«Commands and Colors: Ancients» review

Commands and Colors: Ancients

Many years and centuries people had a lot of wars and conflicts. History remembers all of this and nothing can change it. «Commands & Colors: Ancients» board game strategy by «GMT games» shows us the warfare from the ancient times of 3000 b.c. to the early medieval of 400 A.D.

This game was designed by Richard Borg. He took part in such notable projects as Battle Cry (2000), Memoir 44 (2004) and many others.

Illustrations and arts were made by Rodger B. MacGowan. You may be know him by the arts from such games as Cross of Iron (1978), Struggle of Nations (1982) and etc.

Commands and Colors: Ancients - Baecula

Inside the box

Actually, this game is delivered with usual cardboard package but of course there are lots of variants of wooden storages for pieces and cards! So, here’s the list of them:

  • Battlefield Game Map (it is not mounted map but a cardboard paper);
  • 45 Double-Sided Terrain Tiles;
  • 60 Command Cards;
  • 7 Battle Dice;
  • 2 Player Reference cards;
  • Rule Book;
  • Scenario Book;
  • Blocks (345 pieces):
    • 220 Small Gray and Brown Blocks;
    • 16 Small Black Blocks;
    • 81 Medium Gray and Brown Blocks;
    • 12 Large Gray and Brown Blocks;
    • 16 Rectangular Gray and Brown Blocks;
  • Assembly Items:
    • 5 Block and Dice Label Sheets;

Also, at this link you will find the reference sheet!

Commands and Colors: Ancients - Gameplay


«Command & Colors: Ancients» is designed to show the realism of historical battles to players. It has 15 battles which focused on historical events like Bagradas, Cannae and Zama. The command card system creates an intrigue, challenge and a lot of opportunities. This game has four types of command cards – Leadership, Section, Troop and Tactic cards. Battle dice system gives you all the combat quickly and fully. Game mechanics will require tactical card play, though they are pretty simple. You can achieve victory in war campaign only if you use tactics and evade not necessary risk and also roll your wooden dice and play your cards in proper way.


So, here are the rules from the «Commands & Colors:Ancients»board game 3rd edition. They are basic for all of the previous versions. So, this is how to play stuff:

The War Council notes state which player is first to go. Players take turns until one of the players has the number of Victory Banners which are shown in the scenario’s victory conditions. During the turn you must follow the actions below:

  1. Play a Command card;
  2. Order units and leaders;
  3. Move;
  4. Battle (combat between units);
  5. Draw a new Command card;

Commands and Colors: Ancients - Spartans Attack The Athenians

Remember, all movements must be completed before any battle (between two units) is taken. Also, each battle must be completed before another battle is started.

The object of the game is to be the first player who captures a set number of Victory Banners (usually 5 to 8). It depends on the selected battle scenario’s victory conditions. Players can get a Victory Banner for each destroyed enemy leader or enemy unit. When the last block of a unit or a leader is eliminated you should collect one Victory Banner block. Additional Victory Banners can be earned by occupation of a terrain hexes or other objectives.

Solo play

«Commands and Colors» is a card management game and many players think it is actually good for solo playing.

It works like this – you give each side the opportunity to play the best as they can with your help. Then you pick up next card and remember not to look at it. But there could be some problems with “Counterattack”. It’s a powerful card but the mystery disappears when you play it as another player. Of course, you can just take them out of the deck, but still this game is enough playable in solo mode too.

Commands and Colors: Ancients - Light Cavalry

Game Scenarios

Ticinus River

This scenario is one of the most popular among the others because it provides us the story of Hannibal. He was one of the greatest warlords who accomplished the epic march through Alps.

The set for this scenario is:

  • War Council;
  • Carthagian Army:
    • Leader: Hannibal;
    • 5 Command Cards;
    • Move First;
  • Roman Army:
    • Leader: Publius Scipio;
    • 4 Command Cards;


6 Banners;

Special Rules

Ticinus River is not fordable.

Commands and Colors: Ancients - Battle of Trebia


The Greece & Eastern Kingdoms

Commands and Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack 1 – Greece and Eastern Kingdoms

This expansion provides scenarios that show the hoplites struggle with enormous Persian army at Marathon and Plataea.

It has over 20 scenarios and also over 300 new unit blocks and etc.

Rome and The Barbarians

Commands and Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack 2 – Rome and The Barbarians

This expansion has historical battles that are focused on Rome and the early Gallic invasion. Also, it provides the invasion of the Northmen, the Servile War and etc.

The Roman Civil Wars

Commands and Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack 3 – The Roman Civil Wars

This expansion has familiar units with some new capabilities. Medium infantry units and heavy infantry units will be able to move two hexes without engaging in close combat, or still move one hex and have close combat. You will be able to fight battles with medium and heavy infantry as you have never experienced it before!

Imperial Rome

Commands and Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack 4 – Imperial Rome

Imperial Rome is packed full interesting play features and units like cataphracted cavalry, wagon laager forts, massed units of horse archers and etc. If you have Commands & Colors: Ancients it won’t be a problem to learn some special rules.


  • 293 blocks and 4 sticker sheets;
  • Sheet of new terrain tiles;
  • Two wooden card holders;
  • Scenario booklet (with 24 scenarios);
  • 2 reference cards.

Commands & Colors: Epic Ancients II

Commands and Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack 5 – Epic Ancients II

This expansion allows experienced players to fight historical battles in Epic style. It provides eight friends to experience the competitive spirit of an Epic size Ancients battle though Epic Ancients is excellent for two players if they want to spend some time in a battle.

This expansion has these contents:

  • Commands & Colors: Ancients Epic Rule Book (2nd edition);
  • Special Deck of 100 Command cards which are designed for Epic play;
  • Twelve Epic Ancients battles on six 11×17 battle cards;
  • 2 wooden card holders.

The Spartan Army

Commands and Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack 6 – The Spartan Army

This expansion gives all the blocks and stickers which are useful to field a Spartan Army and its allies.

If you know the Commands & Colors: Ancients rules it won’t be a trouble to learn the special rules for Hoplite infantry. The basic game mechanics remain unchanged.


  • Rule/Scenario Booklet that features historical scenarios (26);
  • Reference Card;
  • Blocks (228);
  • Block Label sheets;
  • 2 Terrain Tile Sheets: each contains 15 double-sided Terrain Tiles.

Rome vs the Barbarians; The Roman Civil Wars

Commands and Colors: Ancients Expansions 2 and 3 - Rome vs the Barbarians; The Roman Civil Wars

This expansion is a combined reprint of Rome and The Roman Civil Wars. It has all of the individual components (separate books of scenarios and etc.) of those products, but without the boards which are included with them originally.

Online and iOS versions

In 2012 the Playdeck company announced the collaboration with GMT games to make the «Combats and Colors: Ancients» app for iOS. It is still unclear about what has been already made but we are still optimistic about the bringing this game to your iPad or iPhone…

As for the online experience this game is available on Vassal service!

Similar Games

Many people who tried «Command & Colors» also compared it vs «Napoleonics» and vs «Memoir 44». Let’s take a closer look at them!

«Napoleonics» feels very different from the «Ancients» but it’s not about better or worse. Ancients could be slightly faster and funnier than «Napoleonics» though «Napoleonics» has more tension in game play. Also, «Ancients» has a lot of scenarios, something like 200, though «Napoleonics» has only one page of them. But still, these games are different and there is no better or worse game.

If to compare with «Memoir 44», «Commands and Colors» are much complicated in the rulebook but Commands and Colors are much deeper in terms of game process. Also, «Memoir 44» has plastic miniatures which are preferable for most players than blocks in «Commands and Colors».

Commands and Colors: Ancients - Romans


  • Q: Which units are ordered when I play a clash of shields card?
  • A: All units adjacent to an enemy unit when the command card is played are ordered. This can get a little confusing, especially as the combats take place and enemy units retreat. When there is going to be a lot of combats, we find marking the units eligible to battle will help. Note units that are ordered on the Clash of Shields may not fire.
  • Q: May I “Counter Attack” the “I Am Spartacus” command card?
  • A: Yes, you will roll dice equal to your command, which could mean you would roll more or less dice than your opponent.
  • Q: My opponent used an Order Heavy Troops card to order 1 unit because he did not have any Heavy units and I played the Counter Attack card, may I order heavy troops equal to Command or do I have to only order 1 unit?
  • A: You may order heavy units equal to your Command.
  • Q: When a command card says equal to command, how many units are ordered when the number of command cards changes in a scenario?
  • A: The number of units that are ordered is equal the number of command cards you currently hold including the card being played.

Commands and Colors: Ancients - Death of a Leader



History in board games has always been one of the most interesting setting because you have the opportunity to take the roll of famous warlords or politicians. «Commands & Colors: Ancients» has a lot of features – good setting, quite simple rulebook and a lot of fun! What else do you need for a good game experience! Buy this game on Amazon!

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