DGS Games

GrogHeads Reviews Ancient Battle: Hannibal

Review by Michael Eckenfels, 13 September 2014

Developed and Published by Hunted Cow Studios, for iOS (iPad) and Mac (Reviewed on iPad)

Wargaming on the go sounds great – but how does it play?  Michael gives you the low-down…

Hunted Cow Studios is an interesting developer. Before I reviewed this title, I already owned two of their games that I had bought through the App Store (Civil War: 1863 and Tank Battle: 1944). I was already familiar with their titles and their game system, and had heard of this one (as well as the others, like Ancient Battle: Rome), so their games are not a mystery to me.

ABHhexes 2

I say all that because, in essence, every Hunted Cow Studios game is the same thing, just with different wrappers. Civil War: 1863 is Tank Battle: 1944 is Ancient Battle: Hannibal is…well, you get the point. Couple this with in-app purchases, something that annoys me greatly, and you’ve got a relatively lukewarm wargame on your hands.

That is not to say, however, that this is a bad thing. The kind of gameplay these titles deliver are pretty much hexagon slugfests for grogs looking to get a fix on their iPad or iPhones – they do not deliver deep and gritty gameplay. If you buy a Hunted Cow Studios game with that in mind, and the thought of a relatively light wargame sounds good, then this is likely right up your alley.

ABHtitle screen

title screen

In Ancient Battle: Hannibal, you can play either the Carthaginians or the Romans as they campaign to extinguish each other from the planet. There are two campaigns you can play – an Italian and a Sicilian. The Italian campaign comes with eight missions for each side, and the Sicilian campaign comes with four for each side. There is also a Spanish campaign (six missions) and an African (four missions) campaign that can be bought in-app for $0.99 each. There is also a tutorial campaign with seven short missions to guide new players through gameplay, teaching things like charging and flank attacks, as well as how to utilize infantry and cavalry. There’s a lot of good info in those tutorial missions, and even those familiar with other Hunted Cow Studios titles should take note to learn the differences.

campaign selection

campaign selection

sicilian campaign missions

sicilian campaign missions

mission intro

mission intro

The missions are relatively straightforward with sharply-defined goals: capture all control points, eliminate 75% of the enemy army, don’t lose 75% of your army, or destroy the enemy camp, among several others. Complying with these goals will win the mission for you, or lose it accordingly. Most are relatively evenly matched, and they come down to chess-like strategy to win.

mission goals

mission goals

This strategy is pretty straightforward. Light Infantry are excellent skirmishers that can shoot projectiles but they’re terrible in melee combat.Medium infantry is best fighting in any terrain but open. Heavy infantry are better at fighting in the open but not in close terrain. Cavalry is similar – light cavalry and elephant units are great in any terrain but open, while heavy cavalry is best in open? terrain. All of this is taught in the tutorial campaign, which is why I say it’s best to not skip it to learn these bits.

Movement and combat takes place over a hexagonal grid, so your wargaming fix is here for sure. You simply tap a unit to select it, and then tap a hex to move it or fire at something in that hex. You can tap a hex with an enemy unit and if it’s in range, your unit will run up to it and attack it.

how to help

how to help

Light infantry isn’t always accommodating and will melt away if you come at them with melee units, which is glorifyingly frustrating but accurate, as they will draw in unsuspecting players into traps where heavier units await to eviscerate them (ahem). Units animate and you see them marching (or riding) towards their foes. Everything boils down to maneuvering your units into favorable positions to eliminate the enemy AI. While that’s pretty simplistic to say and probably sounds obvious, that’s really all there is to it. Not paying attention to unit strengths and weaknesses, much like chess, will also lose you the game .

One thing I do greatly like about Hunted Cow’s games, and it is here in Ancient Battle: Hannibal as well, is that there is a fog of war present. There is an added level of enjoyment when moving the Carthaginian army forward only to see a wall of darkened hexes ahead. I wonder what Roman evil such a veil hides and get suitably paranoid (though I prefer the term ‘cautious’ myself).

ABHhexes 1

The gameplay, while repetitive in every Hunted Cow Studios release, could be seen as being comfortably so. After all, you might be able to count on one hand how many ‘true’ hexagon wargames there are for iOS platforms, at least hexagon wargames that take very little effort to get into. With any games from these guys, you can dive right in and literally in a couple of minutes play your first campaign. Complexity, apart from learning unit balance and employment, is practically nil. This is a good thing, at least to me.

tutorial mission description

tutorial mission description

I despise in-app purchases. There’s nothing that makes me skip over a game faster than seeing that little notation in the App Store. For me, I want to buy a game and be done with it – I want it to be mine and I don’t want to have to spend bucks to download extra packs or content. It annoys me to no end.

That all said, I will say this: Hunted Cow Studios games are the ONLY games I’ve ever made in-app purchases on. I did that for both Civil War: 1863 and Tank Battle: 1944, and for me to say I did so and had no hesitation in doing it, that should tell you something about buying from them.

victory

victory

An added appeal is that their extra content tends only to be ninety-nine cents, so it’s hard to part with that kind of coin and regret it later. Besides, the game (Ancient Battle: Hannibal, specifically) gives you two campaigns to choose from and plenty of opportunity to decide if in-app extras are worth that buck or not.

So in the end, what are you getting from buying a copy of Ancient Battle: Hannibal? You get essentially 24 missions (12 of the same battles, albeit from different perspectives), each portraying light, hexagonal-based wargaming with a Rome versus Carthage wrapping around it. Their games are inexpensive, the in-app purchases even more so, and for a quick wargaming fix, it’s hard to beat any of their products.

 


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tutorial missions

tutorial missions

 

tutorial mission description

tutorial mission description

 

defeat!

defeat!

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