Gallic Wars: Battle Simulator is unsurprisingly a battle simulator like it says on the tin. Think more along the lines of Totally Accurate Battle Simulator than Age of Empires, though. And it is simultaneously both more and less strategic than I expected. How can it be both? Shouldn’t one contradict the other? Well, there are different aspects of the game that make it possible. I’ll start off with the more simplistic aspects.
The gameplay in Gallic Wars is essentially a series of skirmishes. Very short skirmishes. Which I suppose suits the Switch, especially the mobile version, but the short battles seem to be more of a side-effect of the lack of mechanics than an actual design choice.
Each battle starts off with a preparation phase. In the preparation phase, you’ll select your units, place them on the map (in a pre-designated area), group them, and then plan out their movement path. That’s just about it, really.
There are three types of units: generic soldiers that are strong but fragile, spearmen that have shields that make them a bit sturdier but they are also weaker (and can be flanked to overwhelm their shields), and archers that attack from a distance (as archers normally do).
What makes this a bit less like TABS is the limit on your units. Rather than having any sort of resources that generate, you’ll start off with a certain amount of units that you use. And what makes the strategic aspects harder than expected is the fact that these units are shared between battles.
What this means is that each battle you’ll want to use enough units to overwhelm your enemies but keep enough reserves for the next fight. A delicate and sometimes impossible balance, at least until you build up your reserves again. Simply mirroring your opponents generally works out assuming your team gets the first kill, but you can also use the planning to set up flanking and hide your units for a little extra edge especially if you’re running low on units, which you likely will be until you “advance your army” that moves you on to a new set of battles (forgoing any rewards you might have earned) in exchange for recovering your units.
However, you can only recover units that survive, either because they were unused reserves or managed to live through a battle. If a unit dies in a battle, they are gone. You can get more as rewards for battle, but if you don’t lose any and win, you’ll end up increasing your numbers.
The strategic approach may entice some players to check it out, but honestly, you’d have to be really interested in very specific tactic-based warfare to gain much from it. As the battles themselves really are just watch it play out after you leave the preparation phase.
Later battles become more complex and interesting, especially when you gain access to magic, but you’ll have to play for a while before you get there. You’ll also gain traps as rewards that can be used to turn the tide of battle. However, once again, these can only be used in the preparation phase, and they are single use only. Advancing your army will not restore them, and you can only earn more as victory rewards.
There’s really not much else to say about the game than that. The graphics aren’t very good, and you can’t really zoom in to see more detail or out to see more of the map. The choice of green lines for your area is hard to see. Levels are very boring with mostly just a few trees and bushes for cover. The game has some voice-acting, but it is noticeably amateur and feels more like a Let’s Player reading the dialogue instead of it actually being mixed into the game.
Gallic Wars isn’t the worst game, not even the worst battle simulator. But it’s also far from the best. If you’re looking for a simple, yet deceptively difficult (until you work out the mechanics) game, you could do worse. However, I’d probably hold out for something a little more satisfying (TABS should be coming to the Switch at some point).
Strategy between battles aspect is interesting
Short battles means it can be played in small bursts
Very light gameplay mechanics
Graphics aren't very good