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Posted on Mar 14, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Ancient Warfare: Punic Wars – Game Review (PC)

By Mike Tomlin

Units have a variety of formations available to them, including column, line, wedge, square and, for Celtiberians, a circle. As with all pre-motorised warfare, the correct formation, and facing in combat and movement situations is absolutely critical and must be watched – formation changes can only occur when out of contact with an enemy, so plan ahead.

General movement, in the large battles where it is key to keep formations intact before contact, is a large part of this game and very difficult to get right. I have tried a wide variety of methods of controlling formations, particularly those with several supporting lines, and frequently found that while most units followed instructions to the letter, terrain and status permitting, odd units for no apparent reason went too far and interfered with units ahead, or ended up facing the wrong way. Whilst it may well be misunderstanding or error on my part that caused this, it is an area that I think could have used more work. As always in a computer game, the AI seems to encounter few, if any of these problems when moving!


Leaders play an interesting part in that, subject to selection of this option at commencement of a scenario, a unit has to be within a leaders command range to accept orders, otherwise it will be fixed and not move that turn. Visible command ranges can be displayed at the press of a button, as can much useful unit data.

As well as the classic large scale set piece battle, the provided scenarios include a variety of actions, such as ambushes, so typical of the period, a variety of skirmishes, and many smaller actions, including a camp assault and a night action. There are 17 historic scenarios, nine further engagements that are representations of actions that took place but for which little information is known, or typical of the period, plus 16 so called table-top fights. Forces represented cover not just Romans and Carthaginians, but also the Greeks of Epirus and southern Italy, Italians and also other allies and mercenaries such as Numidians, Gauls, and Iberians.

An excellent addition, and one well supported by the on screen documentation, is a scenario editor. All existing troop types are included, each having a particular points value and scenarios can be designed on the basis of any balance of forces the designer wishes, or limited to an equal points total for each side, as with the so-called table top scenarios. Using one of the existing 38 maps and the very large unit database, new scenarios can be designed, or existing ones altered. This is relatively easy to use, and there is even a description, for those artistically minded, as to how they can change existing unit images, or design new ones.

Victory in a scenario is assessed on casualty points, both inflicted and suffered, but there are also objective hexes to fight for in some scenarios, or even just exiting your forces from a map at pre-selected points, when faced with superior forces.

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