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Subject: 13.4 May Barbarian Invasion Armies combine, if from the same nation? rss

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Michael Sosa
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Rule 13.4 covers barbarian invasions. There are several possible tribes that can invade. What if two invasions take place in a turn from the same nation, such Germans for example? May these combine? May a player activating one army pick up the other?

What about Western Gauls and Eastern Gauls?

I'm in a game now where the Roman player is facing down two German armies in Italy, all intent on sacking and pillaging. I argue it makes sense for these Germans to cooperate against the Romans but the rules do not provide an answer. One argument against cooperation is the potential hit on the unlucky player but it doesn't convince me since it is a rare occurrence and feels thematic that every few games a really large invasion can take place against Greece, Rome or even Carthaginian Hispania. These armies go away at end of turn and must be activated by someone to actually be effective.
 
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Michael @mgouker
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The problem is actually that you already made a rules modification to allow Barbarian armies to move through tribes. Typically the Barbarians would have to fight through tribes in the first turns before arriving in Rome. When you make game unbalancing changes in the rules, other parts of the game get unbalanced. My solution in games I moderated was to only allow one barbarian invasion from a given region in a turn. It seemed to work pretty well.

 
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Michael @mgouker
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Belisarius88 wrote:
Rule 13.4 covers barbarian invasions. There are several possible tribes that can invade. What if two invasions take place in a turn from the same nation, such Germans for example? May these combine? May a player activating one army pick up the other?


Also, again to the point, there was no NATION of Germanic peoples.
 
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Michael Sosa
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Gouker, barbarians not fighting tribes is not a rules modification, it is what the designer intended as I recall. I do believe that was an official clarification. Also it seems completely broken to have the players use the barbarians to help them colonize Europe by wiping out the tribes! The whole purpose of those guys is to pressure the players, not help them. Specifically they are there to hurt Rome most of all.

Now whether we should allow multiple invasions is another question. It rarely happens but it seems plausible and fun. These invasions do not necessarily have to affect one player, as anyone can activate them. I do not see a need to add more rules to the game restricting invasions.
 
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Michael @mgouker
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"It is what the designer intended as I recall..."

No. And I guarantee you that nearly every playtest game I played, it was standard procedure to use barbarian armies to wipe out tribes. It was one of Neil's favorite things to do.

After release, we decided that there were things we had to do to stop the Roman player from activating a Barbarian army and taking it out over and over again into a DSTP. I wrote the rules for this *after* release and I can send you the notes from my moderations - I made sure everyone agreed before we began play.

They are unofficial, but widely played. I moderated ten Pax games after release and still have notes for most of them.

I actually came up with the Barbarian army passing through the tribe rule, but I also had a balancing mechanism (one barbarian invasion from any given region). In the game you are running, you only chose one side of the equation and I do not think the results are unexpected - when you strengthen one side, you can weaken another.

My primary interest in playing at this point is to make sure that we work out the kinks for the second edition, so when the rule change fails, I happily note that I was probably right before. There is value in every test even when it is only to validate what you already know.


 
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Henry Rodriguez
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Hard for me to chime in and provide any meaningful insight with this being my first learning game.

Generally, I believe that changing the way some rules work in a game will necessarily lead to an imbalance.

In terms of my thematic expectations as a player, I would want to see a Barbarian Invasion lead to an invasion of player controlled areas. Thus making them ignore tribes fulfills that expectation, even if historically these invasions did tend to upset the tribes at the outskirts of "civilized lands."

If I recall my history, sometimes these invasions would result not just in violence between the invaders and tribes, but also in the pushing of the tribes ahead of the invasion as the tribes fled. Perhaps that is another (complicated?) option beyond simply moving through the tribe?

Balance-wise, it makes sense to limit the number of Barbarians that emerge from one region. Yet, should that mean that card is wasted if one rolls up the same region a second time or should a re-roll be required until a new region emerges?

Also, the joining up of barbarian armies from two different invasion cards could be argued for or against based on historical evidence. Yes, the Germans were not one people and might not necessarily be willing to work with another tribal king. However, allowing joined invasions could represent those rare mass movements of barbarians that plagued Rome (e.g. Vandals, Huns; though these were in later years).

Henry R.
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Seems like you guys have the bases covered with your arguments.

Play balance as a consideration... I think, no combining, and no two Barabarian invasions in the same region seems better. One invasion can be harsh enough. just reroll the area.

Currently in a game, where I am attacking with a second Barbarian invasion against Rome, and it seems unfair.

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Jim Womer
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To the best of my recollection, there was only one instance of two barbarian tribes combining in the historical period of Pax scenarios V and VI. I believe the tribes were the Cimbri and the Teutones. They were combined briefly in Gaul,promptly separated with one tribe staying in Gaul and the other marching into Italy, which allowed the Roman Marius to defeat one and then the other tribe. I think this happened shortly before 100 BC or Pax Game Turn 8 and contributed considerably to Marius' reputation.

Since the combinations of Barbarians was apparently the exception, perhaps the matter should be settled by a die roll. To maximize the enjoyment and reflecting that barbarian tribes were typically mutually hostile, possible results of the die roll could include combination, nothing happening, a battle between the tribes, or perhaps the elimination of one or both tribes. This fits my notion of what barbarians were about, but other views are certainly possible.

While I may be wrong about this as well, I seem to recall that Julius Caesar was invited into Gaul to defeat the migrating Helvetti tribe and shortly thereafter defeated an invading tribe of Barbarians from Germania. All of this occurred shortly before 50 BC or during the last Pax Game Turn. So a case can be made then for more than one Barbarian Invasion per Game Turn.

Without doing some serious historical research, I cannot say how frequently Barbarian Invasions actually occurred during the historical period of the Pax Scenarios. Given his considerable knowledge of the period, the obvious person to answer that is Pax's designer, RHB.

If invasions are limited to one per Game Turn, the play balance problem I see is that Greece has no obvious and easy solution to the problem of Barbarian Invasions while the Romans have a fairly straightforward solution. Rome builds a City at the Parma space, defends the City with two Legions, and supports the defense with two Talents in the Treasury to rebuild the City Walls and several additional Talents used to buy Siege Expertise to negate the the advantage of the Barbarian Leader. If the Roman Stability level is plus 4 or better,Rome can raise militia to make up some of losses. This is not a cheap solution because you have to rebuild the City Walls during the Game Turn and replace any Legion losses during the Manpower Phase of the next Game Turn. While I hope somebody can do better, this seems effective and better than the alternatives of chasing down Barbarians in your Home Territory and wasting Major Moves or leaving some Legions out in the open to face numerous Barbarians with Leader or Cavalry advantages. As for two Barbarian Invasions in a single Game Turn, add a few Legions to the City in the Parma space.

That's how I see it, and feel free to share your thoughts. Regards.
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Jim Womer
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WELCOME BACK, Michael Gouker!!!

I do not know where you have been or what you have been doing, but I have genuinely and sorely missed your insightful comments and thoughtful answers regarding Pax Romana.

Anticipating the long awaited release of the second edition and the update kit, I recently revisited your fascinating article in C3i # 19. After pondering your discussion about the game's decisive Victory Point system, I may have come up with the perfect accessory for groups of Pax players. I call it the "Pax Cap."The cap is in purple with yellow metal trim with a shark or creased brim just like any other baseball cap. But instead of a logo at the front of the Cap, there is a Red-White-and Blue Bull's Eye Target Symbol. Whichever player in a group currently has the lead in accumulated Victory Points as determined by the Rules gets to wear the "Pax Cap" during the next game turn and every subsequent turn so long as he or she has the most VPs. If any other player takes the lead, that player gets to wear the "Pax Cap!"
What do you think of the "Pax Cap?"
Do you think the good folks at GMT would be interested in selling the "Pax Cap?" I would not object to putting the GMT logo on the back of the "Pax Cap." If GMT is not interested, then I will have to consider seeking other financial backers. Do let me know if you are interested. The real long term beauty of the "Pax Cap" is that the Cap can be used with other games using Victory Point systems so the "Pax Cap" can be a real winner!
I am trying to capitalize on a Victory Point system which appears to have been inspired by the children's game called 'King of the Hill.' The story of how my grade school baseball team solved 'KotH' is a story for another day.
Do let me know what you think and, once again, WELCOME BACK!
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Michael @mgouker
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Sorry for the late reply, Jim. I'll ask Richard about the Pax Cap when I'm in Charleston at BrogFest. I'd like one. ;-)

 
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Michael @mgouker
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The reference where Neil quotes Richard as not allowing multiple barbarian attacks from the same region is here:


http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?14@@.1dd11570/1288

"The first time I saw the double-whammy barbarian invasion was at Monstercon. RHB ruled on the spot that we won't allow two barbarian invasions from the same source location in a single GAME-TURN. So you can't have two Germanic invasions, for instance, in one game-turn. You simply reroll until you get a different location.

I haven't added this as an addendum yet because I wanted to think it through, but consider it added now." - Neil Randall
 
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Michael Sosa
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I have a predisposition against making unnecessary exceptions in war-games that already quite complex. So unless there is evidence that allowing such multiple invasions, which can target all players (there is an Armenia invasion) and which are controlled by all players, become unbalancing & problematic I will not make the exception in the games I run.

Pax Romana is a multiplayer game without set alliances. For me these games become more about player interaction than creating perfectly balanced situations. The game creates semi-balanced positions and the players do the rest. Multiple invasions or even the rare possibility they may combine does not seem to me to upset the balance in Pax Romana.
 
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Jim Womer
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Re: Pax Cap
Dear Michael Gouker:
Although I have not heard from you about Richard Berg's reaction to the "Pax Cap", I do hope that you and he both appreciate that this is my way of expressing some reservations about the Victory Conditions in the multiplayer scenarios. While the authors express my reservation as 'picking on the leader,' this and other problems of games won by accumulating Victory Points find better expression and discussion in the 2012 MIT publication entitled "Characteristics of Games" by Elias, Garfield and Gutschera. Their Discussion of 'practical elimination' strikes me as a reasonable explanation for some gamers dropping out of ongoing pbem games.

The Victory Conditions in the multiplayer scenarios may present an additional problem. The player with the fewest GOPs and the fewest CivPs gets zero Victory Points, which position I refer to as the 'VP Cellar.'Getting out of the VP Cellar may prove extremely difficult and is considerably complicated by the highly unequal initial distribution not only of military and naval forces but also economic resources and even opportunities for expansion. Given the actual range of Victory Points awarded on a turn by turn basis, it is possible for three players to reach an informal consensus that their individual interest in accumulating VPs is best served if one player is left in the VP Cellar for the duration of that game. If that comes to pass, then the position of the VP Cellar dweller is analogous to that of being the patsy in a poker game and that simply is not a satisfying gaming experience. For the player in the VP Cellar, his or her most effective and relentless enemy may well prove to be the Victory Point rules. The merit of turning players into victims escapes me.

I do regard games won by accumulating VPs as a definite advance over earlier strategic games that could only be won by eliminating some, most or even all of the other players, but I submit that such games have their own problems. Which is why we are fortunate to have these forums and website.
 
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