Michael Sosa
United States
Newark
Delaware
flag msg tools
badge
I will break him.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


Hannibal: Rome and Carthage in the Second Punic War is a card assisted game published many years ago by a now defunct game company. It is quite different from the most popular game on this topic, the card driven (CDG) Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. This one is more traditional rolling of attack dice and sieging of cities, while the CDG has an area influence element and a simpler combat system. The CDG Hannibal is one of my all time favorite games; Hannibal: Rome and Carthage I find interesting but flawed.

My opinion on this game is based on several plays or attempted plays. We did not finish any of our matches. Game takes 3-5 hours to complete barring an auto win due to frequent siege battles and play of option cards. The cards are outdated small business cards which lack the space to describe the events, requiring frequent rule reading until you've memorized them! You also need mini card protectors as they are quite flimsy. As this is an older title one can forgive these things.

Most of the action in the game revolves around Hannibal attempting to win allies in Italy via conquest and politics (one un-garrisoned city flips when another one is taken). Gaul, Spain, Africa, and Sicily / Syracuse are also represented but the victory conditions keeps most of the action in Italy. One important objective of Hannibal is to take Eastern Italy which triggers the Macedonian alliance and a significant Greek army under Phillip (historically Phillip never made it into Italy). Also at 210 BC Syracuse will declare for Carthage and bring into play another army.

Carthage has to sack Rome to win, while Rome can win by killing Hannibal, sacking Carthage, or keeping Rome from being sacked. So the Carthaginian strategy has to be to weaken Rome by taking her allies (historical) and finally assaulting Rome at some point (a historical possibility but not Hannibal's main strategy). Rome then must concentrate major forces in its capital to prevent a surprise assault by Hannibal (who has many force marches available) while slowing the Carthaginian advance. The singularity of the Carthaginian objective makes for a less interesting game compared to say the CDG Hannibal, in which a political victory is possible if sufficient Roman allies switch sides (Hannibal's historical objective).

This game also has a Senate resolution die roll for each side which allows invasions and or reinforcements of map areas. This is historical (Hannibal did not receive significant reinforcements from Carthage due to, among other things, political disputes) but can be frustrating. Fortunately the option cards have die roll modifiers applicable after you roll to help you influence the Senate decisions. I do enjoy this aspect of the game.

The optional rules available are interesting and thematic, such as the Gauls being eliminated on a rout result, or Hasdrubal moving between Spain and Gaul without needing Senate approval (this happened historically but his army was killed at the battle of Metarus). The optional rule of being allowed to bring in Macedon by either controlling all of Eastern Italy or 6 major cities is also a good one. I recommend playing with all of them except the Hannibal extended march- which normally requires a card play and there are quite a few of those cards.

However my enjoyment of Hannibal was marred by the many rule issues that came up. Partly due to the rule book being poorly organized and partly because it fails to answer many questions. Clearly the game needs an FAQ but as it is an older game without a dedicated following one is not available. I could see someone picking up this title for a reprint, improving the graphics and especially the option cards, and working on clarifying and modifying some of the rules.

For example, here is a confusing rule passage: "Spain and Gaul: A player may move by sea between Spain and Italy, and between Spain and Africa. Only land movement is allowed between Spain and Gaul, and between Italy and Gaul."

The paragraph continues to discuss movement between the provinces when it would have been clearer to discuss movement into and out of Spain separately from movement in Gaul, separately from Italy, etc. even if it required some duplication. Joining everything in one paragraph requires you to read it many times to make any sense of it.

Worse however is the many rule question my friend and I had as we tried to play.

1. When are option cards playable? There is a good variety of them and I enjoyed using recruit cards when Rome was trying to retake cities but is that legal? Our preliminary decision was allowing them to be played at any time.

2. Do you recruit in Rome and Carthage normally at the end of turn or only at the beginning with the Senate die roll? We think only with the Senate roll.

3. How does damage to units in combat work? Turns out that units are eliminated when they take any damage but can take up to their defensive value. This is not a common way of assigning damage in games. We couldn't figure it out until someone answered it for us!

4. When attacking a border city in order to avoid attrition when moving to a zone do you then have to move to the zone? We decided that you could stay in the border city, since moving to a zone could mean automatic interception.

5. Are armies that are sieging considered at the city or in the zone for purposes of interception? (we think city, so apparently they cannot intercept)

6. Can a besieged army sally to assist a force attempting to relieve a siege? (don't know about this, it could tip the game against Hannibal since the Romans tend to stack some key cities with large consular armies. A relieving force attacking in combination with a besieged force could be unbalanced).

7. Can a force in a zone intercept an army relieving the siege of a border city? (it cannot intercept the siege of a border city, so probably not. This creates serious problems for Hannibal's conquest)

8. Can friendly armies (Macedonians, Carthaginians, Syracusians) combine or cooperate, such as sieging the same city, or defending together if attacked? (probably yes but each general has to move separately since the troops cannot be led by another).

9. Does it cause an action to attack or can you attack all enemies (cities, armies) in a province once you move in? At first we played that every general could only do one action and when moving you could attack everyone in your current province and everyone in your next province as well. But this would result in Hannibal often taking all of Eastern Italy on turn 1 and bringing in Macedon quickly into the war. When we switched to spending one action to move and one action per attack, the game appeared to play better.

10. Are +1 combat modifiers cumulative? Some units are elite and some battle situations (sieges, superior generals) allow +1 modifiers to be assigned. This one could go either way and we ended up saying it was not cumulative, otherwise some Carthaginian units would hit on 4-5-6 in most field battles due to Hannibal. With the victory conditions as written maybe you need that to have a chance!

I believe all of these issues could be answered by someone who dedicated himself to the game but sadly my friend and I decided to move on.
13 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bart Grubben
Belgium
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Good review. If the issues you mentioned were resolved, would the game hold enough interest to play instead of the magnificent Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Sosa
United States
Newark
Delaware
flag msg tools
badge
I will break him.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My thoughts while playing is that both games are sufficiently different so that if Hannibal's rule problems were corrected one could own both. However the CDG Hannibal I find a clearly superior due to the more interesting decisions. With the said, folks who don't like CDGs could favor the grittier Hannibal. Is is just that the game needs little more work.

I gave some thought to an additional Carthage victory condition similar to the CDG Hannibal: having a majority of the provinces (including Gaul, Spain, Syracuse, and Africa) under control when the game ends. Theoretically that could work but it would require play testing, along with solutions to some of the other rule problems.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Max Bogatov
Russia
Moscow
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I have played in PC version of this game. I liked it very much as game, but I didn`t like it as computer realisation. It was beautiful but "user-not-frendly". My review (sorry, in Russian) here: http://boardwars.forum24.ru/?1-7-0-00000008-000-0-0#003
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Sosa
United States
Newark
Delaware
flag msg tools
badge
I will break him.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I did not know there was a computer version! So there must be a solution to the rule questions then, and one that works if they made a computer game out of it.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Borgelin
United Kingdom
Bath
Somerset
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Really excellent review of this under appreciated game. I totally agree that it has difficulties especially in the wording of the rules. I have misplayed this game so many times and the confusion over where you can go, by whom and when, always give me problems. However, I do really like this game and I wish it got more love. I think it is very playable but I do think it is very hard for Carthage to win...not impossible just hard!

Below I have input my take on your questions...just my take on how I have or would play the circumstances you outline. I think you should give the game another play at some point...more people need to play this game!

Quote:
However my enjoyment of Hannibal was marred by the many rule issues that came up. Partly due to the rule book being poorly organized and partly because it fails to answer many questions. Clearly the game needs an FAQ but as it is an older game without a dedicated following one is not available. I could see someone picking up this title for a reprint, improving the graphics and especially the option cards, and working on clarifying and modifying some of the rules.

For example, here is a confusing rule passage: "Spain and Gaul: A player may move by sea between Spain and Italy, and between Spain and Africa. Only land movement is allowed between Spain and Gaul, and between Italy and Gaul."

This just means Gaul is landlocked and the only way you can move between each place and Gaul is by land whereas you can move by sea between Spain and Italy and Spain and Africa, as well as by land between Spain and Liguria and Spain and Numidia

The paragraph continues to discuss movement between the provinces when it would have been clearer to discuss movement into and out of Spain separately from movement in Gaul, separately from Italy, etc. even if it required some duplication. Joining everything in one paragraph requires you to read it many times to make any sense of it.

Worse however is the many rule question my friend and I had as we tried to play.

1. When are option cards playable? There is a good variety of them and I enjoyed using recruit cards when Rome was trying to retake cities but is that legal? Our preliminary decision was allowing them to be played at any time.

This is a tricky one and it is not really addressed in the rules. So e cards are mentioned which give the timing but most aren't. There are some cards which appear to be counter cards so the idea that they can be played when you want out of turn seems possible. Haven't really resolved this one fully myself yet.

2. Do you recruit in Rome and Carthage normally at the end of turn or only at the beginning with the Senate die roll? We think only with the Senate roll.

I think you only get units in the Major and minor cities in the recruitment phase. I think you get the Senate given forces in Carthage and Rome only at the beginning of each players turn. There is the odd statement about not receiving reinforcements in a besieged Rome or Carthage but, I don't think this changes the spirit of the above.


3. How does damage to units in combat work? Turns out that units are eliminated when they take any damage but can take up to their defensive value. This is not a common way of assigning damage in games. We couldn't figure it out until someone answered it for us!

Agreed that's how I have always played it. Just need to keep a note of how many routs and how many hits you achieve and then the owner of the units decides how best to take account of those losses. Sometimes this means taking more damage than that strictly rolled as the results are a minimum of damage taken.


4. When attacking a border city in order to avoid attrition when moving to a zone do you then have to move to the zone? We decided that you could stay in the border city, since moving to a zone could mean automatic interception.

I have always played it this way too. I have stopped in the border city having taken it and I have not moved on into the next zone. This is by far the most effective measure in stopping or limiting the ability of Carthage getting the five eastern cities as Rome can nearly always take on back when it is her turn so that Carthage never keeps the five cities by the time of her next turn. It can be done but it certainly much, much harder for Carthage to achieve!

5. Are armies that are sieging considered at the city or in the zone for purposes of interception? (we think city, so apparently they cannot intercept)

I would think that they are in the zone and are perfectly able to do both tasks, lay siege to a town but also be available to intercept a force moving into the zone itself. Having such a force besieging a town almost forces the opponent to accept the interception to try and break the siege.


6. Can a besieged army sally to assist a force attempting to relieve a siege? (don't know about this, it could tip the game against Hannibal since the Romans tend to stack some key cities with large consular armies. A relieving force attacking in combination with a besieged force could be unbalanced).

A force being besieged can Sally out from a town and fight the besieged in their part of the turn. I don't think they can join up in an attack as the activation is only for one leader at a time. There is nothing stopping a force sallying out doing some damage to the besieged, retreating back into the confines of the town and then a relief force activated and comes in to finish the job!


7. Can a force in a zone intercept an army relieving the siege of a border city? (it cannot intercept the siege of a border city, so probably not. This creates serious problems for Hannibal's conquest)

Don't know about this one, will have to have a think about it.

8. Can friendly armies (Macedonians, Carthaginians, Syracusians) combine or cooperate, such as sieging the same city, or defending together if attacked? (probably yes but each general has to move separately since the troops cannot be led by another).

I think as long as they are all led by Hannibal it is allowed otherwise they can only be commanded by their respective leaders and once again leader activation is one at a time and you can't have two separate leaders activate at the same time. One is activated, does his stuff ends his activation, then another starts!

9. Does it cause an action to attack or can you attack all enemies (cities, armies) in a province once you move in? At first we played that every general could only do one action and when moving you could attack everyone in your current province and everyone in your next province as well. But this would result in Hannibal often taking all of Eastern Italy on turn 1 and bringing in Macedon quickly into the war. When we switched to spending one action to move and one action per attack, the game appeared to play better.

I have always played it the way you first played it under Land Movement on page 2 of the rules it says...
..he may attack any or all enemy forces in the zone he is in. He may, but need not, move to any adjacent zone and attack any or all enemy units in that zone. At the end of a leaders action phase he may either disperse or concentrate in the zone he is in.
Seems to cover your first method of play perfectly!


10. Are +1 combat modifiers cumulative? Some units are elite and some battle situations (sieges, superior generals) allow +1 modifiers to be assigned. This one could go either way and we ended up saying it was not cumulative, otherwise some Carthaginian units would hit on 4-5-6 in most field battles due to Hannibal. With the victory conditions as written maybe you need that to have a chance!

I play them as being cumulative!

I believe all of these issues could be answered by someone who dedicated himself to the game but sadly my friend and I decided to move on.


9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ir. Marcel
Netherlands
Meteren
Gelderland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you for your review,
I bought this game up recently, but did not play it yet. I was actually looking for the "famous" Hannibal game on-line, but then found a copy of this available. There was (at that time) not much information available on BGG, but I found it interesting enough to pick it up.
Now with your review at least there is some more information available and I find it very useful that you addressed some rule-issues. I am hoping to play the game soon and hope that in the mean while that some more rule clarification are coming up.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Reinhard S.
Germany
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Karel wrote:
Good review. If the issues you mentioned were resolved, would the game hold enough interest to play instead of the magnificent Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage?


Yes, definitely
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.