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The battle of Tunis a 90 minute Lost Battles afternoon break

Piero
Italy
Florence
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Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
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When Aaron wrote me asking if I'd like to play a Lost Battles game, I jumped at the chance, especially since I was eager to try out the new Vassal module that has come out.

I had previously set the game, which was the battle of Tunis.
Carthaginians against Syracusians in north Africa!

We rolled and I was going to lead the Carthaginian side and we agreed on playing with the "favour of the gods" mechanic, which is recommended by the designer. In fact I have to say, I really liked the new mechanic!

As in the historical event, my chariots simply charged and basically failed to do any good. But I was aided with some lucky command points, so I proceeded in reinforcing all my line, at the expense of battle bonuses or the possibility of using the chariots to flank the horrible columns of enemy hoplites rapidly approaching my position.

This was a good decision. Aaron was instead cursed with a low number of points at the start, so for two full turns his forces didn't advance in the centre, which gave me some respite even if I wasn't able to fully take advantage of this weakness. This was a mistake on Aaron's part, he should have conserved at least a semblance of command points just to bring more troops to the front lines, as soon as possible.

With A LOT OF LUCK, I was thus able to shatter an hoplite veteran unit with the Syracusan Leader in it, which had to follow unwillingly his men out of the battle. This greatly turned things in my favour.

But I also tried to rally with my poor generals, Hanno got killed - like he did in history. But so did my other commander.
Ok that was a mistake on my part: losing two generals gives you a -1 on the Army morale. Something that I paid dearly.

At the end - as historically was the case - my left wing panicked and routed from the field producing a chain reaction that made all the units flee! I had lost the battle.

In the end it was a close shave:

82 pts Carthage

75 pts Syracuse!

I had lost the battle, I had won the game.

As usual thank you Aaron, I always play awesome games with you.

We left with the idea of playing a campaign game, maybe three battles (the first three Successor or the Cesar campaign). What else could you want for 90 minutes play!?
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Tue Dec 6, 2011 5:17 pm
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Prophecy: Fighting Formations, more than just an awful start, an astonishing victory!

Piero
Italy
Florence
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Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
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What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
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I played Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division a couple of days ago. Needless to say, I really wasn't impressed. It wasn't some sort of minor dislike, I was ready to trade the game away.

Today I've changed my mind. To the point of prophecising that not only this is a very good game, but that it will become one of my favoured, my top 10, near to Paths of Glory and other illustrious titles.

What happened between two days ago and today?

Many a thing.

For starters I got to read the examples you find in the play book. I understood most of the game by reading those. So to new players I'd say: make sure to read the examples thoroughly.

I was able to play at least a game. A broken and frustrating experience, where my expectations were smashed to bits (T-34s are no match for the Stugs even if hull down). So, more than with the Germans, make sure to play with the Soviets.

Sleep a night or two, to make all the bits come together.

And voilà!

What you have is a very tight wargame. I wouldn't call it a simulation, but a hell of a game that is. Why is it so?

TACTICAL GAME
The game is of course tactical in nature, in the sense that you have to manage your resources to the optimum so to gain an edge on your opponent. You need to play the advantages each side has to offer and minimize the shortcomings. Germans fire and assault a lot, they have a little more difficulty in manoeuvring and advancing in with infantry which is exactly what the Russians are best at - the problem with them is that usually in the scenarios I've seen they have a shortage of commands and their radioless tanks can be a pain if not put in a position to just fire away at the enemy.
The use of the units' special actions in some cases is key, make sure to have assets so that you can make use of those to the best effect.

STRATEGIC GAME
The grabbing of assets is very important. To take hold of these you need to forfeit much of your initiative, but it can well be a long term investment.

DECISIONS DECISIONS DECISIONS
What to do and when will be a constant struggle to prevail and do something significant in the course of the game.
Where and when to place Mission Commands will have far reaching consequences.
When to grab assets. When to use them. When to discard them so to use a unit's special action AND which one to discard in this case.

A GAME IN A GAME IN A GAME IN A GAME...
The Order Matrix is a game in a game. It can force decisions that are not part of your general plan. Do you resist the urge with steely discipline or do you yield like a twig that won't break under the storm and kill a target of opportunity?

NEAR TO MY HEART
I can see now that this game has the potentiality to be as great as Paths of Glory, only maybe with half the rules.

So the prophecy's been uttered. And now the wargamer's journey has just begun...
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Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:51 am
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Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division - First play

Piero
Italy
Florence
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Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
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What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
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Scenario 0.

I had the Russians and decided to concentrate all my tanks to the south so to roll over the isolated Stug platoon and then pass through and fight the Germans in the village.

What happened was that I became stuck without any hope what so ever and even after firing a frustrating ton of led those damn things wouldn't yield. No way.

In the mean while my infantry in the village was massacred by the assaulting Germans. It was just a matter of time, and mine was somewhat shorter.

At the end of the game, I killed one Stug in exchange for a T-34... and the Germans had wiped my infantry from the village. Wow. What a disaster.

Did I have fun? I don't know. I need to play some more.

PS
I was put off by the low quality of some components, namely the cards and the player aids. I suppose my expectations were higher because of other games such as Combat Commander... damn it.
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Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:39 pm
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Alexander and three Punic wars in half an hour...

Piero
Italy
Florence
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Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
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What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
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I've been playing lately, and enjoying, Empire: The Macedonian Punic Wars, 350-150BC by Phil Sabin.



The game covers a little more then a century of history, that goes over the rise and fall of Alexander, the rise and fall of the Persian Empire, the rise and fall of the Diadochi, the rise of the Roman Empire, the fall of Carthage. All of this in less than 30 minutes.

It is a very simple, but very fun game. Every turn, if you don't have a "Great Captain", namely Alexander, Hannibal or Scipio, you can perform a military campaign to conquer a region. You then roll a die, add or subtract modifiers and you apply the results.

Even if very simple, and very random, each decision can be tough since the game is extremely tight.

The Macedonian player for instance, must devote all his resources to KILL the Persian empire. So with Alexander he must plunge deep and go right for the throat. He has to do this before Alexander dies and the Diadochi start fighting each other.

The Persian needs to resist at all costs. This may be a very rough ride, since the Persians do not have any Great Commander. But they have a heavy point advantage and it will be very difficult for them to be completely wiped out.

The Romans start very slow. They have to consolidate Italy first, while Carthage has a go in conquering all the lands that bathe in the Mediterranean. But once Italy is consolidated and the Hannibal fast crisis is over, it is only a matter of time before Carthage is destroyed.

The Carthaginian needs to do the most with its first advantage. The key to victory, and defeat, is Sicily. The small tract of sea that divides Sicily from Carthage may be a lethal base of attack to the motherland, it must be defended at all costs even if the sea constitutes an added risk. This is the most difficult position to keep. After Rome has taken Italy, it will be a downfall from there. In the end it is very likely Carthage will be razed at the end of the third Punic war.

The game plays very well solo, with the map or with the Vassal module you can find in the Lost Battles Yahoo Group and can be ordered at the Society of Ancients' website for £5 - shipping included.

All in all I recommend this to anyone who has an interest in Ancient history and the strategic nuances of the period.
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Mon May 30, 2011 12:52 pm
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