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History

It has been twenty-three years since the humilating defeat of the First Punic War for the Carthage. It has used it's superior navy to rebuid the trading routes that allowed the city to dominate the Western Mediterranean. Still, resentment lingered becaused Carthage was forced to hand over Sicily and Sardinia, to the upstart Romans, as the price of peace. In present-day Spain, Hannibal Barca had taken control of his dead father's army and further expanded Carthaginian dominance over the Iberian tribes. Hamilicar Barca had passed down his anger to his son over being forced to surrender to the Romans in Sicily without losing a battle. There is a legend that he made a nine year-old Hannibal swear an oath 'to never be a friend of the Romans.' In 218 B.C., Hannibal began his march of revenge to Italy.

Hannibal was to win an unbroken string of battlefiled victories but he could not defeat Rome itself. The greatly inproved Roman navy denied Carthage command of the sea which hampered Hanibal's ability to maintain a large enough army. He failed to siege Rome and he failed to destroy the majority of Rome's alliances. Eventually, Hannibal was recalled to defend Carthage itself from a Roman expedition led by Publius Cornelius Scipio.

Publius Cornelius Scipio or as he more famously known, Scipio Africanius, was the greatest Roman general produced during the Punic Wars. He completely drives Carthage from Hispania (Spain) and then tasked to lead an amphibious invasion of the Carthaginian homeland. Scipio was the first Roman commander to make maximun use of the articulated capabilites of the Roman legion, to understand the importance of cavalry superiority and to break out of the stagnant tactical thinking of the previous two centuries. More inportantly, he did what other Roman general had accomplished; he defeated Hannibal.

Overview

The second game in Erudite Software's Great Battles franchise and a computer gaming version of the boardgame, SPQR published by GMT Games in 1992. The PC game design team included one of the original designers, Mark Herman, and the product manager, Gene Billingsley, who are credited with similar roles on the computer version. It is a top-down, turn-based hex wargame that faithfully follows the look, feel, and rules of the boardgame to recreate the ancient battles fought between the armies of Carthage and Rome.

Playing the Game

Length and Scale

All battles are fought until one side is routed or until a certain number of turns have passed. Each game turn represents approximately 15-20 minutes of real-time. Each hex is approximately 60-70 yards wide.

Leaders

The most important unit in the game. Each leader has a command range which represents the greatest distance, from a leader, a unit can be located and still receive orders.

  • Inactive Phase: All leaders start the turn inactive and each has the opportunity to become active and issue orders.
  • Active Phase: Each game turn starts with the computer randomly activating one of the leaders. The higher a leader's initiative, the better the leader's chance of going first. When a leader is activated, he gives orders that allows units, within his command range, to move, missile volley and conduct combat shock.
  • Finished Phase: Finishing a leader ends his orders phase and resolves any combat situations. When a leader attempts momentum and passes the momentum check, the leader receives another active phase. If he fails, he is finished and the next leader is activated. When all leaders have been activated and are finished, the game turn is concluded.

Orders

  • Movement: Leaders can either move individual units or group move all the units under that leader's command.
  • Missile Volley: Units with missile capability can use missile volley. There are four types of missile units: archers, slingers and javelinists. Missile fire can occur as an order, as reaction fire or during orderly withdrawal.
  • Shock Combat: Occurs after all orders have been issued and movement has been completed, at the conclusion of the order phase. It is simply engaging an enemy unit in an adjacent, frontal hex. The outcome relies on the interaction of units' weapon types, armor protection, size angle of attack and quality to produce a result.
  • Remove Cohesion Hits: Restores zero to three points of cohesion thus strengthening the resolve of unit and reducing the chances that the unit will rout.
  • Rally: Routed units can only be rallied by leaders. Units can only be reallied once per battle. Failing a rally, a unit enters terminal rout and heads straight for the edge of the map.

Cohesion

The measurement of how organized and effective a unit is at any point during the battle. In game, it is represented by TQ (total quality) and cohesion hits. The game rates each combat unit's TQ from one to nine (nine being the best or elite) based on their historical performance.

Cohesion hits are a measure of how much disorganization or damage a unit has substained during the battle Each unit accumulates cohesion hits from damage received in combat and from moving over difficult terrain. Cohesion hits do affect a unit's combat strength ot capabilities, except to show how close it is getting to fall apart. When a unit's cohension hits equal or exceed it's TQ rating, the unit is routed.

Winning

Each battle scenario has a withdrawl level for each side. The goal is force the opponent's army off the map by routing enemy units flee off the map through shock and missile combat. When an army's total rout points equals the withdrawal level, that side is the loser.

The Battles

  • Bagradas Plains 255 B.C. - Near the close of the First Punic War, Consul Regulus is ready to deal the finishing blow. The Carthaginians, howeverm have hired a superb Spartan general, Xanthippus.
  • Trebbia 218 B.C. - In the first major conflict of the Second Punic War, the Carthagenians are helped to victory by the many icy streams of the Trebbia, which the Romans are forced to cross on a snowy day.
  • Lake Trasimene 217 B.C. - Hannibal launches a major surprise attack on Consul Flaminius. Hannibal's forces pin Flaminius between Lake Trasimene and mountainous terrain. With nowhere to run. the consul is killed along with 30,000 Roman troops.
  • Cannae 216 B.C. - Amidst the blowing summer dust, a motely crew of Spanish javelinists, Numidian cavalry, Gallic lancers and fearsome sword-swinging Celts face the largest army Rome has ever fielded. This Roman disasterous loss cost them 80,000 men and was Rome's darkest hour of the Second Punic War.
  • Baecula 208 B.C. - having assumed the proconsulship of Hispania in 210 B.C., Scipio concetrates his power on expelling the Carthageninians from this region, which has been their greatest support and the jewel of their empire.
  • Metaurus 207 B.C. - In a desperate push to keep Hasdrubal's army from reaching Hannibal's main force in Italy, Nero takes his elite forces on a grueling six-day forced march to help trap the Carthaginians by the Metaurus River.
  • Ilipa 206 B.C. - As the Carthaginians make a stand to hold on to what is left of Hispania, Scipio recruits the support of Culchas, a local prince. Using this new ally to his best advantage, Scipio puts forward a very unorthodox attack.
  • Great Plains 203 B.C. - With the war turning heavily in favor of Rome, both sides now compete for the loyalty of the skilled Numidian cavalry under Syphax as well as victory in battle upon the plains.
  • Zama 202 B.C. - In one of the most important battles in ancient history, two crack consular armies under Rome's first military genius, Publius Cornelius Scipio, face Hannibal's undefeated Carthaginians.
  • Cynoscenphalae 197 B.C. - Considered the classic legion vs phalanx battle, the armies of Consul Flaminimus and Phillip V of Macedon stumble upon each other on rocky ridge.
  • Magnesia 190 B.C. - Antiochus the Great was pursued by the Roman army headed by L.C. Scipio and accompanied by his brother Scipio Africanus. The Romans caught up with Antiochus at Magnesia in Asia Minor.

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