The Successors (TAHGC),

playings, 3, 6 hours.

The box describes this as a 3 or 4 player game and the rules allow 2 to 4 players, I have been playing it solo. Oddly it handles rather well solitaire, better than its predecessors Hannibal and We the People. This is because a CRT replaces the tactical card system. It was hard to keep track of 2 sets of tactical cards, avoid mixing them up or dropping them on the floor and trying not to remember what is in each hand. This is all avoided here by a 2D6 roll for each player modified by each strategy rating. I was never too keen on tactical cards even on the sole occasion that I played a live game with them. The new CRT will retrofit onto Hannibal with only 1 problem. The cards are used to determine how many attrition losses each side took. This could be replaced by using [the difference in combat scores] Ė6 (or some other number found by trial and error) with a minimum of 1 as the column used. This will make losses heavier in the more even battles. Hannibal players are urged to get hold of this CRT and make the necessary changes.

I cannot accurately comment on multi-player balance in this game. There are 8 generals that are dealt 2 each for 4 or 3 players and 4 each with 2 players. The 3 player set up requires 2 generals to turn up (or not) during the game which represents a drop in accuracy as some key players are not in at the start. The 2-player game probably allows too much co-ordination with a mere 2 power blocks in the every man for himself situation. 4 players has the disadvantage that 1 of the 4 is likely to be squeezed out before the end. This may be a common problem with multi-player jobs, I will not comment. Of the 8 generals each has a set starting position and troop manifest, 2 more may turn up during the game not including the 2 left out with 3 players. Some of these positions are better than others. In best position is Ptolemy in Egypt who has no near rival and some easy early game expansion. 2 generals set up in the east in roughly Iraq and Iran, 2 others are nearby in Macedonia and Thrace. The other 3 are relatively close in parts of Turkey. With 2 generals each the pair could be close together giving military strength but limited expansion or well apart. This all gives quite a mix to the initial start, some combinations are stronger than others are but there is a good deal of luck in the cards that come up which could counter this.

The 2 player or solitaire set up could be improved by dealing 4 generals each and having 1 designated as the primary general for each faction. The other 6 cards are dealt into the fate pack at the end of the 1st turn and will change sides if drawn by the opposition. A defecting general will take his stack with him if he is alone or will be placed in any friendly space by the new owner if he is stacked with another opposing general. That should keep the factions wobbly and encourage generals sticking together, as they did. If this option is played it is wise to photocopy the general cards and use ownership tokens to show who has who at any time.

Generals can die in combat, which reduces the movement potential for that player. Minor generals are available but these fight less well and move more slowly so losing major generals is a blow. Combat leads to losses, either side may permanently lose generals, the loser is also dispersed. All surviving losing units are placed off-map until the beginning of the next turn. A defeat at the start of a turn will be worse than at the end because it restricts the player. Combat is differential based and risky, there is a chance of either side losing except at high differentials and the effects of losing are heavy. These risks may lead to generals facing off with neither daring to attack nor move away and allow the other to move into its position. This seems a fair recreation of period feel although there are probably better and less obvious game strategies.

As might be expected fate cards strongly influence the game. There are only 64 of these with a possible 5 turns of 20 cards each. The pack is shuffled after every turn so some of these cards are not going to turn up. Play goes in rounds per faction with a single card played and then movement. Major campaign cards allow a single general to move 4 points in the card play segment but other cards do not allow movement. They are used for random events or placing control markers, sometimes both. Movement is handling by rolling a D6, if this is above a generalís rating he can move 4, equal gives 3 and below 2. Control is the old Go type of mechanism except with isolation occurring after every turn 20 (cards) there will not be much isolation. The geography of the map allows some big isolation, much of the east can be lost but leads to all of the empty spaces being filled by turn 2 or even 1. The Successor controlled spaces are very fickle and will change allegiance at the beginning of a playerís turn if he has a unit in the box. 2 additional movement points from a 3 strong stack will also remove a Successor marker. Some spaces are independent and are a different matter. Tribe spaces are as hard to subdue as cities yet even ordinary independent spaces require a subjugation attempt to remove them. Independent armies and certain fate cards can cause independent control to spread. There are some serious victory points tied up around independent Greece and it frees up an alternative route to rich Egypt. The presence of the independent markers will tend to reduce the amount of action in this area below historical levels, it is so much easier to slice of parts of other Successor realms.

Victory is a little confusing but pretty swift, many games will not make it to turn 5. We have victory points for controlling areas, hitting a maximum will bring instant victory. This is confused by legitimacy and prestige. Legitimacy is gained by controlling aspects of Alexanderís old Empire, 18 point will guarantee an instant win but is very hard to achieve. This almost requires taking Alexanderís body to Macedon for burial. It starts in Babylon, will not move on turn 1 and will need to fight its way through. If a player is in a position to achieve this he is probably going to win on victory points. Other legitimacy points are gained for not attacking the others (these donít last long) and for control of parts of the royal family. You can only get points for controlling 1 of the 3 possible kings and for marrying 1 of 2 possible heiresses. At the beginning of turn 4 one prince comes of age and another at the start of turn 5. If you control the right pawn at the right time victory and legitimacy are combined for a possible instant win. Prestige is not linked to victory but is used to influence royal army units who will not fight against a player with greater prestige. Often both players will have zero. It would have been less confusing to combine legitimacy and prestige as they are both measures of success.