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8 considerations behind choice of game symbols for Hannibal. RvC.

This is a copy of my blog entry at http://someonehadtowriteaboutit.com/, which, I think is easier to read and usually has more graphics.

When we've acquired rights to Hannibal. Rome vs Carthage, we were put in the position where the game had to be given a new look. That was the reality if we wanted to project to kick off at all. I bet you read between the lines you may come up with at least a couple of reasons for such a decision. But we are not discussing this now.

Let me put it straight. We embrace the change but don't make to Hannibal without a reason. We tend to consider several options before we adopt a solution. There is usually a heated discussion within the Company as to what and how to do. It is quite ironic, that the game is going to print for the third time and for a third time it sees a major graphical overhaul. But that's how cookie crumbles.

I want to shed some light over the decision behind the choice of symbols for both sides of the conflict. Let's start with the Rome.


1. Why not an eagle?
Both earlier versions of the game employed aquila - the Roman Eagle. See here. You may read more about aquila at http://bit.ly/1CLwpLn. It wasn't our only source of information but you may get some general understanding there. In essence, use of aquila would be a-historical. It only became 'the' Roman sign maybe 100 years after the Second Punic Wars. So, eagle sat on the bench and we were looking for a more prominent player, if you follow my football terminology.


2. What, if not an eagle?
There were few other symbols used by Roman legions as their 'mascots' in the times of Punic Wars (I came across this term on the internet,found it funny and I think this triggered my football thinking). Apart from the eagle, the Romans fought under the boar, horse, minotaur and wolf. We've quickly discarded boar as it used to be associated with the Gauls, and horse, which was one of symbols used by Punic Carthaginians (see below). Minotaur was all wrong, as its association with Crete and Theseus was even more obvious. We were left with the eagle (again) and the wolf. And Gruffalo. But that wasn't an option.


3. Wolf was cool.
Who doesn't know about the she-wolf, who fed Remus and Regulus? Well, if you don't you may need to do some reading. We'd rather assume you know. But we didn't want a she-wolf. That would be a Mother. And we meant war.
And then we came across this one: http://bit.ly/1ZmhOkH which nailed it on the head: wolf was so Roman and Romans were so wolves. Read the comment under the picture, it tells it all. Then Piotr worked on the graphic and make the symbol clearer, removing some parts of it which would be a no-to in puritan societies.

So, first mistery solved. Romans will be marked with wolves. Carthage now.


4. Qart-ḥadašt
The problem with anything Carthaginian is that rarely anything still exist. Both the city and the culture have been removed from the Earth. The Romans have built another city on the ground once occupied by Carthage. Excavations didn't show much, Punic books (if there were any) did not survived. The history was written by the victorious Romans. It is through their books we learn about Carthage. Now go and read a book on Second World War by Soviet historians and you see the point.


5. Tanit and Baal.
What we know about Phoenicians (and Punic Carthaginians) is that they paid tribute to Baal Hammon and Tanit. Their symbols are often used when Carthaginian shields are painted. See this: http://bit.ly/1n1xjmq. We were not sure, we want to use them in the game. It would be a major departure from what earlier editions offered.


6. Wild horses.
In HRC (Hannibal. Rome vs Carthage) by Avalon Hill the Carthaginian player uses counters marked with either a pegasus. Valley Games, in the second edition, proposed a horse and a palm. During the research, we have come across both of those symbols. And couple of other animal symbols: a lion and an elephant. Apparently, Carthaginians were using them on their coins! So, someone has already visited an idea of using symbols from the coins! (google Carthaginian coins, some of the are of just striking beauty). If you consult the VG game map, you can even see them printed there. Pegasus, horse, lion and elephant.


7. Hamilcar and Hannibal
Hannibal was son of Hamilcar Barca. Another members of Barca family were Hasdrubal and Mago. Hanno was Hamilcar's grandson. These are four of the five Carthaginian leaders in HRC. Hamilcar is getting his own treatment, a separate game, which we will put in the same box.


8. There.
Barcid Family, who was a driving factor behind Punic colonization of Spain, used there to issue their own coin. The animal represented on the coin was... an elephant! What a story to tell! It was like if a prophecy. The same elephants, which helped to create Hannibal's legend and which failed charge was a nail to Punic coffin at Zama...

Look at this beauty: http://bit.ly/1PtrLrm

A wolf. An elephant. What an unbalanced but exciting encounter.


Thank you and happy gaming!


Jaro
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