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Subject: Pharsalus x2 rss

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Roger Taylor
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I solitaired Pharsalus twice to get a feel for the game, varying when Caesar did the turn order flip-flop. First, Caesar left the turn order alone on turn 2, letting Pompey take the first move. Pompey rolled hot dice with his cavalry and shattered both Caesarian cavalry units, then advanced. Then Pompey advanced his infantry to stop Caesar's infantry from occupying his forward zones and depressing his army morale, figuring Caesar could get the first attack in the infantry fight with the flip-flop anyway. Caesar sent two legion units to hold the right rear and started carving up the Pompeian legions. More commands + cheaper attack bonuses for veteran lead units + more free attack bonuses from commanders gave Caesar a considerable advantage. The battle didn't end until both of Pompey's infantry wings were completely shattered (10 units) and Pompey was wounded trying to rally. Caesar had two cavalry units shattered and 9 legion units spent. The first game was a Caesarian game victory.

In the second game I had Caesar do the flip-flop immediately on turn 2. This allowed the cavalry to strike the first blow and the infantry to occupy Pompey's forward zone and depress his army morale (recalling how resistant to rout Pompey's legions were in the first game!). Caesar was willing to accept letting Pompey make the first infantry attacks, figuring he could make up for it with more combat bonuses. The cavalry won its fight at the cost of both units spent in all-out attacks. The forward strategy paid off when Pompey rolled a 1 on a morale check with modifiers of -1 for the enemy-occupied zones and -1 for 4 units shattered. This caused every remaining Pompeian legion (all spent) to panic, and ended the battle. Caesar's losses were 2 legion units shattered and all others spent. Even though this was a quicker victory than the first play, it was a game defeat for Caesar. Pompey was still on his feet, and routed units score fewer points than shattered units. Perhaps it was a mistake for Caesar to make all-out attacks. I'm going to try the scenario again and see.

There is some subtlety in this system. I'm liking it.
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Piero
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Nice AAR.

There is some subtlety to the system, yes.
What I think is that - specially if you go for historical deployment - there is a small number of choices to make in the game. So these need to be optimal.
For example, in the Marathon battle I done an AAR here on BGG, by not moving my Persians to the centre, at least in the centre-left or -right, I've made the Persian Army extremely frail even if I was deciding to strike the Greeks first. Positioning and taking losses is very important!
 
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rtaylor wrote:
The forward strategy paid off when Pompey rolled a 1 on a morale check with modifiers of -1 for the enemy-occupied zones and -1 for 4 units shattered. This caused every remaining Pompeian legion (all spent) to panic, and ended the battle.


Did you play that legions get a +2 to morale? They should get +1 for being heavy infantry & +1 more for being legions
 
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Adam D.
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Quote:
there is a small number of choices to make in the game. So these need to be optimal.


I Have this sneaking suspicion that this basically describes ancient warfare in total. More power to those who try to bring some choices into games about it (Lost Battles, GMTs GBOH, et al) but I wonder if the actual thing was just setup and check the chicken entrails one last time.
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Roger Taylor
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butterbur wrote:
Did you play that legions get a +2 to morale? They should get +1 for being heavy infantry & +1 more for being legions

I applied the +1 legion modifier, but I didn't notice the +1 modifier for heavy infantry. Thanks for pointing it out. In my first game I overlooked the -1 combat modifier for lead infantry attacking a legion (essentially nullifying the base +1 modifier for a lead attacking unit), so the legions took hits at a greater rate than they should have.
 
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Roger Taylor
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TheCollector wrote:
Quote:
there is a small number of choices to make in the game. So these need to be optimal.


I Have this sneaking suspicion that this basically describes ancient warfare in total. More power to those who try to bring some choices into games about it (Lost Battles, GMTs GBOH, et al) but I wonder if the actual thing was just setup and check the chicken entrails one last time.

Based on my reading, in most ancient battles that was true. Some commanders and armies were sophisticated enough to attack in echelon or make a flanking move arrive at the right time, but most ancient generals were not commanders but leaders after the attack started. It's a military truism that only unengaged troops are really under the commander's control, which means the commander must have reserves to influence the battle after it starts. It appears that only the Romans had a heavy infantry army with tactical reserves and the command control to effectively use them.
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