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Battles of the Ancient World Volume III» Forums » Reviews

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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While I wouldn't call it a great series, Battles of the Ancient World is a good financial bargain and the perfect introductory wargame. Some the sessions I’ve had fighting Cannae or staving off defeat at Issus are among my fondest gaming memories.

Gameplay (30 out of 30): The fast and simple rules give a good gaming experience in under two hours and is the true strength of the game. Here is a break down of each game.

Volume I
Arbela - 10. The Persian are cavalry heavy, the Greeks are based upon elite formations of phalanx. A great exercise of two opposing combat systems in a grand clash.
Cannae - 10. This one is crazy fun. The Romans must break the center while Hannibal tries to destroy their flanks. A slug fest with thought involved.
Pharsalus - 5. Roman vs. Roman warfare was interesting but does not lend itself well to this system. Better than the sequel game, Munda.
Teutoburger Wald - 8. Good map and treatment of this classic Roman disaster. Fun for both sides but only really challenging for the Romans.

Volume II
Issus - 10. The Greeks are outnumbered and out flanked but once again have superior forces. Probably the most balanced game in the set.
Metaurus - 9. One of my favorite battles in history. The forces are quite balanced and a myriad of options make for several interesting sessions.
Carrhae - 9. Fun massacre game. Although it is fairly easy to win as the Parthians it does take some brains and an understanding of maneuver.
Idivisto - 9. Another balanced battle. This one is a slug fest with both sides fighting around and on top of a mountain.

Volume III
Megiddo - 7. An okay battle featuring a lot of terrain. The Egyptians pretty much have the edge though.
Qadesh - 6. Very basic. I only give it a six because it is a fast battle so it is not too annoying. The Hitties haven’t a prayer really.
Lake Trasimene - 7. Usually I say ugh when this game is put in a set but it was well handled this time. Great game if you want to play as the Romans and test your ability to react to a bad and fluid situation.
Munda - 1. The worst battle in all three volumes. The map is small and dull and the result is totally decided by dice. The designers were lazy here.
Boudicca - 10. The gem of volume III is this great last stand by the Romans in Britannia. Always a hoot.
Adrianople - 5. A big dumb game. Shouldn't have been in the set.

Components (3 out of 10): Except for volume three, the maps are ugly. So are the pieces.

Originality (0 out of 5): Nothing new.

Historical Quality (3 out of 5): While the designers got it generally right, the series isn’t hyper realistic and has an off slant towards portraying Roman defeats. Of the eight roman battles covered (minus Munda and Pharsalus) the game depicts five Roman defeats and only three victories for the people of the Tiber. In addition the defeats are half the catalogue of Roman disasters, with Cannae and Carrahae coming first to mind. Alessi, Trebbia, a battle between Athens and Sparta, Caesar in Gaul or Pyrrhus against Rome would’ve been a better addition.

Overall (36 out of 50): This a solid effort and worth purchasing if you are interested in ancient war gaming or want to introduce others to war gaming. I’ve found Arbela, Issus, Metaurus and Boudicca to be the most popular with my friends.
I also have strategy article written for Volumes I and II in their respective places.
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Pete Pariseau
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Hmm...I hadn't thought of these in a long time, I'll take a shot at disagreeing. I'll include the magazine games from this system in my comments (Zama, Marathon, Granicus)

Gameplay: In my play experience, Arbela, Cannae, Issus are the only 3 I would agree are balanced contests in the series. I also think Granicus and Zama aren't bad for competition. Maybe I just can't crack the secret to one side in the others, but I've found the battles to be mostly uncompetitive, and often where they are (Cannae, Granicus), it's at the expense of any historical value the game might have. I would give this series a 10 out of 30 for gameplay.

Graphics: The first set of maps and the magazine maps weren't bad - really only the second volume's mapset stunk. The counters are plain and simple, but not ugly. 5 out of 10.

Originality: Wow, -1. There were ideas out there that could have been stolen to make these better history without increasing complexity much at all. These games beg for house rules.

Historical Quality: 0 out of 5. Nonexisitent representation of what made this era interesting, or the challenges involved in linear, low-tech warfare. These games could be set any time, any place, anywhere.

They do serve well as introductory wargames, but the same can be said of any of the Napoleon at Waterloo family. There's no reason to single these out for praise because of that. So, 14 out of 50 total for me.

The question I wonder about is: If GBoH is too much (and has its own history problem in the sequence of play), and this is way too little, what is just right? And the second question is: why haven't I sold/traded these before now?

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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I can see where you are coming from, since these are by no means my first choice to game(I'm starting to crack into GBoH). On a whole my positive praise comes a lot from good gaming expriences, money concerns and that it got several of my friends to stray away from euro games for a bit.
 
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Pete Pariseau
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Well, if it can move some Euro players to try a wargane, it deserves a lot more points than I've given it!
 
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Daniel Phillips
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There should be no reason that Euro gamers can't try the good ole hex-based games at least once.

I have the complete volume of this series in one box. I haven't been able to really play it, but it looks fun and simple. Good beer and pretzels gaming.
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