It's been great fun to introduce some friends into the 'geeky'world of boardgames. We have had a couple of sessions together with games such as Thunder Alley, Fury of Dracula and Game of Thrones. I decided to take a risk and introduce them to a slightly 'hardcore' experience of 'Command and Colours' Epic. This game strikes a great balance between theme, complexity and interest when there are lots of players. Here is a quick review of how it went...
After an a quick short play, without cards, the basics of moving and firing were grasped by everybody, at which time the pizzas arrived! After everybody was fed and watered, we sat down for a six player game. The Carthaginians released that the battle was going to be won or lost with the elephants. The initial attack was repulsed in the centre, yet gained more success when the elephants were reinforced with auxilia to support the attack.
On the Roman right flank, ther slight superiority in light cavalry came to nothing, as the Carthaginians used light foot troops to bolster the line. For the whole battle the light cavalry of both sides continually pushed backwards and forwards, with no real affect on the result of the battle.
The Roman left played little In terms of gaining the upper hand, however the casualties incurred certainly would. The Romans initially had success with defeating the Carthaginian cavalry, but we're then repulsed by Gallic warbands pushing forward to fill the gap. Heavy casualties were incurred on both sides.
As is usually the case, the battle was decided in the centre. With support, the elephants certainly began to shake the Roman light and medium infantry; two elephant units broke through right to the back line of the Roman position. The timely intervention of the Roman heavy reserves finally pinched off the surviving elephants and mopped up the remnants of the Carthagininian first line of troops. Hannibal's veterans tried to stabilize the situation, but their timing was too late. A Roman victory of 14 banners to 9 banners; certainly not a run away victory.
After a slow start (and the digestion of lots of pizza), the players began to understand the different types of troops and their relative effectiveness in combat. As time went on, and it got later, play really speeded up; this however did not stop the player's understanding and led to a climatic surge to complete the game.
Thanks to Becky, Anna, Martyn, Adam and Ryan for entering into the spirit of things. This was certainly something they had not experienced before, being somewhat heavy in theme and complexity. They did go away with a sense of what ancients can be like. For me, yet again, it showed how several players can focus on their own action, whilst being oblivious to what is happening elsewhere; and all completed in under two hours!
Adam now has a new nick name - Scipio!