Ancient Battles

Title		Ancient Battles
Publisher	CCS
Programmer      Richard Smith, 1990
Game Type	Strategy
Players 	1-2
HD Installable	Yes
Compatibility	All Amigas
Submission	John Burns ( Profiled Reviewer

Coming on one disk, Ancient Battles is a serious wargame which includes
scenarios from the Battles of Hydaspes (326 BC), Zama (202 BC),
Cynocephalae (197 BC), Pharsalus (44 BC), and Chalons (451 AD). As such I
would have to say that a knowledge of these battles is of use in
attempting to win. It also boasts a scenario editor which enables the user
to generate both the terrain and the armies. These armies can in turn be
created new or chosen from a quite comprehensive preset list
(Carthaginians, Early Romans, Thracians etc. etc.).

Some of you may already be turned off by the foregoing and I wouldn't try
to persuade you otherwise since this is a wargame for the serious fan
rather than the casual dabbler. The AI as with other games by Richard
Smith seems to be pretty good though I would criticise it's accuracy in
one respect, Elephants. When you have a unit which contains elephants a
check on the casualties which ensue on both sides when this unit engages
shows the flaw. Basically, these units fare far better than historically
they should. Elephants, whilst of use in intimidating the opposition in
actual combat, were prone to panic and stampede causing as much, if not
more, damage to their own troops; a factor which doesn't seem to be
reflected. That aside, the AI is such that the preset scenarios are
definitely on the hard side to win, not helped by the fact that your
forces are usually outnumbered. But hey, where's the enjoyment in beating
the opposition when you were favourite from the start.

The game itself uses quite large and varied sprites to denote the
differing unit types and this works well enough. Whilst the battle area
may seem to be quite small there is not the need for a larger/more
strategic overview that one would expect, nay require, in a later period
wargame. Battles at the time were fought in relatively small areas so if
you want to engage in wide flanking pincer movements get another game.
Control is simplicity itself; using the mouse you click on a unit, issue
an order and that's it. Using this method there is little room for
ambiguity which sometimes exists in these games. Okay there are some
commands which could have been added such as "Melee" but that's a minor
and maybe personal quibble. Battles are resolved at the end of each day,
(though you can get an update of the overall standing at any time), at
which point you can quit or fight the next day. Despite battles at the
time being somewhat attritional, tactics do play a part and their correct
employment can make all the difference.

So overall my verdict is that this game is good but with the proviso that
it is aimed at the serious wargamer. Another factor which helps is that
even today, just as on it's release, the game benefits from lack of
competition covering this historical period (off-hand I can't actually
think of any other, on any platform). The scenario generator helps the
game maintain it's appeal and longevity. Another plus is that if you are
using a VGA monitor the game will run there without any problems or
fiddling about.

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