Thursday, 11 June 2015

Testes Thong Rot

We have been trying out the newish 'To The Strongest!' rules with James' Punic War figures, or at least a small subset of his stuff. James has already given them the thumbs up and I would like to concur. We've played twice now and I am happier that we got the rules right the second time through. They are quick, give a fun game with what seems to be a nice balance of luck and judgement.

Command and Colours is the obvious reference point and I think these have the edge. Comparison points would be:

  • Squares are better than hexes, primarily because one can go straight forwards towards the enemy.
  • I prefer having multiple - OK, two - units in a space and for facings to be important.
  • The points above mean that the Roman three line system (which in the manner of the three musketeers seems to have contained four separate elements) can be more effectively modelled.
  • The command and control system means that one could hypothetically order all one's units in a turn, but is very unlikely so to do. I found this less annoying than getting stuck with the wrong cards at C&C. It also made me more prepared to gamble that my opponent wouldn't be able to do what he wanted.
  • The cumulative difficulty effect on activation works well.
  • The rally rules, coupled with the low number of hits that units can take, prompt a cagier style of play involving withdrawing and the re-entering the fray which I found to be to my taste. Of course it makes no difference at all if you are playing the Romans with their surfeit of small units destroyed after one hit.
There are a couple of bits that I'm not entirely convinced by yet.
  •  Shooting seems so ineffective and has such short range that one hesitates to risk the command failing its activation in order to do it. And yet ancient armies were full of troops who engaged in missile fire.
  • Officers are just as expensive to lose as in C&C ancients, are far more likely to be lost than in that game and yet seem to be of much less value while one has them.
  • The logic of the demoralisation rule isn't that clear to me.
  • The victory banner concept appears to have been lifted wholesale from C&C and has all the faults of that system - too few, too arbitrary etc.
For the record the Carthaginians won both times.

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