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Subject: Epic or Not - Blue Review rss

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lan lan
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Hi Guys,

my name is Lan and this is a Blue Review for Hannibal & Hamilcar.
Without any further ado, let's hop right into it:

SHORT ABSTRACT SUMMARY

- In this game, you control one of the two powerhouses of the ancient era vying for control of the Mediterranean. It is a war game, where you are moving armies around, trying to outmaneuver your opponent. Doing so with the use of the Action Cards, using their Action Points or Events.

It may sound a bit blandish, but I wanted to portray the feeling you get while playing, while also giving you a bird's eye view of what is actually happening.


Let's hop into the positives, negatives and general feelings + MY SCORING.

POSITIVES:

+Quality Components
This is a Phalanx produced war game, they are one of the companies which are trying to add some shine to the wargaming world and make sure it is more accessible and modernized in terms of production, while also making sure that "overproduction" actually serves the game's purpose. I think they achieve this really well with H&H and it shows they tried to stay true to the original (older version) otherwise some of the things could naturally be done even better
+ Replayability
It looks like a game has low replayability because of it's designated starting positions and whatnot, but because of multiple scenarios and the fact that Hannibal and Hamilcar are essentially two games in one box, it is actually really high.
+ Some interesting Mechanics
At first, combat looks extremely abstracted and strange, but soon you realize it is actually quite strategic and more so than the regular dice chucking. While the mechanic itself I think has some flaws, you cannot say it is not interesting and well in a sense a good one as it also makes the game more unique.
+ Theme
The setting is interesting and thematic, all different historical characters, the map, the nice production and on top of it all, the EVENTS on the cards, give this game a nice theme that you can immerse yourself into.



NEGATIVES:


- Rules
Rules are extensive, all over the place (literally 3 books) and in some areas ambiguous, the fact that the game is quite a heavy one may be seen as an excuse, but it really is not. Should have done better with the rules.
- Balancing Questions
There are definitely some. But I think in such a game which is also partially asymmetric, with its starting setup, different generals, areas you control and reinforcements...it kind of is logical that there would be some. Just don't expect this to be a fair and even fight. For example, in Hannibal scenario 1 Rome has the advantage and Carthage is the one on the clock to make things happen.
- Time
This game can be long. Really long. I wouldn't mind it in general as I like long games, but Hannibal & Hamilcar I would say is a fraction too long for what it is and gives in my humble opinion. The Rules and plethora of exceptions to them, don't really help with that.
- BIG UNCONTROLLABLE SWINGS LUCK
I have to say it and can't end the negatives without mentioning this one, as this may be the biggest negative of them all.
It is not just the Event cards, it is especially in combat when players have been dealt with their battle cards. Even if you received more of them, there is a chance you are just unlucky and things go in combination with the attrition rolls really badly for you.
Keep in mind a lot of things can be mitigated in Hannibal including the battles, but when luck isn't on your side, the entire army, Hannibal and the game, for instance, can be lost in one big sweep and that can be extremely harsh on the player, no matter how cool headed you are about luck in games in general. Know it upfront, things can go way way down south for you.


Now I will give my scoring of the game and explain myself in the process. I score games on 1-10 points system.
I give 5 points for what I call: "objective as it can be reasons" and 5 points from purely subjective point of view.

First 5 points come from:

1) - Art/Components/Table Presence/Set up/ Storage
2) - Scalability / Balance / Game Time
3) - Rules / Thematic Sense /Ambiguity
4) - Decision Making (AP/Plays itself?)
5) - Replayability / Number of plays


The last 5 points come from GAME EXPERIENCE in general.


1) - Art/Components/Table Presence/Set up/ Storage = 0,75
For a war game this game is really nice, nicely produced and has a table presence.

2) - Scalability / Balance / Game Time = 0,50
I think this game is suffering a bit because of game time and as mentioned above, there are big swings in the game that you need to be aware of.

3) - Rules / Thematic Sense /Ambiguity = 0,25
On the rule side again I would say, this is not a strong point of this game, but the theme and general thematic sense help the game and its players in helping make sense of things. Still, I cannot give it many points here.

4) - Decision Making (AP/Plays itself?) = 0,75
This is a very strategic game and decisions in Hannibal % Hammilcar matter. Which path to take, do I risk the crossing with ships, do I go on the offensive with Rome, which Action cards I play first. It also offers some fun tactic choices as well, especially in a battle.

5) - Replayability / Number of plays = 0,75
The nature of how this game has a starting point and kind of fixed scenarios make it so that it is limited in how much freshness it will bring to the table each time. However this game has a lot of scenarios, 2 maps and literally has two games into 1 stored inside the box, so it is far from not replayable.

6) - GAME EXPERIENCE (0-5) = 3,5 (Good / Very Good)
I love war games, I love the setting and the Roman era in general, so it was definitely a game for me from the get-go. The battle system although looking bland at first, soon showed it is actually a cleverly thought out game of cat and mouse (or for thematic sense battle tactics). The game also offered plenty of good decisions and enjoyable moments. But I do have to say that the swings that can happen in this game hit me so hard that I literally was stuck thinking about it before writing this review and realized that probably I have not experienced such emotions on bad rolls and unlucky draws as in this game... well ever in my gaming career and I have played tons of them. So that says a lot and while it can go both ways and you can get a feeling of pure joy when Envelopment is played as the last card and you just crushed an entire army of your opponent, likewise you can get the air completely sucked out of you on the very next turn.

FINAL SCORE = 6,5/10


Hannibal is a good game, one I am looking forward to revisiting, but not one I am willing to grab out and play at any point, I guess I need to be in the mood for some swings of mood first hehe
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Gilles94
France
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Great review.
I confirm, I'm also disappointed with Rules.
Hamilcar has specific rules, They are shared with Hannibal and a Scénario. It's unclear.
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Matt Irsik
United States
Clearfield
Utah
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Why there was not a separate booklet for Hamilcar is beyond me as the introduction of the naval system really changes the base game. Hannibal is fairly easy to play, but playing it well is a completely different story! Really good Hannibal players (I've run up against some) know how to mitigate the luck factor with the events and battle cards, something that still escapes me to this day. Also, the upcoming Successors game that is on Kickstarter now is offering a reworked rules and charts package for Hannibal & Hamilcar.
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