The story of the epic struggle between ancient Rome and Carthage.
It’s taken me a long, long time to finally get around to playing Hannibal & Hamilcar: Rome vs Carthage. I bought the Valley Games 2007 version (itself a reprint of the original 1996 Avalon Hill game), wrote a rules summary, but never played it. Then I got this gorgeous new edition last year and it’s languished on my shelf ever since. But finally a few months ago it got to the table—and what a game!
Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage has a well-deserved reputation as a classic card-driven ancient history wargame. But I was put off by the new edition’s somewhat long-winded rulebook, and the addition of a confusing book of small tutorials that to my mind is completely unnecessary. So I hope future players will find this summary gets them into the game faster. If you stick with it, the rewards are great. The game puts me in mind of War of the Ring in complexity and rules detail, but after a few games it all begins to flow smoothly and you can concentrate on the fascinating cardplay, the back and forth of political control, and the grand attacks and retreats. Combat is handled with a simple but engrossing mini card game that is surprisingly entertaining. And once you’ve exhausted the possibilities of the main game—not something I can imagine happening for years—you can flip the board and find the companion game, Hamilcar, which focusses on naval battles.
The main visual feature of this new edition, which is obviously a huge work of love and dedication by real fans of the game, is the set of generals figures. Yes, they are too large, and the hollow bases make them topple on a stack of counters, but it’s a testiment to how much I enjoy this game that I’ve not only painted them, but hollowed the bases further so I could put metal wrights and magnets in them! The result is a game as visually stunning as it is enjoyable.
If you feel like a game that’s challenging, and like me find this period of history fascinating, you simply can’t do better than Hannibal & Hamilcar: Rome vs Carthage.