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Lost Battles: Forty Battles & Campaigns of the Ancient World» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Lost Battles - A Negative Review rss

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Andrew C
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Mallet wrote:
Actually, reading the "negative" review makes me WANT to buy the game ... go figure ...
Well if it helped you make up you mind one way or the other I guess the review did its job. Good luck.
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Uncle Greasy
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WOW!

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Rafael Rosa
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Just have to say that I wish all negative (or critical) reviews were written this well and led to such mature feedback. This has been an informative read (comments included) and may result in me parting with more money than I should.
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Rafael Rosa wrote:
Just have to say that I wish all negative (or critical) reviews were written this well and led to such mature feedback. This has been an informative read (comments included) and may result in me parting with more money than I should.
I agree with Rafael, it's encouraging to see such mature responses to a negative review on BGG, kudos to Andrew and responders for being respectful in their posts.
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Roger Hobden
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Finally, I ordered this game from Noble Knight and received it just in time for the Easter Holiday.

Great game !

Once everything clicks, you feel the rules become natural and logical.

The writing of the rules needs some improvement, though.

This system would lead itself well to a programmed approach, with scenarios (possibly non-historical) of increasing complexity, similar to that used in the "Conflict of Heroes" series by Academy Games.

Other then that, I have nothing but praise for this fine game.

Highly recommended.



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Shaun Mather
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Mark me down as one who has really enjoyed the nail-biting action of Lost Battles. I enjoy the variety of troops and battles it provides. It looks great. The book clearly explains all of the 'why?' when it comes to the rules, terrain, modifiers and tactics. It takes a few games to really appreciate how each of the battles are different, and to start to gain the upper-hand on the modifiers, but once you get it...it is truly amazing.
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Eric Lai
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Disagree with many of your points, for example, there is a TON of manoeuvre in the game, I love how each type of unit's uniqueness is integrated. Flanking works fine and being flanked and losing that +1 leader attack advantage is a big deal. With Cavalry and Express activation, you can move very far and make some very surprising flanking moves... (you'll need to make a break in the enemy line first of course). The Morale system is genius, its the best system I have seen so far for Ancient Warfare, its a layer of the game that certainly needs to be considered when playing to win and I didn't find it very complex at all.

I do recommend printing the excellent user made player-aid that summarizes all the various unit's modifiers. Without this I can imagine that the game would be VERY CLUNKY to beginners to the game.
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Severus Snape
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Ashiefan wrote:
bentlarsen wrote:
It is a well written review, and it is on that basis that it should be considered by the community. It does not matter if we agree, disagree, or do a bit of both, what matters is how well the review is written; and here Andrew has done well. Let's drop the "positive" and "negative" labels.

goo

Is that the Royal We? Personally I'm not comfortable with having the parameters of how I should judge something laid out by others and, at the risk of being zapped Dumbledore style, I'll ignore it whistle
You are too focused on the "we," and therefore miss the point. Get off the "we" and you might begin to learn a thing or too. Or might not, given the apparent cyber chip on your shoulder.

goo
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Severus Snape
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Quote:
Took the words right out of my mouth.
Too bad, because that amounts to twice the time wasted.

goo

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Matt Jolly
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fambans wrote:
I have Sabin's book, Lost Battles. I'm slowly working my way through it as it is not easy to understand. I have looked more closely at the rules in the book and never imagined that the game would be fun. After all they were designed for analysis. The number of modifiers is daunting, almost as many as WRG ancients rules.
I think this is an important point, as IIRC Lost Battles started life as a miniatures game, descendant of Strategos.

And compared with WRG 4th - 7th Editions, De Bellis Multitudinis and The Shock Of Impact (all of which I have played) the modifiers in LB seem thin on the ground. I am sure when I have mastered them I will be faster, but not necessarily better...

In the end though, I suspect the level of abstraction in LB is a key feature for many people. Although as Pof. Sabin observes, sometimes the level of detail in some other systems is too great, leading to spurious accuracy (or do I mean spurious precision?)

Whatever, I like it. But I like Commands & Colors: Ancients, Legion, Battleground Historical Warfare: Second Punic War 218-201 BC, De Bellis Antiquitatis and Ancient Battles Deluxe too, all for different reasons. For me it's nice to see a very different approach to the problem of gaming ancient battles.

Cheers,

Matt
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A Little Lizard
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Great review. You just saved me a lot of money.

Seems like a system that only a minis gamer could love. "Move units straight ahead once or twice till every unit is in contact, then proceed to looking up millions of modifiers and rolling dice." Definitely not my thing.
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Nick Hawkins
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chuft wrote:
Great review. You just saved me a lot of money.

Seems like a system that only a minis gamer could love. "Move units straight ahead once or twice till every unit is in contact, then proceed to looking up millions of modifiers and rolling dice." Definitely not my thing.
I take it you are a board (bored) gamer?
I suspect that many miniatures gamers would describe it as a system that only a board gamer could love

Lost Battles is a game designed to a simulate/explore warfare in the ancient Graeco-Roman era, it's not a game for everyone.
It was designed to play quickly and provide historical insights, very different from (EG) Commands & Colors: Ancients

I sold my copy because:
thumbsup I could get a little more than I paid for it &
thumbsup It can be played with almost any counters on any suitable grid (this was part of the original spec).

I didn't think this review was particularly informative & it certainly had no influence on me selling my copy.
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A Little Lizard
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NickH wrote:

I take it you are a board (bored) gamer?
What a clever thing to say on Board Game Geek Dot Com.
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Nick Hawkins
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chuft wrote:
NickH wrote:

I take it you are a board (bored) gamer?
What a clever thing to say on Board Game Geek Dot Com.
Not particularly but I thought your comment was rather demeaning of people who like to play games with miniatures rather than counters or meeples.
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Roger Morley
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I guess they way LB works and plays is quite different to the standard hex and counter game, and can be a little "alien" to a lot of wargamers, so much so they cannot connect with it and end up disliking it.

I do not agree with what the OP has said, but it is his opinion and he has written a review based on his experience with LB, and has been quite negative about. It also has to be said, it is one of a very few negative reviews I have ever seen for LB, and when you compare it to all the positive reviews, it does show his is very much in the minority.

However, that does not make him right or wrong, as it is his opinion.

I had a similar experience with The Hunters. I found that game to be as exciting as watching paint dry, and the realism/simulation part of it just really did not work for me, and it felt more like an RPG than a wargame. But this is my opinion, which really goes against the grain of all the positive opinions of it.

But when you are talking of historical accuracy and feasibility in battles which happened thousands of years ago, it can more down to interpretation, base on the vague records kept by the scribes who wrote their journals many many years after a particular battle, and their information is also based on other peoples account them.

As for reviews - GOOD or Bad ones, i treat with a great big handful of salt. I would never buy a game based on a review, or not buy one based on a review. I would much rather buy it, and base my own opinion on it.

What works for me may not work for others.

EDIT - sorry, I rambled on a bit whistle
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Matt Jolly
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nemesisuk wrote:


But when you are talking of historical accuracy and feasibility in battles which happened thousands of years ago, it can more down to interpretation, base on the vague records kept by the scribes who wrote their journals many many years after a particular battle, and their information is also based on other peoples account them.
True,

and at least the designer has shared his design decisions, and the research behind them, which is more than The Great Battles of Alexander: Deluxe Edition, Commands & Colors: Ancients and Ancient Battles Deluxe can say (and I love two of those dearly...)(I haven't played the other)

Matt
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Andrew Hobley
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I confess I am a am a Sabin and LB fan, having said which I thought it was a well written review, so kudos for that. Sabin has explained in detail why he has made the design decisions he has - show me another game designer who wrote and published a book on the game's design. Now you may want to disagree with his take on ancient warfare and the game design this led to, but you have all the evidence there and then need to proceed from that basis.

And speaking of evidence in many, many years of interest in ancient warfare given the lack of evidence on some basic things (for example how do two battle lines actually fight for four hours?) I have come to the conclusion less is more. I'm old enough to remember a long controversy in the Society of Ancients about whether 1st century AD Dacian rhomphia were the same as 3rd century BC Thracian rhomphia, as double handed cutting weapons were fairly deadly in the DBA rule set of the day. And there was very little actual evidence to go on. LB glides over that sort of issue - basic troop types as that is all the ancients seemed to worry about and simple rules - and a quick game. Playing ftf I have usually managed three games in a days play.

But a good review and a good discussion following it. My LB copy isn't going anywhere any time soon!
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Ken Takacs
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It's strange, I see that the OP likes Commands & Colors: Ancients, but not Lost Battles. I really like both of them, as they both offer something different. I think the somewhat abstracted nature of Lost Battles works very well.

A lot of war games and miniatures rules treat aspects of ancient warfare like it was a scientific fact. The truth is, there is a lot of guesswork involved. Amazingly, something as fundamental as how a hoplite held a spear is one of the things that is hotly contested by historians today.

The OP is entitled to his opinion, of course, but I really wished he would have played a few games against an opponent. That possibly might have changed some of his opinion, as the game has a lot of nuances that one does not appreciate until it is played in that manner.
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Aaron Bedard
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Five years on and this remains one of my favorites. I think it makes for a very nice solitaire experience, but the few times I have gotten the chance to play it opposed were my favorite experiences with it, by far.




kenntak wrote:
It's strange, I see that the OP likes Commands & Colors: Ancients, but not Lost Battles. I really like both of them, as they both offer something different. I think the somewhat abstracted nature of Lost Battles works very well.

A lot of war games and miniatures rules treat aspects of ancient warfare like it was a scientific fact. The truth is, there is a lot of guesswork involved. Amazingly, something as fundamental as how a hoplite held a spear is one of the things that is hotly contested by historians today.

The OP is entitled to his opinion, of course, but I really wished he would have played a few games against an opponent. That possibly might have changed some of his opinion, as the game has a lot of nuances that one does not appreciate until it is played in that manner.
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Nick Halme
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Haven't played, just browsing through, but this caught my eye.

2) Heavy infantry were often placed on the wings. In fact, Greek phalanx doctrine did this as a rule, and it was not uncommon elsewhere to place veteran heavy infantry on the right wing. Why? Because any troops on the right of the line cannot have their shields facing to their right. Especially in phalanxes, this means the right is the most vulnerable, and so veterans anchor the line.

Remember that if there is no cavalry wing, the tip of the line on either side when it maneuvers is in effect a wing; I believe this is what other games tend to simulate. Because, especially for early Greek warfare ala Marathon, many armies did not especially consider ordered troops to be in a formal formation of any kind and were not maneuvered as such. So you have situations where part of the line *becomes* the wing if it engages and is turned. To troops on the ground, they may have no idea this happened.

Leuctra was fought with this actually in mind as a tactic. Thebes did not have a way of dislodging the Spartan elite positioned on their left, and so famously deployed much deeper ranks (perhaps 50) to grind down the Spartan right instead.

It sounds to me like the idea of "key zones" is a bit of a lazy way to bend players to behave historically, rather than implementing a mechanic which encourages historical deployments. If battle doctrine or ground holding was arbitrary, I think it's wrong-headed to keep the content of the decision arbitrary but implement a model which expects the decision.
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Paul Evans
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When I first came across this game (in its previous incarnation in Phil's book) I would have agreed with nearly all the points in this criticism. Over time, having played quite a bit solo and also against competent opposition, I have come to change that opinion.

I don't want to criticise anyone's view - a game has to give you what you are looking for and if it doesn't, then it's not for you. All I would do is add these observations about the game system that make it, IMHO, a really excellent examination of the dynamics that an ancient army commander had to cope with.

- The issues the general can control are indeed limited in terms of what you would control in a more traditional game. You can't dictate the manoeuvre of small units over short distances. It is about choosing what resources you have deployed in general areas and how long they are going to last before either they collapse or the enemy they are facing do. That is what you need to worry about. The detail of who shoots at who or how exactly the river is negotiated in the face of enemy cavalry, or whatever, is something you cannot control other than by just being there and lending occasional tactical and moral leadership/support - if you can - in the confusion of battle. In the game, these issues are there for the dice to decide.


- The best game dilemmas and decisions are made before the sides cross swords. The game literature provides initial positions at the end of turn one with full historical deployments for each scenario. That, unfortunately, is where most start and end with the game and thereby miss a great part of what it offers. For those who have yet to try it, play the FULL game with all the pieces starting off the board and puzzle out how best to get deployed and into action more effectively than the enemy. It was a job that many an ancient general must have fretted over through the early hours before settling on his plan and dispatching his force into battle-line on the following morning. In terms of game quality and challenge, playing out the initial deployment pushes it up by an order of magnitude.










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kevin halloran
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I enjoyed reading the review, Andrew. I haven't played the game but I bought and read the book and the rules in the hope that it might be the ancients ruleset I'm looking for. Sadly, it isn't. In my view there are on almost every page dubious assumptions, selective use of sources, circular arguments and a rather pervasive arrogance about the importance of 'our model'. I found it bizarre that the evidence for the high battle value of inspired generals for example was a quote from Wellington that Napoleon's presence on the battlefield was worth 40,000 men. This is poor historical method under any circumstances, all the more so as that's not what Wellington said. He referred to this on several occasions and clarified that it was Napoleon's prestige rather than his generalship that he was referring to and in 1836 noted; 'This is a very loose way of talking; but the idea is a very different one from that of his presence at a battle being equal to a reinforcement of forty thousand men.'
 
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Roger Hobden
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Six years later I still enjoy the game very much and would not hesitate to recommend it to any wargamer having an interest in Ancient Battles.

cool
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Steven Apergis
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I have one problem with the review. I have a friend who has the game and I have played it several times. I agree with everything that was said. The lack of maneuverability and the ineffectiveness of most flank attacks drive me nuts. Even though I have won most of the time it was because I had better die rolls that my opponent. It really is a dice rolling contest snore
 
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Russ Williams
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bassoon1946 wrote:
I have one problem with the review. I have a friend who has the game and I have played it several times. I agree with everything that was said. The lack of maneuverability and the ineffectiveness of most flank attacks drive me nuts. Even though I have won most of the time it was because I had better die rolls that my opponent. It really is a dice rolling contest snore
What is the one problem which you have with the review?
 
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