25 July 2014

After Action Report: Hannibal: Rome and Carthage - Another AAR Part 1

Tim Delaney admits that he was "a bit lucky" in his first AAR so he's headed back to the front lines to see if fortune will favor him again.

Published on 28 SEP 2010 11:44am by Scott Parrino
  1. roman empire, turn-based, north africa, strategic, tactical, europe

I was awfully lucky in that first AAR so I decided to play again to present a more balanced depiction of the game. I’m staying on Normal level. Normal is tough enough. If you read this AAR through to the finish (and it's tragically short!) you'll see what I mean. The AI kills.

Turn 1

If you read the first AAR there'll be a little bit of “deja vu all over again” in this first move. At the outset I take the “gambler's option” once again and uncheck the Standard Move. With such a blue map I always make it a practice to draw two extra fleets at the beginning of every game. Before moving into Gaul and across the Alps I want to do a little re-organization. I'll move the cavalry and elephant unit from Hasdrubal's army into Hannibal's main body, and then put Hasdrubal into New Carthage and a couple of extra infantry units into Emporium.

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And then.... it's on the road again with Hannibal.....

...Attrition was not too bad this time. 2 cavalry units lost. That's going to limit my effectiveness in Pursuit. But all the elephants made it! Again I make a direct attack on Turn and manage to gain the city without a single loss. So now I’m over the mountains and the game can properly begin.

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Wars of epic conquest are like children. It's important that they get off to a good start. A battle of annihilation and a dead Roman general are my idea of a good start.  Hannibal has to score quickly and impressively if he is going to fulfill his vow to Dad to destroy Rome.

The Roman general Gracchus is in Placentia with a substantial force, and Servilius is in Genua with a few legions. The biographical information provided in the Strategy Guide tells me that while Servilius is a dope Gracchus is a mover, and his command rating is formidable. Hopefully I can bring them to battle next turn and shatter them with my Punic Tricks card.

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Roman Turn 1

Gracchus is given the first command phase and plays the “African Desertion” option card, costing me one African infantry unit.

Whenever a side plays an Option card the opponent is given a choice to respond. I play the Reinforcements card I drew at the end of the first turn and place a new naval squadron in Carthage.

Then Gracchus moves.  He comes out of Placentia and I'm given a chance to Intercept.

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Of course I jump at the chance.

He tries to avoid battle but is outmaneuvered! I've got him!

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This is a major Roman army and fully justifies use of the Punic Tricks card. I click the Battle Card button and play it:

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But I find Option 1, Ambush, is grayed out in this battle. Why? Gracchus is too good a general to be duped into ambush, it seems. I have three choices remaining. Given that I still have a  preponderance of cavalry, Cavalry Maneuver is the obvious pick.

But: right after I play the Punic Trick card the Romans respond with “Rampant Elephants”! My tuskers run amok and rout.  Worse, they can't be replaced in the front line for a full turn. That's a serious blow. A lot of my attack value is gone and I'm now actually outnumbered in the front line!

In the first round of battle I score 2 hits and 2 routs to the Romans 3 routs. This is a pathetic start. I need a blowout here.

In the next round I take down 4 and rout 1, and the Romans score zip.

Gracchus has had enough and flees. I need a successful Pursuit to make up for a bad start to this battle. As I said I want total annihilation!

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Ugh. Only 1 hit in pursuit! Gracchus lives to fight another day and slips away with his remnants into the safety of Genua. Worse, he's promoted for surviving two rounds of battle with Hannibal! That's downright insulting.

On the plus side, Mediolanum switches allegiance to Carthage. If I'd gotten a clean sweep of Gracchus, more cities probably would have switched.

Next, the Romans send Servilius by sea to Rhegium and make a few desultory naval movements. Rome plays an Option Card, giving them additional reinforcements in the capital. I respond with “Pontian Aid”. I get to raise 2 new units in Carthage, and Rome has to remove two naval squadrons from play to deal with the new Pontic threat. I'm chipping away at Roman naval power.

The Romans end with huge recruiting:

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I was able to recruit only one unit at the end of my turn.

Turn 2

Time to advise the Carthaginian Senate on this year's strategy. At this stage there's really only one choice, Reinforce Italy.

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The Senate concurs and I'm given 1 unit and 4 command phases.

But first: there is a combined Roman-Syracusan fleet of two squadrons in the Ionian Sea. I've got a fleet 3 times that size in Carthage. This is a good opportunity to further my strategy of defeating the Roman navy in detail. I give the Admiral his orders.

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Ack! I score only 2 routs, no hits. The enemy gets away.

I don't like leaving a fleet in a sea zone with no friendly port at hand. Storms can entirely destroy fleets even of this size if there's no safe harbor. But it's not possible to get back to Carthage. I'm stuck. Mistake.

Hannibal has the next phase. I want to play my “Macedonian Aid” option card but before I can do that I have to capture a port on the east coast.

Ariminum is my target. I'll take it by direct assault.

The fight goes two rounds and I take a hit but the city is mine. I play the card and the Macedonian navy, consisting of 4 squadrons, comes into play. Excellent! I hope to draw a second Macedonian Aid card so that I can bring their army onto the board too but that's a long shot given that there are 40 cards. (Note to card counters: the method doesn't work. Periodically the game does a random reshuffle.)

If I'm going to recruit in this province I need to capture a major city. Ariminum doesn't count. I'm sizing up Ancona for next turn. For now, I'll leave Mago with a substantial garrison in Ariminum. I have to hold it to keep my Macedonian allies in the fight.

It's time to gamble. Hannibal's main force has only 8 units. I need to create a diversion somewhere to give the Romans something else to worry about.

I send Himilco by sea from Carthage to attack Brundisium.I take a hit but take the city. I think his force is strong enough to hold. But I'm pretty nervous about this and think maybe it wasn't very smart. We'll see soon enough.

Roman Turn 2

Straight to the fighting! Scipio moves from Genua to Umbria, giving me a chance to intercept. I take it without a second thought even though I don't have any more Punic Tricks.

In the first round I get 8 hits to his 3. Deadly. He loses one to routing as well but on the next round plays a “Rally Legions” card and brings it back into the battle.  In Round 2 I get 6 hits to his one and that's it for Scipio!

My Pursuit doesn't have to be very successful to sweep up the last of Scipio's outfit but it fails miserably. Even with all my cavalry I get only one hit. And so Scipio, like Gracchus, gets away from me, and even gets a promotion in the bargain! He'll be tougher to deal with next time, and even if I have a Punic Tricks card at hand two of the options probably won't be available. Good Roman generals get wise fast.

What was that I said about needing to get off to a good start? I have had two major battles now and neither has been a triumph.  I don't like the trend-line here.

Worse is to come. Varro gathers a big army out of Rome and moves on Himilco! I didn't expect that.

The battles goes three rounds. The casualties are heavy on the Roman side but not heavy enough. Brundisium falls and Himilco is KIA.

A major debacle. Two failed battles and now this. The war is not going well and it's only turn 2!

The Romans conclude with more big recruiting. Then, there's a news flash:

Hiero has died in Syracuse! The boy Hieronymous is in power. A weakling.

Hmmm. Perhaps the time is ripe to play my “Syracuse Revolts” option card.

Stay tuned.