Review: Broken Legions

Rating: 3 stars


broken-legions-coverThus begins Broken Legions – another in the series of Wargames Rules from Osprey Publishing, written by Mark Latham. As you can already deduce, this is a fantasy skirmish wargame set in the time of the Roman Empire.

Broken Legions is a ‘warband’ style of skirmish game, so players will each need a warband of between 7 and 12 models a side. Since the game is set in a mythical Ancient Rome timeline, warbands consist of miniatures from the armies of the time: Imperial Rome, Gladiators, Barbarians, Dacians, Parthians, Argonauts (Greeks) and Cult of Set (Egyptians). Most of these miniatures you will find in any 28mm Ancient army that you may have to hand, or maybe one that has been lying in a corner unloved since its days of playing WAB?

broken-legions-1 However, since this is a fantasy game as well, other models will be needed. For instance, you can recruit Mummies, Werewolves, Amazons, Lamia, Cyclops, Necromancers of even a demigod into your warband. In addition, one of the scenarios uses wandering monsters, so if possible you will need models to represent a Chimeria, Gorgon, Harpies, Hydra and a Minotaur.

The game is normally played on a 3’ x 3’ board, ideally with a good smattering of scenery.

Finally, the game uses D10 dice, so you will need several of these, with at least one being of a different colour to the others.

Your force is broken down into six different types warrior, which are pretty self-explanatory:

  • Infantry
  • Cavalry
  • Chariot
  • War Engine
  • Beast
  • Monster

Each of these models is defined by a profile consisting of several attributes:


  • Melee – hand-to-hand combat
  • Accuracy -ranged combat
  • Physique – physical size, strength & toughness
  • Agility – speed and dexterity
  • Presence – Courage, command and willpower
  • Hit Points
  • Fate (Heroes only)

As you can see from the profile, each model can also have a number of special rules that can be applied to them, and also carry a certain amount of equipment. Some models may also be spell casters and use ‘Miracles’.

broken-legions-3The turn sequence of the game is broken down into four phases:

Initiative phase: Initiative is determined at the start of each game turn by the roll of a D10, adjusted by the ‘Presence’ value of the warband leader.

Action phase:  The game uses alternate model activation. Starting with the player with the initiative, each player activates one model in turn – the Warband leader must always act first.
Models have 2 actions. The first (if used) must be a move or a charge. This can be followed by one of the following actions:

  • Run
  • Hide
  • Ranged Attack
  • Perform Miracle – some models, such as Druids are able to harness arcane powers and thus cast spells, or ‘miracles’.
  • Heroic Action – some models are defined as ‘Heroes’ and may perform a number of special actions.

Melee phase: Hand-to-hand combat is fought

Recovery phase : Morale is checked and models can recover.

Model movement for Infantry is 6″, Beasts & Monsters 8″ and Cavalry & Chariots 10″.

Combat takes place in the form of Ranged Attacks or Melee

Ranged Attack: Is target within range and LOS? If so, roll 1D10 + models Accuracy, adjusted by modifiers. Adjusted dice score >= 10 = hit.
Also roll ‘Critical Dice’ (D10, different colour from attack dice) – if this is ‘10’ and the attack is a hit, score 1 point additional damage. If this is a ‘1’ and you have missed, you have then fumbled and the model cannot shoot in its next turn.
Damage is an opposed roll between attackers weapon (D10 + damage bonus) and targets armour (D10 + armour bonus). If Damage roll > Armour roll, 1 wound is caused.
If model is still alive, it makes a presence test (D10 + Presence). If result <10, model is ‘Broken’.

Melee Attack : Melee is usually fought with models paired off against each other. Where 2 or more attackers are in base contact with a defender, only a single model attacks, and bonuses are applied for outnumbering the defender.
This is an opposed roll – Players of both models in combat roll 1D10 + Melee. If allowed to make multiple attacks, attacker rolls multiple dice and chooses highest.
Also roll ‘Critical Dice’ (D10, different colour from attack dice) – if this is ‘10’ and the attack is a hit, score 1 point additional damage. If this is a ‘1’ and you have missed, you have then fumbled and the target immediately gets a free attack in return.
If attacker score > Defender score, attack hits, causing 1 damage.
If model is still alive, it makes a presence test (D10 + Presence). If result <10, model is ‘Broken’.

broken-legions-2Models can become ‘Broken, during the game, usually due to injury.

In the Recovery phase, an ‘All is Lost!’ check is made when the warband is reduced to 25% or less of its starting number of models (rounded up). Make a presence test for each model. Models who fail will flee the table.

You can then attempt to rally Broken models. Player makes a presence test for each model:

  • Pass – remove broken token
  • Fail – model flees (Either withdraws across the table, or is removed if it moves off the table edge).

Broken Legions is a scenario driven game – there are 5 in the rulebook. Each scenario includes details of an terrain requirements, special set-ups, warband deployment, and the length of the game. Scenarios are usually played for a number of turns, or until one side flees the battlefield. You score Victory points during the game – killing models and wandering monsters, plus controlling objectives all score victory points. The player whose warband has accumulated the most victory points during the game is declared the winner.

Broken Legions also contains a small campaign system. Basically, this is a post game sequence where warbands can trade experience gained in battle to potentially enhance their characteristics or gain new skills and equipment. It’s a simplified version of the sort of thing we have seen in games such as Necromunda or Mordheim.

broken-legions-4Small warband skirmish games have always proven to be a popular genre – the simple appeal of being able to play a game with only a small number of miniatures has its obvious advantages. Add to this the huge success of Frostgrave in the past couple of years, and we are seeing a number of this style of game appearing.

Broken Legions obviously draws on the vast appeal that Ancient Rome has amongst gamers, and throws in the fantasy twist with the addition of mythological beasts and monsters. That said, this is nothing we haven’t seen before in games such as Of Gods and Mortals. Also, whilst the game mechanics work perfectly well, there is little here that is new or innovative – we’ve pretty much seen this all before in some way, shape or form.

I’m not saying the game is bad in any way, it’s perfectly fine. However, for me it just doesn’t quite have the ‘something‘ that would lift it above its rivals. Given the option, I think I would prefer to play games based on the ‘Song of Blades and Heroes’ engine, rather than what is presented here.

However, if you don’t own any other warband skirmish game, happen to have a couple of dozen ancients roman miniatures lying around, and don’t mind parting with a few pounds, then Broken Legions is a perfectly decent way of spending a fun few hours gaming.

Its worth noting that I’ve now got a couple of sprues of Warlord Games plastic Romans, and my usual gaming buddy Dave has his collection of Gladiators. Although I currently don’t own any mythical beats, once my copy of Mythic Battles arrives, we will be well set to play some more games of this.

1 Comment on Review: Broken Legions

  1. Pretty certain that blue skinned, white haired giant model has done double duty for Osprey in Frostgrave!

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