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Ancient Battles Deluxe» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Chinese Wargamers Really Like This Game rss

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Yang Ping
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Zhenjiang
Jiangsu
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Hi, everyone! I am a novice wargame player and translator in China, this is my 1st English game review. Plus English is not my native language, so if there is any grammar or spelling mistake, please forgive me. I just purchased a full set of this game and really enjoy it! Now let's rock and roll.

<Ancient Battles Deluxe> (it is referred as ABD hereinafter for short) is wargame published by VPG whose subject is mainly about ancient battles, the ages covered in this game is from ancient to the time before the involvement of gunpowder (early gunpowder battles are added by the 3rd Expansion of this game ). With such a broad age coverage, so the design of all the units in this game is in a universal style, such as Light Infantry, Medium Infantry or Heavy Infantry etc.. When actual playing the campaigns of this game, the games need some imagination to consider these universal unit into the corresponding one of the certain age. I would rather to say this is more a generic system than a specific game. Therefore after playing several games, the games can call the "formula" of this game and create any ancient or medieval battles by themselves. Currently ABD already get 6 expansions: 1st Exp Elephant, 2nd Exp Hell Horseman, 3rd Exp Gunpowder, 4th Exp Arts of the War, 5th Exp Create Your Own, 5.1 Exp Samurai; there are total 84 battles published officially by VPG now, some of them are originated from ancient China which makes Chinese gamer fresh about it. The range of the battles is also very wild, not along some classic battles by Caesar, Richard or Oda in Japan. It's a really meaty game considering such a huge number of battles.

Thus how does this system work? Let's have a look at its Game Sequence: every turn is divided into 8 phases, don't be scared by that, in fact there are only 4 phases which are relatively complicated, the gamer can grasp that with a short time of learning. Firstly, the player in both sides shall roll 1D6 and refer to a command table to get the basic command points (for short it will be called CP afterwards), then combined the CP generated by the leaders who are still alive in that battle to obtain the final CP of that turn. Secondly, each player shall place his available leaders on the map to stack them with any units they like; this stacking status will be continuously in effect until the end of turn. Thirdly, both sides roll 1D6 for determination of initiative, but the loser can spend 1 CP to seize the initiative back, and then the other side can also do the same until one side give up or exhaust all the CP. Then the battle moves in to core action phases, each player shall spend this remaining CP to activate the single unit or a group of eligible units (called formation in the game) to conduct MOVE, FIRE, and RALLY action.

Because normally the available CP is 3~6, after expenditure in initiative phase, the remaining CP are very precious. Therefore to utilize the formation effect generated by Leaders stacking with unit, i.e. group activation is very effective and significant, that's the reason why the player should have deep contemplation about the leader's placement.

As I have mentioned in above, both players can activate units by expending CP, but this process is done in a alternate way, and the other side can select to pass, if continuous pass happened, all the unspent CP will be ignored and the battle proceeds into the next turn, we could say it's a simple variation of IgoUgo system but very smooth and fast. After the action phase is the melee phase where all the eligible units can initiate melee attack to its targets without expenditure of CP, this process is conduct similarly as action phase where both plays declear and resolve the melee combat alternately and end after continuous pass. Then the battle will move into next turn. When any unit is eliminated, it will result a certain level of panic to the army, the value is equal to its normal combat rating. When the panic level is accumulated to the specified level in the scenario, that side will plunge into a panic status with short term and long term negative effect. The short term effect is that all the good order units will flip to its disorder side, the long term effect is more frightening, your opponent can spend CP to command your disordered units to conduct a panic move, in which the disordered units will try to escape from the battle and incur disorder of other units on its route. I think this design is strikingly interesting.


It is said in another article from the forum that the melee resolution method is changed from odd based CRT into a 1D6 calculation. Don't take it for granted that the new resolution method is more on luck basis, it's totally not like that. For melee resolution, the units will compare its Final Melee Value (FMV). The FMV of attacker = 1D6 + Combat Advantage + Terrain Effect + Attacking Vector, the FMV of defender = 1D6 + Combat Advantage + Terrain Effect; for combat advantage, it an odd between the modified combat value of the fighting units, normally 1~3. Let me take an example for an easy explanation: assume there is MI unit with 4 combat rating and stacked with Combat +1 leader and combat X 2leader, then attack a LI unit from the rear who is garrisoned in forest and stacked with a combat X 1 leader, the attacker 1D6 = 4, defender 1D6 = 3, thus we can know that the modified combat value of the MI is (4+1)* 3 = 15;the modified combat value of the LI is 2*2 = 4, so the combat advantage earned by attacker is 15/4=3.75 and rounded down to 3. Finally, the FMV of attacker is 4 + 3 + 4 (bonus of attacking from rear ) = 11, the FMV of defender is 3 + 1 (terrain effect of forest) = 4. After resulting to the combat formula, we get to know the result is Defender Disorder! The whole process only requires a 1D6 plus 2 very easy calculations, what a clever and fast method! The other advantage of the battle resolution in this game is its possibility also conforms to the actual situation in ancient battles.


At last, I think the biggest feature of this game is: flexible, simple, fast-paced and interactive. Lots of scenarios for selection and customized campaign make the game very flexible; the gamer can experience any of his favorite age or battles as his own wish. The game flow is not complex, the resolution of fire and melee is also simple, although it looks like that there are 12 pages of rules need to be understood, in fact when the player get familiar with the system, the only thing he required for playing is a small piece of player aid, so this game is very suitable for the introductory purpose. Normally one game can be completed within 1 hour that means the player can use some small piece of time to play one scenario. In addition, the varied IgoUgo system reduces the waiting time of non-phasing player dramatically which is very interactive and engaging. As for the disadvantage, I would say that covers too large eras so that it has too compromise between the compatibility and simulation effect, that means maybe some campaign is not played exactly as the actual condition. I heard one sentence review game: it's a player oriented game rather than a simulation oriented game, I can't accept that any further.

Finally, I really would like to recommend this game to the novice wargame player, let's enjoy this excellent system. If any other fans of this game want to play this game, we can play together by Vassal! Thank you all!
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Robin Chung
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Re: Chinese Wargames Really Like This Game
Great Review!

Good Job!
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p55carroll
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Games are like songs: you never get tired of playing the best ones over and over, and you can enjoy them all by yourself.
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Re: Chinese Wargames Really Like This Game
Hen hao! (If you put the right intonation into that pinyin, I think I'm saying, "Very good!")

Great review. Covers the basics and gives some good insights and a fresh perspective too.


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Mike Nagel
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Re: Chinese Wargames Really Like This Game
Thanks for the review!
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Craig Truesdell
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Re: Chinese Wargames Really Like This Game
That is an excellent write-up!

I only mention this to help, I know what you mean but I believe you mean medium infantry instead of middle infantry.
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liu jiang
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kissGood game good job! Thank you.
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A.T. Selvaggio
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I hope the game will live on given the coming changes at VPG. I always hoped this would get the gold banner treatment. Maybe it will get the production it deserves someday.
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Joshua Gottesman
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I have always thought the update should be called Ancient Battles Deluxe Deluxe.

And this makes me miss playing this game. VASSAL as a solution indeed!

Nice 1st effort!
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Yang Ping
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Thanks for your kindly reminding, I corrected this mistake.
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ggaruda L
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You should make a chronicle of great battles in history with ABD.
hahaha
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Alan Emrich
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That is an excellent review.

And, yes, it is still on our (extremely long) "To Do" list to upgrade everything ABD into a shiny boxed edition printed out of house.

Of course, there is still the discussion of a basic game + expansions vs. The Big Bundle... How would you like to see the new edition of everything published?

Alan Emrich
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Stein Surland
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I agree - excellent review of an excellent game.

As to a shiny boxed edition - yes, please! Even though I own both the original Ancients, Ancients I and II and Ancient Battles Deluxe (+ Exp. 1-4), I'll still buy a new boxed edition.

I just bought the ABD Expansion Kit 4: The Art of War directly from VPG, after picking up the three earlier expansions in Europe. The scenario cards is more colorized and the counters are the much better laser cut thick ones.

If VPG decides to publish a boxed edition I hope they will retain the thick laser cut counters and the colorized scenario cards. Also since all the maps are of equal size, why not try the Commands and Colors variant - one mounted map with terrain overlays? If the terrain tiles and counters gets a thick laser cut, it'll be almost 3D :-)
---

Alan Emrich wrote:
That is an excellent review.

And, yes, it is still on our (extremely long) "To Do" list to upgrade everything ABD into a shiny boxed edition printed out of house.

Of course, there is still the discussion of a basic game + expansions vs. The Big Bundle... How would you like to see the new edition of everything published?

Alan Emrich
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A.T. Selvaggio
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Alan Emrich wrote:
That is an excellent review.

And, yes, it is still on our (extremely long) "To Do" list to upgrade everything ABD into a shiny boxed edition printed out of house.

Of course, there is still the discussion of a basic game + expansions vs. The Big Bundle... How would you like to see the new edition of everything published?

Alan Emrich


I would buy either way, but big bundle sounds great!
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Yang Ping
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Hi, Alan, I am very glad that your watched this review. As a Chinese wargamer, I have translated lots of your games, esp the whole set of Nappy 20 series. We are eyeing that the latest Nappy 20 games maybe the Rising Empire to be launched as soon as possible, by the same time, we are also expecting that the ABD will be remade in an deluex BOX version with round conored counters like the Hundreds of Days. Thank you!
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Joshua Gottesman
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I would sell off my old copy for $30 (hey, lots of expansions there) and invest that towards the price of a new, shiny copy in a heart beat.
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Mike Nagel
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If I had my druthers, it would be the big box with everything in it, plus several more scenarios. But I'm ... you know ... jaded. cool
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Craig Truesdell
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Anything you can do to get more Chinese people into wargaming both playing and designing would be a huge deal. A win-win for everyone. Keep up the good work.

Quote:
why the player should have deep contemplation about the leader's placement


so true, got my only leader killed... game over! realistic I would say given the period...
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Jimmy Cannonade At Valmy
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Dear sir, that was an Excellent review that you wrote. Your English is quite good. Your positive remarks will do good for getting others to play ABD. Please compose more reviews for us board gamers. Do you belong to the Hong Kong Advanced Squad Leaders group which is very active. ?? Jimmy Hansen in San Diego CA.
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