Thursday, 10 November 2016

Très bien

We reconvened last night in the legendary wargames room after a short break. James had dotted his cloth - it's an old Yorkshire dialect term - and so we had a crack at To The Strongest! for the Punic Wars. The dots were not at all visible to the casual glance - indeed I occasionally found them hard to see whilst actually looking for them - and the combination of unit strength and base size filled the squares to overflowing, meaning it didn't really look like a normal grid game (pictures here).

That link also leads to historical details of the battle in question - Trebbia in 218 BC - and scenario details. Having won the draw to choose sides I went for the Carthaginians because they have elephants. Having now played it I would choose Hannibal again because the Romans are never going to win in a month of Sundays. The elephants, needless to say, did nothing of any value; their only real contribution was to trample one of the Carthaginian commanders as they ran amok after being fatally wounded. The cavalry on the flanks were more successful, and Mago's ambush put paid to any remaining hope the Romans had.

The devil is in the detail in wargames rules. The Polybian Romans seem to cause much angst among those with any understanding (real or imagined) of the period and James had a new rule hot from the author regarding the legionary Hokey-Cokey which is at the heart of the debate. It seemed to my uneducated eye to deal with the issue satisfactorily, and certainly maintained the simplicity of the overall rules while adding a bit of chrome to playing the Romans. It is this simplicity that appeals to me, plus the element of push your luck of course. Like all the best wargames and boardgames the real secret is to discipline yourself to not do the things that don't matter.

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