With my folks having come over for a surprise Christmas visit tradition dictated that the old man and I would get a bit of gaming in. He had been reading a bit about the Punic Wars and was quite keen to try out Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage once he saw it on the shelf. I'd picked up a copy of the Valley Games reprint when it came out but had not had a chance to play, so we set it up and went for it.
The first game in I managed to lose from a strong position when Hannibal wan vanquished in battle and had nowhere to retreat to. I hadn't realised he could have counterattacked to take back the initiative during the battle. Bad move!
In the second game my Carthaginians absolutely dominated due to Roman uncertainly about how to proceed strategically and were ahead 11 provinces to 7 prior to Scipio Africanus making his appearance. Showing himself to be worthy of the name, he of the gens Cornelia promptly sailed to Carthage; four card plays later, he had taken it for the victory! I was a bit brassed off with myself for losing (again) from a strong position, but I suppose I can console myself with the thought that I'm in reasonably good company... In this case there were only two cards in the deck that could have stopped me relieving the siege of Carthage, and I had a nasty feeling the old man had them both in his hand. I gambled on him having only one of them and - predictably - paid the price!
Full marks to the old fulla - he once again showed himself to be a canny opponent and a good advertisement for the benefits of a regular diet of chess. No matter what the game, and no matter how unfamiliar its concepts might be, he is able to quickly assess what needs to be done to win and then goes about doing it. It has been a great few days and I'm not looking forward to their leaving tomorrow.
As for Hannibal, it is an intriguing game. It seems to require a curious mix of prudence and daring; no doubt the mark of a good player is knowing when each is called for. I think it will take me a while to get the balance right because - as the picture below shows - if I can lose from this position it is hard to know how I will ever win!
On that note, cheers, and all the best for 2012!