Review – Battleground Historical Warfare: Second Punic War 218-201 from Your Move Games
Designers – Robert Dougherty and Chad Ellis
note – Thanks to Your Move Games for providing a copy of this game for review purposes
I’ve always had a fascination for toy soldiers from a very young age. As a kid, I had this large laundry bag which was chock full of all manner of soldiers. I would spend hours with them spread out on the floor having loads of fun although I had to make sure the family stayed clear of my battlefield. As I got older, I came across miniature war gaming and was very impressed that gamers put so much time, money and effort into their side of the gaming hobby. Through the years I’ve seen much outstanding artistry put into painting and sculpting miniatures let alone designing rule sets to simulate so many historical, fantasy and science fiction settings.
One thing though…
I just could never bring myself to make the commitment the table top war gaming seems to require. The funds required to build up armies, the storage space for your figs, the huge tables required, the serious time investment required to play a game (usually battles with a lot of figures or skirmishes with smaller numbers) and the rules, those complex rules with loads of tables upon tables of data. I don’t know, it all has always just seemed too much for me. Props to the guys who do it for sure!
So here I come upon Battlefield Historical Warfare: Second Punic War 218-201 . A miniatures war game set during the 2nd Punic War between Rome and Carthage. What, no minis? Nope, the figures are represented by cards. Complex rules? Well no. Relatively small rules set and even has quick-start rules to get you playing very quickly. The basic card set comes with the core Roman and Carthaginian units along with Command Cards for each army. The artwork is top notch with a top-down view of the fighting units which give them a look of a deployed miniatures army in battle lines and the reverse side with soldier illustrations, unit details and flavor text. This is a high quality production.
The core set includes:
Rome – Equites, Italian Cavalry, Velites, Italian Swordsmen,Italian Spearmen, Hastari, Principes,Veteran Principes and Triarri
Carthage – Libyan Foot, Numidian Cavalry, Balearic Slingers, Cretan Archers, Gallic Warriors, Spanish Cavalry, Gallic Cavalry Scutarii and Caetrati, Hannibal Elite, Elephants
The Reinforcements pack which you will need to fight the larger, pre-set battle scenarios which are included along with designer notes, adds:
Rome – Extradordinarii, Veteran Hastari, Veteran Equites
Carthage – Carthaginian Spearmen, Moorish Archers
The unit cards are laid out very nicely with a track along the bottom with information on combat strength, movement, and leadership, very nice and tidy and a very efficient use of card space. Once you understand the rules, all you need to know for the most part is on the cards. Lovely.
The rules for Battlefield Historical Warfare: Second Punic War 218-201 are pretty much the same as early version of this series, Battlefield: Fantasy Warfare. This is a game system not just about one particular battle and like other miniature systems its open-ended nature allows you loads of replay value. The core rules take you through –
Movement and Command Phase
– Command Actions -You get one command action per every 500 points value of your army e.g. for a 2000 point army, you get 4 command points. These are spent on Orders, Rallying routed units, using special army abilities and choosing a command card from your command deck. Trust me, these command points give you a real commander’s problem, which is that you can’t be all things to your army. Once you set standing orders for units, these will continue until you change them (at a cost command points). That’s ok for a while but at some point you may want to change some orders, or issue direct commands, or need to rally units or… or… or… those command points will be very precious to you and the choices you make or fail to make will mean the difference. No pressure…
Each each unit has a movement capability and this is measured in inches or card lengths (short or long) easy as that. You can move all of your units.If your unit butts against an enemy unit, you line them up facing each other. Those units are considered engaged. Rules for maneuver are there which can allow you to move your units by flanking, supporting, turning, etc. Not easy manipulating these lumbering ancients armies.
Pre-Combat Courage phase
– this will normally take place if a unit is already engaged by at least one enemy unit is engaged by another on another side of the card. They may decide to run for it!
Attacking – All of your units that can make ranged attacks do so and engaged units have a go at each other. Command cards can be played to attempt to swing the balance in your favor.
Rolling to hit – You roll your dice, you see if the enemy takes hits
Rolling to damage – Roll the dice that made hits to see if the enemy takes damage
Damage Resolution – For each damage caused, you mark a colored square off on the track on the bottom of the card as the unit’s damage goes into the yellow and the red squares, you take a rout check. If it the unit fails the check, it is destroyed.
Post-Combat Courage phase
– Units taking sufficient damage may rout. If they do, they may even take more hits as they attempt to disengage from the enemy.
Winning the game generally means destroying the enemy army (at some point in the battle, it will become clear whether you can win or not) but this open ended system allows you to set other game winning conditions as you feel inspired.
None of your fancy shmancy long distance warfare of modern times here. This is up front, brutal, harrowing, in your face combat at its most visceral. When you see your units marching across the field and locking horns in hand to hand combat, slicing each other to ribbons… when you see them turn tail to run as they are flanked and then get slaughtered as they try and get away, its pretty tough stuff. The sense of an ancients miniature game is certainly there, even if in a simpler basis than may be found in other miniatures rules sets although advanced rules give even more realism to the challenge of the game. Of course its not the same as a true miniatures table-top game in all its miniature splendor but this seems like the next best thing.
The rules are pretty clear and the mechanics are logical and sensible. They connect together very well and it doesn’t take too long to get into things. I do recommend that you play the quick-start rules first to get the gist of things and this will make it easier to get into the core rules. The quick-start rules are great for a short and fun game. The core rules are a better, more realistic game but will certainly extend the time of the game.
Did it work for me?
This all comes together for me very well. Easier and more cost effective to get into than true table-top miniatures. More portable, needs less space… pretty much ticks all the boxes for me. Yes, it is not a replacement for the cool awesomeness of moving gorgeous miniature armies across a battlefield but its the next best thing for me if I want a similar experience. I really like Battlefield Historical Warfare: Second Punic War 218-201 on a lot of levels. It is gorgeous to look at, it plays clearly, computes the movement, combat and routs easily, and most of all is a load of fun. Its not as straightforward as Command & Colors: Ancients, for example and you need more time to play it, and yes, miniatures-style games are fiddly in movement and calculations but you know what? I can’t wait to play again!
btw – it seems some folks have complained that you can’t play it without the Reinforcements set and that is sheer nonsense. You can easily play with the basic set. The large scenarios that come with the Reinforcements set require the extra cards but either way, there is tremendous value for money due to the replayability.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 8 out of 10
Nope. This is a war gamer’s thing.
For more information on Your Move Games go to – http://www.yourmovegames.com/index.html