David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Port Macquarie
NSW
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Caesar’s Legions


Two-player Strategic Game of Imperial Roman Conquest
Designed by Loren Wiseman and Don Greenwood
Second Edition Published by Avalon Hill (1975)


Caesar’s Legions is an interesting game that covers just over 100 years of history. One of its most interesting features is the way that it pits two totally different armies against each other in five scenarios. Both players have some choice regarding the make-up of their forces both during set-up and again during play. Generally speaking small units move faster but are weaker. Larger units are stronger but move more slowly. In some situations small units can join together to make up a larger, slower unit – naturally you would only do this just prior to combat. During combat larger units can breakdown into smaller units so as to take losses.

The Roman forces are organised into legions, made up of several cohorts (normally 10 cohorts to a legion), and auxiliary forces. The German forces are made up of cavalry, light infantry, war-bands and mobs.

There are no Zones of Control in the game and combat takes place within a hex. The combat system features the step reduction of units during a battle and so a battle may last for several rounds before one side is either eliminated or manages to retreat.

Combat is resolved through the use of a die. The die may be modified as a result of troop quality, leaders and the use of tactical cards (the same cards that are used in Avalon Hill’s ‘1776’ game).


Scenarios

The game includes five different scenarios of different complexity. Each scenario is quite different in nature and so you get quite a lot of variety in the game.

1 – Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul
This scenario is set in 58 B.C. and sees Julius Caesar putting down a rebellion led by the Suevii chief, Ariovistus. The game runs for 12 turns and the Romans objective is to hold undisputed control of the 6 northern-most villages that are located west of the River Rhine. The German player can win by contesting at least one village at the end of the game or by capturing an Eagle (i.e. destroy a legion). The scenarios is relatively straight-forward and is really used as an introduction to the movement, combat, stacking and unit-breakdown rules.

2 – Caesar’s Crossing the Rhine

This scenario is set in 54 B.C. – Caesar crosses the Rhine and campaigns on the eastern bank as a warning to German tribes not to attack on the Western side of the river and to punish the Sugambrii for harbouring German survivors from the previous year’s attacks on Roman allies. The game runs for 15 turns and sees Caesar trying to eliminate (or force the withdrawal of) all tribal units East of the Rhine and then cross the Rhine and burn the villages that bore arms against Rome. The Germans win by denying the Romans their victory conditions or by destroying an Eagle. The number of German tribes in revolt is variable from game to game.


3 – Teutoburger Wald
In the year 6 A.D. Quinticulius Varus was sent by the Emperor to complete the pacification of German and to bring it into the Roman Empire. A German noble, Arminius, became a trusted aid of the Romans and led 3 Roman legions into a trap that led to their annihilation. This scenario also runs for 15 turns. It is particularly interesting and is my personal favourite. During the set-up the German player secretly draws a chit which lets the German player know how many tribes will be in revolt and the number of ambush hexes that set. The Roman player does not know how many tribes have rebelled. This means that, initially, he does not know the size of the forces against him, the number of villages he needs to capture to win or the number of potential ambush hexes that lie in wait for him. This uncertainly and ‘fog-of-war’ leads to some very interesting situations. The Roman can sent out small forces to a number of villages to find out if the chief is home. If he is at home that tribe has not rebelled. If the chief is not at home then he is at war with Rome. Sending out small forces on this sort of task takes time. The German player can also set-up some of his units on a hidden chart and these units will not be revealed until the Romans find them selves in a cunningly-laid trap.

4 – Idistaviso – Campaign for the Eagles
Six years after the disaster at Teutoburger Wald, Drusus Germanicus was sent to recover the lost Eagles. This scenario goes for just 14 turns. The Roman objective is to capture the lost Eagles while the German player attempts to keep control of the Eagles and perhaps even capture some more. The German Eagles start the game at rest in temples and may not be moved until the Roman player moves within 4 hexes of the Eagle/temple. The number of German tribes at war with the Romans will vary. Arminius (represented by a counter) moves around the board and tries to arouse the tribes he visits to join him in his fight against the Romans. Additionally, the Romans, themselves, will activate neutral tribes if the Romans enter tribal territory.

5 – Batavian Revolt
In 68 A.D. Julius Paulus and Julius Civilis, two leaders of the Batavii, were arrested under instruction from Emperor Nero. One was killed and the other had his ear cut off. As a result the Batavii went into a state of rebellion. Two years later Vespasian had become the new Emperor and sent Petilius Cerealius to stamp out the revolt. This scenario is played in two 15 turn segments. The Batavian player must meet certain minimum victory conditions at the end of the first segment for the game to move into the second segment. In this scenario naval combat and movement is featured, along with siege combat, as well as the possibility of Roman desertion and ‘off-board’ movement.


The components are what you would expect from Avalon Hill. A flat box, mounted map and good-quality counters.

The 15 turn scenarios are easily playable in less than 3 hours. This is largely due to low counter density as you play the game.

The first two scenarios are a little on the bland side and are simply a quick and easy way to get into and learn the game (i.e. programmed instructions). Scenarios 3, 4 and 5 are wonderful gaming experiences on a period covered by few other games. The system successfully attempts to simulate the significant differences between the two different types of army involved in these wars.

If you have an interest in this period I can thoroughly recommend Caesar’s Legions. If you are not interested in the period you will probably find it a less than satisfactory gaming experience and should stick to games on periods that you do find interesting.


arrrh "Dead Men Tell No Tales!"

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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
United States
Corvallis
Oregon
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Horace Silver: The Cape Verdean Blues || Horace Parlan: Happy Frame of Mind || Dexter Gordon: Doin' Allright || Hank Mobley: Roll Call
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One of my all time favorite games. Scenario 3, with the hidden units and unknown order of battle, is exquisite.
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Richard Berg
United States
South Carolina
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Interesting game, barely tepid history . . . Original version came from GDW . . . I tended to call it CAESAR'S LESIONS.

RHB
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Tom Swider
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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BROG wrote:
Interesting game, barely tepid history . . . Original version came from GDW . . . I tended to call it CAESAR'S LESIONS.

RHB


This game has hit my table the most of any ancients game. I'm not sure if the shot against its history is justified. I would concede any argument on that aspect for those who have the time and background to do so.

For scenario three, I'm 1 and 1 for games played as the Germans with a chit draw of 1. Both games were close and needless to say required some creative play.
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