Yes, it’s the return of BBC’s Time Commanders, last seen on our screens way back in 2005.
In a change from the original incarnation of the show it is now two teams going head to head in a Total War based recreation of a famous (or infamous) battle from history, we also have a new host in the shape of Greg Wallace to go alongside the retuning series regular, military historian Dr. Lynette Nusbacher.
This week it’s historical board game enthusiasts (including one history teacher.) vs. err, wrestlers.
In a key battle between Rome and Carthage, with the boardgamers taking on the role of the former and the wrestlers the latter.
Yeah, good luck guys.
Ok, lets not be cynical, first port of call is for each team to run a skirmish, a small battle to get the feel of their forces and test out battle manoeuvres and the like. Carthage go first after we get a little history lesson about one of their key troops, the balearic slingers.
They are under the command of Hannibal/Gary.
The battle is...a bit of a clusterfuck frankly, but they manage to keep together as a team and split the Roman forces into more manageable groups, ultimately winning.
Now it’s Rome’s turn! After a quick lesson about the gladius.
This is...also a clusterfuck, but their commander Scipio/James is no Hannibal/Gary, and like the Romans the previous team beat they get surrounded and then split very quickly, they try to get it back together only to be scuppered by a sudden and unexpected elephant.
Things are looking good for the wrestlers after all, who seem much better at thinking on their feet and are perhaps less bogged down by historical knowledge of how things should go.
History time again! The Roman pilum, a single use throwing spear, before we move on to the main event.
After being given some time to get a handle of their troops and scout out the opposition, we are go!
...or we would be, if both sides weren’t playing defensively and sitting waiting for their opponent to go first.
Thankfully Rome gets bored and moves, but they avoid any of the traps set by the opposition and Carthage panic, releasing their elephants without proper support, resulting in them all being killed whilst inflicting little damage.
Now it comes down to cavalry vs cavalry, with Rome having the larger one...which doesn’t look good, until Carthage get it together, regroup their infantry and do some serious damage to Rome with their slingers, ending up in a stalemate with each side winning and loosing on a different flank.
Carthage’s troops are running low, so in a last ditch attempt they go after Rome’s commander and get him! Unfortunately it’s too late in the battle for the death of Scipio to turn the tables significantly, and Hannibal falls soon after. Ultimately Carthage are overwhelmed and the battle goes the same way as history, although with far, far greater losses to Rome.
Boardgamers go through to the next round.
Next week it’s the Battle of Waterloo!