Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Epic Commands and Colors: Ancients

It's been quite a few years since I bought the Commands & Colors epic expansion, and having been a bit of an afficionado of the standard game for a few years (though about a decade ago now, which is scary!) I decided it was probably time to actually try the epic version out.

Epic is basically two boards combined lengthways to create a board twice as wide and capable of employing up to four players per side. Obviously, as I'm playing this solo, the multiplayer aspect of it will be missing.

The scenario is Paraitacene. Who isn't a sucker for Successors?

In the picture below we have Antigonus coming from the left of the board and Eumenes from the right. The armies are reasonably well matched: Eumenes has the edge in elephants, but Antigonus has a stronger medium and heavy cavalry arm, and plenty of agile light cavalry on his left. The heavy infantry numbers favour Antigonus slightly, but Eumenes has the advantage in light infantry.

The lighting is terrible, but you can get a sense of the scale compared to normal C&C (as can be seen, I made an executive decision to use figures for this scenario. Not because I think they look better, but because I don't want to have to mix different coloured blocks to have enough units to play). 

Eumenes to our right; Antigonus on our left.

The winner will be first side to 15 banners, but you must be two banners clear to win, otherwise it's a draw (as it sort of was historically). It is an interesting match up. 

View from the Eumenid left.

View of the centres: Antigonid to the left.

View from the Antigonid left, showing his preponderance of light cavalry

The game began with some cagey manouvering on both flanks before two line commands played by Antigonus saw his centre advance to almost within striking distance. Eumenes suffered the first losses and was mostly playing reactively across the length of the battlefield. 

Skirmishing towards the Antigonid right...

... and towards the Antigonid left.

The armies battled tit-for-tat, with Antigonus keeping at least two banners clear of Eumenes the whole way. The infantry fight in the centre was vicious and unrelenting, but Antigonus' light cavalry also combined with his medium infantry to good effect to have Eumenes' right under pressure.  

Clashes in the centre: the Silver Shields advance.

Antigonus, leading 12 banners to 9, needed only 1 more kill to ensure at least a draw. Eumenes, knowing this was his last chance, decided to make a bid for victory. He would need to take 6 banners in one turn to do it.

The cards played, in order (Mounted Charge was for the right zone).

On the right, charges by the elephants and the heavy cavalry net two banners.

In the centre, two banners are taken, but two more are not.

On the left, a cavalry charge kills another unit. The final attack is elephants against light infantry. 

Two hits needed to kill the lights.

Two hits needed.... and two hits are rolled! Eumenes wins 15-12.


It is often the case in Commands and Colors: Ancients that there are moments of extreme tension, where everything comes down to a fatal dice roll. The epic game (in this instance at least!) maintains that tradition.

I enjoyed it. Playing a game designed for multiplayer meant that the confusion that would arise from different players making their own choices was lost, but realistically I'm not going to find seven other C&C:A players in the neighbourhood, so this was the best I could do. 

Will I play it again? Probably. It's a good option for when you don't have time or space to set up a full miniatures game but would like to get a battle in. It would be perfect for a rainy Sunday when all other plans are suddenly shelved and you have an afternoon to yourself.

For single player I give it 5/10.   

If you had the right people to join you, I would say it's likely to be an 8 or 9.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Battling Phil Sabin

A couple of weeks ago Phil Sabin of (amongst other things) Lost Battles, Simulating War, and The Face of Roman Battle fame, got in touch to ask if I would be interested in trying out a battle remotely. Phil is now retired and living in Chile, which was greatly to our advantage in terms of timezones. His afternoon would be my morning, so we set up a time and date. 

The Battle would be Cannae and the rules Legion II, his revised hex-based grand tactical ancients rules published by the Society of Ancients.

Not having played Legion before, I was a little apprehensive about taking on the designer himself. Thankfully, Phil directed me to a video playthrough 

that gives a good example of the rules in action, and talked me through the main elements of the gameplay before we began.

Being a Lost Battles fan (or bore, depending on how tired people have got of my blabbing on about it!), it was interesting to compare Phil's vision of ancient battle across the two sets of rules. Legion is more granular, but there are quite a few rules that are mirrored in both sets (skirmishers requiring the support of heavier infantry to be effective; the primacy of human factors such as experience and command ability; the inclusion of rules for marching your armies onto the field, and so on). 

Legion may have been new to me but it was, in a word, recognisable. 

Generously, Phil gave me the more interesting side to play, and it was with some excitement that I poured myself a cup of coffee and watched Phil, genius of the Roman Republic, direct his legions onto the field.

He has put up a report of the action on Boardgamegeek, which can be seen here, and is titled Cannae Across the South Pacific

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