Saturday, August 9, 2014

Command and Colors: Ancients

Ryan, Joe C, Dan and I got in several rounds of C&C Ancients today, switching off sides and opponents.

Key differences between Ancients and Napoleonics: in Ancients, a unit fights just as effectively whether it's at full strength or reduced down to one block, and leaders modify results in adjacent spaces as well as the one they're in.

The first scenario was the Battle of Akragas, pitting Syracusan Greeks vs Carthaginians. On the Carthaginian side, Mago has a mixed force of six units on the right, Himilco has auxilia in the center, and two horse units (one light cavalry, one chariot) hold the left flank. The Greeks have Daphnareus with heavy infantry in the center, Dionysius with auxilia and medium cavalry on their right, and a mixed force on the left. Five victory points needed to win.

In the first game, Joe brought his medium cavalry up on my left flank; I attacked it with light cavalry and heavy chariots, and lost both units. He then pushed back my right, and brought up two heavy infantry to press the attack in the center; however, with a combination of a First Strike card and excellent dice, my one heavy unit destroyed both of his. My left advanced, pushing his forces back to the edge of the map, but his left did equally well; he finished my fifth unit and a general and won. I would have destroyed his fifth on the next turn, so it was a very close game. Score 6:4, Greeks. On the other board, Ryan and Dan also fought to a 5:4 Greek victory.

Second game had me facing Ryan. In a mirror image of the first game, the Syracusan left was pushed back. Meanwhile, their right swept their opponents from the field, then turned and took the Carthaginian center in the flank for a 5:3 Greek win. On the other board, Joe and Dan saw a 5:4 Carthaginian win.

After lunch we set up the Battle of Bagradas, featuring Carthaginian elephants.The Romans under Regulus only get 4 maneuver cards, while the Carthaginians under Xanthippus get 6--a significant advantage. As the Romans, I tried to put together a screen of light infantry to protect my main battle line, but Dan ran his pachyderms right in and did a fair amount of damage before my javelins finished them off. After that, we both were conservative about pulling back damaged units; Ryan and Joe had come to a 7:4 Carthaginian win well before our battle was halfway finished. My left and his right pushed back and forth, while my center stood around waiting for a Center Sector card to come up. The score stood at 5:2 (with 7 needed for a win, in this scenario) when I had to leave, and handed it over to Ryan to finish.

Joe said, and I agreed, that the C&C system works better for Ancients than for Napoleonics; due to the importance of firepower and the effects of firing ranges not being to scale, Napoleonics feels more abstracted, and you're not sure whether your unit is supposed to be a battalion, a regiment, a brigade, or what. Since teh ranges are a lot shorter in Ancients, the abreaction works better. I'm still not entirely happy with it--if you don't have an order card, you have no way to react to anything, and there are no zones of control to keep an enemy unit from waltzing between two of yours and on through--but it's easy to learn,  plays quickly, and definitely gives the feel of having more going on than you can control, and having to decide where to focus your efforts.

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