Crash and bash

By way of follow up to this post, I just want to record that I have finally got around to properly playing Hoplite, the Richard Berg and Mark Herman game about ancient classical warfare, published by GMT games.

I played the easy Tanagra scenario (Athenians v Spartans) several times to get used to the rules. My only real issue was confusing a bloody diagram in the rules that wasn’t properly labelled. With that nuisance out of the way, things were straightforward.

When I say straightforward, that is actually one of the nice changes in the package. Apart from Spartan hoplites – the only true professional soldiers on show – other hoplites attack towards the enemy in a randomly determined fashion: walk, trot, or run. Gone are the ruler sharp lines, and in are the true waves of meandering lines.

While I think some of the units that are not hoplites are still too easy to micro manage, on the whole I liked the direction this set was taking.

I sharpened my skills on the Leuctra scenario (Thebes v Sparta) featuring the immense Theban massed phalanx. I have played it through three times to a conclusion now, with Sparta ahead by 2 to 1.

I don’t like the combination of the momentum and trumping rules – basically allowing the better led force to do more – because I think the advantage is too much. My house rule at the moment is to only allow one trump attempt per scenario. But that is not making enough of an impact. I need to do more playtesting.

But what I do love is that the game has sparked my interest in reading about the era, and I am enjoying the interaction between what I am reading and what I can see and experiment with on the game board. All great fun.