Recommend
64 
 Thumb up
 Hide
30 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Commands & Colors: Ancients» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Why C&C: Ancients is almost a 10 rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
United States
Boise
Idaho
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Quick background ~ I have played Battle Cry and Memoir '44 scores of times and went into Ancients with a thourough idea of what I felt could enhance an already superb light war game system. This review assumes a working knowledge of the Commands & Colors system.

Background done, time to dispense with the mamby-pamby little carping about stickers and boards and other dross that periodically erupts from the bored, affluent naysayers who have little or no sense about what it really takes to bring a specialty game like this to market. So...

I like the blocks. I like the stickers. It was relaxing and fun to apply them and apparently some people did this mindlessly without using that time to familiarize themselves with the units. It took me about 2 or three hours and this included downtime to feed my dog, take a quick trip to the toilet to catch up on the newspaper and then to microwave some of my 5-alarm chili.

The components that suck are clearly the dice. But we used them in play and found out that, thankfully, they had six sides and each one ended up showing a result when tossed. Gamers who feel they will be judged harshly by the dice they toss may choose to customize theirs.

Secondary suckage are the tiles. If GMT had the money they ought to have spent it on thicker tiles. That said, I was hardly suprised that they fit the board and displayed the terrain data accurately. Thicker would have been better. Other than that I found everything to be of top notch quality and properly assembled. Nice paper, nice map (much better than what we used to get with SPI, etc.) and the added scenarios were a shiny bonus. Yes, the box is thick. The obvious reason is the components are heavy and I assume GMT decided to make a container that would deal with that weight.

Overall quality I rate as an 8 easily. I like the blocks... a lot. I even like them better than I thought I would and in fact I have grown to like them as much as the M'44 and BC miniatures. Why some people have problems ID'ing the units is beyond me, there is a symbol on each block that is there for ID purposes. I guess getting a college degree doesn't mean one sees the obvious. But to be fair, I'm an old school wargamer and I hated the symbols on the chits that SPI and AH used. Little blocks with circles, squares and triangles works.

GAMEPLAY

C&C:A is several steps above it's older brothers. While I thought the M'44 expansions were outstanding, I found the few additions to C&C:A make this game twice or three times the better of it's siblings.

Battle Back

A superbly executed mechanic wherein a unit that has survivors can fight back against it's attacker. During my first play I thought perhaps this device would be a bit over the top, too much carnage so to speak and prone to instilling a fear of attacking, which would be counter to the momentum the system generates. It's not though. It's a much more accurate representation of the actual carnage on ancient battlefields and wouldn't fit near as well in M'44, though it might be useful in Battle Cry. Effectively it means the player has to be wise. There is a huge risk factor in committing heavys (with 5 dice) to opposing heavys without sufficient strength to eliminate or force a withdrawl of your target.

When you factor terrain into the game, such as the fact that hills reduce dice to two per unit, a savvy general can work around or even use Battle Back as a mechanic to swing things their way.

Evade

An outstanding addition to the rules. In short, most units have some capability to run away, live to fight another day. The only ones that really have no way to flee are the slogging medium and heavy infantry, the beserk warriors and the Auxilia. This mechanic is the main way to counter the hand of cards that leaves you no real offense for the moment and a crafty player, by using the Battle Back and Evade rules, can stave off a defeat and perhaps turn things around in time. I did more than once and I was astounded at how effective the dovetailing of these two mechanics can be.

What Evade does is reduce the potenital of being hit to as little as 17%. The attacker can only count a corresponding symbol as a hit - green circle for light units then are only hit if a green circle result turns up on the die, whereas in CC crossed sword symbols and sometimes general symbols usually mean you got tagged.

The General ~ What a guy!

The little bonuses this guy confers on the game are so powerful that I can almost guarantee that barring insanely bad luck with the crappy dice (or the customized cool ones some of you will make) or truly awful card draws, that you cannot lose against an inferior player who fails to see the power of the general piece. He increases your hit ratio by almost 20%. He makes having to retreat a fluke rather than a common occurance and he even allows the unit he is attached with to fight again if they carried the day and took ground.

A quick explaination ~ in M'44 an infantry unit can take ground from and eliminated or retreated unit. Tanks can take the ground and attack again. In C&C:A the only infantry that can take ground (called momentum) and battle are the Warrior Units. But! If a general is attached to the unit they may attack again, just like Cavalry and Warrior Units.

What else does the general do? Plenty! He turns away one retreat flag from the unit he's with. Given that a unit supported by two adjacent friendly units can already ignore one flag, this makes retreat less likely when you use Hasdrubal or Scipio properly. In addition, since many of the cards say you can command a unit OR general, then this stellar guy gives you yet another way to counter poor card draws or opens up new opportunities to punish Hannibal.

Importance of Not retreating

A cautionary note here about retreats. In M'44 the classic way to get quick kills and an early victory is to pulverize enemy units pinned against the backside of the map. Artillery and airstrikes work well for this. Each retreat flag you can't fufill means one model gone. In C&C:A a single retreat flag means the whole unit must move one "movement" backwards. Thats its full move for every retreat result. Light Cavalry move four spaces. Unsupported fast-moving units can quickly be eliminated by retreats because every retreat result you can't satisy eliminates one block from the unit.

This game is all about command, support and not having to retreat but also being able to evade superior units. Which reminds me, that's another bonus a General can add. If he's unattached and you can legally move a retreating unit onto his hex, then that unit stops retreating right there.

OVERVIEW

Essentially, this is M'44 or Battle Cry. You do this:

1. Play a Command card
2. Order units
3. Move
4. Battle
5. Draw a new Command card

But with the additions I've listed above along with a few other cool things... well, like the fact that light infantry and light horse can shoot at you and the Warriors get a bonus die when at full strength and that there are several more levels of unit differentation than in BC or M'44, then you have a game that is in almost every respect much superior to it's ancestors.

In the last year or so many of the reviews and critiques of new games have drifted in the direction of how a game is boxed or what weight of paper is used or even whether the cards themselves or the inserts will justify the expenditure of buying a particular game. I'm starting to wonder of some of the more cynical BGG reviewers and commentators buy games to actually play or buy them to display and impress other Geeks with.

Yes, quality counts. It's important that a game that costs over $50, as this one does, somehow justifys that. But so long as you have functional and attractive components and perhaps a container that allows easy storage and transport, presentation is not near as important as whether the game itself is fun to play. Higher quality is value added, not the main reason to purchase and play. At least that's my view.

Well, Command & Colors: Ancients is one of the best, if not the best, low print, highly niched, attractive and superbly playable games I've encountered in many a year. It's rideculously easy to teach and learn, it has depth and levels of subtlety that unfold after numerous plays, it's got "weight", it feels good and looks good on the table. It's fast, it's historical and most of all, when you've spent 30 or 40 minutes playing a scenario you feel energized and ready to go at it again.

Can you tell I like this game? I do. And I'm going to do something I almost never do... I'm buying a back-up copy of this gem. If you are in the market for a terrific two-player game with historical roots, ease of play and downright gut-wrenching finishes almost every time, buy this game.

20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review, DW!

I've been using the 6-siders that came with the game as well. They're fine, it's the faces that we're rubbing off from all the use!

Of all the C&C games, my group warmed to it quickly after just a few plays. For the most part, they are keenly interested in the Ancients period and the game had several hurdles to overcome. It had to be better than DBM, DBA, Tactics, Warmaster Ancients, WarHAMMER Acnients, and other similar gaming experiences. All the C&C games should have this sort of subtlety to them.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Justin Borges
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow, a fantastic review! I already love this game, but this has got me even more pumped to keep on playing it.
You've made some extremely good points, and I really think this is a TOP notch game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derek Rowe
Canada
High River Canada
Alberta
flag msg tools
badge
I knew you wanted to mouse over my Avatar :).
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Awsome review, I like your format, you speak like I think when I open a brand new game. I have not yet played this game but after reading your review I'm out the door to pick it up from the game shop.

Cheers!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mary Weisbeck
United States
Black Hawk
South Dakota
flag msg tools
"Blow up the damned ship, Jean-Luc!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have to say that I'm quite impressed that my own views of this game have been mirrored by none other than DW. All the rules additions that you mentioned make this game much more strategic than Memoir, which was exactly what I was looking for.

My only complaint with the quality is that my board doesn't meet in the middle all along the seam. The gap gets larger as it runs toward the edge of the board ending with about a 1/4" separation. Still this is tolerable, just not desirable.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Duke
United States
Wynne
Arkansas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Note for DW wanting thicker terrain tiles--

You can make them thicker-- or at least the ones you want.

There are MANY terrain tiles in the game-- lots more tiles (counting all types) than you will ever need in a scenario. While you might need most of the hills or woods or river tiles,you will not need all of all the types, so you can "make" thicker tiles, simply by putting an unused tile under the one you are using.

I'm reserving that for things I really want 'taller," so my woods are 2 tiles tall (the woods tile plus one), my hills are 3 tall, and for the "can't go there" ground, I made them 5 or 6 tiles tall.

Rivers look better at ground level- your choice on rough ground (but since it does not slow infantry down, it must not be that rough.)

Anyway, maybe that will help.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Moody
United States
Edmond
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I give DW's review a "10" and the game a solid "8" (a lot from me). I thought M'44 as boring after two plays and never got a sense of anything realistic occurring in front of us, but C&C:A had a narrative just as plausible (if not moreso) than anything I've yet played from the much lengthier and more complex GBoH games.

My only complaint is the end of the world business with the map edge, which in my case allowed me with my back nearly against the wall to run through a momentary gap in the line with my cav which then ran around in my opponent's backfield forcing retreats against his weakened/withdrawn units and there was no one he had that could touch me without completely dissolving his front line or giving up control of his flanks (his cavalry)...OTOH, he could do no such thing against me since his cav, after getting in his licks one time, would have immediately been met by a unit "spinning" in-position to retreat and eliminate him, and trading a near-death light infantry for a full-strength enemy cav is a trade I'd make anytime.

I hope this isn't confidential info, but one of the GMT guys has told me the print run of this game, and it's not much higher than a regular release of their's. Which means, you snooze and you lose...I'm betting this gem will be OOS by Christmas.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael
Belgium
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Regarding the thin tiles. I think that is good. I always put a plexiglas cover on top. I cannot understand how you can play without? Does the map really lie flat? How I would like a map like in Friedrich! That is quality. Then thicker tiles would have been nice.
--
ciao
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Will (JR) Todd
United States
Clearwater
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DWTripp wrote:

I like the blocks. I like the stickers. It was relaxing and fun to apply them and apparently some people did this mindlessly without using that time to familiarize themselves with the units. It took me about 2 or three hours and this included downtime


Excellent review! I had a great time stickering everything too.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob "Bodhi" Wolff
United States
Vancouver
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Jabout wrote:
I reckon a Napoleonic C&C could be a 10, I wonder if we will ever find out.


Vive le Emperor is really just a Napoleonic version of Battle Cry, isn't it?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
flag msg tools
badge
Pet photographer, that's me.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review. It is the best Borg game yet. Much more than the previous two published games, it does play out with the proper feel for the era as I imagine it. I have Battle Cry and M'44 with all the expansions so there is no need for me to rehash the comparisons and details of your review.

BTW, I rated it a 9 based on my current preferences in wargaming and despite the differences in production quality with BC and M44. Again, it is a much better wargame than its older but prettier siblings.

I cannot think of a reason why one cannot use a mounted M'44 map and terrain tiles. M'44 hexes are 2mm smaller but are there really that many terrain types in C&C:Ancients that cannot be covered in type or quantity by M'44 tiles?

Quote:
Don't forget to make the center smaller and the flanks larger if you do use a Memoir 44 map.


Right, Bill. I knew there was one more thing about using M'44 boards.

From a purely personal perspective, I truly hate it when the name of the game is right in the center of the the battle field. I find it incredibly aesthetically distracting in wargames, even light ones. (I didn't care for it on the Battle Cry map either but I figured that was Hasbro, the mass marketer's decision).

Per my previous posts, in general we like the blocks too. We've played in the backroom of The Louisville Game Store and a motel conference room* with contrasty and fluorescent overhead lighting respectively. My small group of gamers find it easier to play in most lighting conditions with the blocks laying flat like really thick cardboard chits.

*The Falls of the Ohio Gamers, a Louisville based club, and The Campaigners based in Indiana alternate months renting a conference room. They are mostly miniatures guys but they let board gamers in. All they ask is a small donation to help with the cost of the room.

Quote:
C&C:A had a narrative just as plausible (if not moreso) than anything I've yet played from the much lengthier and more complex GBoH games.


I agree Kevin. A couple Saturday's ago a friend and I got in three games of C&C:A in the same time 2 other friends played one small scenario of GBoH.




 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill the Pill
United States
Oneonta
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Don't forget to make the center smaller and the flanks larger if you do use a Memoir 44 map.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
BodhiWolff wrote:
Jabout wrote:
I reckon a Napoleonic C&C could be a 10, I wonder if we will ever find out.


Vive le Emperor is really just a Napoleonic version of Battle Cry, isn't it?


I've played Borg's Napoleonic C&C game a few years and it had already incorporated many of things that folks have wanted to do with Battle Cry. Now that the Ancients set is with us, I'm sure that Borg's set will be published someday.

As for Vive', my understanding is that that game is a Battle Cry knock-off, right down to some verbatim passages from the Battle Cry rulebook. It wasn't made with Borg's cooperation, that's for sure.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil Shepherd
United States
Arlington
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
Be on your guard. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dammit Tripp! I was looking for a reason NOT to buy this one.... There goes another $50.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Boise
Idaho
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Thanks for all the kind words. When C&C:A hits the open market this month I think it might get right up into the top 10.

A clarification ~ I mentioned the bonus scenarios in my review. I ought to point out that it's my understanding that those scenarios were a bonus for P500 orders only. That's not to say they won't be available as downloads, because I'm certain they will. In fact, I suspect there'll be many scenarios available on GMT's site as well as BGG and other war game sites.

It's a funny thing, personal preference. Scrib mentions not liking the game's name being faintly printed on the map. I noticed that when I first opened the game and set it up but I never "saw" it after that.

And yes, I did think about using a plexiglass overlay for the game and I probably will eventually get around to it. The idea of stacking tiles for a 3-D effect is a good one as well.

I'm not a real fan of Napoleon era gaming but apparently someone has already "borrowed" the C&C system for that. I suspect over the coming years we'll see plenty of modules/expansions for this enhanced system. And why not? It's the near perfect vehicle for bringing casual and family gamers over to the dark side.

And finally, I view the extra units and non-essential terrain tiles as even more value added content. How many games supply the buyer with the tools to create their own scenarios right off the bat? Not many, and that certainly says a lot about GMT's deep understanding of what war gamers want for their money.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Duke
United States
Wynne
Arkansas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Regarding the Vive L'Emp is just a Nap version of Battle Cry, I refer readers to the section about that game on this site.

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/6607

Is a very long but well organized review that makes me somewhat interested in the game. While the reviewer says it is clear that BC roots are behind the game and the "basic" game is almost the same, he makes it clear that there is a lot more beyond BC in the box when the more advanced game/rules are incorporated. When I see different cavalry types (light, heavy) and different troop qualities and formations, I can tell that someone may have begun with BC but they did not just slap different figures onto the board.

Looks interesting-- and makes me wonder what the RB Nap game is like that someone says they have played.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Keith Anderson
United States
Tulsa
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
I'll play the Klingons
badge
I'll play the Klingons
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm trying to keep my game count down while getting more diversity, so, is this game good enough to sale off Memoir 44 and 2 copies of Battle Cry in exchange for this game and another?

I like Battle Cry's Civil War theme but this one apparently has (much?)improved game play?

Aesthetically, it might also be difficult as this might look too much like my Block games (HotS, RitD, EastFront).

Thanks
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Boise
Idaho
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
GamePlayer wrote:
I'm trying to keep my game count down while getting more diversity, so, is this game good enough to sale off Memoir 44 and 2 copies of Battle Cry in exchange for this game and another?

I like Battle Cry's Civil War theme but this one apparently has (much?)improved game play?

Aesthetically, it might also be difficult as this might look too much like my Block games (HotS, RitD, EastFront).

Thanks


That's a difficult one to answer. Now if it were me, I'd let Battle Cry go and replace it with C&C:A in a heartbeat. I'd keep M44 because the 2005 expansions added so much more to the game and DoW apparently is planning additional support. I have several other block games and the aesthetics of blocks are pleasing to me personally. A matter of taste I guess.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Duke
United States
Wynne
Arkansas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
And while this one does have wooden blocks, they look almost nothing like the blocks in the games you describe.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Justin Borges
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, if there is ANY way you can keep them all, I'd go that route. I haven't tried Battle Cry, but I know how great M'44 and C&C are, so I would say get rid of BC and go with these two.
I LOVE games with lots of little plastic pieces like Memoir and any of Eagle Games' games. But I also like blocks quite a bit, and these are quite different from those of Crusader Rex, for example. There are a few different sizes, but they're pretty small and MUCH easier to manipulate around the board than miniatures.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ava Jarvis
United States
Bainbridge Island
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review!

I like the little blocks in C&C:Ancients better than the miniatures in Battle Cry or Memoir '44, although I think that the plastic figures hold a lot of appeal in the latter two games. But the blocks are compact in a way that figures aren't, can easily support a multitude of different unit types without designing and creating molds (which are always very expensive), support multicolored units without dragging in a bunch of painters, and if GMT sold bags of those little blocks of various sizes, people could easily design their own units as well and still fit into the look of the game. And of course, blocks are not only better than cardboard standups (all that punching is less enjoyable than applying stickers), but also second-nature to the connoiseour of German games.

I think the blocks for figures is brilliant, personally. While C&C:Ancients and its further expansions seem set for glory, I'm still waiting for the very faintly rumored and perhaps not even existing C&C fantasy version to hit the press. The economy and elegance of the little blocks and stickers would make it more possible for such a beast to come along, since fantasy wargames usually feature more variety in unit type than history-based wargames.

The blocks in this game bear zero resemblence, in playing style or mechanic, to block games like Hammer of the Scots. In fact, block games are an entirely different beast from the C&C line. C&C focuses on a single battle down to the details of the fights of every unit, and units occupy their own hexes. In block games, the scope is a full war with multiple battles, though each battle is obviously simpler than a C&C game, and different kinds of units at different strengths can share a single hex. In block games there's the concept of marshalling your strength and building up your army, poking your enemy's defence line, and implementing some long-term strategy. C&C, due to its nature of representing a single battle, has strategy that is a lot more short-term.

(And in those last two sentences lies the root of a few dead horse discussions.)

If a C&C: Fantasy ever came out, it could never replace my Wizard Kings set, though it could live comfortably side by side... the two games would be too different.

Making a choice between Ancients and Battle Cry is fairly easy, unless you typically use Scribidinus' well-researched Advanced Battle Cry Deluxe Edition rules (available on the Battle Cry BGG page).

Making a choice between Ancients and Memoir '44 is much harder; Days of Wonder support for the game has already shown up, and is reliable. More things have been planned for Ancients (and probably were in the workings for years), and I think Ancients would have more variety than Memoir '44, but we will need to see GMT's extra modules and units in the future to compare the two.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Brown
United States
Ohio
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review!!! As owner of several copies of each of the the other games in the series (i must always have more of everthing!-which my wife hates) you have talked me into placing a order. I was on the fence with the blocks as I have no games like this yet and was not sure about.
Now I wait for my two copies and also ordered a copy of - Victorian Cross (another block game) gotta defend the Drift agianst the Zulus, also at GMT Games. - Thanks.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Duke
United States
Wynne
Arkansas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Victoria Cross is a more 'traditional' block game, in the style of Quebec 1759 (was that the very first?) and the host of things that Columbia Games handles.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean Swart
United States
Moscow
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
VC is a great game. And I wouldn't lump it into the Columbia block games. VC is much more tactical, and the area of zones for firing gives it a miniature feel, with the fog of war found on most block games.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Boise
Idaho
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Ava makes some excellent points about traditional block games. I had never heard about the rumored C&C with a fantasy setting but I'd certainly sign up for that one if it appeared.

Quebec 1759 was the first block game I played, I think it came out in the 70's? I played it quite a bit and then traded it away many years ago. Same with Wizard Kings.

It's nice to see that Mike and a few others were swayed towards buying C&C:A, hopefully it's as great an experience for you as it is for me.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.