Painless
Rating: 9
Rating after one game where I, as Sparta, managed to squeak home with a victory. I suspect that the chance allocation of neutrals plays too large a role in the ultimate result of any game . . . but that will come clear after a few more plays. Hexes are too small - map should have been much larger to ease congestion. The rules are a bit vague in places and will, for those unfamiliar with the system, lead to some confusion. That all said, I do like the game and am looking forward to my next play.

Update - after 3 plays - my rating has risen from 7.5 to 9; rules are a bit clearer now, however, I still think the victory conditions favour the Athenian player . . .
ric manns
Rating: 9
This is a winner!
Charles Vasey
Rating: 8.7
Simpler than most Pelop games without being mindless, plays quickly once you've learned which attacks work. I particularly like the flavoursome Revolt rules.
mdollin
Rating: 8.5
Played a few games with an Aussie pilot friend, and enjoyed the mismatched forces- naval versus land, with Sparta constantly stretching an Athenian empire that refuses to snap. Not sure why the Athenians should ever bother with Sicily, though there are methods to make it an easier and thus more lucrative target. If you could add a draw/modify victory conditions such that Athens needn't just hunker down to win it would also make a Sicilian expedition a more likely possibility.

Good game for use of the block mechanism, nothing worse than finding the elite Athenian Hoplite where you don't want him to be...

Would like to try Hellenes when it comes out too.
Nap16
Rating: 8
Blocks go to ancient Greece. Game Rated: #2965. Game Played: #13790.
alexisW
Rating: 8
A medium sized operational wargame of an era I know little of. Besides the historical discussion of military accuracy, I find the game tense and very intriguing to play. The overall situation at start poses a problem for both players. The usage of cards to generate opportunities for grabbing VPs are really great and exciting.

Tactically challenging but still dependent on the die rolls. A good game to test your calculated 'risk' with skill.
RoderichAugust
Rating: 8
Von den Regeln her etwas uneinheitliches, bisweilen auch etwas unnötig kompliziertes (z.B. bei Belagerungen) Blockgame zum Peloponnesischen Krieg. Hat unlängst Konkurrenz erhalten von GMT's Hellenes, das ich indes noch nicht besitze.
RoderichAugust
Rating: 8
Von den Regeln her etwas uneinheitliches, bisweilen auch etwas unnötig kompliziertes (z.B. bei Belagerungen) Blockgame zum Peloponnesischen Krieg. Hat starke Konkurrenz erhalten von GMT's "Hellenes", das allerdings den Krieg ("nur") in Teilszenarien präsentiert, mir jedoch insb. mit Blick auf Belagerungen realistischer zu sein scheint.
Karel
Rating: 8
In my view the best of the HotS type of games. Not a game of decisive battles and dramatic sieges, but one where both players rely on hit and run tactics and small advantages that are slowly accrued.The asymmetry between Sparta's military might and Athens' naval power is nicely captured, and I especially like the revolt blocks that are always there to open an otherwise static situation. Most importanly, lots of fun.
TyrTiuLiu
Rating: 8
IMHO, the bad press on this game is unwarranted. It does a very good job capturing the asymmetic nature of the strategy and forces. I consider it the best on the topic.
ric manns
Rating: 8
This is a winner!
tonycrider
Rating: 8
Continuing with the Hammer of the Scots, Crusader Rex theme, Athens & Sparta uses similar mechanics from both introducing trireme warfare and incorporating siege. Neutral cities that can ally themselves to you when attacked by your opponent makes things interesting. The victory conditions as stated make this almost inevitable.
Endre Fodstad
Rating: 8
This game seems less asymmetrical than many other CG block games; yes, Athens is outgunned in mainlaind Greece, but being on the defensive they can hunker down and maintain sea control to make it almost suicidal for the Spartan player to besiege them - and storming fortified cities is, as always, a bloody affair.
The random nature of Allies perhaps play too large a role: if Athens gains Argos as an ally, the Spartan offensive loses steam for at least an Olympiad - if this occurs at a critical moment, Sparta is almost certain to lose. Similarily, if the Spartan is lucky with his Alliances, he can overwhelm the Athenian player in the north and storm straight for the vital Hellespoint and Abydos, choking the Athenian grain supply and really hurting the Athenian player.
On the other hand, no situation seems totally unsalvageable and even with most of my Spartans tied down besieging or blockading the Athenian (and their Argosian allies) and with a minimal navy, I had a shot of victory on the last Olympiad; a rather long one, and a gamble that failed, but it was there.
Very decent game and a different sort of playing experience to the other two premodern block games from Colombia.
simply4est
Rating: 8
Interesting block approach to the Peloponnesian War - and to a particularly assymetrical situation of naval strengths vs. land strengths.
paulus35
Rating: 8
Great block game, biased in favor of Athens. But it's a little flaw.
byfed
Rating: 7.5
Es un wargame de cubos de manera de los de columbia games, ambientado en la guerra del peloponeso. La partida se dividide en 7 olimpiadas. En cada olimpiada cada jugador dispone de 6 cartas. Esas cartas incluyen cartas de eventos y al jugarlas, permiten determinar quien jugará antes y el número de acciones de que dispondrá el jugador.
Las acciones se asignan por unidad, no por grupo.
Interesante la opción de asediar ciudades... Se tarda un poco en coger la mecánica, pero cuando se coge resulta muy entretenido.
taulus
Rating: 7.5
I have only played one full game so far, with rules version 1.0. It's a solid Columbia design, with just enough theme and chrome. While Craig Besinque's Hellenes may prove to be the better game, A&S does cover the whole war in less time. The range of choices is broader than in Crusader Rex or Hammer of Scots, because of the terrain being fought over and the greater number of units on each side. I suspect the victory conditions may be a little tough on Sparta (30 of 48 BPs of cities sets the bar awfully high, barring a seizure of Athens), but perhaps further plays will tell.
Tushratta
Rating: 7.5
Unless the Athenians do something stupid, like invade Syracuse, they have the advantage throughout. Of course allies could sway things in Sparta's favor, but Athenian naval power is pretty tough.
partino
Rating: 7.5
For those who believe this game favors the Athenians way too much, try playing it with the following two requirements: the Athenian player must attempt to conquer Syracuse on Turn 5 if possible (depending on card draws) or Turn 6. And, on Turn 6, the Athenian colonies of Rhodes, Chios and Mytilene all revolt (replace blue ships or ground units with red ships), giving the Spartans a switch of 5 BP (hence, a 10-point swing in one fell swoop). Both mandatory events reflect actual history, in that Athens foolishly tried to conquer Syracuse from 415-413 BC, and somewhat later in the war, the Spartan side made a deal with the Persians by which the Persians would fund the rebuilding of a Spartan fleet, in return for taking over control of Greek colonies in Asia Minor. Also, because Sparta doesn't have its own ships, use a variant rule by which the Spartan side can build ships anywhere it chooses, not solely in home ports.

I suggest these variants because "Athens & Sparta" may be a better simulation than a game, but if you play the game at least in part like simulation, it should give you an entirely different view.

Having played other Columbia block games (Quebec 1759, Victory: The Blocks of War, Crusader Rex, and Pacific Victory) helps reduce the learning curve for this game. Beautiful map plus typically high-quality blocks from Columbia Games--just setting up the pieces was fun.

With only two battle rounds, successful attacks prove rough sledding. But this reflects the point of view that the 2nd Peloponnesian War was a war of attrition (after all, it played out over a span of 27 years). Then, if the opponent elects to accept seige, attacking becomes even more problematic. And that doesn't even include potential revolts or the involvement of previously neutral powers, some of which are quite imposing militarily.

The design strikes a nice balance between simplicity and complexity, affording one ample strategic or tactical choices.

This is not a short game at all, as, if the game goes the full 7 Olympiads, there are a maximum of 84 turns (sometimes if players draw Earthquake or Storms cards, there can be cancelled turns or turns in which ships can't be used).

At the same time, although the rules are a bit fiddly (and could have benefitted from better writing and proofing), the game as designed does not go into a lot of detail, so much depends on how much detail one is looking for (for example, it's obvious that "Hellenes" by GMT--and the predecessor to what became "A & S"--is more complex than this, by quite a bit).

Also, I've read negative criticisms of the map hexes being too small and therefore blotting out the names of the city-states. This is true in places, as on the Peloponnese, but then again, one might try studying the map a while to get familiar with the place names.

Additionally, I've read the thread on BGG about the rules being awfully written. I did not find the rules particularly difficult to understand (I could mention any number of games with truly badly written rules), although I have penciled in many marginal notes--but I do that with many games, including Columbia's. Where I had specific questions I emailed them directly to the designer, who reponded quickly and pleasantly.

The company posted the rule book prior to going to print and invited anyone to proofread: I noted several typos and made suggestions about grammar or wording; it did strike me as late "in the game" to be doing that, for Columbia soon went to print thereafter. Subsequently, when players had many questions about rules vagarities, the designer posted a new version of the rules, which expanded and clarified many points.

Finally, a quick read of the history of the battle might help players try to better re-create moves as a simulation rather than a play-to-win game.

I do think this is best played as a simulation rather than a 'game'. That is, if you play it as a game, the Athenians seem to have a clear advantage; but if by 416-413 you try to invade Syracuse (and probably will be routed, as in fact did happen) the Athenian player is going to see the whole tenor of the game change at that point. For those who prefer to play it as a game, pay attention to many of the negative comments about how this game does or doesn't play out.

Conversely, if you have the game, or have access to it, read up on the Peloponnesian War and play the game as a simulation--i.e., try attacking Syracuse and find out what a mistake that was, and, allow those three Greek colonies in Asia Minor to revolt and then see how things turn out. I suspect that's the approach by which the designer viewed this game, but on the other hand, many event cards are included that could swing momentum one way or the other, particularly with regard to neutral city-states switching allegiances at critical times.

(A proud owner since November 2007.)
Walt Mulder
Rating: 7.5
This one follows right along the path of Crusader Rex with a bit of a twist on how the points move individual blocks. Many of the same mechanics however that are found in other familiar CG games. The interesting aspect of this one is one side is ground force heavy (Sparta) and one with a large naval influence (Athens) making for different strategy depending on which side you play.
apuleio
Rating: 7
Nice & fast, challenging game but, among other negative particulars (too much luck factor), I disapprove Athenians fleets can fight on ground like Spartan phalanges. It is simply absurde.
Freidenker
Rating: 7
Lots of potential, but quite unbalanced, and the strategies are not obvious at first.
Karel
Rating: 7
In my view the best of the HotS type of games. Not a game of decisive battles and dramatic sieges, but one where both players rely on hit and run tactics and small advantages that are slowly accrued.The asymmetry between Sparta's military might and Athens' naval power is nicely captured, and I especially like the revolt blocks that are always there to open an otherwise static situation. Most importanly, lots of fun.
chuffymonkey
Rating: 7
Great look and enjoyable game - easy to get into and plenty to think about.
dotburn
Rating: 7
Fun Asymetrical battle in Greece. Tough decisions
Arkobla Conn
Rating: 7
My son likes this more than I do
JaggedTech
Rating: 7
It is fun to play and very easy to learn if you already know how to play any of Crusader Rex, Liberty, or Hammer of the Scotts. However, there are some rules clarificatios required. Columbia Games does seem to be using their customers to playtest the rules in this and other games. At least they post the new rules versions online at their website.
Fred 100
Rating: 7
This can be a fun game. It can be played in an evening on one mapsheet and its rules are only 8 pages long. I playtested the prior version and rules 1.00 are definitely an improvement. Your first game will be a bloodbath as most attacks will end in disaster, but there are ways to win. It just takes thought and experience. If the game had a bit more playtesting and if the rules were a bit clearer this game could have been superb.

The problems I have with the game are:
1. Because the forces in question are of two types: ground and naval, their interactions are somewhat confusing for a new player.
2. The strait rules are hard to understand. Straits are not on a hexside but in the hex center, so a strait causes problems for the attacker from multiple directions. How that represents reality is hard to see.
3. It's awfully tough taking on Sicily and apparently not worth the effort for Athens. (One way Athens wins is if Sparta doesn't have 30 points, so messing with Sicily might not be a great idea for Athens. After all, it can win with Sicily neutral. Then again, that was true historically.)
4. The victory conditions seem off. Athens can win by doing very little.

But, all in all this is a good, if standard, Columbia block game.
alexgrant
Rating: 7
I played with the newer 1.1 rules.

It's good, but not great. Seems like draws will be fairly common.
wargamer55
Rating: 7
Block
viktorforsberg
Rating: 7
Rating with adjusted victory conditions.
apuleio
Rating: 7
Nice & fast, challenging game but, among other negative particulars (too muc kuck factor), I disapprove Athenians fleets can fight on ground like Spartan phalanges. It is simply absurde.
partino
Rating: 7
For those who believe this game favors the Athenians way too much, try playing it with the following two requirements: the Athenian player must attempt to conquer Syracuse on Turn 5 if possible (depending on card draws) or Turn 6. And, on Turn 6, the Athenian colonies of Rhodes, Chios and Mytilene all revolt (replace blue ships or ground units with red ships), giving the Spartans a switch of 5 BP (hence, a 10-point swing in one fell swoop). Both mandatory events reflect actual history, in that Athens foolishly tried to conquer Syracuse from 415-413 BC, and somewhat later in the war, the Spartan side made a deal with the Persians by which the Persians would fund the rebuilding of a Spartan fleet, in return for taking over control of Greek colonies in Asia Minor. Also, because Sparta doesn't have its own ships, use a variant rule by which the Spartan side can build ships anywhere it chooses, not solely in home ports.

I suggest these variants because "Athens & Sparta" may be a better simulation than a game, but if you play the game at least in part like simulation, it should give you an entirely different view.

Having played other Columbia block games (Quebec 1759, Victory: The Blocks of War, Crusader Rex, and Pacific Victory) helps reduce the learning curve for this game. Beautiful map plus typically high-quality blocks from Columbia Games--just setting up the pieces was fun.

With only two battle rounds, successful attacks prove rough sledding. But this reflects the point of view that the 2nd Peloponnesian War was a war of attrition (after all, it played out over a span of 27 years). Then, if the opponent elects to accept seige, attacking becomes even more problematic. And that doesn't even include potential revolts or the involvement of previously neutral powers, some of which are quite imposing militarily.

The design strikes a nice balance between simplicity and complexity, affording one ample strategic or tactical choices.

This is not a short game at all, as, if the game goes the full 7 Olympiads, there are a maximum of 84 turns (sometimes if players draw Earthquake or Storms cards, there can be cancelled turns or turns in which ships can't be used).

At the same time, although the rules are a bit fiddly (and could have benefitted from better writing and proofing), the game as designed does not go into a lot of detail, so much depends on how much detail one is looking for (for example, it's obvious that "Hellenes" by GMT--and the predecessor to what became "A & S"--is more complex than this, by quite a bit).

Also, I've read negative criticisms of the map hexes being too small and therefore blotting out the names of the city-states. This is true in places, as on the Peloponnese, but then again, one might try studying the map a while to get familiar with the place names.

Additionally, I've read the thread on BGG about the rules being awfully written. I did not find the rules particularly difficult to understand (I could mention any number of games with truly badly written rules), although I have penciled in many marginal notes--but I do that with many games, including Columbia's. Where I had specific questions I emailed them directly to the designer, who reponded quickly and pleasantly.

The company posted the rule book prior to going to print and invited anyone to proofread: I noted several typos and made suggestions about grammar or wording; it did strike me as late "in the game" to be doing that, for Columbia soon went to print thereafter. Subsequently, when players had many questions about rules vagarities, the designer posted a new version of the rules, which expanded and clarified many points.

Finally, a quick read of the history of the battle might help players try to better re-create moves as a simulation rather than a play-to-win game.

I do think this is best played as a simulation rather than a 'game'. That is, if you play it as a game, the Athenians seem to have a clear advantage; but if by 416-413 you try to invade Syracuse (and probably will be routed, as in fact did happen) the Athenian player is going to see the whole tenor of the game change at that point. For those who prefer to play it as a game, pay attention to many of the negative comments about how this game does or doesn't play out.

Conversely, if you have the game, or have access to it, read up on the Peloponnesian War and play the game as a simulation--i.e., try attacking Syracuse and find out what a mistake that was, and, allow those three Greek colonies in Asia Minor to revolt and then see how things turn out. I suspect that's the approach by which the designer viewed this game, but on the other hand, many event cards are included that could swing momentum one way or the other, particularly with regard to neutral city-states switching allegiances at critical times.

(A proud owner since November 2007.)
edarden
Rating: 6.8
Worked better than I expected. The rewards of taking Sicily do give the Athenians enough incentive to consider repeating the move that proved their undoing. Biggest gripe is the comparative ease of assaulting occupied fortified cities. It is costly in the game, but far more common in the game than it was historically.
Jean Rivière
Rating: 6.5
Good game, good ideas, terrible victory conditions.
Nobody1234
Rating: 6.5
Very solid game but frustratingly simple. The Peloponnesian War deserves more depth.
JJTee1
Rating: 6
Athens and Sparta is mixed bag. I played using rules v1.0 and 1.01. There was some confusion on the rules of blockade and sieges but the Q&A at the forum seems to have answered the questions. Yet we concluded that the victory conditions as written favors Athens. There was no way Sparta can win. Then, v1.1 came out which clarified the rules on sieges and blockades AND more importantly changed the victory conditions. We played again and the games ended up in stalemates with neither side winning. Granted it's limited play but we felt that now, neither side can win. There was a suggestion to lower the BPs to victory to make it competitive but we never tried it. A pity; since I wanted to like this game but as written v1.1, i would rather play HELLENES than this game.
Alejandro Farnesio
Rating: 6
Solo he jugado cuatro veces (y una vez no acabé la partida) pero tiene pinta de ser poco rejugable. La niebla de guerra y el reparto de cartas es lo que permite la variabilidad (además del azar).
Atenas simplemente tiene que esperar que el espartano ataque sin mayor necesidad de atacar ni maniobrar con rapidez.Con defender Atenas y los Dardanelos le llega para vencer.
El espartano tiene muy pocas posibilidades de ganar pues a pesar de dejar desguarnecidas alguna de sus posiciones para poder avanzar y ocupar otras ciudades importanes se va a encontrar constantemente con el ateniense a su espalda si se descuida.
Es interesante la incapacidad de las unidades de ocupar todo el territorio conquistado,lo que obliga a desguarnecer muchas ciudades o no avanzar.
Las cartas marcan los posibles movimientos y el orden de los turnos, de forma que una mano de malas cartas y malos dados puede desbaratar todo el juego.
El juego está un poco descompensado en favor del ateniense y sus condiciones de victoria. El mapa debería de ser revisado para aclarar qué hexágonos corresponden a ciudades-puerto y cuales corresponden a ciudades interiores (importante a la hora de avanzar e invadir).
Sin embargo se puede jugar en una tarde (de 6 y media a 10 de la noche) lo que aumenta considerablemente las posibilidades de que salga a mesa.
Arbuthnot
Rating: 6
Played once. Takes a long time to finish.
clownPL
Rating: 6
Another CG game with almost identical mechanics which we could find in Crusader Rex or Hammer of the Scots. Very unbalanced - favor Athenians. Much better are Hellenes from GMT.
coyotelaughs
Rating: 6
Rules are a problem. Not my type of game.
red_herring
Rating: 6
Love most block games and particularly like this theme... it's a move-then-attack sequence for each player vice the move-move-attack-attack order for HotS and other newer Columbia offerings... nice graphics and clear, concise rules... given the choice, it's unlikely I'd pick this over HotS or Richard III... still, it's a lot of fun
janos_hunyadi
Rating: 6
Played half a game as the Spartans and a full game as the Athenians. The rules are a little opaque, so it was only after 3 Olympiads that we were playing them correctly. Also the hexes can get rather congested, despite the undersize blocks. It is clear that the original victory conditions make it very difficult for the Spartans to win. So on our second game we decided that whoever had the most BPs at the end would be the winner. This made the game very tense and (my) victory was only assured on the final die roll of the game.

My early impression is that Athens & Sparta is potentially a very good game, but that with the current rule set it doesn't come close to matching Hammer of the Scots or Crusader Rex. Athens & Sparta is a longer game than the latter two but more static in play and some of the thematic flavour (Sicily and Persian involvement) written into the game plays no role in practice. Some aspects of the game result in very ahistorical situations (both sides tend to be able to maintain their armies and fleets at full strength throughout the game). Even more of a problem is the lack of balance: to win Sparta apparently needs a lot of luck and/or poor play from the Athenian side.
Ron D
Rating: 6
I like the time period and was looking forward to this game, but I'm a bit disappointed in the perceived play balance issue. Maybe we'll find with more experience that Sparta does have an equal chance of winning, but it seems near impossible. I played a great game of it at Prezcon and it was a nailbiter with Sparta pulling off a victory in the last Olympiad by storming Athens over the course of two card plays. If the Athenian player had kept the city defenses up, this probably would not have happened.

The game does recreate the feel period warfare from my reading.
Lawrence Hung
Rating: 6
Peloponessian War...in blocks. The epic warfare in the ancient is always a topic I'd like to game. Going to play this first before purchasing it 'cos blocks are not a format I generally like. The game gives a generally good feel about the ancient warfare with siege rules, fog of war (natural by blocks), revolts etc. In our game, the Athenians don't get to use the naval forces as much as I learnt about them from Mark Herman's Peloponnesian War. So I am not sure if the game can play out the history right. The naval rules are somewhat complicated by the blockade rules and shore combat. The initial good feel about it is bogged down when the game develops into a static front on the Corinthian Strait. The Spartans in the northern part of the Peinsular is therefore cut off and doomed. Worse yet, the onus to attack is on the Spartan side. Spartan would loose the game if they fail to get cities worth of 30 build points. The combat system, however, favours the defender. Heavy garrisoned Athens ensures the Athenians can win by taking a defensive posture. Hitorically, Athens was sieged for a long time. Hunger and plagues occurred inside the city. Some generals defected during the entire war too. In this game, players are forced to play out the events by cards. The many islands in the Agean sea and the cities along the Persian coast seem don't add too much a historical flavour to the game. Most of the time there is no activity in these areas. As of now, the rules don't give enough incentives to the Athenians to conduct the famous Sicilian Expedition. The battle system is dicefest to roll to hit. The replacement system seems to replenish the reduced forces faster than expected.
mrbeankc
Rating: 6
Decent block game that you can play in 2-3 hours. The mechanics are pretty similar to many other Columbia block games so if you know any of the others you can dive into this one without much difficulty. Could have used a touch more historical flavor of the period though as it seem to lack historical depth and played with a bit of an abstract feel to it.
rayzg
Rating: 6
Tentative rating of 6. Only two turns played.

There is probably more depth in this game than it appears, especially after only two turns.

One thing I noticed, and I might be totally wrong on this, is that this is a war game in which battles are won by attrition. This means you have to repeatedly bombard your opponent with attacks, or with a siege over several phases. Strict stacking and hexside limits, combat that lasts only two rounds, and very tight geography, prevent players from attack with large forces all at once. This might be realistic for this war and possibly forces players to think more long-term, but as a game, it wasn't very exciting.

Definitely merits another play.
sbconstant
Rating: 6
Aesthetically, I prefer this to GMT's Hellenes by a wide margin.

I think this is well-designed in many respects, but the victory conditions--the revised ones where both sides are asked to reach 30 BPs--are more than problematic. There simply doesn't seem to be a way that two competent players can get enough of a jump on the other to make such big, permanent gains. If Athens, say, removes troops from their islands, they risk revolts springing up in these islands, canceling any gains made elsewhere. Inherent garrisons, as in Hellenes, may help.

Taking Syracuse is a mammoth task, as it should be, and, again, the depletion of troops necessary to attempt it leaves many holes in the defense of other places. Plus, big rebuilds after each Olympiad means losses are generally replaced. Stalemate.

I'm starting to think that the victory conditions for Pelop. War games should be either taking of the capital cities or somehow breaking the will of the opponent by major victories, destroying their armies, rather than seizing and holding a bunch of city states. This is a la the ACW, I suppose. In other words, political realities. If nothing else, players should consider what another BGG user has done, giving a minor victory to the side with more BPs at the end of the game.

I do like how the game plays, though. The rulebook definitely was a bit cryptic in spots. The naval/blockade/siege rules, especially, take some hashing out, but seem to be a good system. The cards, events, options for both players to go after Syracuse, etc. give things a slightly abstracted view of the conflict that makes for variability. Another problem, though, is that Sicily, Persia, Hellespont, etc. seem pretty difficult to bring into play.
Trelane
Rating: 6
I expected this game to be very popular. It is expensive to begin with and the usual comprehensive block system from Columbia that I had come to expect became somewhat muddled with obvious flaws to the rules that put all the burden of attack on Sparta.
New and recently revised rules have been re-issued, with new victory conditions. I just don't know how many will know of the changes and bring this game out from the closet again.
whisperin_al
Rating: 6
Unfortunately, turned out to be my least favourite Columbia Games block game.
Gwfalcon
Rating: 5.7
This one is not as good as some of the other Columbia titles. Any game about this war must emphasize the land/sea split, and this game does, but the way it is done seems a bit too constricting. Columbia's Crusader Rex is much better than this title, in the same weight & style.
cfarrell
Rating: 5
UPDATE: As I've played Athens vs. Sparta more, I've come to have more respect for the design. I think they've done a great job with the system, and given the game a great feel for the conflict, in a very-well-themed-euro kind of a way. There is a little bit of edginess with the fleets, with both some rules grit, rules gaps, and also Athenian fleets that are overpowered on land. But still, this is fairly minor.

But A&S falls apart on game balance. I honestly don't know that I can see how Sparta can possibly win. I think it's a combination of the Athenian fleets being too powerful in land battles, and the BP situation is just too generous. Attrition never really bites - both armies will spend most of their time at full strength, it seems. In the actual war, Sparta made peace rather than risk losing a couple hundred elite hoplites. In A&S, those elite hoplites will die again and again and again and be cheaply replaced. Also, A&S seems to make it insanely difficult for the Spartans to get a foothold in the Ionian, and so very hard for the Spartans to ever compete with the Athenian navy.

So anyway. The 5 is a compromise rating. 8 or 9 for feel, dock it a several points for play balance, and only because I think there is a simple fix. If such a fix does not materialize, the rating will sink further.
---
Initial Impressions: I enjoyed Athens & Sparta. It's by now a fairly traditional entry in the "Hammer of the Scots" mold; it's somewhere between Liberty and Hammer in feel, with its own twists. Recruiting can no longer be done in-turn, you've got a production phase for that. Events in the deck are a little stronger, and you now get a few activation points to go with them. The numbers on the cards are larger, but each block costs a point to move. Revolts take on great importance now, as ops can be spent to forment trouble in your opponent's rear areas. Also, Sieges are pretty brutal for both the besieger and besiegee.

I've been a playetester on Craig Besinque/GMT's Hellenes now for about a year, so I've been living with the Pelopponesian War for a little while now. I think it's great that GMT's and Columbia's games are so different despite being on the same topic. That said, the Pelopponesian War is an odd beast: the two nations involved have dramatically different strengths, with the elite ground units of Sparta up against the naval power of Athens. Getting your head around the whole conflict can be tricky. I'm just starting to do it after playing the two games a dozen times (obviously, mostly Hellenes to this point). So it bears mentioning that this whole conflict is unusual and requires a thoughtful approach rather than the direct, straight-for-the-jugular campaigns of Rommel in the Desert.

Anyway. I think some people will find the strong army vs. strong navy situation awkward enough that the game won't have the same magnet as more directly confrontational wargames. But I like it, although it's probably not going to be a regular on the gaming table.
jormungandr
Rating: 5
A very different feel than Columbia's other titles. Things in Athens & Sparta happen incrementally, rather than dynamically - you chip away at the opponent through sieges, events and revolts to take cities and march your way towards the important goals. The need to garrison your own cities against revolts makes it difficult to form expeditionary forces or free up troops to go anywhere. The powers are definitely asymmetric in feel, though the Athenians seem as if they got the better end of the deal since their ships can fight on land or at sea and possess far more strategic mobility. I wish the game put more pressure on them than it does - they certainly have the capability to do things and so the system ought to require a little bit more of them.
Winlaw
Rating: 5
I am dissapointed with the rules and map ambiquities. More clarity is required on both.
m3tan
Rating: 5
There is much speculation that this game was rushed to publication in response to Craig Besinque taking his Hellenes design to GMT. The rules seem unfinished and not fully playtested so I tend to agree...
SpoolerMonkey
Rating: 5
Block wargame with a slightly muddled rulebook, it took a little while to grasp the rules and get the game flowing. Once I'd got my head around it I found it a very enjoyable game. I like the siege rules and the way the action can move quickly around the board. On the downside the board can be a little too crowded with blocks and the victory conditions in the rulebook are very poor.

Played again after a long break and found the game to be very slow going. One of the weaker Columbia games.
avale
Rating: 5
Didn't find it as engaging as the other Columbia block games. The overall situation seems more static (probably more a problem with the Peloponnesian War rather than the game though), and I didn't find anything particularly appealing about the way the game developed. In the end, there's better options both for this kind of light block wargame, and for the war the game depicts.
iansc
Rating: 5
This game is essentially the HotS system extended to include ships and sieges and it throws some tough decisions at its players. Concentrating enough forces for the attack forces both sides to weaken their rear areas, leaving cities vulnerable to revolt under the Demos/Tyrant blocks. The fog of war effect is weaker than usual in a Columbia game as there are sufficient Build Points for most blocks to be full strength. Apart from dice, the only major source of randomness is the order and distribution of the alliances, but the tight nature of the opening position means that these have a major influence on the outcome as Sparta's only realistic chance of winning is to reach the Hellespont and choke off the Athenian grain supply. The rule book definitely needs some work.
ericmwalters
Rating: 5
Good as an introductory game, particularly to the block genre, but isn't the best game on the Peloponnesian Wars. HELLENES by GMT is so much better.
mcdeans
Rating: 5
[01/17/08] After 2 games, both won easily by Athens, although still with errors. The rules are a typical Columbia mess, the board leaves lots in confusion, some issues came up with the play of events (which aren't covered in the rules). Questionable play balance. We'll give this another try or two, but so far it's looking like Sparta has to play a perfect game and get reasonable (if not better) card draws and dice rolls. Revolts appear too powerful.
Michael Ward
Rating: 5
01/31/10 Played once. I can only echo what others here have said. The poor game balance, murky rules, crowded map (I strongly disaprive of hex maps for block games), and the static nature of the design all disappointed me.

CG has treated Athens & Sparta as an orphan. Basically they've washed their hands of it. There a distinct lack of questions answered or rules revisions beyond one minor effort. Heck, CG never even posted photos of the cards or block labels on their website. Something they normally do for all their games. Talk about the red-headed step child! They know this game is a dog and they aren't wasting any more time on it. So why should I?
zaratustro
Rating: 5
Buenas ideas, pero tiene un grave problema con las reglas, que son bastante desastrosas en bastantes aspectos. Y varios fallos muy gordos de diseño, como los hexágonos.
Niko Ruf
Rating: 5
Interesting strategical situation, but the victory conditions need work, and production seems to be too high. As the rules are now, the game is sluggish and greatly favors Athens. Too bad, because there is some real potential here.
BradyLS
Rating: 5
After one play. This game is not too difficult to learn, but the situation is a complex one and I'd hate to play it again with a person prone to analysis paralysis. There are a few hurdles to the play of the game, especially for the first couple attempts: 1) Game length: the game takes about an hour to for each player to progress through the six increments of a single, four-year turn. Experienced players may finish more quickly, but my game took seven hours and I've played plenty of block games. 2) Unfriendly map: All the information on the map is oriented in one direction. Which is great if you're playing Sparta. 3) Important map information obscured under blocks: Set up is bad enough if you're not familiar with the geography , but once the game is underway, the blocks cover up or obscure all information. We found that planning during a turn and tallying Build Points at the end of each Olympiad was more difficult than necessary--even though one player was keeping track--because the blocks covered the symbols for walled and un-walled and the BP number for each critical city.

Suggestions for Columbia (and fans that want to help new players): 1) Print coordinates on the map and put set-up coordinates on the block stickers. 2) Give the each player a map he can reference with coordinates for the cities (and their status and values) on the backside or below the map. 3) Include a set of counters that players can trim out with the names, status, and values of each relevant city. Players can trade these as they gain and lose cities so that they always know how many build points they have available at the end of each turn.

Dilemma encountered during play: While under siege, the forces of a player may not use BPs to increase the values of the besieged blocks. Okay. But after a siege, the victorious force may immediately apply a number of Build Points equal to the value of the city to reconstitute its blocks. Why is this? The rules say that it is a reward for pillaging the besieged town. But...What are the besiegers finding that the besieged cannot? If it's a game balance thing, okay, but...it seems odd.
xlegion
Rating: 4
Another game that I wanted to like but just couldn't get into it. Most of my negative views are in agreement with everybody else. Poor rules, poor game balance, board too crowded. I'm going to give their new game "Julius Caesar" a try but if that one doesn't work out, it will be my last Columbia game.
gittes
Rating: 4
What a yawner. I don't think a game on the Peloponessian War is a bad idea, but it is not the kind of war that easily lends itself to gaming and so it takes extra care to make it work. Here the situation is excessively static and while this isn't a bad thing I feel it doesn't work with a map that features gargantuan hexes. Because Columbia block games favor the defender the game can become really problematic for a player wishing to be proactive. In terms of exciting game play this is Columbia's weakest effort to date, but graphically it is their finest entry so far.
ExcitingJeff
Rating: 4
Uncompelling. Rules are very unclear, map is entirely too crowded, and Sparta is eminently fucked. I like the theme, but this game just isn't very fun.

Also needs numbered hexes. My knowledge of Greek colonies is insufficient for setup or reinforcement.
Oakfed
Rating: 4
A disappointing game - attractive visually but with very poor rules. Am still hoping for a fixed version that might salvage things.
Konstantin
Rating: 4
Too static; In my opinion not really playable
BillJ1967
Rating: 4
Rules clarity problems, map problems, balance problems, and a tactical situation that resembles a staring contest. Jeez...what's to like? I have found some alternative rules online that claim to address these problems, but have yet to play them. Hopefully, they will fix these issues.
jcrim13
Rating: 3
sigh... problems, problems... this felt rushed out the door... given my limited gaming time, I doubt it'll hit my table again
zurupeto
Rating: 3
Essentially unplayable because the rules are unclear or contradictory about a few key elements (straits & Sicily, mainly). Rumor also has it that Sparta can't win, but I wouldn't know because the game was too frustrating to play to completion. Columbia needs to figure out how to stop putting out incomplete games.
ppglaf
Rating: 3
Good game. Bad rules: all my games were ruined by the constant reading of the rules.
Jon Karlsson
Rating: 2
Why, oh why didn't I buy Hellenes instead of this mess?

Also, and this is a general critique of Columbia's hexmaps: either conform your areas to the map or manipulate the map to conform to your hexes (if you absolutely must have hexes in an Ancients game). Non-comformist hexes with special rules for the ambiguous areas is the worst solution.
Jon Karlsson
Rating: 2
Why, oh why didn't I buy Hellenes instead of this mess?

Also, and this is a general critique of Columbia's hexmaps: either conform your hexes to the map or manipulate the map to conform to your hexes (if you absolutely must have hexes in an Ancients game). Non-comformist hexes with fiddly special rules for the ambiguous areas is the worst solution.
Jon Karlsson
Rating: 2
Why, oh why didn't I buy Hellenes instead of this mess?

Also, and this is a general critique of Columbia's hexmaps: either conform your areas to the map or manipulate the map to conform to your hexes (if you absolutely must have hexes in an Ancients game). Non-comformist hexes with fiddly special rules for the ambiguous areas is the worst solution.
bentlarsen
Rating: 1
Shame on Columbia for putting out such trash. I do not care if it pays the bills, not when you bilk the consumer with such designs that work neither as history nor as a game.
Rallye72
Rating: -
block game
Coffeebike
Rating: -
Looks good
Crabro
Rating: -
Core Game
Andy Pain
Rating: -
Mint
alzhiel
Rating: -
Reglas en castellano

2
Cundiff
Rating: -
Columbia
jmw23
Rating: -
Between A&S and Hellas, gamers will have a choice in block games covering this ancient conflict. I'll be sure to check out the rules for both before buying, but both seem to have their strong points. I'm looking forward to hearing more!
judegeek
Rating: -
played once - slightly under influence of alcohol so not good intro! felt that it was a grown up version of battleships but hey who am i?
jgag
Rating: -
Acquired 2011-09-24 in a math trade
agraham2410
Rating: -
good block game.
morabergaren
Rating: -
Bought it, read the reviews, believed the rewiews. Finally dumped it though I love block games.
maceo6
Rating: -
.99 GW 6/8/14
Jasonofindy
Rating: -
Waiting until the balance issues are worked out with a rules update before I purchase.
MecatolRex
Rating: -
Cedido
mistermarino
Rating: -
I have some interest in the topic, and pretty much every block game is at least decent.
moldndecay
Rating: -
Havent played yet.
mothertruckin
Rating: -
passed through my hands and I didn't even play it. traded.
acbmml
Rating: -
Bday 2008 gift to me from Margo.
GeneSteeler
Rating: -
Purchased Christmas 2007
fsottile
Rating: -
mappa x studio grecia
Platypus4
Rating: -
Not played yet.
Ramilles
Rating: -
Original stickers are still on the sheet. I customized new labels with larger font and used symbology from SPI's PRESTAG game.
Stuka
Rating: -
Cambiado
(davidmps)
Rulesjd
Rating: -
2 players
jdm1822
Rating: -
6
Stuka
Rating: -
Cambiado
TomVeal
Rating: -
Ancient World > Classical Greece > Peloponnesian War
djberg96
Rating: -
I'm afraid Hellenes killed any desire I had to ever own or play this.
bigcheese
Rating: -
Yet to play.
crazyyog
Rating: -
It may be a fine game, but it looks like Columbia just pumped this puppy out real quick after they lost Hellas/Hellenes...
CDRodeffer
Rating: -
Not yet played.
wargamer55
Rating: -
Block
jdm1822
Rating: -
xxxxxxxxx
Wulf Corbett
Rating: -
Simple rules hiding a set of very hard decisions. Study of forces, tactics & rules essential for success!
Zarion of Arabel
Rating: -
Gimmie!