Anyone that knows me is aware that I am a fanatical study of military history. Granted, I enjoy history in general, but there is something captivating about military history. I do not think that there is a subject on Earth that has shaped the course of humanity like that of military history.
Case in point: if it were not for the Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England in 1066, England/English would not be what it is; the UK would not have been formed; the British Empire would not have happened and English would not be the most used language on Earth. Additionally, the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, India and numerous other nations would either not exist or would probably be French. All this is thanks to a single military engagement 1000 years ago. (Nothing has changed this world as much as warfare).
So you can imagine how I was drooling when I, while scouring YouTube at the wee small hours, discovered a 2003/2005 British TV series that not only dealt with military history but also video gaming. This show is Time Commanders.
Time Commanders works thusly: four victims gather before the altar of Richard Hammond or Eddie Mair. There they are then informed by two history experts of the battle that they shall be “fighting”. (All of which are historical). From there they are split into two groups as it were -2 generals and 2 captains. (So far, so good).
Let me stop there quickly and give you the layout of the “arena”. The room is large and spacious. A large TV screen is against one wall. In front of it are two computers with gamers attached. Behind them stands a table with live feed map. Behind them all stands a gallery which is occupied by the history experts.
Got it? I hope so.
Each of the captains is placed with one of the video gamers -the gamers are there to move the soldiers and obey the captains commands. Behind them the generals bark orders and give instructions as the battle progresses -all of which is live on the map and large screen. Mair or Hammond run around and harass the team with witty comments, humour and bogus suggestions. Behind them the experts discuss the real battle, the weapons, armies and commanders; as well as the teams moves and plans and abilities.
As for the battle itself, well it’s all played via Rome: Total War.
POP FACT: Rome: Total War is also used by the British TV series “Decisive Battles”.
Originally the show would begin with the captains scouting the enemy army and informing the generals what they were seeing and what sort of soldiers they had to fight against and fight with. In season two however, the game starts with a quick and often bloody skirmish that tests the teams skills and command abilities. After the skirmish the main battle would commence in earnest. It is rather amusing that quite often the team would come up with a plan in station, but as soon as the battle begins and the enemy army moves and reacts the teams plan would fail and everything would turn into a melee of epic proportions.
Most of the time the team manages to pull the game out of the bag at the last minute. On occasion they would win the battle through skills and planning… and a little luck. At the end of the battle the history experts give their verdict of the teams abilities and then explain how the actual battle occurred.
Now for some fun news. The show is on the way back. It’s only a matter of time before the new series begins. I do hope they touch on Empire, Napoleon, Medieval, Shogun and all the other Total War games of the last decade.
Bottom line: If you are a lover of history, gaming, team work and chaos -then this show is for you!