G. H.
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I convinced my wife to try this game and we came away with a few observations that I'd like to bounce off the 'Geek community.



My wife and I played the Basic Rules, so the Elite, Roman Camp and Supply rules aren't used. Elite units would make a difference in fortress assaults along with Roman Camps, and Supply would make a difference in Hippo Regius. But, all three rules are weighted to the Roman player anyways. I don't see how it would change the Vandal strategy appreciably.

According to the Victory Conditions, the Vandal player only needs to control 2 fortresses and keep Gelimer alive to win the game. This yields several conclusions:

1. There is no logical reason for the Vandal player to defend any areas but Carthage and Hippo Regius, although an argument could be made to place a small garrison in Septem/Gibraltar (distance away from the rest of the board and the dismal movement rates of the Vandals). Both areas are fortresses and the defenders will only take a hit on a 6 from the Romans. Both fortresses are only one space from each other, allowing a quick reinforcement. Gelimer and all Vandals should be set up next to or on the fortress spaces so they can move immediately into the fortresses on their turn. Placing a garrison in Forum Traiana/Sardinia would be folly because it is really only accessible via a somewhat risky naval route due to the fleet movement rule.

2. The hinterland of the Vandal empire (all areas outside of Carthage and Hippo Regius) is useless to the Vandals. It doesn't score any points, the spaces don't confer any real defense bonuses, and defense would only dilute the defense of the two all important fortresses. Remember that the Vandal player only needs to hold two fortresses at the end of the game to win. The same goes for the Roman player. There is no reason for the Roman to be wandering around in the African bottom half of the map. It only slows the player down and doesn't give the Roman any advantage over the Vandal.

3. Therefore the Vandal player has a boring and predictable strategy... sit in both fortresses and wait for the Romans to come. S/he will only dissipate defensive power by attempting to hold any more than two fortresses in force, so that removes any option for flying columns. This includes garrisoning and counterattacking. Even if the Roman pulls the very powerful SUPPORT REBELS card (allowing the Romans to kick out the Vandal garrisons of two fortresses) it doesn't appreciably change the Vandal strategy of massing in two locations... those large armies would then be used to retake the two fortresses.

Obviously if this is the only real strategy open to the Vandal, it doesn't lend itself greatly to replayability. I hope I may be missing a glaring hole here so please feel free with your rebuttals and discussion.
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Steven Apergis
United States
Burke
Virginia
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As I have stated elseware, the problem is not with the strategy. We played this game many times over the span of a few months. There are certain Roman campaign cards that if they show up would negate the above.

The problem is the supreme leader rule. As long as your supreme leader is on the board, if you have good cards in your discard pile, you can sort through and pick whatever card you need and never have to draw a new card from the deck.

Let us say the Roman player has the following campaign cards in his discard pile: Support Rebels, Naval-Land Campaign and Seige. As long as Belesarius is in play the Roman player can play the entire game using just these three cards.

If a player loses a supreme leader, he is in real trouble. As a result he loses the abilty to select a card from the discard pile and every turn he has to radomly select a new card. As a result the players do everything they can to not expose the supreme leader to any danger.

For example, placing Gelimer in Hippo Regius or Carthage is asking for trouble. If the Vandal player places him in one of these cities, and the Roman player gets the right compaign cards he can easily overwhelm these cities and kill Gelimer. We always place him in Septum.

Here is an example of how the Romans can easily take these two fortresses if he has just the Support Rebels and Naval Land Campaign cards in his discard pile. The Romans start with a good size army. They can use the Naval-Land Campaign card to manuever their armies to good staging areas like the port of Lilybaeum. Then on a turn Romans select the Support Rebel Card, kick the Vandals out of these two cities. They have three fleet moves with the card. If their armies are in the right place they can sail right in and take the fortresses without fighting a battle.

There are some nasty Vandal cards like Gothic Alliance and Rally Forces. If the Vandal player gets lucky and has these two cards in his discard pile, as long as Gelimer is alive, he can play the entire game just using these cards.

I have played many games that the Romans won where Belesarius never leaves Syracuse.

Between yours and our observations this is a flawed game.


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G. H.
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It's too bad because I really wanted to like this game... it's about an obscure topic and about one of history's great captains.

I think this game could gain quite a bit by making a few tweaks in the rules and victory conditions.
 
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Steven Apergis
United States
Burke
Virginia
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Check the "A first try at Belisarius's War" forum.

Some have suggested some interesting house rules.
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JJ Tee
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I think Joe Miranda suggested a modification:

"This is the way the rule was written, but if it is too powerful, then change it to the following: "If a player has a Supreme Leader on the map, then he can pick at random one card from the discard pile; he must play that card."

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Paul Carlson
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Exactly my assessment after one play: Vandals sit in fortresses and wait for the Romans to make suicide attacks over and over...

I like the concept, size and subject so will keep and try some more after reviewing the suggested house rules. Maybe make my own, too.
 
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Michael Sosa
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Delaware
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I've played twice and ignored the rule about drawing from the discard pile. It seems the game really wants you to cycle through your deck so those revolt cards take place. And it is more fun than drawing the same card over and over, which lends itself to breaking the game.

Paul you have to use the Roman camp rule so that attacking fortresses have a chance at success when the Vandals heavily fortify them.
 
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