Hannibal's War is a two-player, three-player or four-player wargame of intermediate complexity, simulating the struggle to gain control of the western Mediterranean and the lands surrounding it during the late 3rd century BC. That struggle historically pitted Rome against Carthage in a titanic clash that shaped the fate of the Western world for the next several centuries. The historical scenario therefore also pits two players against each other, one commanding Rome and the other Carthage. Third and fourth players can be added, however, to explore the possibilities had the 2nd Punic War grown even larger through greater Gallic and Macedonian participation. Each player has a variety of military and political instruments with which he can attempt to carve out an empire and annihilate his foes. The game uses an evolution of the system first presented in the earlier, and much liked, S&T game "1066." It's designed by S&T Editor Joseph Miranda.
The square-grid map shows all the western and central Mediterranean from Iberia on the west to Greece in the east. Each square equals 100 Roman miles from side to side.
Each of the iconic units within the large-size counter-mix (176 total), by famed artist Nicolas Eskubi, represents about 5,000 to 20,000 combatants. The unit-types represented include: legions, phalanxes, Gaesati (fanatic barbarian warriors), light infantry, cavalry, garrisons, war elephants, and fleets.
Each of the 17 game turns equals one year, and experienced players can count on being able to finish a match in about four to six hours. The game turn sequence is as follows:
Olympian Phase. Players consult the random events table.
Initiative Determination Phase. Players determine which player go first this game turn. That player performs the first operations phase, with every other player then doing the same, one at a time, clockwise around the table.
Taxation Phase. Each player tallies the number of points for the cities he occupies. That's added to his total number of points in his treasury.
Agora Phase. The first player picks, without looking at them, a number of campaign markers equal to twice the number of players. Those markers are placed face down in front of all the player. Then, starting with the first player, players bid treasury points for them.
Negotiations Phase. The players may make agreements with each other to trade campaign markers or treasury points.
Mobilization Phase. Each player expends treasury points to get new units, construct camps and/or to remove pillage markers.
First Operation. The first player conducts operations with one force by paying one point or performing an attrition check. During that operation, the selected force conducts the following in this order: 1) movement; 2) attrition check; 3) treachery check; 4) combat; and 5) pillage.
Second & Subsequent Operations. The next player then conducts operations as above. Continue rotating through the players until one of the following first occurs: 1) all players pass; or 2) there are no units remaining on the map.