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Subject: The Triple Alliance rss

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Brian Evans
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Richmond
Texas
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Probably the best game of Sword of Rome I've gotten to play in yet. A nice four player affair.

Early on, Samnite / Etruscans completely hosed the Romans with a barrage of awesome events while the Greeks, under a Solar Eclipse, threw War Elephants and Hoplites at the Carthaginian stronghold in Sicily. Despite the impressive card play, the Carthaginian defeat was long in coming. Three turns later (36 years!) a perfect (all 6s!) combat die roll smashed the remnants of the Carthaginian army (now besieging Messana), shifting Sicily to Greek control. Meanwhile, Rome had lost no less than three cities and was desperately defending against the combined might of the Etruscans, Samnites and Volsci, the latter which were besieging Roma itself. However, by the end of the fourth turn Rome had completely recovered even to the point of conquering the Volsci. Ever on the move, the Gauls pillaged the countryside all the way to the boot of Italy but, due to constant Trans-Alpine Gaul harassment, were left with nothing to show for their aggressiveness.

Turn five saw a three way alliance form between the Gauls, Etruscan / Samnites and the Romans. The Greeks, now three VPs ahead, were to be stopped. Yet, even amongst the alliance, trust did not flow freely as continual Samnite events plagued the Roman (and Greek!) players. Even with the Etruscan / Samnite treachery, the alliance was able to assault the Greeks in the north at Neapolis while dispatching their allies, the Carthaginians, to siege Lilybaeum. By the end of the turn the Greeks walloped the Carthaginians one more time but were unable to prevent the fall of Neapolis to the resurgent Romans.

The sixth, and final turn, saw a wild ride take place as the renewal of the triple alliance presented a strong initial front to the Greeks but it was not long before each member of the alliance in turn backed out and began their own pursuit of glory at each others expense. But first, a return of the Carthaginians (via a Gallic activation), this time to the island of Sardinia and it's Greek controlled VP. Hamilcar's first victory against the Greeks was well worth the wait as the battle saw the defeat of the Greek garrison, panicking the citizenry in Rhegium leading to a revolt therein. The Gauls, through their Carthaginian pawns, stole two victory points from the Greeks in one swift blow. These Greek losses would not be the last. Next, the Gauls sent their horde to besiege Tarentum, a move countered by Pyrrhus and his large Greek army. Attacking with a strong advantage, the Greeks fell victim to overconfidence and decisively lost the battle, inflicting almost no casualties to the barbarians. The political consequences were far reaching as at first the Gauls looted Tarentum but then even the city of Messana descended into chaos. Desperate to engage in battle, and reap the political rewards, Pyyrhus gathered up another army and attempted to engage the Gauls only to have the Gallic player unleash their own Desperate Times card and escape to the Samnite hills, safely out of Pyrrhus' reach.

Meanwhile, the Etruscans and Samnites broke ranks with the Romans and marched an army on Roma while a small force was sent to “help protect” the nearby VP space owned by the still allied Gauls. In retaliation for the Etruscan / Samnite sudden but inevitable betrayal, the Romans sent multiple armies into Samnite territory intent on smashing the tribesmen once and for all. Yet, fighting the Samnites on their home territory is never as easy as it sounds and this time was no different. A hail of event cards skewered the Roman Consul and unleashed the elite Linen Legion upon the leaderless Roman legions, routing the much larger force. Broken and berift of command, the Roman army disintegrated in the high mountain passes. Desperate for Victory Points, the last remaining Roman army left Capua and, ignoring the Samnite siege of Roma (depending on the Servian wall to hold the invaders back), headed north to the fertile Gallic homelands. The triple alliance was all but dead.

At the beginning of the turn, the southern reaches of Italy held no less than four mighty armies (two Roman, one Greek and one Gallic) with plenty of other troops scattered about to at least equal another. Yet, by the fourth action phase of the last turn, Pyyrhus stood alone amongst the dead and dying of southern Italy, desperate to fight someone, anyone, in hopes of lifting the morale of the revolting citizens of the Greek empire. Surely, in a land covered in armies just a short time ago, there would be a foe to fight. Yet it was not so. In the heart of Italy, Rome itself stood besieged by a Samnite army while a smaller Roman detachment attempted in vain to subjugate the Samnite homeland of Aufindena. The Gallic horde, fresh off a great victory against the Greeks and loaded down with plunder, camped along the eastern Samnite lands on it's way back to their homeland. In the north, both Roman and Etruscan forces “garrisoned” empty Gallic victory spaces, their intention to soon betray the Gallic populace all too clear.

The triple alliance, already dead in truth if not yet in name, finally collapsed in the final two action phases of the game as both the Romans and Etruscans began their conquests of Gallic Italy. The Greeks, bereft of 4 victory point spaces since the start of the turn (as well as Neapolis from a previous turn) pulled a rabbit out of their hat with the play of a truly lucky card draw. Cineas, apparently a fabulous orator and supporter of Pyrrhus rallied the rebellious citizens of Magna Graecia, returning Messana, Rhegium and Tarentum to the fold. With time running out, the Romans and Etruscans pushed even further into Gallic territory; the Gallic horde in hot pursuit. At the close, the Samnite siege of Roma resulted in two sixes on the die roll. Rome, many times besieged yet never conquered, at last fell.

After six hours of Italian conquest, the Greeks held on to the game with 8 Victory Points. The Gauls, despite losing key territories in the waning moments of the triple alliance had an impressive final turn coming in second with 7 victory points. After taking a thrashing early and falling to 4 Victory Points the Romans came back to tie the Etruscan/Samnites at 6 Victory Points each. The Roman production capacity was up to eight Combat Units a turn and, with the defeat of the Volsci and the construction of the Appian Way, one must acknowledge that the Romans were well on their way to long term success. If the game was played the full nine rounds Rome would not have abandoned Roma in search of last minute victory points and would have been well on it's way to establishing itself as the dominant power of the game. I have read elsewhere that the Greeks do well early but the Romans surge late. This game very much illustrated that point.

All in all, this was a great game where anyone could have won during that last turn. Now if we can only get the playing down to less than 6 hours...
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Scott Randolph
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Longmont
Colorado
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Awesome!...now THIS...is the way the game is played!
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Steven
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Spokane
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"The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience"
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Great session report. I love it.

Thank you for sharing!
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That Guy
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College Station
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I was the Romans in this game. It was about as ugly as ugly could be and then even more ugly in the early rounds. I sat and watched the Greeks sitting on their little island fat and happy (hows that working for you present day btw?) without a 3 front war, sometimes 4, and was more than agitated. But when we realized that the Greeks had enjoyed to much wine and grapes, we had to take action. Good job taking on a threesome, err, good job defending a bottleneck, err umm, yeah. Honestly, ya some good plays, resisting temptation of playing some devastating card events in favor of ops to position your hordes.

A good game though, definitely our best yet.
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Brian Evans
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Richmond
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haha!


I've found it very difficult as the Romans in this game. Perhaps it has something to do with our propensity to play only the "short" game but it's just plain tough to be a Roman! Across 5 game plays we've had 2 Greek and 2 Etruscan / Samnite victories. The last was a 3 way tie so I suppose that means it was a Gallic marginal victory.

My one experience as Rome saw an Etruscan army sitting on top of Rome bribing no less than three army activations (including 2 campaigns!) until the siege eventually succeeded. Those were dark days for Rome. Dark days indeed! sauron
 
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