It's the annual Stratagem "Ancient Art of War" gaming event at the Glenbow Museum, and this year "Hannibal's War" was one of the featured games.
Unfortunately the players quite after a couple of hours, mumbling that the game was "hopelessly broken."
"You mean Hannibal just pays 2$ and doesn't lose a single elephant cross the Alps?" - the befuddled Roman player.
In fact, the Carthaginians are pretty much unstoppable - I guarantee they'll have first-year victories in your first few games. They get wads of cash, their entire army on the board, and battle markers that effectively leave them tripled in every battle.
Recommendations to stop this:
- Macedonia, Celt and Romans must ally early and work together as one
- They need to pool their resources and deny Carthage any campaign markers in the Agora phase, however possible
- Leave roadblocks in Carthage's path. He can easily blow away every target, but he has to stop upon entering enemy stacks (each time costing him money), so even single units will do.
- Whenever there's an opening, sail a quick fleet in to pillage
If you're lucky there's even a campaign marker that you can use to force Hannibal to pass, meaning you can end the turn (if the rest of you pass).
Carthage hardly needs advice, but try to all your units together in a super-stack, with a full navy, and within range of all major targets. That should discourage that last bullet point.
If you're beginners, I recommend playing without campaign markers, without random events, and just learn the system of activating and moving units.
I also created some markers and placed them on the map to denote what each player's victory objectives were. You can even write directly on the map, if you prefer.
I used gold markers from Empires of the Middle Ages. The rules say to keep track of your money on a sheet of paper, but I recommend building a track, or pilfering bills from Axis & Allies, or something.
- Discard used battle markers even when you win. That way Hannibal (who can play 3 battle markers) isn't effectively tripled every time he moves
- Roll for attrition every time you move, if you begin or end outside a home town/city. If you paid for the force, reduce the roll by 1.
- Double the cost of Carthaginians fleets and/or all units (if you think they're too powerful). Otherwise Carthage enjoy naval equality, or even supremacy, from day one.
It's a great map, great counter, and a solid system, but I don't blame the guys for either their harsh words, or for giving up.
You can't use Battle stratagems in city hexes.
The problem is even bigger in 2-player game.
What is very strange is that the Carthage has 6 campaign markers and Rome only 2... and that the Carthage is... wealthier than Rome.
I've played Hannibal's War yesterday... and it seems that in - at least - 2-player scenario the game is broken. IMHO the game rules do NOT reflect the main issue of operating huge armies in Ancient world - the LOGISTICS. In game there's no problem to make a super-stack of Cartaginian units with Hannibal, some 4-5 Cav, 2-3 Vet phalanx, 2 elephants plus some 2 Aux inf... and steamroll across the Alps and into the Rome within 1 turn. The Carthage has MUCH MORE money than Rome (which - in fact - did NOT have) and supplying such huge stack is not a problem. Also the number of Campaign markers is completely unbalanced - only 2 for Rome is quite ridiculous, given the fact that Carthage starts with 20 talents + d6 talents plus 16 talents from taxes, compared to 10 Roman talents + 19 talents from taxes, i.e. at least 37 talents versus 29 talents. That makes a HUGE difference, and allows Carthage get BOTH initiative AND 2-3 more campaign markers. Given the statistics and that there are 3 Forced March markers, Hannibal can even move within ONE OPERATION to Rome and take it, especially if has some luck and has also Siege Train.
IMHO the attrition rules requitre modification, as well as some movement rules (espacially with mountains - the force should not only "finish the movement" but also pay more MPs (maybe 2 MPs). And the Alps should also be modified as crossing them was not easy operation (I suggest cost of 3 MPs, end of movement and +2 to Attrition die roll). Also, if the 1 Roman Legion counter represents a "Consular army" of 2 legions and allied troops (socii), then it should be reinded that the ONLY case when Rome fielded an army of 4 counters (i.e. 8 legions) was at Cannae - just 4 counters plus 2 leaders in game terms - due to excessive logistics problems; also the Hannibal at Cannae was due to his need to feed his troops. When in 9 CE the future emperor Tiberius conducted operations in Illyria he had to split his force of 18 legions into 2 groups due to logistics problems too. I like the idea of making Attrition die roll obligatory, with modifications due to previous payment, yet 'cause of that "logistics factor" the payment should be 1 talent for 1-4 units, 2 talents for 5-8, 3 talents for 9-12 etc., with die roll modifiers, like that: +1 for 5-8 units, +2 for 9-12 units etc., -# (comander value), -1 if Veterans are 50% of counters, +1 if force was not paid, +1 for EACH elephant counter, -1 if finished movement in friendly occupied port city or tow that was not pillaged. Also the Provision rules should be changed appropriately, i.e. 1 talent for 1-4 units above forage value, 2 talents for 5-8 etc., as well as +1 talent for EACH elephant counter. Note, that the elephants were really expensive "weapons of war" and mainatining them in field was veery difficult - Hannibal lost almost all of them during first 2 years of his campaign, got only 1 elephant reinforcements, and their next use was at Zama only; the Hellenistic kingdoms also used them rarely and only if having really huge amounts of money, mostly the Seleucids and Ptolemies, with exception being Pyrrhos of Epeiros.
What else... the "Camps" Optional rule should be Standard rule (as building camps was standard Roman doctrine of the time), though maybe they should not dougble defender's strength but rather subtract from attacker's die roll (maybe -2, not -1 as proposed before in house rules published here). And building a Roman fort should cost 1 talent only if built in operation phase, with cost of "0" if built during Mobilisation phase.
The Mobilisation rules do NOT also reflect the historical situation that the Rome had far bigger "recruitment pool" (stated as some 700 thousand infantrymen and some 70 thouand cavalrymen at the time of 2nd Punic War), which allowed them to field 25 legions plus socii plus fleet, total some 250 thousand men at one time. Thus I suggest that in case of Romans the "general levy" recruitment allowance should be DOUBLED, with TWO commanders available. And maybe the "General Levy" should be allowed to be conducted also in Operations phase - yet with play of, let' say, Rally or Auspices marker - or maybe adding special marker to the pool? This also reflects the real situations, when Romans mustered new armies after disaster at Cannae, as well as Carthaginians mustered field army in Carthage when Scipio landed there.
Also the Romans should have their mobilization prices reduced – Auxilia infantry 1 talent each, Auxilia cavalry 2 talents each, as well as legions, with fleets 4 talents each, as well as reduction of prices for garrison upgrade: 0,5 talent for infantry upgrade, 1 talent for cavalry upgrade. The reason is simple -> the Romans relied very extensively on their “socii” (allies) system, which effectively doubled their forces; also their fleets consisted in large parts the fleets mustered by “socii navales” (i.e. naval allies) that provided own ships and crewmen (especially professional rowers).
I'll prepare some home rules for that and publish them here, if time allows.