Monday, 18 May 2015

Playing 'Commands & Colours. Ancients'

Another board game weekend :D

My mate brought over another Rome vs. Carthage game, 'Commands & Colors. Ancients' (well, you should have guessed that by the title!) and we played the battle of Zama:

He's the Roman, I'm the Carthaginian
First thing you notice is that there are no minis nor cards, just wooden tokens with stickers. The reference rules are just in a tiny booklet. Believe me, this game is easy to play.

Roman movies music just to make this a little bit more atmospherical :D (Had to improvise!)
The game follows the 'order cards' system (I've already talk about this in games such as Memoir '44 or Battles of Westeros, for example). You have a number of cards that allow you to command a number of units. You may give order to flanks or the center of the field, and to different kinds of units (light/medium/heavy infantry or medium/heavy cavalry). Depending on your cards, your advances or charges will be more witty or powerful. That's up to the cards you get and how you play them!

Romans advance and Carthaginians try to repel their attack
The battle itself also follows the same procedure, you roll the dice (determined by the type of unit) and that determines the kind of unit you can harm. Green is for light units, blue for medium, red for heavy units and purple for commanders:

Carthaginian infantry throw javelins and kill a Roman light cavalry unit (the green die)
Romans gave a general advance command to their army:

Impressive, yikes!
Carthaginians counter attack on the other flank
And they inflict some casualties
But the elephants got disbanded!
Elephants are tricky. They are incredibly powerful weapons, but you have to be careful, as they may get real scared! If that's the case, you better don't have too many allied units with them, as they may get stomped in the stampede!! Ouch!

Romans put some pressure on the flank...
...and they break the line!
General overview

Carthaginians try to take the initiative back...
...and force General Publius Aelius to fall back to other position
 As it tends to happen in these games, the cards you get mean almost everything. The rest is how you play them! If you happen to get a fair number of units to the enemy's flank, you got the initiative for the battle and will force your opponent to fight desperately to retaliate and focu in repelling you rather than being busy leading a charge to your own positions!

Romans made a forceful advance while Carthaginians just struggled to hold the line
Here it comes a tasty fight...
Romans got disbanded this time!
You'll see what I told about cards. Some of them are just as epic as devastating! Romans got this one:

You know, we'll fight in the shade, blah blah.
F*&%ing nonsense, they massacred my elephants
And then f*&%ing Scipio moved all his people onwards
Somehow the Romans managed to make the elephants fall back... smashing some of other poor fellas in the stampede until they died too. This was the appaling result:

Battle looked pretty much decided, but we decided to keep on fighting anyway, just for the show :D

Carthaginians focused on recovering the centre of the field
We could say they focused hard on keeping at least their deployement zone. Part of it
So all the fight was about the very extinction of the Carthaginian army
Epic moment! Hannibal faces Scipio!
You see, two out of my four cards are 'order three units right'. Yeah, move three units from my right flank.The one without units.
 At some point we simply had to stop. The Roman victory was more than incontestable. Nothing else to say, nothing but Carthago delenda est!

The casualties. I foresee quite fat vultures in the area...
That was it, a very simple game. Ten minutes top to deploy & learn the core rules, and then it's all about using your cards wisely. In this game the Romans had quite interesting cards and my mate clearly used them quite well. It was really dynamic and quick, a forth and back series of encounters that really added a lot of flavour to the greater battle. Once again, the kind of game I need for a nice evening with a couple of beers with friends. Not particularly difficult to replace the tokens with minis if that's what you are thinking (of course that's what I always think of when I see tokens!), as the units are quite distinctive and you only have to look for proper bases. Maybe one day...


  1. I used to love the old hexagon turn-based World War 2 computer games of old but I must say I have no experience of such games on the tabletop.

    1. The system is nice, it's not that different from those games :) It's really adequate for newbies or for any kind of quick game. You can find more elaborate rulesets, but this one fulfils its purpose :)