23 October 2014

After Action Report: Hannibal and Carthage AAR - Finale

Hannibal's forces are stretched thin but he's making progress. But can he successfully conquer Rome?

Published on 14 SEP 2010 10:23am by Scott Parrino
  1. roman empire, great civilizations / ancients, turn-based, north africa, single-player, europe

Turn 5

Well, given the situation in Africa, I've got to recommend to the Senate that they upgrade defenses there. Naturally they agree. Their estates are being burned!

But there's not much I can directly until Hasdrubal arrives back in Carthage at the end of the move.

The Romans have made another mistake with their fleet, leaving it dispersed and allowing me to pick off a portion. There's a single fleet in the Ligurian Sea and I've got my entire navy in Pisa. I'll go after him.

Click for full image

Got him!

And now I decide to do something rash. I'm going to seek a decisive naval engagement with the main Roman fleet in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It's 6 to 6, an even fight, but I'm feeling lucky. Another reason I'm taking the chance is that in my opinion it is not possible to besiege Rome without controlling the Tyrrhenian. Rome's a port, and a siege can't seal it off unless the sea lane is blocked.

The results are incredible, too good to be true. On the first round I score 4 hits!

The next round is not so good; the Romans slip away. But I have taken no losses and now have naval supremacy! I've destroyed 5 fleets without a loss in a single turn.

But I need a port. A storm in the Tyrrhenian could sink all 6 of my fleets at once unless I have a friendly port thereby. Very dangerous to remain long in waters without access to a friendly port. Therefore:

I have to take Neapolis.

I merge Hanno with Hannibal and lay siege to it. I leave Mago in Pisa to ensure further recruiting.

And in Spain I have Himilco place New Carthage under siege. I must win it back!

A successful turn! I'm feeling better about my strategic prospects now, despite the embarrassments in Africa and Spain. The naval win was huge.

The Roman's first move is to take the cursed Fulvius by sea from New Carthage and land him in Etruria! He has only a small force and makes no further move. This is odd. But at least Spain is rid of him at last.

Gracchus continues to despoil Carthaginian agriculture and then attacks Hippo Regius. (I should have put Syphax into the field to interdict this and bleed down his army. Mistake!)

After playing the Italian Desertion option card, which costs me 3 units, Rome sends Fabius to attack Perusia. This is a mistake; I destroy two legions! He takes the city but at Pyrrhic cost.

And that's all for Rome.

Turn 6

Again the Senate insists I reinforce Africa. They give me only 3 command phases, probably to keep me from going too far afield. So I'll have to think carefully before each move.

I can't keep Hannibal tied down any longer. I've got to attack Neapolis at once.

There are only 2 militia units remaining, so I'm able to take it without loss. That is welcome.

Roman forces are badly dispersed in Etruria. I like that and will take advantage of it.

Click for full image

I have Hannibal move back to Etruria to take care of business. Claudius tries to hide in his camp but is overwhelmed and annihilated. A small force, but every chip I can knock off the great Roman block is a help.

I'll leave Hannibal there. He can ensure recruiting in this fruitful province, and I'll send Mago back to Genua to bring in more Gauls in the next recruiting phase.

… and then it occurs to me that I've left Neopolis practically undefended! A dumb move!

I have to look away, to Africa. I want to bleed down the Roman Army there so that Hasdrubal can finish them off, and Syphax is the perfect guy to do it. I send him out.

And immediately he's intercepted.

Now comes the dodgy part. Give battle and bleed the Romans that way, or go into Camp and hope they'll still attack? I'd prefer the latter, as Syphax could probably do more destruction that way. But the Romans might decline and thwart my purposes. Attacking a large camp has to give even the most impetuous Roman general pause.

I gamble and go into camp. The Romans attack!

The results are better than I could have hoped. I destroy half of Gracchus' army, and Syphax manages to flee after fighting the good fight and he and his remnants survive the pursuit. Perfect! They’re safe in Cirta, and the Romans are now far too weak to attack them there.

With that I end the turn. I draw a Treachery card, which I love. Recruiting is good too!

The Romans begin their turn with minor naval movements, and then Gracchus with his blasted remnant returns to despoiling Carthaginian agriculture. There's not much else he can do now, thanks to Syphax' successful camp battle last turn. I'm hopeful that Gracchus will soon be easy pickings for Hasdrubal and this sorry chapter of the war can be brought to an end.

Valerius next takes the lead and attacks Patavium again with his small force. And again he fails to take it! Better, he loses 2 legions! Patavium deserve the laurel wreath for twice defeating the Roman army unaided. I'm amazed.

However, my elation is limited by the “Solidarity with Rome” option card that is next played. That causes the instant defection of Neapolis. I've lost my port on the Tyrrhenian Sea. I'm very worried about my fleet now. There haven't been any “storm at sea” cards played in several moves and we're due for one. Without a port I could lose my entire navy!

The Romans end with Fulvius moving out of Rome with a small force. Hmmm... something has shifted, I think.

Turn 7

I'm allowed by the Senate – finally – to reinforce Italy. And I have 4 Command phases.

I move Hannibal first, sending him back to Latium-Campania. The main purpose is to play my Treachery card and get Neapolis back. Fulvius does not move to intercept; no surprise as he's outnumbered.

Click for full image

I play the Treachery card and see Neapolis instantly revert to my control. But I have to garrison it substantially to prevent the Romans from playing another trump card there.

First, however, I'll take a shot at Fulvius.

Naturally I expect him to retreat to his camp. But, amazingly, he is outmaneuvered and has no choice but to give battle! This is a real stroke of luck for me, as great as my naval success last turn.

No need for Punic Tricks here.

But, on the first round of battle I don't do so well. And on the second I get only one hit! Fulvius retreats! I should have blown him away. I still have a chance to get him on Pursuit, though. If luck is with me.

And it is. I nail him. Another total annihilation, my 4th! Fulvius was a 7; good riddance to a good general.

I think my moment has arrived. It's now or never. Rome is without a general within, and I control the Tyrrhenian sea. It's time to lay siege to the capital and finish this thing. Fulvius' decision to deploy outside the capital was a big error. But I know I could never have gotten this far without very unusual and consistent luck.

But I need to think carefully to ensure that all my assets are marshaled properly.

First, I will send Mago by sea from Spain to Pisa to ensure continued recruiting there (can't recruit without a general).

Next, Himilico has to wind up the siege of New Carthage early. I need him in Italy. He assaults and takes it handily. He still has the Command phase, so I ship him to Italy and use his little army to lay siege to Rome itself while Hannibal stays in the field to protect him with the larger army.

I play an option card to give me a few more Italian units to garrison Neapolis.

And I'm done! The die is cast. I'm all in now. Nothing is held back. This is my total effort to win the game.

What can the Romans do? They've had four field armies obliterated. Their remaining strength is dispersed. But the AI is very good at amalgamating forces and calculating the best economy of force.

Minucius moves to attack Patavium. This is the third attack on that noble city. It has beaten two Roman armies. Can it beat a third?

It goes two rounds. Minucius loses 2 legions. I can hardly believe it! Patavium holds.

And that, strangely, is that for the Romans this turn.

Turn 8

Click for full image

I suggest to the Senate that defenses be upgraded in Africa. My thought is that the Romans will try a desperate assault on Carthage to take pressure off Rome. The Senate concurs.

The Siege Report tells me that Rome will surrender in 4 years. Let the countdown begin.

I gather 3 new units in Carthage. Hasdrubal finally has a sufficient force to go forth and place Gracchus under siege in Utica. (Thanks again to Syphax for bleeding Gracchus dry in the camp battle.)

I put two naval units into the Mediterranean to interdict any naval movements to relieve Gracchus. I hope it's enough.

On the Roman move, a small fleet attacks my Mediterranean force. The result is a victory but at the end I have only one fleet left there. Gracchus takes his chance and flees by sea. My lone fleet is not enough to cause him significant attrition and he lands safely at Rhegium. I made a dumb mistake here. I should have put more naval assets in place.

The enemy follows with yet another attack on Patavium, led by Nero now. This time they play a “Roman Siege” option card, which gives them an automatic victory over the little garrison.

I really can't complain. Patavium came up spades for me time after time. The luck had to end sometime!

Nero, evidently drunk with success, next attacks Turin. But his entire army is routed by the little garrison!

And that's all the Romans can do. Except for recruiting. Which they do very well this turn.

Turn 9

The Senate decrees that Italy be reinforced. 6 commands are available.

The countdown to Rome's surrender is 3 years now. For the first time the Game Report tells me that I'm ahead in Victory Points, 149 to 125. I'm feeling pretty optimistic.

Utica is empty now that Gracchus made his escape by sea, so I send Hasdrubal from there to Italy Every Carthaginian asset is now bearing directly on Rome. I have two new fleets too, and I add them to the main body of the navy in the Tyrrhenian to ensure that the naval death-grip continues.

And that's all. I hold fast. It's up to the Romans to do something.

In the Roman turn, Valerius storms Turin, which seems beside the point at this juncture. Gracchus does nothing.

Turn 10

Time again to upgrade defense in Africa. With the Siege Report telling me that only 2 years remain to Rome's life-span, I'm more certain than ever that their only chance is an all-out attack on Carthage.

I click off to end the move. There's nothing more to be done at this stage of the contest.

What will the Romans do? Will there be a final battle?

At the outset of the Roman turn the weather turns dire. The Tyrrhenian is hit by heavy storms. I lose two naval units!

I am very glad I produced two fleets in the previous turn. The fleet remains at good strength.

Scipio takes the initiative and storms Genua. His Option card play weakens my garrison but Hanno puts up a stout defense, futile in the end but Scipio is bled.

Hanno is dead! The Romans have now re-taken all of Cisalpine Gaul but it is too little too late.

Scipio, too much weakened to do more, ends the Roman turn.

Turn 11

The hour has come. Rome is ready to be taken. The vow of revenge Hannibal swore to his father so long ago is about to be consummated.

The Siege Report tells me that Rome can hold out for another year. But its garrison is weakened and the siege has gone on long enough that I now will have an Attack Bonus if I decide to take it by storm.

I attack. After the first round:

Click for full image

 

Epilogue:

I am always surprised to win as the Carthaginian. There is a tension and ebb and flow to this game that leaves you perpetually unsure of your prospects until very near the end. I think the key moment was when I seized naval control of the Tyrrhenian. That was a stroke of pure, blind luck. The Roman navy never recovered. But I had significant luck elsewhere too, and was able to have one of my most successful games as a result. It's not a typical game, but it was certainly one of my most enjoyable!