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Gerald Gan
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Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, is a game that has most recently published by Valley Games (there have been other versions of the game), and is a two-player card driven wargame about Hannibal's (the Carthaginians) assault of Italy and Rome's subsequent reactions. Its a card driven wargame, patterned from Mark Herman's "We The People".

A game takes about ninety to one hundred eighty minutes to complete (maybe a bit more for new players who're just starting to learn the system), but every second of the game is a tense affair, and everything comes together to tell a wonderful story.

COMPONENTS:
Valley Games did a wonderful job with the components of this game. The board itself is sturdy, colorful and informative (except for a misprint or two). During setup, you assemble the board, a la jigsaw puzzle (there're eight total pieces) as opposed to the traditional fold-and-stow board. This allows for a flatter and smoother playing area, and also solves any problems of discoloration on "jointed" or folding areas in regular mounted boards.

I specially like how they placed a section for each leader on the board, and you can stack their units on their alloted section so you won't have multiple stacks clogging up the board.

The only gripe I have with the board is that its hard to segregate each section of Italy as the colors they used kinda blended together. That, and the minor typographical error on attrition when crossing a pass.

The cards are a bit above average, with just the right amount of text and uses a nice blend of colors. The counters used are quite thick. The combat unit counters are unique for each side, and the artwork used for weaker units vary from stronger units. The wooden dice are a little too light for my taste, but since I have ample dice lying around, they're easily substituted.

Overall, beautifully produced components for an equally wonderful game.

GAMEPLAY:
After setting up the game (instructions, which are a breeze, are located in the front of the rulebook or player aid), the players then take turns alternately playing a card from their hands. The hand size is determined by what year it is (it increases as time goes by) and the round (or year) ends when both players are out of cards.

A card, can be used in one of three ways. You can use it as an event, where you basically just do what's written on the card. These events allow you to "break some rules" as it were, giving an advantage to a particular side. The Carthaginians can only play "blue" events and the Romans can only play "red" events. You can also use the card for its operation value or OPS (yes, I realize its called command points if you want to be a stickler, but since its called many names thru many games, I just use OPS as a general term when referring to it). You can use the OPS to place or flip political control markers, or you can use a card with an operation value of three to reinforce your general/army, or you can use it to activate a general which allows him to move. If a general should ever occupy the same space as an opposing general, combat then ensues, which leads to the final way to use a card. The last way a card can be used is as a combat card, which gives you bonuses during combat.

Combat is resolved by playing battle cards. Each general is awarded a certain number of battle cards according to the number of troops they have, their combat rating and where they are currently at. Each player is then given an option of playing a combat card (starting with the attacking player) that may or may not augment their battle capabilities. Afterwards, the attacking player begins by laying down a battle card which the defending player has to match. Upon doing so, the defending player then rolls a dice to see if he/she can take initiative. If successful, the defending player then becomes the attacking player and vice versa. Battle continues this way until one side is unable the match a battle card that was played. Casualties are then calculated (though both sides will lose a certain number of units) and political markers are removed from the losing side depending on the number of units they lost. Its a little bit more complicated than that (you have to do the calculations for the losses on both tables and the total number of political control markers that are removed), but that's the gist of it.

After all cards are played, both players check for attrition and remove any isolated political control markers. Reinforcements are brought in after advancing the turn track, cards are dealt and the turn starts anew.

COMPARING IT TO OTHER SIMILAR GAMES:
As I previously stated, Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage was born from the "We the People" system created by Mark Herman. The use of OPS and events and combat cards are rampant in most card driven games. What makes Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage standout for me is how despite its more simplistic design, it gives me a greater sense of satisfaction after completing a game.

Yes, Washington's War uses a similar system where you flip and add political control markers (though it uses dice instead of battle cards for combat resolution) and yes, Pursuit of Glory also allows you to use your cards as historical events to tell a good narrative (though the cards in Pursuit of Glory has more uses compared to Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage), but for me, Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage still comes out as the better game. It all boils down to whether you love or hate the battle card system (I love it). If you dislike the battle card system, then you're better off playing Washington's War.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
If you like card driven games, and you've never tried Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, drop whatever it is you're doing right now and go get a copy. You won't regret it. If you like wargames in general, at the very least give this game a try... it might surprise you. If you're a euro player looking for a new introduction to wargaming, you couldn't find a better spot to jump in with both feet.

I have played a fair number of card driven games (and this bears repeating so forgive me), but Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage remains my favorite. Its elegance, simplicity and relatively decent game time makes it the cream of the crop even after all these years. I don't care whether I'm winning or I'm losing (though of course I'd prefer the former), as long as I'm playing. Grab (or try) a copy.


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Oliver Paul
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
Thanks for the review of a great game! One question I have though...

Raiyfe wrote:
The board itself is sturdy, colorful and informative (except for a misprint or two).


What misprints are those?
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Oliver Paul
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
Wow, didn't know that... and I've played the game a few times
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Russ Williams
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
aaxiom wrote:
1. Under die roll modifiers it says "-1 if crossing a non-Alps pass". The "-1" should be -2.

Cheesy user fix:


out to lunch wrote:
Macedonia spelt Macadonia

By golly! Fairly visible in the lower right of this photo at largest size:
http://boardgamegeek.com/image/527376/hannibal-rome-vs-carth...
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Seth Gunar
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
I thought it was Macadamia - as in the nuts.
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Andy Andersen
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
If only I could get my wife interested in this game.
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Russ Williams
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
Orangemoose wrote:
If only I could get my wife interested in this game.

Does she like Macadamia nuts? Maybe that would work...
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Mike Brewer
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
Quote:
Yes, Washington's War uses a similar system where you flip and add political control markers (though it uses dice instead of battle cards for combat resolution) and yes, Pursuit of Glory also allows you to use your cards as historical events to tell a good narrative (though the cards in Pursuit of Glory has more uses compared to Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage), but for me, Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage still comes out as the better game. It all boils down to whether you love or hate the battle card system (I love it). If you dislike the battle card system, then you're better off playing Washington's War.


I dislike the battle card system: it takes too long and doesn't do anything for me over a die roll. But I still prefer Hannibal to WW by some margin, mostly because it requires more advanced hand/card management: there is more potential for interesting card interactions in Hannibal, and much more scope for clever timing of moves/card play combos. I think this makes it a lot more tense than WW. The flip side is that WW is more accessible to newb.

Mike
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Russ Williams
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
out to lunch wrote:
As to how counting cards relates to actual battle tactics I'm a bit sceptical however.

In fairness, can't you make the same sort of dismissive argument about the strategic card deck? "Cool, now I know Syracuse can't revolt before the next reshuffle." How does that relate to actual campaign strategy?
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Richard Young
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
I dislike the battle cards for the same reasons (among others); but, as regards the strategy cards, I think they trigger the sort of strategic thinking that goes on during the "game of nations."

Generally, the "Ops" value can be viewed as having a military or an economic function (orders to a General to move an army, or directing the economy to recruit, equip and train fresh troops). When it comes to placing PC markers using the "Ops" value we move into the political or diplomatic realm. The "event" on the card is normally the effect, or result, of political or diplomatic activity as well but of a more specific nature. Some unique cards (combat cards) differ from this model but only slightly.

What this does is make you consider: what are my priorities right now? It creates the tension caused by having to pay attention to the tools of statecraft: Diplomatic, Economic, and Military power. All serve the interests of the state but in differing ways and they are all important. As you consider a card play you are constantly having to consider what your priorities are. Do I need to engage militarily (Ops)? Or, do I desperately need more troops (Ops)?. Or, is the political/diplomatic thrust more important or effective in achieving my goals (Ops or event). How do the tools (cards) I currently possess play together most effectively?

Each hand of cards is assessed this way and is the game's way of reflecting the process that goes on within a national headquarters between the various advisors (something like the advisors that used to bug you when playing Sid Meier's Civilization on the computer) demanding a decision from you as the leader.

Sometimes the answer to a card play is easy and obvious but not as often as we'd prefer it to be and is why I find card-driven games so engaging, and Hannibal is one of the best (despite the battle cards).
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Glenn McMaster
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Re: I Don't Care Who Wins, as Long as I'm Playing
Quote:
I don't like it as a game mechanic but some people have explained to me that this is a fair reflection of how random and unpredictable battles were in those days.


If battles were so random then one would think that at some point in his 15 (or so) battles in Italy, Hannibal would have been crushed by bad luck. The battle card mechanic I don't mind, but it strikes me as being underdeveloped for the theme it was placed in.
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James
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Raiyfe wrote:
Its elegance, simplicity ...


I just completed my first game late last night (OK, 2am...). I'll give you that it is simple among Card-Driven War Games, but I would not call it elegant.
For example, walled cities induce a high number of exceptions and special rules.
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Dominika Gorgosz
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I hope you will also enjoy the new, 20th Anniversary Edition!
Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage is on the list of the most anticipated games of 2017. Please help us to push it to the final 20!
https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/217265/item/5034496#item5...
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