I ordered this months ago, like many others, from GMT's P500. I was excited for it, even though we didn't know much about the components and the such.
A few months later, it shows up on my credit card bill, and I get re-excited. Soon! It would be soon!
But in my world, if it's not a week later, it's a LONG time away. So by the time it started making its way around and people started posting pictures, reviews and articles here on the Geek, my waning excitement returned full force.
Days later, it arrives at my doorstep. Thankfully I only had an hour of class that day, because I rushed home to open it up and ogle and drool.
But it would be some time yet before I would get it stickered and ready to play...
...this past Monday, to be exact.
Fellow local gamer, Steve (also of Canucks Amuck and TABS), came over as we had planned to sticker and play what we could. I was hoping to get BOTH of our games done, but we ended up only getting one - mine. If Steve doesn't sticker his own, I'll help him sometime soon.
Well anyway, three hours or so later we had everything stickered with just a couple of mistakes that did not affect anything really. We had both read the rules previously and are well-versed in M'44. So off we went...
We decided to go for Scenario #1, The Battle of Akragas. Since I had stickered the Romans/Syracusans and Steve stickered the Carthaginians, those are the sides we decided to use for our initial game. Checking the scenario sheet, we set up and were transported back to 406 B.C.
It didn't take long for us to realise, as many have already, that you can't exactly play this game like M'44. While there are units like tanks that can make a Lone Ranger attack ahead of the rest of your forces, they just shouldn't do it here. In just a few turns, both of Steve's chariots were toast, as was my Light Cavalry on the left. But by this time, my right flank had moved all the way up past the middle of the battlefield, while my central forces, the heavy infantry, were coming up right behind them. My left flank and Steve's right did not do much the entire game. We both brought a few units from that end to the middle, but for the most part they were left to watch the battle from the sidelines.
We were about half-a-dozen and a couple more turns into the game (I guess making that 8 or so) when things really started to heat up. I was in the lead with two flags, and Steve had one. But on my turn, I would make a silly move that brought Dionysius and his cavalry deep behind enemy lines. With a triple encirclement of Light Cavalry, Auxilaries and the Himilco/Auxilary unit, Steve defeated Dionysius' unit and forced him to evade...right into the swords of his Light Cavalry.
It was now three flags to two, Steve in the lead. Yes, Syracuse would weep at the loss of this leader, but revenge was forthcoming.
I looked at my cards, gave a wicked smile and prophesied: "Nice. But I'll get three flags this turn!"
Steve did not believe me, but he would be incredulous momentarily.
I can't recall exactly which card it was that I played, but I was able to activate a good number of units. Thus I sent forth Auxilaries, a Light Bow and a couple of Heavy Infantry units, including the one commanded by Daphnaeus. Heavy Infantry is not a force to take lightly, let me tell you. Or better yet, let Steve tell you
In three rolls of the dice, it was game over. For my finale, needing one more flag, I decided to roll one at a time, hoping for something dramatic like not hits until the fifth and final die. Although it didn't work that way, I still got the hit that I needed.
The Carthaginians were routed, and Akragas was safe. Well, for eight months, at least.
It was getting late, but we figured we had time for one more, so we switched sides.
Now I saw for myself how tough the Carthaginian position was, facing all of those Heavies. Once again, while I KNEW the style of warfare, I decided to do a little more Lone Ranger and Tonto action with my Light Cavalry and Chariot on the left. Silly move. The rest of my forces, though, I wanted to use a little more sense.
However, I never counted on Steve using the Double Time card. What this did was propel his Heavy Infantry the two spaces that separated us, and let him attack me. I was totally not expecting this, and so did not have the time to move back the way I would have wanted to!
I tried for a counterattack, instead of running, but it was fruitless. Instead, it just put me in prime position for his Order Heavy Troops card. This was all he needed to get the last flags he needed for the win.
Once again, the Carthaginians were routed. Boo-urns, 'cause this time I was them!
So, what do I think of the game?
I love it! I've loved the system since the first time I played Memoir '44 oh so many months ago. I think this version with the blocks is great, much easier to move around than plastic pieces - although don't get me wrong, I'm a BIG fan of games with lots of plastic pieces. As a student of Classical Civs (one of my minors) and a fan of ancient warfare, I love the theme.
It plays just as 'easy' as M'44, but with just as much strategy. Although the strategy is different, because of the unit support and stuff. The Leaders add some cool benefits.
Overall the game really does feel like what you would think ancient warfare was like. It is a lot more linear than M'44, with Lone Ranger attacks being silly and reckless, unless done right. I haven't seen much with flanking manoeuvres just yet, but I'm sure a few more plays, especially with more cavalry, will have a lot of that.
My plans for the future?
First of all, buy every version of this game, because it absolutely rocks. I hope GMT does well enough with this one to keep popping out more of Borg's designs. I would love to see the Greek/Persian, Imperial Roman, Napoleonic, Medieval version, among others. I would LOVE to see a Medieval Japan version with samurai and ranks of peasant spearmen and the such. *crosses fingers*
I'm looking for good miniatures, something like Zvezda's, that would work well with this game. I know they've got an elephant set and Rome's Republican armies, but I have to do some more research, especially for Carthage. We'll see, because I think that would look great and play awesome.
The most immediate plan is to purchase an extra map with Steve, trim off certain areas, so we can have a huge setup with three boards (both "Overlord" style lengthwise, but also widthwise, which would be awesome - you would have enough time to really manoeuvre your units around before you clash.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you're out playing this game and loving it as much as I do.
Excellent session report! Justin played a "Order Heavy Units" card that crushed me the first game... ouch baby, major ouch.
I love the ebb and flow of this game... I can almost feel the men surging and clashing on the field of battle. Great linear feel to play that encourages co-ordinated play in packs with leaders... worth the effort of stickering the blocks, but just bearly.
You mention your leader retreating "into the swords" of the enemy.
Did this "swords" thing happen after a "leader escape' roll?
That's really easy to forget-- your lone leader has a chance to go right through a hex full of bad guys-- maybe twice if he's lucky.
And when the heavies moved quickly, did you try to evade with those who can? That is hard to remember too-- at the start anyway. Not only do your units survive a lot better, but it costs him both the momentum advance and the maybe bonus attack afterwards. Evade is a tough maneuver--until you run out of backward spaces.
Heh, when I said "swords" I was being more figurative than literal He rolled what he had to (a helmet, is it?) to eliminate my leader. I was very disappointed!
And I evaded with one unit, couldn't with another, and stood my ground with another hoping for a battle-back. Just wasn't lucky, all around.