The game is played on a hex grid, nine deep and eleven wide (so you can use a Commands & Colors board, for example). Each side has a baggage base and ten fighting units - seven of hoplites, one of peltasts, and two of cavalry. One hoplite unit contains a general.
|Spartans and Thebans!|
Units move either one or two hexes depending on their type, and there are some neat little 'Sabinisms' to give unit classes their own character while keeping rules to a minimum (the rules are in fact just one page long).
It's an IGO-UGO game, and deployment (in another familiar Sabinism) is included in the play, with both sides deploying onto the field from their respective baggage bases.
|First turn: both sides commence deployment.|
There is no luck in the game except in choosing which side goes first. Combat is won by ganging up attacking units on the enemy, so that two attackers will rout peltasts or cavalry, three attackers will rout hoplites, and four attackers will rout a general's unit. The general's unit itself counts as two attackers when on the offense.
|Jockeying for position.|
When a side finishes its turn and finds itself with four or more of its own units routed, the game is over, and both sides score points based upon how many units were routed during the game.
As you can imagine, with IGO-UGO movement and diceless combat, the game is all about carefully manoeuvring units into position to defeat the enemy before the enemy can defeat you. It's more like chess with figures than it's like, say, DBA.
|Three units of Theban hoplites attack the exposed Spartan allies (and brace themselves for the counterattack).|
It does not work very well as a solo game (for obvious reasons!) but I think it would be quite good against an opponent. I imagine playing a match over two games to allow both players to have a turn moving first and tallying up the total points scored to decide the victor would be nice way to spend an hour or two with a wargaming buddy.
There are some ideas for optional rules on the Yahoo group, and a few others suggest themselves already. Secret deployment would be one obvious tweak, as would some kind of initiative challenge system to potentially change the turn order during the game.
It would be good to look at the historical battle scenarios too, but I'd need to get hold of the Golden Years of Slingshot DVD first to access the original articles, and even then I'm not sure if it will have everything - the rules may well have been included with Slingshot as a separate booklet. I can probably find that out from Phil himself at some point and update this review with that information EDIT: Yes, it has been confirmed that the Slingshot DVD does contain the necessary rules and scenarios.
|(Relevant Slingshot issues w. page numbers.)|
Anyway, if you have a hex grid mat (or board) and some appropriate figures (or counters), you might like to try it out. It's simple to learn, and the price is certainly right!