GTM #215 - Hannibal & Hamilcar: Rome vs Carthage
by Jaro Andruszkiewicz

Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage by Mark Simonitch has been sitting at the top of Board Game Geek rankings for over 20 years, now ranked 11th in BoardGameGeek.com’s Wargame rankings. It has seen two editions and won two Golden Geek awards in the meantime.

This 20th Anniversary Edition of the game includes new scenarios and variants, as well as new graphics, miniatures, new custom dice, extra cards, and a new double-sided mounted board (with the Hannibal map on one side and the Hamilcar map on the other).

This asymmetrical, card-driven game for two players presents a classical ancient conflict (Second Punic War) between two superpowers (Rome and Carthage) in the true Clausewitzean perspective (war as a continuation of politics). In order to win, players need to plan and execute military campaigns bearing in mind the utmost goal: political dominance in the basin of the Mediterranean.

In the game, players use Strategy Cards for multiple purposes: moving generals, levying new troops, reinforcing existing armies, gaining political control of the provinces involved in the war, and introducing historical events. When two armies meet on the battlefield, a second set of cards, called Battle Cards, are used to determine the winner. Ultimately both players seek victory by dominating both fronts: military and political.

The 20th Anniversary Edition of the game was designed and published with an aim to revive the game, fine tune its mechanics, remaster the art and components and bring in more game play.

Hannibal now includes ten new scenarios, in addition to the original one, plus three short campaigns. The historical scenarios allow for shorter games (30-minutes), as well as present the context of the operations as they aim at recreating the flow of the campaigns.

A Tutorial book, a new addendum to the package, helps to introduce the rules to new players in ‘read and play’ format. And yet, there is an almost independent game in the box: Hamilcar, a companion game sharing components and using similar mechanics. That’s an advanced game, as it introduces naval system and naval battles. That’s a product for players who are familiar with ‘Hannibal’ and wish to embark on replaying the First Punic War.

There are 24 miniatures in the box, representing over 40 military leaders of the era, and each of those minis is unique in shape! The engine of the game is represented by 220 cards, divided into several decks, including new Naval Tactics deck. Each of the Strategy Cards has been individually illustrated helping the players to fully immerse themselves in the game theme.

To include two games in one box, PHALANX has created a double-sided game board with new stunning artwork by Piotr Słaby.

Several new features have been added: the underlying map has been redesigned so that distances between the spaces on the map are similar across the board (something earlier designs failed to accomplish) allowing for easier play; a Political Display has been introduced, which now helps to keep track of the control of areas. Various tables were removed and translated into custom dice with a clearly set goal: the game will be played faster, while producing the same results from the probability perspective as the original design. You can even have one player using the tables - which are still included in the box  and the other using the set of five custom dice and they both will be playing the same game!

The Hannibal & Hamilcar experience has been enriched by the addition of two new expansions: “Sun of Macedon” and “Price of Failure”, which will release later in 2018.

Jaro "Andrus" Andruszkiewicz is an ex-journalist and "advertising man" and the heart of PHALANX. He co-designed Hamilcar, 1944: Race to the Rhine and The Magnates.