How To Play: Commands & Colors: Ancients – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Quick Summary

Commands & Colors: Ancients is a dynamic and engaging war game that demands strategic thinking, tactical maneuvering, and adaptability on the ancient battlefield. With its comprehensive gameplay mechanics, including unit positioning, command card management, terrain utilization, the effective use of commanders, and counterplay tactics, the game offers an immersive and rewarding experience for players of all skill levels.

Players must carefully position their units to maximize the advantages of terrain, anticipate the opponent's moves, and secure vital objectives. Effective command card management is essential for executing well-timed actions and controlling the flow of battle. Commanders, with their unique abilities, provide valuable advantages and synergies, demanding strategic decision-making to utilize them effectively.

Moreover, understanding the terrain and capitalizing on its features allows players to gain defensive advantages or launch surprise attacks. Skilled utilization of counterplay tactics, such as intel gathering, offensive returns on defense, decoy and imitation tactics, and resource drain, can turn the tide of battle.

Mastery of these aspects is the key to achieving victory in Commands & Colors: Ancients, allowing players to outmaneuver opponents, exploit weaknesses, and secure important battles on the path to overall victory. Immerse yourself in this ancient world of warfare, fine-tune your strategies, and embrace the challenges of tactical excellence.</p


Welcome to our comprehensive strategy guide for Commands & Colors: Ancients! Whether you’re a newcomer to the game or a seasoned player looking to refine your skills, this guide aims to provide you with valuable insights and effective strategies to achieve victory on the ancient battleground.

Designed by the renowned Richard Borg, Commands & Colors: Ancients offers an immersive and engaging gaming experience. In this guide, we will delve into the game’s rules and mechanics, ensuring you have a solid understanding of how the game is played. However, this guide goes beyond just the basics and explores the best strategies to dominate the battlefield.

First, we will discuss various aspects of the game, including unit positioning, command card management, terrain utilization, effective use of commanders, and counterplay tactics. Each section will provide you with valuable insights, tips, and tactics to outmaneuver your opponents and secure victory.

Whether you prefer to adapt your strategy to the dynamic battlefield or meticulously plan your every move, this guide will cater to your style of play. Gain a deep understanding of the game, master techniques to control the battlefield, and capitalize on the strengths of your forces to overcome any challenges that come your way. By the end of this guide, you will be well-equipped with the knowledge and strategies necessary to emerge triumphant in Commands & Colors: Ancients.

What’s in the box

  • 1 Double-sided Game Board
  • 165 Command Cards
  • 100 Color-coded Blocks
  • 1 Deck of Battle Dice
  • 2 Terrain Hex Tiles
  • 16 Battle Dice Labels
  • 2 Player Screens
  • 35 Leaders Stickers
  • 5 Terrain Tile Overlays
  • 2 Wooden Dice Dice Cups
  • 2 Quick Reference Sheets
  • 1 Rule and Scenario Booklet
  • Various markers and counters

How To Play Commands & Colors: Ancients: Rules Summary

  1. Place the game board in the center of the playing area.
  2. Each player chooses a faction and takes the corresponding units, cards, and markers.
  3. Place terrain hex tiles and terrain overlays on the game board according to the chosen scenario.
  4. Shuffle the command cards and deal a hand to each player.
Gameplay Sequence
  1. Players take turns, starting with the first player and alternating until the game ends.
  2. On their turn, a player may play a command card to activate specific units for actions.
  3. The player announces the card and which units will be activated and the actions they will perform.
  4. Roll dice to determine the outcome of various actions, such as combat or maneuvering.
  5. Resolve the action and adjust the units and markers as necessary on the game board.
  6. After executing actions, draw a new command card to replenish your hand.
  7. Players continue taking turns, playing command cards, and executing actions until victory conditions are met.
Command Card Abilities
  1. Command cards allow players to issue orders, move units, attack, and use special abilities.
  2. Some command cards have specific restrictions or bonuses based on unit type or the battlefield conditions.
  3. Players must choose their command cards strategically to capitalize on the battle situation.
Unit Actions
  1. Units can perform multiple actions, such as moving, attacking, or using special abilities.
  2. Movement is determined by the abilities of the unit and the terrain it is moving through.
  3. Combat is resolved by dice rolls, comparing attack values to defense values of the targeted unit.
  4. Players can utilize terrain features to gain defensive advantages during combat.
  5. If a unit is eliminated, a victory banner may be awarded to the opposing player.
Winning the Game
  1. Victory conditions vary based on the chosen scenario.
  2. Players aim to achieve the specified number of victory banners or fulfill specific objectives.
  3. Once victory conditions are met, the game ends, and the player with the most victory banners is the winner.

Best Commands Colors Ancients Strategies

Mastering Unit Positioning for Victorious Battle

Unit positioning is a crucial aspect of achieving victory in Commands & Colors: Ancients. Here are some strategic tips to help you make the most of your troop placement:

1. Control the High Ground:
  1. Position your troops on elevated terrain whenever possible.
  2. Utilize higher ground to gain a line of sight advantage and increase the effectiveness of ranged attacks.
  3. The high ground also offers defensive benefits by forcing your opponent to attack uphill.
2. Exploit Open Flanks:
  1. Identify the weaker areas of your opponent’s formation and focus your forces on exploiting those vulnerabilities.
  2. By flanking the enemy from multiple directions, you can overwhelm isolated units and disrupt their coordinated actions.
  3. Keep your flanks secure by positioning strong defensive units or utilizing natural obstacles.
3. Guard Key Objectives:
  1. Strategically position units to protect important objectives on the battlefield, such as supply routes or chokepoints.
  2. Prevent your opponent from gaining easy access to these objectives by positioning defensive and deterrent forces.
  3. Create defensive lines or fortify strong defensive positions around critical objectives to ensure their security.
4. Coordinate Unit Support:
  1. Position supporting units within range to bolster the offensive capabilities of your main attacking force.
  2. Ensure that your supporting units can provide quick reinforcement or cover fire when necessary.
  3. Utilize combined arms tactics by positioning complementary units, such as archers and infantry, to cover each other’s weaknesses.

Mastering unit positioning in Commands & Colors: Ancients will give you a significant advantage on the battlefield. By controlling the high ground, exploiting open flanks, guarding key objectives, and coordinating unit support, you can outmaneuver your opponents and secure decisive victories.

Mastering Command Card Management for Tactical Advantage

In Commands & Colors: Ancients, effective command card management can be the key to securing victory on the battlefield. Here are some strategies to help you make the most of your command cards:

1. Assess and Prioritize:
  1. Evaluate the cards in your hand at the start of each turn and assess their potential impact on the current situation.
  2. Prioritize cards that align with your overall strategy or cards that can exploit your opponent’s vulnerabilities.
  3. Consider keeping flexible cards that offer a wide range of actions to adapt your tactics to changing battle conditions.
2. Utilize Command Abilities:
  1. Understand the unique abilities of your commanders and use their command cards strategically.
  2. Plan your actions to make the most of your commander’s strengths and leverage their special abilities to gain an advantage.
  3. Coordinate multiple units in a combined attack using command cards that allow for simultaneous action or chain activations.
3. Timing is Crucial:
  1. Timing is everything in command card management. Consider the optimal moment to play specific cards for maximum impact.
  2. Save powerful cards for decisive moments or when the battlefield situation demands a game-changing action.
  3. Beware of discarding useful cards for temporary gains and gauge the long-term value of each card in different scenarios.
4. Card Recovery and Refresh:
  1. Make use of card recovery mechanics if available in the game to replenish your hand with valuable cards.
  2. Plan your actions strategically to ensure you have opportunities to refresh your hand and maintain a healthy supply of command cards.
  3. Consider conserving cards and avoiding unnecessary discards to avoid depletion and give yourself the advantage in the later stages of the game.

Mastering command card management in Commands & Colors: Ancients is essential to gain a tactical advantage. By reassessing and prioritizing cards, utilizing command abilities wisely, timing your plays effectively, and maximizing card recovery and refresh opportunities, you can make strategic moves on the battlefield and outmaneuver your opponents.

Mastering Terrain Utilization for Tactical Advantage

In Commands & Colors: Ancients, utilizing the terrain to your advantage plays a crucial role in securing victory on the battlefield. Here are key strategies to optimize your terrain utilization:

1. Assess the Landscape:
  1. Carefully analyze the terrain during setup and consider its impact on movement, line of sight, and defensive capabilities.
  2. Identify advantageous features such as elevated areas, forests for cover, or river crossings offering strategic possibilities.
  3. Create mental maps of the battlefield, ensuring you have a clear understanding of how the different terrain elements can influence your strategy.
2. Occupying Defensive Positions:
  1. Position your units strategically behind natural obstacles or on higher ground to gain defensive advantages.
  2. Utilize hills, forests, or structures to create defensive lines that impede enemy movement and provide cover for your troops.
  3. Maximize the defensive capabilities of terrain by forming fortifications or using predefined fortifications on the game board.
3. Exploiting Movement Obstacles:
  1. Take advantage of terrain features that hinder your opponent’s movement, such as rivers or difficult terrain.
  2. Force your opponent to redirect their forces or expose them to vulnerable positions by exploiting movement obstacles strategically.
  3. Beware of potential counterattacks from your opponent as they adapt to the challenging terrain.
4. Line of Sight Advantage:
  1. Plan your unit placements to maximize line of sight advantages. Position units on elevated terrain for better field visibility.
  2. Exploit line of sight restrictions to maintain hidden units and make surprise attacks on enemy forces.
  3. Consider the potential hazards of exposing your units to the enemy’s line of sight and use cover wisely.

Mastering terrain utilization in Commands & Colors: Ancients is essential to gain a tactical advantage. By assessing the landscape, occupying defensive positions, exploiting movement obstacles, and leveraging line of sight advantages, you can strategically navigate the battlefield and tip the scales of victory in your favor.

Mastery of Commanders: Unlocking Tactical Superiority

In Commands & Colors: Ancients, the effective use of commanders can be the key to achieving tactical superiority and securing victory on the battlefield. Here are some strategies to maximize the potential of your commanders:

1. Understanding Commander Abilities:
  1. Familiarize yourself with the unique abilities of your commanders and leverage them to gain an advantage.
  2. Study the synergies between command cards, units, and your commander’s abilities to optimize their impact on the battlefield.
  3. Identify each commander’s strengths and adapt your strategy accordingly, capitalizing on their specific attributes.
2. Utilizing Commander-Unit Coordination:
  1. Coordinate the actions of your units with your commander’s abilities to maximize their effectiveness.
  2. Use your commander’s command cards to grant additional actions, activate multiple units simultaneously, or deliver decisive blows.
  3. Employ combined arms tactics by positioning units strategically to synergize with your commander’s strengths.
3. Decisive Orders at Critical Moments:
  1. Save powerful commander-specific command cards for critical moments when they can have the most impact.
  2. Time your commander’s special abilities and orders to disrupt your opponent’s plans or launch a decisive attack.
  3. Consider using surprise elements or unforeseen strategies to exploit your commander’s unique capabilities.
4. Protecting Your Commander:
  1. Keep your commander reasonably protected by positioning them away from direct enemy threats and placing supportive units nearby.
  2. Ensure your commander stays safe from isolated attacks that may cripple their effectiveness or eliminate them from the battle prematurely.
  3. Beware of the opponent’s attempts to target your commander, and take preventive measures to neutralize these threats.

Mastery of commanders in Commands & Colors: Ancients is paramount to achieving tactical superiority on the battlefield. By understanding their abilities, coordinating with your units, timing decisive orders strategically, and protecting your commander, you can unlock their full potential and pave the way to victory.

Mastering Counterplay Tactics: Turning the Tide of Battle

In Commands & Colors: Ancients, understanding and effectively executing counterplay tactics can shift the momentum of the battle in your favor. Here are key strategies to employ counterplay tactics with finesse:

1. Intel Gathering:
  1. Collect information about your opponent’s moves and strategies to identify patterns and weaknesses in their gameplay.
  2. Observe their unit positioning, command card utilization, and overall tactics to anticipate their next moves.
  3. Utilize scouting units or abilities to gain additional insights into enemy positions.
2. Offensive Returns on Defense:
  1. Exploit defensive positions to launch surprising counterattacks or ambushes on enemy forces.
  2. Find opportunities to create distractions or provoke your opponent into making costly mistakes.
  3. Strike back swiftly and decisively when your opponent overextends or exposes vulnerabilities.
3. Decoy and Imitation Tactics:
  1. Create diversionary actions or decoy units to mislead your opponent and lure them away from their strategic objectives.
  2. Imitate certain formations or maneuvers to misguide your opponent’s predictions and gain the upper hand.
  3. Maintain a balance between deceiving your opponent and preserving your own focus on the main objectives.
4. Resource Drain:
  1. Implement strategies that force your opponent into making suboptimal moves or discarding valuable resources.
  2. Exploit potential weaknesses or gaps in their unit formations to drain their command card supply or disrupt their plans.
  3. Maintain a relentless momentum or apply constant pressure to exhaust your opponent’s resources.

Mastery of counterplay tactics in Commands & Colors: Ancients is crucial to seize opportunities and gain the upper hand in battle. By gathering intel, turning defense into offense, implementing decoy and imitation tactics, and strategically draining your opponent’s resources, you can effectively turn the tide of the battle and emerge victorious.


Congratulations! You are now equipped with a solid understanding of the rules and strategies to conquer the battlefield in Commands & Colors: Ancients. By mastering unit positioning, command card management, terrain utilization, effective use of commanders, and counterplay tactics, you have the tools necessary to outmaneuver your opponents and secure victory.

Remember, success in this game relies not only on careful planning and strategic decision-making but also on adapting to the ever-changing conditions of the battlefield. Be flexible, anticipate your opponent’s moves, and seize opportunities as they arise. With practice and experience, you will develop your own playstyle and continue to sharpen your skills.

No battle is ever the same, and every victory, no matter how small, brings you one step closer to becoming a commanding force in Commands & Colors: Ancients.

We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration. Now, gather your forces, take charge of the battlefield, and may your strategies lead you to countless triumphs in the ancient world of warfare!

Want to know what we think of Commands & Colors: Ancients? Read our detailed review of Commands & Colors: Ancients here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.