Commands & Colors Ancients: Greece vs the Eastern Kingdoms
Expansion Nr. 1
List Price: $55.00
Your Price: $43.95
(Worth 4,395 Funagain Points!)
from 1 customer review
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Commands & Colors: Ancients is much more than a game. It is an expandable game system that allows players to fight a host of historical Ancient battles.
The Greeks & Eastern Kingdoms is the first expansion to Commands & Colors: Ancients. The armies of Philip, Alexander and the Successors meet the hosts of Persians, Scythians and Indians to the east. In this expansion, there are historical scenarios that focus on the hoplites of classical Greece fighting off the invading Persian army at Marathon and Plataea; epic battles from the Peloponnesian War, the rise of Macedon and Alexander's battles of Gaugamela, Issus and Granicus against the Persians; and battles involving Alexander's successors. With your Greeks, turn west and battle the Carthaginians in Sicily, or as King Pyrrhus at Heraclea and Ausculum, battle the Romans.
This first expansion showcases over 20 scenarios (the package includes over 300 new unit blocks and stickers you need to fight out these battles). Now, that is a lot of history, but it can be done because Commands & Colors: Ancients is, by design, a unique historical game system that will allow players to effectively portray stylized Ancient battles that play to a conclusion in less than an hour. These new scenarios include many new varieties of unit mixes, challenging players to master multiple play styles in order to achieve victory on the varying historical battlefields.
The Greeks & Eastern Kingdoms features a new unit type as well as several "specialty" units and leaders (The Sacred Band, The Immortals, Alexander the Great, and Alexander's Companion Cavalry, for example). Each of these operates within the confines of the original system rules, with only slight modifications to reflect their historical abilities and importance. So, rules-wise, if you own Commands & Colors: Ancients, you'll have no trouble at all learning the few special rules for these new types of units.
The battle dice resolve combat quickly and the command cards provide an element of luck that creates a fog of war and presents players with both challenges and opportunities for victory. Yet the tactics you need to execute conform remarkably well to the advantages and limitations inherent to the various Ancient units, their weapons, terrain and the history. Can you rewrite history in your favor?
I’ve made no secret of how much I enjoy the Command and Colors system, and Command and Colors: Ancients may be the pinnacle of the system (although Battlelore is giving it a run for its money). As soon as the original game came out, people began clamoring for an expansion; and as soon as the expansion was announced, it immediately ran up the P500 chart – as people were in love with the original game. I personally am a big fan of Greek history, so Commands and Colors Ancients: Expansion # 1: Greeks and Eastern Kingdoms (GMT Games, 2006 – Richard Borg) was of some interest to me. After playing the new expansion, I have to say that I’m impressed with the new scenarios, new dice, and expanded rulebook. That being said, I certainly don’t think that this expansion is by any means necessary, although fans of the original looking for more will most likely love it. Here are my comments on the expansion to clarify.
1.) Components: Once again, I sat down for hours, putting more stickers on the 364 blocks included in the game. This time, the blocks were colored light blue and tan – easily distinguishable from the original two armies. I had an easier time placing the stickers on, as they were organized quite a bit better on the sheets; and as with the original game, there are many extra stickers included. Some people might object to having all these new blocks when it’s certainly possible to play using the original pieces -- and after stickering, I was almost inclined to agree – but the different artwork certainly does help thematically. And folks like me are going to love each new expansion no matter what. The expansion comes in a box that is the same size as the original game, and that is certainly needed if only because of all the blocks included. One still needs the original game for the board, rules, and terrain.
2.) Dice: There was a loud outcry against the original dice, because of how light they were. GMT heard this proclamation and included seven nice, heavy dice in the expansion. This seems to be a rather satisfactory conclusion to me. People who didn’t care about the original dice get extra ones, and those who wanted heavier dice now get them included in the new expansion as an added bonus.
3.) Rules: There are a few new rules included with this expansion – in a rulebook that is actually THICKER than the first one. The rules talk about a few new unit types, some new mechanics, three pages of clarifications of the original rules, and then twenty-one pages of scenarios! When Commands and Colors first was released, I was impressed with how Mr. Borg got onto online forums and readily answered questions about the game. Much of that was included in the rules clarifications -- something that I personally haven’t needed to refer to much, but it’s nice to have. Anyone who’s played the original game need only read a few paragraphs and then can jump right into the expansion.
4.) Scenarios: This is where the expansion really shines, with twenty-one varied scenarios based on historical battles from the Greek wars against Persia, to the Peloponnesian Wars, to the wars against Rome. Most battles use little terrain, but the historical notes in the book are excellent – to the point where I read through them all simply for the enjoyment and historical value. Each of them (at least of the ones that I’ve played) has a different feel; and as usual, it’s interesting to attempt different strategies than were actually done historically. Many new configurations are used that were not in the original scenarios, and some units are used to greater effect – such as the war machines.
5.) Special Units: There are some new special units included in some scenarios. This includes Alexander’s Companion Cavalry, the Persian Immortals, and the Carthaginian Sacred Band. Most of the time, the special rules are simple – the unit can ignore a sword symbol and/or flag, etc. Still, I like the differentiation between these units. It certainly adds flavor to the game – but more importantly, gives you a feel of ownership over the pieces. It’s annoying when you lose your heavy cavalry, but devastating when the Companion Cavalry takes a blow. The leaders – ever so prominent in the original game, are just as important – if not more so. Alexander the Great in particular adds special abilities, and a player who utilizes him well will find that they dominate in their battles. This expansion also allows the use of camels and ranged cavalry – both of which aren’t terribly important but do add a bit of variety to the game.
I’m not sure how many people are interested in a review of this expansion, because most of the people who love Commands and Colors: Ancients are going to most likely pick up the expansion. But for those who are wavering I would encourage them to get it if they want more scenarios, two new armies, and a few new rules. It doesn’t change game play too much, and some might consider it a lot of money for simply some “more of the same”. But for me, the extra armies and scenarios just add to the enjoyment of the game. So get those sticker peeling fingers ready for hours of work, and check out the first in a line of expansions for this tremendous little war game.
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