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Subject: Alea Iacta Est rss

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Pokke
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We tried the game yesterday for the first time.
Taking the advice to start with just the "bronze rules".

(the so-called introductory rules, which are expanded by the "silver rules", which add forced marches and a much bigger role for allies, barbarians and veterans...)

I got attracted to the game due to the name Joe Miranda, the designer of Waterloo 20 and the other games of that series. I love those games, so wanted to see what other games the man invented. And I like playing Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, I'm reading "I Claudius", playing the computer game "Rome:Total War", etc. The game also promised to be small size (there's only 40 pieces) and fast and furious. Easy to digest rules and playable in a couple of hours. I like all that!


Alan played Caesar, I was Pompeius.

He started by crossing the Rubicon and attacking Nova Carthago in Spain. I remembered that from the excellent HBO's Rome series, so I did not (yet) pannick. Better, I actually was lucky and managed to kill two of his legions in Spain which was some small compensation for losing my foothold there. Not planning to go in detail here, but I got a leader early on, Quintus Scipio, which gave me a free allied unit each turn and those free units quickly spread out and helped taking almost all the East. A turn later, lucky again, another leader, this one providing a free legion each turn if he's located on the right settlement.

But I'm running ahead of events. As I said, I responded by grabbing a lot of territory in the East which gave me a much better tax result. The problem with grabbing lots of land is that you're quickly spread out very thin and cannot strike back that easily. And though the rulebook sais that Allied units are very vulnerable to certain SPQR cards, I did not realise how vulnerable. This was our first game after all. With the "silver rules-set" it is probably easier to grab land without losing the military advantage thanks to the allies markers? We still have to try that so I'm not sure...

Anyhow, in one of the first forum phases I bid for a two point Optimates forum card and won it. After all, I am a man of the nobility am I not? I proudly put the card in front of me, not realising at this point that this card would actually prevent me from winning the game later on!

Meanwhile Caesar managed to invade Alexandria with an allied army that sprung up due to an action card. Lured by that vicious Cleopatra! The serpent chose his side (another action card) which made him receive double income from Alexandria. Gone was my huge advantage in money making (and recruiting).

I decided to strike back. Concentrated my troops and moved back to Italy where I invaded a now just barely defended Rome, which allowed me to buy new Forum cards. These were all for the Populares though, so thanks to my first card (2 points Optimates) I now needed 9 populares points to claim a political victory instead of only 7. These cards costs a lot of money! My allied forces in the East assured me of that and I spread my troops in Italy and beyond trying to go for maximum profit again. Caesar, with all due respect, the cunning swine invaded Antioch (worth 4 points) and moved himself to the East. He had an excellent leader with him, who had the ability to promote Legions and Allied units directly to Veteran status. So he was now sitting on a growing stack of veterans, in Alexandria, despite having only a small amount of territories.

I realised I had to be fast to claim victory. Just 2 turns away from the end and I only need one forum card. This is when disaster strikes. Caesar had a fleet card, moved back to Italy (Massena) with his veterans from where he threatens Rome. As I'm too spread out, I decide not to risk the life of my supreme leader and move him out of Rome to the North. Now I cannot buy that forum card as it's prerequisite is that the supreme leader has to be in the city. I try to concentrate my troops around Rome again so that in the final turn I can move back into Rome and get the card that I need. I also spent some money on more legions as I do not want to risk a military defeat. Then the horror begins when an event card sends "home" 6 (them dice!) of my allied troops. All of the Eastern-money-making-provinces were covered by nothing but allied troops so all of sudden the East is empty. I no longer have the money for that one winning move card! That's why allies are vulnerable?!!

Caesar attacks Pompei, Pompei wins, Caesar retreats to Crete and further down, but this is the last turn and now with all my troops concentrated in Rome and no where else I receive almost no taxes, I cannot claim a military victory as Caesar is still on the map and I need two more votes from the Populares thanks to that stupid bid in the first turn.

The game ends in a draw. We will be held responsible for the fall of the Western Civilisation...


As usual I checked the rules later on and discovered that we made only one error: when you retreat from a battle, you lose a leader (but not the supreme leader). Not sure if that would have forced a different outcome though.

It was an excellent game. Oh yeah. Very tense. Very atmospheric. Very unpredictable. Looking forward to play it again. Victory Point Games (and Joe Miranda) did it again!
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Alan Huyton
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Hi Bart

It was a terrific game, swinging back and forward. Well, mostly back after Caesar got heavily defeated by Pompey. I was struck by how it was possible to do very badly one turn but still be able to recover and start to be a nuisance again.

Actually, it was a pity that we missed the rule on leaders dying in retreat. Caesar would have gone, I'm sure - though I did hold cards to save him or bring on a successor. So, I think a moral victory to Pompey.

I get the impression that there are lots of tactical possibilities in the game. For instance as Caesar, I decided that the way to proceed was to go and destroy the armies in the East one by one, rather than sit in Rome and build up forces. Big mistake that was cry

I agree with you about Victory Point, all their games seem to be of a very high quality. Waterloo 20 is fascinating and I'm really looking forward to the D Day series also.

Hope we play this again soon.

Alan
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Pokke
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Just for the record: the supreme leader cannot be killed due to a retreat. But you would have lost that veteran-building guy. And me that free-legion-builder.
 
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