In 216 B.C., a Roman Army of 85,000 men, mainly heavy infantry, arrayed itself before the Carthaginian Army of Hannibal. The two opposing forces were drawn up for battle on a coastal plain near a site in Italy known as Cannae. The Roman Army, although superior in overall numbers, was weak in cavalry. Moreover, the Roman position was very precarious because the sea was at the army’s back; hence, any large scale retreat in the aftermath of a defeat would be impossible. Thus, the two armies had eyed each other warily for several days; finally, on the morning of 3 August, the Romans advanced against the Carthaginian line. Hannibal’s force, mainly mercenaries, numbered only about 50,000 men, but his army enjoyed a significant cavalry advantage over the Roman force opposing him; this advantage in horsemen was the key to Hannibal’s plan of battle. As the Roman Legions advanced, Hannibal ordered his center, already purposefully weakened so that he could strengthen his flanks, to give ground in the face of the enemy attack. As the Romans pushed forward against the retreating Carthaginian line, the advancing legions became mingled and disordered. At this point in the battle, Hannibal ordered his cavalry to charge and drive off the horsemen covering the Roman flanks. After a short clash, the out-numbered Roman cavalry fled the field and the Carthaginian horsemen continued their sweep around the enemy rear until they had completely enveloped the Roman Army. With enemy soldiers now completely surrounding them, the Roman infantrymen were soon pressed together so tightly that they could no longer maneuver or even deploy to face the attackers on their flanks and rear; the Romans were slaughtered. Hannibal’s force lost approximately 5,700 men; over 50,000 Romans perished, including 80 Roman Senators and the Consul Æmilius. It was the worst military defeat in the young Roman Republic’s history.
HANNIBAL is a grand strategic simulation of the conflict that took place from 218 to 201 B.C. between the two dominant military and commercial powers of the Mediterranean Basin, Rome and Carthage. This was the second of three wars that would be fought before Carthage and its empire was finally utterly crushed and Rome’s absolute dominance of the Western Mediterranean secured.
HANNIBAL is a two-player game with each player commanding either the armies of Rome or the largely mercenary forces of Carthage. The game system utilizes a combination of leaders, combat units, and political markers. Leadership is critical, but the real flow and tempo of the game derives from the players’ use of “strategy and battle cards” which are essential for everything from movement, to raising troops, to conducting battlefield operations. The game mechanics are both fast-moving and extremely playable, features that encourage the players to test and retest their skills against their historical counterparts. Thus, the game revisits history by asking questions that only the players can answer. Can you, as Hannibal, translate your tactical victories into strategic success? Or can you, as Scipio Africanus, drive Hannibal and his army back into Africa, and smash him, once and for all, at Zama?
HANNIBAL offers only the two-player standard game; there are no alternate scenarios or optional rules. The absence of optional “what if?” scenarios, however, is really not as much of a liability as one might think: it turns out that play rarely, if ever, develops along exactly the same lines in different games. HANNIBAL, for all of its good features, does present problems for those players who have difficulty rounding up opponents. The game system, regrettably, does not lend itself well to solitaire play due to its heavy reliance on the “strategy and battle cards” for maneuver and combat resolution.
- Time Scale: 1–2 months
- Map Scale: not given (point to point movement)
- Unit Size: each combat unit equals approximately 3000 men
- Unit Types: leaders, combat units, and information markers
- Number of Players: two
- Complexity: average/below average
- Solitaire Suitability: low
- Average Playing Time: 2½-3 hours
- One (two section) 22” x 32” point to point Map Sheet (with various Player Charts and Terrain Key incorporated)
- 64 Combat Unit and General Counters
- 132 Political Markers
- One 8” x 11” Rules Booklet
- 64 Strategy Cards
- 48 Battle Cards
- 14 plastic Stands
- One six-sided Die
- One “The Italian Allies Addendum” Rules Addition
- One Avalon Hill Catalogue (1996)
- One Customer Response Card
- One 8½” x 11½” x 2” bookcase style Game Box