Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage

This great bookcase game, originally published by Avalon Hill in the 1990s, remains at the top of my historical strategy games list. OK- I really don't have a list, but this is my all-time favorite game of its kind.

Hannibal is lavishly illustrated; the map of the western Mediterranean world of the Punic Wars is simply beautiful. The playing cards and chits (army and general counters) also meet above-average standards. And before I go any further, I'm talking about the original release by Avalon Hill (see top right). The recent release under Valley Games (see bottom right) looks even better. Great production values.

The game takes place during the Second Punic War, in the last decades of 3rd Century BC. The action takes the form of intertwined military and political actions, as the Roman and Carthaginian players attempt to control the most provinces between Italy, Spain, Africa, Sicily, Sardinia/Corsica, and the Balearic Islands (I may be missing a region or two). In the most general summary of what to expect, Rome typically has an easier time of recruiting large armies and can afford to lose them more readily than Carthage; Carthage typically has better generals and has a few more dirty tricks it can play.

Cards drive the game action, both on a strategic and tactical levels. Each turn, representing a year or number of years, provides each player with a set number of Strategy Cards, which allow them to move armies or take other actions. Players draw and play Battle Cards when armies actually clash, and a number of factors determine how many cards a player receives: army size, the general's ability, and the conflict's locale.

Players achieve victory simply by having the most provinces under their control by the last turn of the game. Killing/capturing Hannibal or his greatest foe, Scipio Africanus, results in immediate victory, no matter what turn.

1 comment:

  1. This is still one of my favorite games out there. It is not a very balanced game, in my experience, Hannibal only wins about 20% of the time. The game is so fun, the balance doesn't matter. All the more glory when Carthage does win.