Ancient Pub Battles Review

Ancient Pub Battles: Cannae

Ancient Pub Battles is now available from Command Post Games. It is available for the very economical price of $44.76, Get it here. This is possible because it needs no map, Ancient battles having been generally fought on level fields. Disclaimer: The faux leather playing mat is my own pimpware, purchased from a local fabric store. It looks cool, but is absolutely unnecessary.

Ancient Pub Battles is markedly different from its black powder era predecessors. Rather than command being dependent on subordination (Army>Corps>Division), it is dependent on proximity. The leaders move first and then measure command from their final position. Additionally, it does not matter if the unit has already moved. If you have three leaders, they could move the same unit 3 times! As powerful as this sounds, it means that the rest of your army is just stationary. That is a rare luxury to have. Usually, you are strapped trying to keep your army in one piece.

Instead of depending on units in range, a leader may move adjacent to a block of adjacent units and that whole block may move as one, even if parts of it are out of the leaders command range. In the early turns it is quite easy to move your entire army around, after the lines clash and the large blocks get broken up, you are left trying to manage disparate forces, some ready to press a defeated foe, others spent and fleeing.

The basic game comes with 4 kinds of infantry, 2 kinds of Cav, and elephants! I’m sure future scenarios will include even more.

True to Pub Battles nature, the focus is on a quick play, command focused, gaming experience. This is ideal for those with less time, or for taking along while traveling. If you want a more detailed and specific simulation experience, this may not be for you.

I say may because one of the best features of this system is how adaptable it is to personal preferences. Do you think Roman Legions should get a special bonus? Knock yourself out! The system plays well and is balanced as is. Once you start changing things, all bets are off.

In that spirit, here are the mods I am currently using, developed after a few games.

Cavalry gets +1. This replaces the official rule that cav gets -1 v. fresh units and +1 v. spent units. I feel this is a remnant from the black powder rules where units formed squares. The effect of the official rule is to make cavalry skittish and useless except when facing spent troops and this doesn’t quite feel right, to me.

The Historical scenarios are balanced as is and shouldn’t be changed. For DYO point buy battles, I make leaders work a little differently. For each pip on their leadership rating they get a command action. Each block (of one or more units) requires one pip to move. It also costs one pip to rally one unit. All such units must be within command range with blocks of units only requiring a part of the block within range. Each side gets 9-12 pips (each side equal).
Ex. For 12 points you could get a 5, a 4, and a 3 pip leader, or four 3 pip leaders, or any other combination adding up to 12.

Interestingly, If you play the historical scenarios using this rule, you will see how Hannibal managed to win so many battles. This may even be more historically accurate, but it certainly isn’t fun to play Rome!

One thought on “Ancient Pub Battles Review

  1. Loving playing this so far. Still hammering out the mods that make the most sense to me. The mechanic of losing HQs is vicious and makes for great situations. It could be considered gamey, but also fun. At first thought the battlefield size seamed small, but now think it’s just right. Crazy how much can happen in the first turn if both sides play aggressively!

    Liked by 1 person

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