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Rome At War III: Queen of the Celts» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review after several plays rss

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David Murray
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First the back story of why I have bought this game. There are several reasons why I have ended up putting my hands in my pocket and purchasing this new game:

• I live in the UK and the game is about Boudicca, so the subject interests me.
• I used to play miniature ancients wargames many years ago, long ago sold of my collection, so there is some nostalgic element.
• My son (17) enjoys gaming and has played a lot of Rome: Total War on the computer and was interesting in playing this.
• I have recently played a couple of games of Pax Romana, which has increased my interest in the period.
• I have had a good experience of playing other Avalanche titles, notably Panzer Grenadier.
• The size, length of play and complexity appears perfect for family play at Xmas, and evening club play.

Components.

Box – I purchased the ‘retail’ version with the shield and sword cover by Beth Donahue. The game looks classy and even my youngest daughter was attracted to the design. There is the ‘pin-up’ cover also for those who like a more racy cover. Score 8/10

Counters – Very good. 88 long counters and 154 square counter. Well laid out and easy to read, a good mix of unit types. Look really nice in play – almost gives me that ‘miniatures’ feel without the cost or hours spent painting. Score 9/10

Map – Functional. 3 maps are provided; these maps are not beautiful but are functional. 4/10

Rules – The game comes with 2 rule books; the series rules for all the Rome at War games, and the specific rules and scenarios for Queen of the Celts.
I have read there were some issues with the previous versions of the series rules. These Third Edition rules seem very stable; Doug McNair has done a good job with the re-write. From initial read through to a couple of session of play there have been no issues that have arisen that have not been resolved by the rulebook. 8/10
Queen of the Celts rule and scenario book. Some interesting rules for druids and nine interesting scenarios, which includes some special rules and background on each of the battles. I have only played two of the scenarios so far, one of them repeatedly, but I would give it a provisional 8/10.

Historical booklet – written by Mike Bennighof, a seven page illustrated historical background to the game. An interesting read, a couple of typos but no big deal. 7/10.

Game aids – only one a terrain affects chart, it would have been nice to see a sequence of play and/or a victory point track. None of these have put me off the game but it is however a little disappointing. 5/10

Overall the components score a solid 7/10 – definitely good value for money.

Gameplay

The game is fast moving, and after a few play through there is no need to consult the rulebook. Leaders are very important in the game and these dictate the action. Every game counter is part of a formation, which has the historical formation leader in charge. The quality of these formation commanders varies, but as long as they stay within command distance of your army leader they are pretty reliable. The army leader runs the show; they determine who will start each turn and the number of formations that can activate each phase. Command distance is based on movement factors and so is very simple to use as it does not require you to remember any special rules.

The heart of the turn is the action phase. Your army leader will determine who starts a turn and how many formations you can activate at a time. The action phase is split into four segments, Artillery, Charge, Movement and Assault. There is nothing really new in the game mechanics for these segments suffice to say they work quickly and cleanly, half way through my first battle I pretty well knew the process by heart. The combat mechanism uses the ‘buckets of dice’ method, which gives some random results – but is a lot of fun! This is a really engaging aspect of play, watching those bones roll. Although the dice method can give some random results, they are not game breakers; it is your use of command and movement that will win the day (usually!). The end of each turn the Recovery Phase enables units to reform and address their lines (and regain losses); again this lends itself to movement aspect of the game as you try to cover units as they recover, whilst still following your chosen strategy for victory.

Game length is very good, using the ‘Hell hath no fury..’ scenario our play times have been, 1.5 hours and just over an hour – I am guessing when you get up to speed with this system you will play even quicker, great for multiples plays during a club night.

In summary – This game has so far given me a good gaming experience; those I have played it with have said they would willingly play again. It has been really nice to revisit the ancient period again and this game seems very good at simulating that. My past experience of ancient rules was that of two long lines of units advancing towards each other, meeting, rolling lots of dice and then one side running away. Sure you can play like that in this game if you want, but the relatively simple game system allows you to concentrate on movement, recovery and looking for a weak point in the enemy line without having to wade through multiple tables and dice roll to achieve anything.

Apart from the map, which is still functional, and lack of play aids, it is hard to find much criticism of this game and system. As I have said above I am not an experienced ancient player so can’t confidently state on the accuracy of the games outcomes, but it delivers a ‘good’ flavour of the times and above all is fun! At present is has fulfilled my criteria for purchase, and am looking forward to playing extensively with the family and friends over the Christmas period.

Overall 8/10
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David Siskin
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Encouraging. I am interested in picking this one up and I'm monitoring the reviews very carefully.
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Jens Hoppe
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Nice review, David. I have played the previous games in the series and enjoyed them quite a bit.

I see you have uploaded pictures of your custom maps - they look very nice! Is there any chance I could persuade you to upload a couple of images of the original maps included with the game? My biggest beef with Fading Legions were the absolutely ugly maps included, and it's the one thing holding me back from ordering QotC...
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David Murray
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Jens check out the original game maps on this replay report http://www.avalanchepress.com/Medway_Part1.php
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Jens Hoppe
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Great, thanks.
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nick P
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Really good review and nice to see Avalanche get some credit for once. I bought the game today, from Leisure Games in Finchley, London. Interestingly they only had a 'topless' copy. I thought these were only obtainable via internet orders. I must admit your review wetted my appetite as the first two volumes have had such a bad press. I rather like AP's approach to wargames - they are curiously 'loose' and not frozen in ice. I like the feel of these games. Thanks.
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Wulf Corbett
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nickp wrote:
I bought the game today, from Leisure Games in Finchley, London. Interestingly they only had a 'topless' copy. I thought these were only obtainable via internet orders.

My FLGS (in Glasgow) has had two orders in, both this version of boxtop, and in neither case did he even get a choice. I guess UK importers (both shops might be using Esdevium) have decided this is the one that will sell!
 
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Aaron Silverman
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TrotskyTrotsky wrote:
Rules – The game comes with 2 rule books; the series rules for all the Rome at War games, and the specific rules and scenarios for Queen of the Celts.
I have read there were some issues with the previous versions of the series rules. These Third Edition rules seem very stable; Doug McNair has done a good job with the re-write. From initial read through to a couple of session of play there have been no issues that have arisen that have not been resolved by the rulebook. 8/10


I am really psyched to hear the positive responses to the third edition rules!* The game just arrived today and I can't wait to give it a shot.


* (Note the "Rules Editing" credit. )
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Colin Houghton
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Thanks for the review, David. Presuaded me to buy the game and I'm not disappointed.

Found rules about and interface between activation and in/out of command status a bit confusing at first, and had to abandon my first game (Medway scenario) because I'd cocked it up. However, I re-wrote some key rules on cards, and use these now, and have just re-fought the Medway scenario to a conclusion.

I like this game: nice appearance, and the rules seem to portray very well the stolid professionalism of the legions, with their very gradual step losses, and the fragility of the light troops (particularly the Britons chariots which always look so promising, yet quickly evaporate after the initial charge).

I assume that if I bought Fading Legions, and the other one in the series, I can just use these third edition rules on them?

So, Aaron, and Nick, - have you given the game a try?
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nick P
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Hi. I did get this out this weekend (for the first time in months) and set up the Maiden Castle scenario. I got a certain distance into the rule book but got distracted. Part of the prob is the unfamiliarity of the system - areas. I would like to play it though because, as part of a system in the making, it is a good investment of time to learn the rules. I think that the old games have numbers on the counters which are defunct.

The game is attractive and I even like the 'modernist' maps, which somehow suggest primal landscapes despite their 'acrylic' finish.
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Colin Houghton
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Nick

In the Maiden Castle Scenario, did any of the situations come about that have caused some brow-furrowing to me, Wulf and others (see the rules strings) - or was it all plain sailing?

Colin
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