The game comes with a a huge number of grey blocks (the armies of Rome) and brown blocks (Carthage), and a book of scenarios based on real battles; while there's nothing to stop you setting up your own games from scratch, these scenarios offer a real two (or one) player challenge.
Infantry units are made up of four small blocks, while cavalry are three. So infantry can take four hits before they're destroyed, cavalry one less.
|Hannibal's heavy cavalry, and Hannibal, a leader block peeking out from behind . . .|
|Scipio with some medium cavalry, and light infantry in front.|
Like Manoeuvre, you play a card from your hand to order a certain number of troops. Those troops can move, and then attack - you roll the custom dice, and hope to roll the symbol associated with the units you're attacking, and purple helmets if you're attacking with a leader.
|The order cards . . .|
|. . . and the dice.|
|Scipio (grey) facing off against Hannibal (and two other Carthaginian leaders), ready to go.|
That's the Ticinus river in the foreground - it's all quiet apart from the babbling brook . . .
|Carthaginian and Roman banners in the dice tray. And a box of horses.|
In the first three rounds, Hannibal swept in with his light cavalry on both flanks, and the Romans met them head on with their six light infantry units. Both sides took damage, but no banners were won.
|Hannibal's right flank sweeps in, and Scipio's light infantry rises to the challenge.|
|Hannibals left flank, which Scipio blocked with more light infantry.|
Then things got interesting. Hannibal played Darken the Skies, allowing his light infantry to unleash several waves of nasty arrows. Two infantry units were lost, the rest driven back against the Roman edge of the board.
|A great card to have with the right units in the right places.|
|Roman infantry in tatters.|
Rome retaliates with his medium cavalry, trying to hold back the advancing cavalry. They successfully take out a weakened unit, but the leader escapes.
|Rome recoups. A bit.|
Round 5, and Hannibal unleashes his heavy cavalry - but they can only move two spaces, so they're not within combat range yet - perhaps he has something up his sleeve. Scipio plays counter attack, allowing to copycat Hannibals order for his own men - he brings the rest of his medium cavalry up to meet the Carthaginian heavy cavalry. One of Rome's units got in a pop at Hannibal himself.
|He got two hits in, but then Hannibal battled back and took him out completely!|
Round 6 - Hannibal plays the Mounted Charge card he had up his sleeve, allowing five ordered units to battle with an extra die. This could well be game over for Rome.
But amazingly, the Roman cavalry fall back without a single hit! Unfortunately Scipio's out of good cards, and has to order his straggling infantry. Thy manage to take out a wounded cavalry unit, but the Carthaginian leader escapes again. Score is now Carthage 3 banners, Rome 2.
Hannibal orders his left flank, which successfully takes a fourth banner, and sets up his line for a commanding push next round. Some of the cards allow you to order troops that are adjacent, so it is imperative to hold your line. And it is equally imperative to try and break your opponent's line if you think they're gearing up.
Rome has picked up one such card, but need manoeuvre Scipio in to position to be able to use it. So he plays an otherwise useless card to move Scipio . . .
Hannibal plays his Inspired Leadership card to drive his heavy cavalry against Scipio - they take out a unit for banner five, and have Scipio pinned.
|The final push|
|Scipio's attached cavalry unit is destroyed for banner five, leaving him defenceless.|
When a leader's attached unit is destroyed, he has to roll a Leader casualty check. One purple helmet and he's done for. They think its all over . . .
. . . it is now.
Final score Carthage 6, Rome 2.
So that's how I've been filling the gaming void. Whether you like a bit of direct conflict or not, you've got to admit, it makes for a better play by play than Tinners Trail.