John Theissen’s streamlined approach to operational warfare in the nineteenth century in games such as Hood’s Last Gamble and Campaign of Nations has won him a number of admirers. Now he turns his attention to the last war of the Roman Republic, to the marching of Legions and the sailing of fleets, to the rise of Augustus and the fall of Mark Antony and the savvy Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra.
Each player must raise troops and build ships, using these military forces to enact their will and conduct campaigns against the enemy. Along the way, they will face the challenges inherent in ancient warfare: the difficulty of keeping troops supplied, perilous storms at sea, the spreading of plagues, and the opportunistic assaults of Rome’s external enemies. As the war wears on, both sides will attempt to chip away at the other’s prestige and standing. If your prestige falls low enough, your troops and provinces might defect, tipping the balance. And should it fall to zero, you lose this high stakes battle. The winner shall rule over an empire. The loser? Well, as Octavian said before Cleopatra’s son was strangled, two Caesars are one too many.
The spoils of victory and the consequences of defeat might not be quite as serious as all that when the troops are made of cardboard, but Antony and Cleopatra allows you to refight this epic contest for ultimate power in the relative safety of your home or gaming club.
Though somewhat more granular and detailed than Mr. Theissen’s other games for Hollandspiele, this remains a quick, compelling, and accessible exploration of this fascinating subject.
Game design: John Theissen
Map artist: Ilya Kudriashov
Hex number: 40
Duration: 120 minutes
Solitaire Suitability: High
Base postage cost: £4.50
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