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Posted on May 10, 2010 in Electronic Games

Preview of Legio – Chess Meets Warhammer?

By Singleton Mosby

The PC-game Legio, a turn-based game for one or two players, is described by its publisher, Paradox Interactive, as a cross between chess and Games Workshop’s popular Warhammer fantasy battle game. Whether your opponent is the AI or a friend—Legio supports online and hot-seat multiplayer—the game requires careful, well-thought-out strategies and cleverness.

In the words of the developer: "Legio is a small, turn-based strategy game, perfect for lunch gaming and for people who like to play a game but do not have the time to play a two-hour session each time they play a game."

During the first round battle rages on the drawbridge between the castles of the Red Lord and the Bue Countess.

After interviewing Jonas Fjellström of ICE Game Studios for Armchair General, I became very curious about this little game and was glad to be offered a chance to give it a try. Legio is currently in beta-test phase so some things will change and bugs will hopefully have been resolved before its release. (Editor’s note: A release date of May 21, 2010, was announced after this preview was written.)


The player uses a small army of fantasy warriors and monsters to battle for dominion in the fantasy kingdom of Belalegosia. Before battle commences a player decides on a strategy and places units on the battlefield. There are several different types of units. Among others, there are archers, knights, a giant and two types of mages—oh, yes, and there’s also a war-rabbit. ("That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!") It leaps over other units and moves very quickly. ("Look, that rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide. It’s a killer." Anyone up for a few verses of Brave Sir Robin while we look for a shrubbery?)

The giant is able to hit several warriors at the same time. The captain supposedly uses his leadership, although it is not exactly clear how he does this or what the exact benefits of his leadership are. The assassin can turn invisible, and the magicians can create an implosion—which in effect is an explosion covering an area—or heal a damaged unit. Unfortunately, there is no tooltip or description of the different units. Many things are unclear as of yet, such as the effect of the different abilities, what are the statistics and the exact rules? Well, that’s what a beta is for, to point out and solve these shortcomings so they won’t remain in the final game.

Each game consists of two rounds. During the first round battle rages on the drawbridge between the castles of the Red Lord and the Bue Countess. The loser of this first battle decides on the battlefield for the second act, the layout of his castle, to determine the ultimate victor. The goal of each of these two battles is simple: eliminate the opponent’s army. 

Battles are turned-based and can best be compared with the battles in Heroes of Might and Magic, except for the fact units attacked in Legio do not retaliate after receiving an attack.

As noted in the developer’s quote above, Legio is a small game. A single game is played in 15 minutes, 20 at most. There is no campaign, but a multi-player option is very interesting. In multi-player you see the true parallels between Legio and chess—thinking a few turns ahead, which unit is next and what my opponent may do when I make this move.

Learning to play Legio is quite easy, but it is a great challenge to master all the various strategies—which brings me to the difficulty settings: easy, normal and hard. Well, I don’t know about others, but I was hardly able to win the game on easy, let alone normal. I just hope I will master Legio one day and beat the AI at the "hard" level.

Some problems became obvious after playing a few rounds. You can’t move the camera freely around the board to find the best vantage point for your next action. Zooming in and turning the camera works well but all from a fixed point. You are not able to move around to the edge of the board, which severely limits the overview of the battlefield. Next, after a while you will probably get quite annoyed by the flavor sounds and cut-scenes: the remarks of the Red Lord, crying and whining, and the shouts and threats of the Blue Countess. They show too often and are too long, with no way for the player to click through them. It would be good to reduce the frequency in the final version of the game.

As can be expected in a game that is still in beta, Legio has some game-balance issues. The player who goes first has a definite edge. This advantage is even bigger if you can bring two ranged attacks to bear on the opponent’s mage and kill it before it is able to take its turn. Your opponent can now forget about a battle for position or a battle of attrition and has to charge or be wiped out. We’ll see how this all turns out when Legio is released.

Legio has the potential to be a very nice game to play during a lunch break, when you are short on time, or when you want a short strategic game with a friend through multi-player. In fact, I would love to see Legio as an iPhone application. Recommended for those who love chess, strategic wargames and the battles in Heroes of Might and Magic.

Click here to read an interview about Legio with Jonas Fjellstrom of ICE Game Studios.

About the Author:
"Singleton Mosby" is the pseudonym of Mark Spierenburg, author of The Art of Armchair Warfare blog. He is a gamer, writer, wine lover and classic car enthusiast but perhaps foremost an amateur historian. His main fields of interest are the American Civil War and the Napleonic era, as well as near-Eastern and Mughal history. At college he spent more time reading history books than paying attention in class and, thus, soon left school on an uncertain path. He now works at the office during the day and plays and writes about historical wargames at night. A glass of great wine, fireplace blazing and Napoleon looking down. Life is a bliss.



  1. Legio – Interview with Jonas Fjellstrom, ICE Game Studios » Armchair General - [...] date of May 21, 2010, was set after this interview was conducted. To read our interviewer’s preview of Legio,…