|Hellenes - Sparta in Red, Athens in Blue|
Going back to Hammer of the Scots, and some titles from before, Columbia has been blending the great idea of their block games (which feature 1-sided wooden blocks for units, allowing for great fog-of-war; and the blocks rotate showing stepwise reduction in combat unit strengths) with the more modern ideas of card-activation in a wargame.
I don't know for sure (and I bet there are half a dozen forum articles and geeklists at Board Game Geek on the topic) but I think that the first of the card-driven designs may have been Hannibal and Successors both from Avalon Hill, but these were quickly improved and followed up by For the People, Paths of Glory and Wilderness War from GMT. With the design for Hammer of the Scots, Columbia expanded the idea to separate the unit activation cards from event cards. Each round a player picks one, and it gives either a number of activations (for units or groups of units), or an event. This keeps the game always fresh and adds a lot to replay value. The GMT idea for the cards had three things on each card - unit activations, events, or replenishment - and when a card was picked, the player then had to choose which they wanted. The cards were balanced, so that the really good activation cards usually had the good events, and so on, so that the decisions were tough and required some decent thought and planning. Elements that make for a great game, in my book. By the way, see the homemade map for Hammer of the Scots, by DK Kemler (as posted on Board Game Geek)- it is beautiful!
|Homemade map for Hammer of the Scots|
There is a 2007 Columbia design on the same topic - Athens & Sparta, which appears to be a little bit simpler, and can cover the entire war in one sitting (whereas the more detailed Hellenes covers scenarios of the war in a single sitting), but it is a small matter of difference about which card system you prefer. Both have their strengths, and both (to me anyway) are appealing.
On Thursday, August 26, Wayne and I played a game at the weekly ODMS meetup, and he took Athens while I became a Spartan general for the evening. The game was great, and although I won, I believe it was due to a fluke in my exploiting the economic engine of the game a turn before Wayne was prepared for it. We have scheduled a rematch, and shall see how it goes. This time I think there will be a lot more fighting over the point-value-rich colony city states. It, like the original war, should be glorious!
On a side note, I would like to put out an endorsement for two histories on the Peloponnesian War - the first from Donald Kagan (The Peloponnesian War) (a few years older, but quite excellent), and the second from Victor Davis Hanson (A War Like No Other).
See you soon - Chuck
Tags: wargames, boardgames, Peloponnesian War