Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

News on Lost Battles the board game

Some good news recently regarding the board game version of Phil Sabin's Lost Battles. Lost Battles is one of my favourite game systems, so it was pleasing to see this message on the yahoo group:

I now at long last can report real progress with the boardgame project. I have just sent professional wargame artist Mark Mahaffey the first instalment of his fee for the graphic design work, and we are busily discussing his already very impressive initial drafts of the box and the Empire map. I also just produced a blurb to announce the game, as follows:

'Lost Battles is 40 games in one. It is based on Professor Philip Sabin's decades of research and simulation design on ancient warfare, and it includes an updated copy of his very successful 130,000 word book, with extensive historical and design notes on every scenario. The book was described by Professor Barry Strauss (author of 'The Trojan War', 'The Battle of Salamis' and 'The Spartacus War') as 'utterly fascinating' and as 'required reading for anyine interested in ancient warfare'. The game covers battles and campaigns in the Mediterranean and Near East from the Persian defeat at Marathon in 490 BC to Caesar's victory at Pharsalus in 48 BC. It has been exhaustively tested and refined over the past several years, and it has already spawned a Yahoo discussion group which contains twice as many words as there are in the book itself!

'The game can be fought on three levels - the grand tactical, the grand strategic, or a combination of the two. At the grand tactical level, 1 or 2 players may refight any of 35 different land battles such as Leuctra, Gaugamela, Raphia, Cannae, Cynoscephalae or the Sambre - far more than in any other single boxed game. At the grand strategic level, 1 to 4 players may refight the epic duels of the two centuries from 350 to 150 BC, starting with the eclipse of Achaemenid Persia by Alexander of Macedon, and ending with Hannibal's campaigns and the conquest of Carthage and the Hellenistic states by the resurgent Roman republic. The most ambitious games combine these two levels, and see 1 to 4 players using tactical battles to resolve strategic campaigns across part or all of this two century period, or else refighting a series of historical battles to decide conflicts such as the three-cornered contest for dominance between Athens, Sparta and Thebes from the start of the Peloponnesian War to the death of Epaminondas.

'The accent throughout is on combining historical accuracy with speed and accessibility. The free-standing strategic game may be completed in just 30 minutes, while individual land battles may be refought in two hours or less. There is constant player interaction, and a series of tortuous dilemmas - how should the scarce command points be allocated across the battlefront, which troop types should be put in the lead against particular opponents, should units attack all-out at the cost of becoming exhausted themselves, and should generals join the fighting to rally their disheartened men at the risk of being killed and so making things far worse? The game includes all the many troop types from hoplites, legionaries, phalangites and archers to cataphracts, scythed chariots and war elephants, and it includes simple rules to reflect the huge differences in generalship and troop quality and to allow outclassed armies to win a handicapped 'game victory' even if they are defeated on the field, as long as they do better than they did historically. All aspects of the game are avowedly solitaire-friendly, and can be run by a single player swapping sides just as easily as by one or more players per side.

'As befits the successor to Fifth Column Games' inaugural and widely praised product 'Where There is Discord', the deluxe components are graphically stunning, thanks again to the work of famous boardgame artist Mark Mahaffey. Tactical battles are fought on a 5 x 4 grid of full colour 5 inch square hard mounted terrain tiles, which dovetail to form any desired battlefield. The individually die-cut counters have rounded corners and are also in full colour - they depict the various different troop types in sumptuous detail thanks to their large size, which ranges up to 2 inches across. The strategic game is fought using plastic game pieces on a hard mounted 33 by 12 inch map showing a stunning image of the area from Spain to India. Besides the book, the game also includes a 64 page A4 booklet of rules and examples of play, in full colour throughout and supplemented by three double-sided sheets of charts and tables. There is no need for the usual card spacer to bulk out the contents, since the wealth of components fill the oversized box to the brim!

'Lost Battles is being produced in a one-off deluxe edition, and is expected to sell out quickly just as did both printings of Where There is Discord. To be sure of your copy, place your order at the special pre-production price as soon as the website goes live.'

We are now reaching the stage where YOU can help make sure that the game is published as soon as possible. Mark is setting up folders on Boardgame Geek and Consimworld, separate from those for the book itself, and we really need as many of you as possible to take up the discussion there and to create the 'buzz' which the game needs to succeed. Mark is now a member of this Yahoo group, and I hope he will be able to request help and solicit ideas directly in the near future. The website at Fifth Column Games will come shortly once we have enough of Mark's graphics to make a real splash, and you will then at long last be able to order your own copies.

I am investing a lot of my own money in this project, so please help me to make it work by being as forthcoming as you have on this site in the past, and helping newcomers to the system to see how much fun it is to play.

Thanks in advance,

It's great to see progress being made on what should be quite a box of goodies.

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