Recommend
76 
 Thumb up
 Hide
37 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Lost Battles» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Beer and Pretzels gaming rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Peter Bogdasarian
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Like many wargamers, I bought a copy of Phil Sabin's book at release, thumbed through it and put it on the shelf. Oh, I told myself I'd use some C&C Ancients pieces and try an actual battle, but that day never seemed to come around. Well, thanks to Fifth Column Games, I no longer need to wonder about the actual experience of using the mechanics he wrote about in such detail...

The box comes with a whole lot of material in it - a full color rulebook, seven counter sheets, a ton of terrain tiles and even a mounted board for the campaign scenario. It looks like an impressive amount of stuff on the tabletop and unlike many games with a ton of toys in the box, you can actually get the game up and running fairly quickly.

On the other hand, the actual synergy of the graphics here isn't the strongest. The units use the same green as the terrain tiles and there's not a lot of contrast between the unit types - it's actually somewhat difficult to read the fonts or to distinguish the units unless you're leaning over the table. The only distinction between the two sides is the font & background at one end of the pieces, which means they don't immediately "pop" when you look at the table. By our second game, I found myself craving pieces in a simple pink & blue with some old-fashioned PRESTAGS symbols to make everything easier to use.

The map tiles are, well, green and they're serviceable, but could use more contrast for some of the terrain features, especially the hills, which tend to fade into the background. They are also rather slippery and like to move around, necessitating either a cloth below or plexiglass above to help keep them in place.

Ok, so that's the bits, what about the game. Sabin's book spent six chapters breezily explaining the model, then walked through the battles. When I read it for the first time, I found myself completely and utterly confused, until I reached page 227 and realized the actual rulebook (rather than a breezy discourse sprinkled with rules references) was waiting for me there. Lost Battles has a proper rulebook in the box and Sabin's taken the opportunity to clarify a few of the more confusing points in the original document (the differences between phalangites and hoplites are much clearer now).

The game itself is a fairly abstract exercise, played on a 4 x 5 grid with the players spending command points, which are calculated by the current size of their army, their leaders (who have a certain # of points to use on their own area) and a random die roll. Units are not very maneuverable and are pretty much meant to go straight ahead - trying to shift them laterally requires a whole lot of commands.

Once units come together, you're rolling 2d6 and figuring out what modifiers you can bring it. There are a fair # of possible modifiers (I count 19) and for your first few combats, these seem daunting. There's even more to walk through when you start running across some of the exceptions (light cavalry cannot be the target of all out attacks... except when attacked by light infantry or light cavalry). However, after you run through a turn or two, it quickly becomes clear what modifiers will or will not apply and this process starts to speed up. There are no negative effects to combat except when you commit to all out attacks (which result from certain die rolls and are mandatory between hoplites but optional everywhere else (see what I'm talking about with the exceptions?), so it's in your interest to attack except insofar as you need to spend your command points elsewhere.

Things get more exciting when units shatter and are removed from the board. Lost Battles tackles that great problem of ancients games - sympathetic routs - and, this, I think, goes off pretty well. There are a range of modifiers which kick in as losses increase and a player's situation worsens which all have the effect of causing your boys to quit the fray early. Once you lose four or more units and start having a lot of spent pieces, your whole army can end up a roll or two away from disaster. This feels appropriate, though it comes at the cost of making comebacks rather difficult.

The other effect of shattering units is it drives down the enemy's fighting value. Fighting value isn't just the point size of your army, it's also how many commands you get. The more you lose, the less you can do. This is another weight on the chest of a player who is trying to fight his way back, as now he not only has fewer, more fragile units, but there's also less he can do with them.

So how does it come together? I'd say the sum is rather less than the 245 pages (counting through Appendix I) of the book might prepare players for...

See, if you use the historical deployments (which I think most of us will do, at least to start) then your plan is pretty much set for you. Got a large clump of veteran troops and a key zone on your right? Then you're going to want to hold that and to push forward there. Weak on the left? Well that's a problem because it will cost you rather more than you can afford to strengthen it, assuming you can even find the units to do so. Playing the game then becomes a matter of optimizing the efficiencies of your commands & units and rolling lots of dice to see what happens. Those 245 pages turn out to be a game which is more basic and straightforward than Commands & Colors: Ancients.

We knocked out two battles - Granicus and Paraitacene. Granicus is pretty obviously not balanced (74 Macedonian FV to 55 Persians). In our game, the Persians managed to take down one Macedonian veteran cav and could have bagged another if Alexander hadn't intervened to rally it (in a die roll which was the single most exciting roll of the game, insofar as a 2 would have killed him off). The rest of them were torn to shreds by the Conqueror's army, providing an easy object lesson in what happens when better led troops of higher quality attack an enemy army. It didn't help that I had to put heavy cavalry units forward and they are the most vulnerable units in the game...

I'd suggested Paraitacene so we got to try a "balanced" engagement (Eumenes with 73 FV against Antigonus with 70). I drove forward my right (which was strong), dug in on my left (which was weak) and extended my line to stress the flanks. Antigonus went forward on his right, advanced his center to meet mine and attacked me out on the flanks. He had a bad turn of die rolls, I didn't and once he hit four losses, the morale checks and the general decline in fighting value saw his army lose all momentum. Things kept getting worse for him and, when we got to eight units shattered, a morale check came up at a -1, and every unit not stacked with Antigonus quit the field at once, causing him to resign. Because of the way the die rolls had turned out, it was about every bit as brutal a beating for him as Granicus had been for me.

The system is designed to showcase a particular set of assumptions (more fighting value = more commands. veterans = more efficient, leaders = good thing) and it delivers, but I didn't really find that these abstractions mapped to anything of lasting insight.

For instance, Sabin mentions that one could try Granicus with Alexander as a "brilliant" leader rather than leaving him as "inspired" (as he is now). Well, if you go this route (we didn't), the only impact is Alexander can reverse the turn sequence so he gets the first turn after deployment, allowing him to strike first in the melee at the river line. The net effect is he takes fewer losses and scatters the Persians faster (unless your dice chose that moment to suck of course). I'm not sure what conclusions one could reasonably draw from running this experiment - flipping the turn sequence, while a nice benefit for Mr. Alexander T.G., doesn't "map" to anything when I read an account of Granicus.

I didn't learn anything about generalship from giving him this benefit. I don't think you could turn to your friend at the country club and say "last week's game of Granicus taught me that a brilliant leader can reverse even disadvantageous terrain through the insightful strategy of a frontal assault across a defended watercourse" and have him nod approvingly. And while being able to give one side or the other more or less men may be of some rough interest for those of a Delbruckian bent, the only real insight is probably that adding lots of levies to a force doesn't mean it will hold its ground any better (since they've got a chance of departing en masse once you lose 4 units). Adding units of better than levy quality gets really strange as it has the secondary benefit of giving a player more commands ("good thing the Persians at Granicus brought along those extra average units to raise their fighting value to a 61 - they got an extra command out of it").

So what is my verdict on Lost Battles? It's a drab, fairly abstract game, which often plays itself. It's short enough that it doesn't really overstay its welcome and once the processes & exceptions are absorbed, it's an easy game to run through. The exciting part is that at a certain point you get to watch an army crumble, which is entertaining for whoever is doing the kicking and rather less fun if you're the one getting the boot.
65 
 Thumb up
7.06
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Chapman
Australia
Norwood
SA
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ouch. Harsh. I'm currently in love with the game, but I gave you a thumbs up and can see where you are coming from with your last paragraph. I disagree about 'drab' though. The art is quite elegant in my book.

The sympathetic rout aspect of the game is great, I think, as alarming as it is to be on the side whose army evaporates. The speed of the game is also very appealing.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Donald Acker
China
Suzhou
Jiangsu
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I am looking forward to this as an alternative to DBX games and historical Warmaster. Your criticisms make sense, but I'm not sure if I'll think they're a problem or not. I guess there's only one way to see.

This review is really worthwhile; thanks!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Piero
Italy
Florence
flag msg tools
Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
badge
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review!
Have you tried with the non-historical deployment?
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andreas Lundin
Sweden
Lund
-
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like tour review, but you failed to mention the victory points and handicap system, which to me makes the game pretty much - combined with the not historical deployment rules.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Murray
United Kingdom
Driffield
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi Peter – thanks for the thoughtful review, it is always interesting to read another take on a game I am currently enjoying..

As with all games players mileage will vary. I purchased Lost Battles after a long break from ancient gaming – with only the occasional GBOH/miniatures game played over the last few years. I find Prof. Sabin's take on ancient warfare very interesting and thought provoking (not that I always agree with his analysis but he does justify his position very well). I have played the game around 25 times over the last month – both solo and face-to-face and have enjoyed all the games so far – often learning something new each game.

I agree that the army routing system is very good and is something that not all ancient games do very well.

One aspect of the game I have noticed is that the scripted nature of many of the historical set-ups suit solo play far more than face-to-face. I believe the game system was design for the deployment rules to be used as standard and that the historical set-ups were initially for illustrative purposes – at least this is what I think from reading the book. I can only echo Piero and suggest you try a battle using the deployment rules – these lead to a far more interesting and challenging face-to-face game. If you have the opportunity I would suggest you try a deployment battle at least once before deciding if the game is a keeper or not.

Andreas also made a good point regarding the handicap and victory conditions, with an inferior army you can still lose the battle and win the game – I find playing the weaker side in a deployment battle can be very challenging, trying to devise a strategy that will bring that elusive victory...

Thanks again for taking the time to write your review.
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sam faraci
Australia
melbourne
victoria
flag msg tools
Nice review,im still reading the rules and am really hoping to like the game but at the moment the rules seem very daunting and intimidating with what seems to be a lot of exceptions to certain rules and a lot of things to remember.In your review you say that its more straighforward and easier than commands and colors ancients and i hope your correct but from what i've read so far its confusing the crap out of me.
Anyway as i read on and get towards the end of the rulebook(not the paperback),i hope that it'll all come to me and wont seem so complicated.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Murray
United Kingdom
Driffield
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

Sam - we found the best way to learn the system is to set up a battle (or even just place a few counters on the board) and push counters around. We also only introduced a few unit types at a time as these have the most modifiers and exceptions - light infantry, light cavalry and elephants in particular.

Try choosing an battle with open terrain and few unit types - eg Marathon, and just read the modifiers needed for the unit types included. Ignore the deployment rules for now and use the historic deployment. At its heart Lost Battles is really a simple game, abet one covering a huge expanse of time.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Bogdasarian
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
TrotskyTrotsky wrote:
One aspect of the game I have noticed is that the scripted nature of many of the historical set-ups suit solo play far more than face-to-face. I believe the game system was design for the deployment rules to be used as standard and that the historical set-ups were initially for illustrative purposes – at least this is what I think from reading the book. I can only echo Piero and suggest you try a battle using the deployment rules – these lead to a far more interesting and challenging face-to-face game. If you have the opportunity I would suggest you try a deployment battle at least once before deciding if the game is a keeper or not.


Hi David,

I can see how the free deployment makes for a more interesting game, but since there's so little terrain, it really reduces the distinction between battles to the OOB. I'm also not in love with the fact that one side gets to see the other side's entire deployment before formulating its own plan - that wasn't all that typical in my reading of Ancient warfare. That said, it's probably worth doing at some point.

Quote:
Andreas also made a good point regarding the handicap and victory conditions, with an inferior army you can still lose the battle and win the game – I find playing the weaker side in a deployment battle can be very challenging, trying to devise a strategy that will bring that elusive victory...


I am a savage critic of the equality in the victory conditions in the C&C Ancients series so it's nice to see a game acknowledge the two sides are not equal (and I should have mentioned it), but in our games it didn't provide enough motivation for a player on the losing end of a sympathetic rout to drag the struggle out for a few more turns. The outcome is (hopefully) more balanced, but the experience isn't, if you follow me...

Thanks again for taking the time to write your review.
[/q]
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Bogdasarian
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
TrotskyTrotsky wrote:

Sam - we found the best way to learn the system is to set up a battle (or even just place a few counters on the board) and push counters around. We also only introduced a few unit types at a time as these have the most modifiers and exceptions - light infantry, light cavalry and elephants in particular.


David's right in that the systems on offer are easier to implement when you have counters spread out to narrow the range of situations and options on offer. Combat, in particular, is much easier when you're not trying to promise yourself you'll remember every exception to how the attack limits change and can look at counters & specific unit classes then reference the rulebook to see how it applies to them - one item the game got right in its graphic design is how it changes the orientation & width of the counters to make their respective widths easier to recall.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Murray
United Kingdom
Driffield
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Peter you don't have to deploy all your units in your first turn - although entering units does become more restrictive (unless surprised) in later turns.

That said your point still stands.

Maybe as a variant each player could sketch out their initial deployment before play and then move their units on to the board - possibly with a x2 command cost to change any planned deployment of units. This would give those inspired commanders time to modify slightly their deployment. Just initial thoughts but your comment was interesting and is making me think of other ways to produce more historically plausible deployments - our ultimate aim is to use Lost Battles to refight an umpired campaign of Alexander's against the Persians (using a homebrew campaign system - although I have yet to look at the Empire system that comes with Lost Battles).
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew C
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Oh crap.

Normally a review like this on a game I pre-ordered (but haven't yet received) wouldn't bother me, but this one does for two reasons:

1) The game is so freaking expensive
2) The review is extremely well written, with well thought out arguments that are convincingly made

Bravo on the review. And crap.

8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David
New Zealand
Auckland
flag msg tools
badge
May the Great Spirit Bless all who read this.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cleitus the Black wrote:
Oh crap.

Normally a review like this on a game I pre-ordered (but haven't yet received) wouldn't bother me, but this one does for two reasons:

1) The game is so freaking expensive
2) The review is extremely well written, with well thought out arguments that are convincingly made

Bravo on the review. And crap.

I wouldn't panic just yet. Although I have yet to play the game, the current ratings by players that have, tell a different story. (unless all those that dislike the game have decided not to rate it)
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew C
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I just watched a couple of video reviews and I'm feeling better. I think it will be fun to play the game first, then read the book to understand the rationale of the design decisions - like 300 pages of designer notes. And it happens to be on the topic that I have done the most research on myself. Still looking forward to it.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Timothy Bowden
Australia
Fountaindale
NSW
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I started reading the rules, then stopped and read the book first instead. It really helped me understand rules that had seemed annoying or inexplicable.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Reinhard Mueller
Germany
Gauting
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cleitus the Black wrote:
Oh crap.

Normally a review like this on a game I pre-ordered (but haven't yet received) wouldn't bother me, but this one does for two reasons:

1) The game is so freaking expensive
2) The review is extremely well written, with well thought out arguments that are convincingly made

Bravo on the review. And crap.


I would rather give it a chance and try it out myself. Calling the game "beer an pretzel" alone is completely off the mark imho.
If you do not use the deployment rules there is of course no way to experience that much generalship. The deployment was the most important aspect of the battle. If you play the historical deployment (which is also highly hypothetical as Sabin does not fail to point out) it's of course more a reenactment than a game (I think that the reenactment aspect is what tabletop gamers look for most - and that's the background of the game). Though it's a fun reenactment in my opinion.
It's also not true that the only substantial benefit of a brilliant general is turn reversal. If you don't like it, leave it out.
Turn reversal is just the abstraction of some brilliant moves by brilliant generals which are below the scope of the game ("grand tactical"). For example ambushes, feints, feigned retreats etc. What do you tell your friends at the country club about generalship from playing a hex and counter game? That you are a great general because you moved one more unit into the hex and got a shift on the CRT column?
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Reinhard Mueller
Germany
Gauting
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The whole package is much more than a game meant to be played competively. It's more like a comprehensive toolkit to tinker with, study alternative deployments, orders of battles, etc., even the rules invite to be tinkered with as the modifier system is easy to adjust. The whole system is so generic that it is easy to implement your own scenarios for any ancient battle you have a minimum of information. You also get all the background information from the book needed for doing so easily.
In my opinion it is exactly the opposite to a brainless "beer and pretzel" game but a game that invites you to play with instead of just playing it.
8 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Piero
Italy
Florence
flag msg tools
Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
badge
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The game may be quite simple for wargames' standards, but I don't know you, I play for the trill of it.
Lost Battles delivers a lot of tension, and that is each time I play. The battle of Cannae, for instance, where the Roman legions may well breach the centre or the Carthaginian cavalry may fail to break through in the flanks on time.
And what about the battle of Leucra, where the everything seems lost for the Thebans when, suddenly, the Spartan ranks collapse and flee the fields.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
flag msg tools
Airfix Rules anyone?
badge
Ashwin in front of Tiger 131
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I played it a couple of times and was a bit underwhelmed. The distinction in units is very slight and slightly puzzling. For example, archers count as heavy infantry and have no missile capacity. I gather from my opponent this is all explained by Sabin but it didn't make sense to me in the context of the game, which is where it counts.

I love ancient warfare but l don't think l will be getting this one. My opponent really liked it though so make of that what you will. What definitely got my vote was the campaign map. Would be great to see that in some other systems.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Scotland
Motherwell
Graduate of Barlinnie
flag msg tools
VENI, VIDI, VISA - my reaction on entering my FLGS.
badge
Like a good red wine, I improve with age... and being laid.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Peter,

Although I disagree wholeheartedly with your conclusions, I have thumbed and tipped your excellent and well-written review.

Regards,


Jim
Est. 1949

11 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
A.T. Selvaggio
United States
Webster
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with the balanced and thoughful review. The adjective "drab" captured my experience well. I can tell that much thought and effort has gone into this system. The production quality is very nice. The biggest issues for me were:

1. The rulebook is extensive for a relatively simple game. Yet, I did not find the rulebook all that helpful. The organization left a bit to be desired. I think of Combat Commander or Fighting Formations as the gold standard. I think a 12 page concise rulebook would do it.

2. The counters are great quality, but they are all green on green as noted in the review. I echo others who felt very little distinction between units both asthetically and in combat. I felt like I was always hitting on a 9 with modifiers.

3. The modifier system just seemed cumbersome, it turned me off like the melee combat in ABD. I am sure this would eventually become second nature, but it was off putting as I played.

4. In the end, the biggest thing for me is that I was not having fun playing the game. I felt like I was going through motions, doing math, working on an assembly line.

I think this is probably going to be a "love it or hate it" type of game that will appeal to a niche group of gamers who will connect with its mechanics and the tremendous research behind it. I see and respect their posts on this site. There will also be others like me who will find this game more work than fun.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Leo Zappa
United States
Aliquippa
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Peter, I want to thank you for the review. You have saved me a considerable amount of money, as I've now decided not to make this purchase. I know myself pretty well - I'm a competitive wargamer, not a contemplative one, and I do not like drab components. I'm also not a big fan of cumulative die roll modifiers as a means of battle differentation. It sounds like professor Sabin has produced a good package here, but I am not necessarily the target audience. I will stick with my Commands & Colors Ancients for my ancients gaming. I'm well aware of C&C:A's shortcomings but it is a great game for competitive gaming, has a lot of color, and is straightforward insofar as battle resolution is concerned.

Again, thanks!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
This is an honest review and well put together but I would hate for it to colour people's perception of the game before they've had a chance to try it for themselves (or, in some cases, even receive it).

As a disclaimer, I have played the game with miniatures for around six years and have had a small playtesting input latterly. I am a fairly experienced player and a great admirer of the game and of its author, so take that into account when reading what I have to say.

The reviewer here seems to have encountered the same issues I had when I first played the game. OK, the handicap system seemed like a good idea in theory, but really, where was the winning in losing? You lose on the field, you lose, was my thinking on the matter. We did the calculations, but only because my partner insisted. It turned out that the Carthaginians had won at Ilipa. How ridiculous! I thought. I'd been pretty much smashed.

And the modifiers. Interminable. I don't care who the lead unit is - just roll the bloody dice. OK, an 8. I get hit. It's just a dice fest. Who cares? All right, that's true; if I had put light cavalry in the lead instead of the heavy cavalry, it wouldn't have been a hit. But in the long run, what does it matter? It's just one hit, and it's all luck. While we're at it, what are these stupid 'combat bonuses'? You can spend command points to give a unit a +1 in attack? That sounds a bit forced, doesn't it? It represents the ability of a commander to focus attacks in certain areas? Whatever. They don't do this in Warhammer! And so it went on.

Six years later it's my favourite game. I play it solo, I play it with opponents, I play it to win, I play it for fun, I play it to get a better idea of what happened in particular historical battles and I play it because it has a magnificent clarity to it. It is comprised of wheels within wheels, with each component of the system vital to the integrity of the whole. The putting of that light cavalry unit in the lead rather than a heavy cavalry may in fact be the difference between winning and losing.

Yes, it is abstract, but it plays like the primary sources read. If you find them dull then perhaps you will find the game dull as well, but you can't complain about a lack of historicity. There are more involved games, but this does not try to take the interactions to a level that the sources do not support. Read Caesar's account of Pharsalus and then play the game. You will find you are thinking in the same scale and watching things unfold at the same level. Read Polybius' account of Cannae; Livy's too: no other set of rules will allow you to play out this most famous of battles with the accuracy that Lost Battles will, and no other system will make a real game of it, as this system, played as it's meant to be played, handicap system and all, can. You will find more complex games, but I have not found any as satisfying in its trueness to history. You need no special rules, you need no 'idiocy constraints' - Varro's plan to crash through the centre turns out to be about the best chance the Romans had. Think you can do better? Play with the free deployment option and see.

This is the kind of thing you learn through Lost Battles: you learn about the movements, the manoeuvres and the moments of decision that made up an ancient battle. You see on what small things great events turn. Sure, we're rolling dice, but you can feel the dust, see the confusion and hear the clash of arms.

Lost Battles is immersive, complete and - most important - entirely plausible in its results. It is the tightest wound, most perfectly contructed game engine I have seen, and after six years of play it still blows me away how good it is. As others have mentioned above, it's not only a game but it's also a toolkit. It includes 35 battles (36 I think including Kadesh), but you can use it to recreate any battle of the era that gives you enough info to work with.

If you join the yahoo group you'll find there are at least a dozen more battles in the files section, and more in the posts, which demonstrate the flexibility and range of the system.

Lost Battles is not a game in which you give up or resign because you are losing. The losing side should lose. You play it out to the end, and then you tally up the victory points. The challenge is to do better than the historical participants, and if you can win the field when you are overmatched then it's something to remember.

For all his good intentions, the author of this review has simply made the same mistakes I did. You have to give it some time to sink in, and you have to play it as it's supposed to be played. Leave anything out, dismiss any element as pointless and you the throw the whole system out of kilter.

It would not be fair of me to fail to mention what is for some people a downside: the game relies on dice and so the variation that the dice bring in will not suit everyone. It is also a game that takes time to learn, and you will find as you switch between eras and weapons systems you have to change the way you play, and relearn certain aspects of the game.

Finally, for me as an ancients enthusiast (and a far greater one since I began playing this) the game is an absolute gem. Nothing is superfluous and everything is there for a reason. There are no errata in Lost Battles, and this alone should tell you how much thought and refinement has gone into it. Those interminable modifiers, the seemingly pointless handicap system, and those irritating exceptions are what turn Lost Battles into a study in command, a clash of weapons systems, a clash of cultures and an interactive portrayal of ancient warfare that, if you are anything like me, you will think about long after the game is over. And for those worried, it's far from beer and pretzels and there is plenty of game there once you know how to see it.

Anyway, for any who may still be reading, I'll link to a couple of battle reports for those who would like to see how the game plays (but with miniatures, and with the zones demarked in such a way that you can't see them on-table).

Asculum: http://prufrockian-gleanings.blogspot.com/2011/01/asculum-oh...

Heraclea (a user-made scenario):
http://prufrockian-gleanings.blogspot.com/2011/02/heraclea.h...



  • [+] Dice rolls
Piero
Italy
Florence
flag msg tools
Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
badge
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Aaron, as usual a very good read! thumbsup
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nigel Wright
United Kingdom
Nottingham
England
flag msg tools
Hornet Leader - Carrier Air Operations
badge
Herge's Adventures of Tintin!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
butterbur wrote:
This is an honest review and well put together but I would hate for it to colour people's perception of the game before they've had a chance to try it for themselves (or, in some cases, even receive it).

...

Anyway, for any who may still be reading, I'll link to a couple of battle reports for those who would like to see how the game plays (but with miniatures, and with the zones demarked in such a way that you can't see them on-table).

Asculum: http://prufrockian-gleanings.blogspot.com/2011/01/asculum-oh...

Heraclea (a user-made scenario):
http://prufrockian-gleanings.blogspot.com/2011/02/heraclea.h...


An excellent post and two most excellent links!

I'm now happy to give this thread a thumbsup despite the frankly ill conceived title.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
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.