cross the English Channel. Unit types are nicely varied and present a good cross section of what was available to the Romans and their barbarian adversaries, including legionaries, praetorians, hoplites, archers, and cavalry. Still, they're only rough approximations of the real thing, very similar to units found in any run-of-the-mill real-time strategy game. Legion is actually closer to traditional real-time strategy games like Command & Conquer than it is to a comprehensive survey of history like Europa Universalis.
In part because of this reliance on real-time strategy fundamentals, and in part because of a desire to re-create the actual conditions of ancient warfare, Legion comes up short in offering you a chance to make meaningful tactical decisions. Battles are rudimentary affairs that you begin by choosing a formation from a short list of a dozen types, all of which involve variants of an old-fashioned tank rush. You then issue orders telling your troops when and how to engage the enemy and sit back to see whether you win or lose. Nothing can be done once a battle gets underway. This is a somewhat accurate reenactment of how ancient generals were often incommunicado, though it doesn't fully take into account the remarkable communications systems employed by Roman armies along the frontiers of the Republic (and in the later imperial period). Also, battles in the ancient world typically lasted for quite some time, giving commanders the opportunity to issue new orders if things weren't going well. In Legion, armies clash together and a victor emerges within a minute or two.
But while it's disappointing that the developers chose not to model combat sequences after historical truths, it's even more of a letdown that they have turned the player into a spectator during the most exciting part of the game. Not being able to directly influence the outcome of a battle is at first frustrating, and later boring. There is some amount of tension when watching a battle, especially in the early moments, when you're waiting to see if the enemy will play into your hands, though the sheer number of engagements means that few battles will actually assume an air of importance. Opposing forces generally aren't all that bright, either. A little forethought and the use of a basic maneuver like staggering the advance of your formations so that you hit the enemy like a wave is typically all that's needed to crush any opponent. Unfortunately, your charges are just as dumb, and they'll often stick to orders, no matter how ill-advised. Order a short advance and hold, and your troops will do just that, even in the presence of a column of archers mere feet away, happily slaughtering the immobile targets.