Legions of Steel (LOS)

Brief Description Legions of Steel is the game of futuristic combat between man and machine. Power-suited troopers from Earth enter the twisting corridors of the Machine's underground bunkers and fend off endless hordes of Terminator-style Nightmares and the dreaded Mk 1 Assault Fiends. Grid system used for movement. A game similiar in many respects to Space Hulk.
Period Sci-Fi
Scale Figure scale 1:1. No ground or time scale is given.
Basing Individual basing. 20mm x 20mm and up.
Contents 19 miniatures, 86 color counters, 2 6-sided dice, 48 map templates, 24 doors with plastic bases, a 52-page rules/scenario book.
Designers Clark Browning, Marco Pecota, and Derrick Villeneuve (
Publisher Global Games

What You Think

David (

I've found LoS to be very unbalanced, the Machines always win! Me and my friend have played about a dozen scenarios from the books, swiching sides often, and no matter what, the mechs win.

On the up side, the miniatures are cool, and fairly cheap!

Greating Srecko (

My experience is that the UNE wins the most scenarios.

  • In the basic game: 25% machines, 75% UNE
  • Double action (adv. rule book): 0% machines, 100% UNE
  • Rescue mission (i think it's basic): 100% machines, 0% UNE
  • First mission of Scenario pack 1: 100% machines, 0% UNE (because a lucky shot of a nightmare - otherwise, it was 66% mach, 33% UNE!)
Gregg Dieckhaus (

Legions of Steel is an exciting boardgame. The game portrays battles between Space Commandos and their machine opponents. The games' history does a decent job of setting up the background for the game. Here is a short summary:

From an unknown galaxy, the machines came. Their ships wandered among the periphery, and eventually settled into mineral rich planets, where massive building programs commenced. The machine empire grew at a devastating pace, and soon it became apparent that the galaxy must unite to defend against this incursion. Galactic races united and formed the Interstellar League for Mutual Defense against Extragalactics. Eventually, Earth is contacted by the League and are told of their impending doom. The league would not deal with multiple Earth governments, so out of the United Nations grew the U.N.E. or United Nations of Earth. Under the instruction of the alien races, Earth's technology was quickly upgraded. Earth, now an accepted member of the League, and its U.N.E. forces are recognized as some of the most fierce and aggressive fighters in the galaxy. League commanders recognize the machines are fighting a battle of attrition - a battle the League can not win, and decide to make a bold maneuver. They must strike directly at the heart of the machine production facilities. Underground machine facilities prove to be invulnerable to orbital bombardment, and the only way to actually destroy them is to invade, send troops deep into the heart of the planet - destroying production facilities as they go.

Unlike many board games, Legions of Steel is not played on a map that uses hexes, but rather is based upon squares. Underground machine facilities are represented by interlocking terrain grids. These grids can be placed in various formations to provide a multitude of different set ups.

I was first attracted to LOS by its miniatures. The machines - or Nightmares as they are called, look very much like the "exoskeleton" from the Terminator movies. Furthermore, the Assault Fiend is absolutely wicked looking. The boxed game comes with nineteen metal miniatures -- or as Global Games puts it, "over 1 pound of miniatures." Perhaps a better name for the game would have been Legions of Lead! Of the nineteen miniatures, ten of them are Nightmares, one is an Assault Fiend, six Commandos, and two heavy weapons troopers. While the initial outlay for game does seem to be high, when you consider that the average price for a miniature these days is anywhere from $3.00 - $5.00, Legions of Steel is a bargain. For the cost of the miniatures alone, you get the rules and all the terrain.

Inevitably, a game based on a "square" system, that features space commandos (or dare we say marines?) against aliens, must be compared to Space Hulk. I think Legions of Steel is much better than Space Hulk for the following reasons.

  • LOS is based on squares, but Global Games has taken the diagonals into account in all of their rules. Every other diagonal crossed is counted as two squares (of movement or range).
  • Rather than relying on a random amount of command points, LOS has implemented leadership points. These points come from a group's leaders. This has two effects. First, it makes the leaders much more valuable. Furthermore it reduces the "luck" factor of the game and makes the players rely more upon skill.
  • Space Hulk relies upon Overwatch and physical combat, but LOS deemphasises physical combat. In fact only the Assault Fiend can actually damage others in hand-to-hand combat. All other combat is ranged. In this game, the machines tend to excel in ranged combat, while the U.N.E. commandos prefer to close the range where their weapons perform better.
  • The Leadership and Suppression rules are perhaps the most crucial part of the game. Suppression allows a figure to control an area. It is basically laying down a field of fire over multiple squares. Anyone entering these squares is immediately attacked. The drawback to suppression is a figure is not allowed to move.
  • Leadership allows the commandos to move faster, win initiative, and fire their weapons better. Machines generally do not have leadership points available (they make up for this with sheer numbers).

Currently all battles from Legions of Steel take place in the machine underground facilities, but Global Games informed me they are working on an outdoor system.

Some details about the game --

Something unique to Legions of Steel is that each figure only has one fire action it may use during a turn. This fire action can take place at any time during the turn whether it be before movement, after movement, during movement, or covering fire. (Covering fire is a fire action saved for later, and can be used when a target enters your line of sight). Players must be careful to not "waste" fire actions. If all figures fire during an "offensive" part of the turn, you may be leaving your forces open to slaughter in the next phase.
Suppression is a type of automatic fire that is available. When a figure is suppressing, basically it is "unloading" its weapons fire at a specific square for the entire turn. Anything that enters that square, or enters into a direct line of fire to that square is immediately attacked. Suppression allows players to "dig in" and avoid the "one shot per turn" penalty as multiple figures may be attacked. The biggest drawback to suppression is that a figure may not move and then suppress.
Perhaps the trickiest and most confusing rule in the game is leadership. Leadership points may be used at any time. Actions taking place by use of leadership points generally take precedent over any other actions being performed. One example of this is a U.N.E trooper turns the corner to fire at a Nightmare down the hall. The nightmare who was "covering" the hallway may now fire. Cover fire takes place before the U.N.E trooper's fire. If the trooper has leadership points available to him, several interesting options are available. Once the machine player announces his cover fire, the trooper can use his leadership points. One option, is to use the points to move the trooper out of line of sight of the nightmare. In this case, the nightmare is still required to fire his one and only covering shot, and it automatically misses!

Another option, would be to use two leadership points to have the Trooper fire. In this case, the troopers' fire takes place before the Nightmare's covering fire. When a figure uses leadership points for movement, for fire purposes, the figure is considered to remain stationary. This allows a figure to move around the corner with leadership, and then start laying suppression fire! Actions taken by leadership points can become confusing as to when, exactly, they take place. Just remember the following simple rules of precedence.

  1. Existing suppression fire (suppression that has already been laid) always take precedence over any actions, including leadership.
  2. Leadership actions take place before any "normal" action.
  3. Covering fire takes precedence over normal fire or normal movement.
  4. Normal movement or fire actions take place.
Grenades are a type of "indirect" fire available to players. Figures may throw a grenade around the corner and not be attacked by cover or suppression fire. U.N.E. commandos have two types of grenades available to them: Forcewall, and K-Pulse. K-Pulse grenades are a standard high explosive grenade, capable of destroying machine nightmares, but are virtually worthless against the assault fiend. Forcewall grenades, are a "defensive" weapon. Forcewall grenades create a forcewall in the square they are activated in. This allows a figure to lay a forcewall around a corner, protect himself from cover or even suppression fire, and then continue moving. Perhaps the biggest "dirty trick" in the game involves the use of forcewall grenades. If a forcewall grenade activates in a square that has a figure in it, that figure is normally pushed out of the square. Using the scattering rules, there still is a chance that the figure will not be pushed out of the square. In this case, the figure is pushed to the ceiling, crushed, and dies instantly. The dirty trick comes about when the figure (and specifically an assault fiend) being attacked is in a hallway. In the hallway, there is a 1/3 chance the fiend will be moved 1 square back, a 1/3 chance he will be killed immediately, and a 1/3 chance he will move forward. If he moves forward, a second grenade has a 2/3 chance of killing him immediately! This is especially nasty because this is the only time an assault fiend can be killed in one shot.

The Machines do not have K-pulse or forcewall grenades, instead they have nachtmacher or darkness grenades. Units firing into or through darkness encompass severe penalties. While not as effective as forcewalls, nachtmachers allow the machines to move through areas that are being covered or suppressed. Perhaps the best use of a nachtmacher is known as the "Death in the Dark." This involves using a nachmacher to create darkness allowing an assault fiend to move in to physical combat. A Trooper "covering" have a very slim chance (1 in 6) of gaining a hit against the assault fiend, and even if it does, the assault fiend can take two hits before it is killed. Meanwhile the assault fiend has a 75% chance of eliminating what it attacks!

[Gregg's comments were originally published in The Tech Factory, Issue #4, and may not be republished or reprinted in any fashion (print or electronic) without their permission.]

Thomas Russell (bengalt@WPI.EDU)

Legions of Steel is a big step up from Space Hulk. The main reason for this can be summed up in one word: options. In particular, the wide range of firing options (covering, surpressive, auto, spread, etc.) makes the game a real challenge. It takes a bit of time before new players figure out how to make the most of their firing action. Also, the choices that Leadership points provide add a great deal of tactical complexity to the game.

I enjoy playing the Machines so I'll describe them a bit more. The basic job of the Machine in most games is to prevent the Marines from destroying some objective by destroying them first. The basic Nightmare unit is more than adequate for this task. The deadbolt launchers have a wonderful range advantage over their opponent's standard blaster rifles. This means that you'll generally have better odds of hitting them when they resort to snap fire to try and take you down. The Machine's basic plan is to use the Nightmares to set up commanding firelanes of suppressive fire and then use more specialized units to flush them out. The standard special unit is the Mark I Assault Fiend. This monster is built for the close-in attack so don't let it get clobbered while you try and get it into position.

Recently, we've picked up some more Machine units (which are introduced in the advanced rulebooks). Here's my capsule reviews on them:

Mark 1A1 Assault Fiend
The Hellfire Cannon and Leadership point make this a fearsome figure. I'd really rather have this over the standard Mk I anyday.
G1B Nightmare
A variant Nightmare armed with a Thumper grenade launcher. Stock up on the Prometheus bombs and Disruptors, you've got more than enough Nachtmachers.
G1C Nightmare
Another variant Nightmare with the Negasphere Generator. This is a great support unit. If the scenario allows Machine control of the doors, take as many of these as you can get.
G3 Predator
A sturdy little unit, but take lots of cheap Nightmares to cover it.
C1 Succubot
A command robot with 2 points of Leadership and nothing else. I've got mixed feelings about giving the Machine Leadership points. On the one hand, they're really handy sometimes, but they also seem to detract from the "purity" of tactics required to play the Machine.
X1 Runaway
These things just don't seem to be worth the points. The concept is neat, but the actual rolls needed to successfully control the power armor is just too hard to get.
G6 Sniperbot
A fragile unit whose sidearm is a better deal than its main armament. These just aren't worth it unless you've got long hallways or rooms to deploy it in.
Mark III Assault Fiend
Saved the best for last. This is the monster that will have your opponent quaking in his boots. With 2 Fire Actions, this guy can make hash out of a line of troopers with his Hellfire Cannon and then go on Cover Fire to shut down any retaliation. A wonderful unit all around.

In the end, Legions of Steel seems to be a fairly balanced, tactically rich game that has made quite a few converts here. Give it a try.

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Last Updates
21 April 1998Legions newsletter
11 April 1997reorganized
29 November 1996added link to official website
28 November 1996comments by Greating Srecko
19 July 1996reformatted
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