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From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Gottardo Zancani



Copyright 2000, Gottardo Zancani

Hoplites, named after the heavily-armored troops of ancient Greece, is an excellent, although unofficial, computer version of SPQR, a cardgame-style tabletop wargame from GMT Games, which is considered among grognards one of the best renditions of ancient tactical battles ever made.

The premise in Hoplites is straightforward: you control an army and fight against the computer. Both players use a deck of card that represent the units (infantry, cavalry, etc.) and special commands (e.g. flank, rally). You draw and play these cards on a “battlefield,” which is represented as three zones: the centre, and two wings (left and right). On these fields, you can order the units to move, fire missiles, and attack the enemy in close combat.

As in the board game, units accumulate cohesion hits (i.e., disruption) through movement and combat. If they reach their limit, determined by unit quality, they rout. The combat system places emphasis on choosing the right types of units to engage; for example, using cavalry against infantry isn’t very effective unless you manage a flank attack. Leaders are activated only one after the other. you can try to activate good leaders repeatedly in a turn (called “momentum”) or interrupt the “momentum” of a weaker leader (“trumping”). This gives the game an air of authenticity, although the outcomes of battles are not always realistic.

Overall, die-hard wargamers will find a lot to like with Hoplites, especially if they are familiar with SPQR the board game. It’s easy to get into, sports a decent AI, and is very faithful to the original card/board game. Highly recommended!

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