Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Update: Hannibal and The Fall of Carthage

I previously reviewed the game Hannibal: Rome v. Carthage here, and a little bit of Andrian Goldworthy's The Fall of Carthage here. Here's some updates concerning both. 

The new edition of Hannibal has some new rules that make it a somewhat different and better game. In the old edition the game immediately ended with the capture of Hannibal or Scipio Africanus. This is no longer the case. If Hannibal is lost, Carthage loses major prestige (5 political control markers, which is about the equivalent of a province) in addition to any political losses from simply suffering defeat in a field battle. This occurred while we played a game recently and it greatly hampered the Carthaginians, as you might expect. What we think we learned is that losing Hannibal might not necessarily spell defeat for Carthage if they are already in a decent position. It seemed incredible that Carthage lasted 4 or more turns after losing their best general by the third turn. For a change, I did not play Hannibal...but I could have used this rule back in the 90s.

I finished reading The Fall of Carthage and I am please to see such harmony between its contextual political, social, and military review of the Second Punic War and how the Hannibal game plays. The concept of losing political ground based on battlefield defeats rings true. The reluctance of the armies and their commanders to commit to battle - and even their lack of ability to force their enemy to engage - also rings true with the game mechanics for activating army commanders. If it seems hard to get things done sometimes, that's because it was that way. Don't forget how the limits of communication affected the ability to gather intelligence and make decisions. The players get to view a game board map of the western Mediterranean and at least see what forces are currently in the field. The real commanders did well to know what was happening in the nearest provinces. 

Again, I highly recommend both the game and book. 

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