Time for the Syracusans to start expecting more and paying less

Putting the Carthage before the horse; Commands and Colors: Ancients now live on Steam

iOS & Android (soon), PC/Mac (out now) •

It’s been a long while since we’ve heard from the folks at HexWar which may be because their last few releases weren’t given the warmest of receptions in the hallowed halls of Stately Manor. That said, their next project is a digital port of GMT Games‘ seminal card-driven block game, Commands & Colors: Ancients. We love the cardboard version so we’re willing to give them a little leeway and see what they can come up with. As luck would have it, today is the day we see how they did as C&C: Ancients has just been released onto Steam for PC and Mac.

C&C: Ancients follows the usual Commands & Colors model: the board is broken into three sections and you use cards to maneuver and attack with units in each section. If you’re familiar with other C&C fare like Memoir ’44 or BattleLore then you get get gist of how C&C: Ancients works. The difference is that this tackles an entirely different type of warfare, that of the ancient world.

The scale of the game is flexible and varies from battle to battle. For some scenarios, an infantry unit may represent an entire legion of soldiers, while in other scenarios, a unit may represent just a few brave warriors.

The command card system drives movement, creates “fog of war” and presents players with many interesting challenges and opportunities, while the battle dice resolve combat quickly and efficiently. The battlefield tactics you will need to execute to gain victory conform remarkably well to the strengths and limitations of the various ancient unit types, their weapons, the terrain and history.

  • 15 scenarios from important engagement of ancient history.
    • The Battle of Akragas – 406 BC
    • Crimissos River – 341 BC
    • Bagradas – 253 BC
    • Ticinus River – 218 BC
    • Trebbia – 218 BC
    • Lake Trasimenus – 217 BC
    • Cannae – 216 BC
    • Dertosa – 215 BC
    • 2nd Battle of Beneventum – 214 BC
    • Castulo – 211 BC
    • Baecula – 208 BC
    • Metaurus – 207 BC
    • Ilipa – 206 BC
    • Great Plains – 203 BC
    • Zama – 202 BC
  • Over 50 unique combat and command cards to simulate tactical and strategic choices.
  • Make strategic choices faithful to the era with chariots, archers, foot soldiers and mounted units.
  • Play as Syracusan, Carthaginian or Roman.
  • Three levels of AI difficulty.

This being a HexWar release, we can’t just leave it there and tell you to go and buy it. Instead we need to point out what the blurb doesn’t state: online multiplayer. I haven’t downloaded the game myself yet, but it appears that the digital version of C&C: Ancients only has solo play vs. AI which is a fairly odd choice for a board game port. The only other digital board games I can think of that don’t have some online capability are cooperative or solo games in their cardboard form. Perhaps it’s coming down the road? We know that an iOS and Android version is in final testing and will be released soon, so we can only hope that, perhaps, that will bring online, cross-platform play? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Not since Bryan Fuller has Hannibal been this bloodthirsty

That said, the game looks pretty great in screenshots, eschewing the wooden block (and stickers…so many stickers) look of the cardboard game for little 3D soldiers with shields and bows, etc. I’ll probably try and give it a go this weekend [the last time Dave had time to game on the weekend it was snowing outside -ed.] and let you know how it is next week [he won’t. He’s a dirty liar. -ed.]


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Notable Replies

  1. No multiplayer is a bunch of Hanibull…

    Most HexWar games don’t have multiplayer and those that do (I’m thinking of the Academy Games games) are very poorly implemented. HexWar burned me a bit with 1775 so I’ll probably keep my distance from this unless things turn around drastically.

  2. The pun‘ic war strong in this thread…

  3. Early reviews seem to be mixed at best. This might be one of those games that needs a few updates before it’s decent. Hope the iOS version comes out soon.

  4. HexWar = no sale. I’m sick of being burned.

  5. Yeah, no. I predict it will be an absolutely faithful port, be somewhere in the range of good looking to really quite pretty, and have a little collection of flaws which begins as annoying and ultimately renders the game too insufferable to play.

    It’s a shame- we got a lot of games out of 1776, but in the end the grudging multiplayer was too much of a pain in the arse. I‘d probably still be playing it otherwise.

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