Fading Glory – Boardgame Review
Passed Inspection: The rules are easy to read and the examples of play, where provided, are good. Maps are mounted and counters are thick. Rules clarification and errata are available online. The associated scenario is printed on the front and back of each Event card.
Failed Basic: Rules suffer from vagueness in places. There are minor mistakes in map and counters. The worst mistake on counters is in the Waterloo scenario: the Prussian flag is on the back of Wellington and the British flag is on the back of Blucher.
Fading Glory covers four battles: Waterloo, Borodino, Smolensk, and Salamanca. This is part of a joint venture of GMT and Victory Points Games; the Waterloo 20 and Borodino 20 are from 2008. Smolensk and Salamanca were added by GMT.
The Napoleonic 20 series has 20 or less counters per side, with maps measuring 17” x 22” and around 12 Event cards for each game. In Fading Glory the four maps are printed front and back on two mounted boards. Waterloo and Salamanca share one board, and the two Russian battles share the other. There are two 16-page rulebooks, one containing series rules and the other with scenario-specific rules and designer notes.
A game turn consists of two player turns (first player and second player). In all scenarios but Salamanca, the first player is France. Each player’s turn has four phases for daylight turns: Random Events, Movement, Enemy Reaction and Combat. Night turns add the following phases: Rally; Adjust Morale based on Lines of Communications (LOC) and Objectives; Recover one Morale Point; and, if using the optional fog of war rules, Reconceal Units and add Dummy Units to map. At the end of the second player’s night turn reshuffle the Event Deck.
Victory is determined completely by morale points. The game ends immediately whenever one side’s morale points drop to zero. Reducing the enemy’s morale points total to zero while your side retains at least one morale point is a decisive victory. If at the end of the last turn both sides’ morale is greater than zero, the non-French side wins a marginal victory if it has one more morale point than the French side has. All other situations are a draw. Each scenario specifies the starting morale points, usually seven or eight points for each side. Morale points can be spent during movement, combat, and rally phases. Morale points are gained during combat; during a turn with no activity; at night when occupying an enemy LOC or objective hexes; and during the night recovery phase.
During the Random Events phase, a card is drawn from the deck and applied immediately. Each card has two color-coded areas, one for the French player (blue) and one for the opposing player (green for Russians, red for British and Prussians). The cards provide scenario-specific flavor, such as Borodino’s Russian “Generals Argue” event, which restricts the movement and stacking of Russian forces for that turn. Most cards have effects that last only during the turn they are drawn, but a few have effects that last the rest of the scenario (for example, Smolensk’s Russian “Withdrawal” event).
During the Movement phase all the phasing player’s units may move. The movement allowance is printed on each counter, with most infantry and artillery having two movement points and most cavalry having three. By spending one morale point, all of the phasing player’s units may have one extra movement point. There are costs for terrain, such as forest, slopes, and rivers. Most movement costs are negated by roads. Units have to stop when they enter an enemy unit’s zone of control (ZOC). ZOCs extend one hex distant from the unit except across major rivers (even at bridges) and into built-up areas (fortified, redoubt, and town hexes). Units may not move out of an enemy ZOC except during a night turn or if the moving unit is cavalry disengaging. Only leaders may stack with another unit.
The non-phasing player’s cavalry may move or attack during the Enemy Reaction phase. A cavalry unit may choose to disengage by moving away from the phasing player’s infantry or artillery unit, but not from an enemy cavalry unit. Cavalry may choose to countercharge, which allows the opposing player to select which enemy unit in its ZOC to attack. Several cavalry units may combine in the same countercharge. The countercharging strength points are doubled against infantry and artillery. If the defender (phasing player) defeats the countercharge, its units may not advance after combat. All other combat rules apply.
Combat phase starts with the phasing player (attacker) announcing which units are fighting and then resolving each battle in any order. All enemy units in an attacker’s ZOC must be attacked and all of an attacker’s units in an enemy ZOC must participate in a battle. The attacker decides which phasing units attack which non-phasing units. The combat sequence has each side totaling the combat strength printed on each counter that is participating in the battle. This number is modified by one strength point, if the attacker or defender chooses to spend a morale point, and the best terrain modifier for the defender. The difference of the attacker’s and defender’s strength (which could be negative) and a single die roll is checked against the combat results chart. The result is applied immediately, including retreats and advance after combat, before going to the next battle. Units may participate only in one battle per combat phase. Any non-artillery, non-routed victorious units may advance after combat following the enemy’s retreat path. A die roll is made only for cavalry units to see if they must advance.
An interesting combat result is “broken” units. Broken units occur during an “Exchange” result where all the defending units are broken then the attacker breaks at least the same number of strength points. Broken units are removed from the board but are eligible for rallying during night turns. During the rally turn the phasing player rolls one die for each broken unit; high die rolls are better. There is an equal chance of three outcomes: the unit returns to the map in a phasing player’s LOC; nothing occurs; or the unit is permanently eliminated. The phasing player may spend a morale point to add one to the roll.
Night turn adjustments to morale points due to capturing or losing LOCs or objective hexes are listed on the Morale Chart. After those adjustments there is an automatic increase of one morale point during the night turn. Note that the automatic adjust occurs after the other morale point adjustments.
It bears repeating that the game is over at the moment a player goes to zero morale points. You can lose the game on a night turn in the morale adjustment phase before the automatic increase phase. I had that happen once while playing the Russians in Borodino. It can be very embarrassing to forget that.
I like the Napoleonic 20 series games because of the lower number of counters and the morale point rules. Games are quick to set up and play, especially once you’ve played a couple of games and get familiar with the standard rules. There are tense moments when trying to decide whether to spend morale points to support battles or to rally broken units. The Smolensk scenario is my favorite because of all the options each side has, even without the optional rules or alternate setup.
Solitaire suitability (1 is low, 5 is high): 1 because of the morale point rules. I think it would be hard to come up with a fair automatic method for spending morale points. Not spending morale points would take away an important part of gameplay.
Armchair General Score: 87 % (mostly for the rules still needing clarifications after four years between the release of the original and the GMT versions)
About the Author
Steven M. Smith has been an Armchair General contributor since 2010. He has a life-long interest in history especially the Napoleonic and Victorian periods. He was the owner of The Simulation Corner gaming retail outlet in Morgantown, West Virginia, until 1983. He is currently a member of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society and works for Lockheed Martin in Baltimore, Maryland.