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Subject: Trajan - 114 AD rss

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James
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Never waste a good crisis.

Parthia chooses the Armenian king and Rome ratifies the choice. A diplomatic stand-off ensues as the Parthian king places his nephew on the Armenian throne. Rome sees this as unacceptable and refuses to ratify and the Parthians stand their ground.

Emperor Trajan looks east and sets to remove the new Armenian king, annex the kingdom and then march south to conquer the Parthians. Never waste a good crisis indeed.



The game has a pretty straight forward sequence of play: Roll on the random events table, Romans move, fight and check supply and then Parthia does the same. Not much more to it than that but there are a few flavoursome ingredients that prevent the game from being a generic counter pushing exercise.

During the random events phase you must brace yourself for problems over which you have no control. Uprisings in conquered, rebellions back in Rome, bad omens that reduce armies to cautious rabbles and so on. Chaos is a strong theme in the game.
The scale of the game is important. We are zoomed out far enough to know that events are occurring and being able to see the results but the detail is not explicit. I can imagine that some people will find it annoying that such important changes of fortune can randomly occur but I find that the narrative is rich enough and the detail fine enough for the scale that the events feels wholly appropriate for the events and period being depicted.

Further detail is added through Stratagem markers. Leaders are rated 1, 2 or 3 (the higher the better) and can ‘play’ stratagem markers during various parts of their turn (or in response to the other players actions). The markers come in several flavours and allow the player/leaders to, amongst other things, gain an advantage in combat (first fire), bring in reinforcements, instigate sedition and assassinate rivals. I’ll touch further on stratagem markers and random events throughout the game.
There are also some interesting parts of the movement and combat systems (although I’m not using the completely pointless battle-board tactical system) but I’ll look at them as I go along.


114, April/May

Things look pretty good for the Romans in 1114. They have a couple of armies on the map, some good leaders and a handful of stratagem markers. The Parthians are completely unprepared for a war and need to build up their forces from the pools of Parthian core units (blue) and satrapy units (green – provided by various tribes and warlords).
The Roman plan is to get stuck in as early as possible before the Parthians can muster a decent army. Simple.



Junius heads north with his force to take care of the Parthian puppet king but the going is slow through and the army finds itself further south than they expected. In order to move the player rolls on the movement chart and cross references the roll with the type of movement (road, off road etc) to determine if the force moves, how far it moves and whether it suffers attrition. One of the results is that the force scatters from its destination hex. The map is not an accurate representation of the area, it is based on Ptolemy’s map of the area so really you get the Roman perspective on the terrain. The very unpredictable distances and hardships feel thoroughly appropriate.



Down in Arabia, Quietus takes a small force across the desert towards Dumathea with the aim of carrying on to the Tigris delta. His army suffers attrition but manages to hold together.

he central area is much busier. Roads and trade routes are peppered with cities leading the way to the large Parthian capital of Ctesiphon where the Parthian king and court are based. Roman general Alexander – with a force in a forward position – marches on Edessa and lays siege to the Parthian city. Clarus and Severus, also with small forward forces, advance on Thapsacus and Dura Europa. At the beginning of the game each city is occupied by a Civis unit, civilian militia, that cannot move and whose loyalty is shown by flipping the counter to the green or red side.

At the beginning of each player turn the player draws a number of stratagem markers equal to his supreme leader’s leader. Two in the case of Parthian Chosroes and three for Trajan. The Parthian’s take the trade concessions marker and immediately play in on Ctesiphon. Usually a player would play a politics marker and in order to bring in a single unit from the those available in the recruitment box but the trade concessions marker allows the Parthians to draw two per marker for the coming year. Favourable trade conditions for the tribes in return for military support. The Parthian mobilisation begins.



Back at Edessa the siege is brought to an end with the arrival of Trajan and his veteran legions. There are three options when besieging a city: 1 – blockade the city forcing the defenders to roll on the supply table. 2 – assault the city, resolved as normal combat but with fewer rounds and much fewer losses for the defender. 3 – formal siege, requiring the presence of siege weapons (the impeditus unit) that allows for a roll on the siege table and a possible combat. At Edessa Trajan’s army manages to successfully assault the city.

Combat is resolved in three round. Prior to the first, tactical superiority is determined. The general expends a combat stratagem marker to gain superiority. If both do that, superiority is determined by rolling a die and adding the leader rating. The leader with superiority rolls first in all rounds. The first round is the missile round. Add up the SPs of all missile capable units and roll against the CRT. The results are No Effect, Discipline Check or the loss of some number of SPs. The second round is melee in which heavy units double their strength, the third is pursuit in which certain cavalry units double their strengths. During an assault only the first two rounds occur and the defender is only affected by the discipline check result.

Units have a quality rating – Imperator, Veteran, Recruit, Mob, Barbarian. A discipline check requires the force to roll on the relevant table. A failure causes the unit to become disrupted. A disrupted unit cannot attack for the rest of the combat and is eliminated if disrupted again during that combat. You will have to forgive me the dry explanation but the combat system adds a very nice pinch of flavour, as Junius will discover when he encounters the Armenians.

Elsewhere, Clarus induces the Civis unit in Thapsacus to revolt through the use of a political stratagem marker. The Romans take control of the city. Severus continues his siege of Dura Europa as his attempted assault fails to dislodge the defending Civis unit.


114AD, June / July

Down in Arabia, Quietus arrives at Dumathea and incites a revolt amongst the population, easily grabbing control of the city for the Romans. The Empire decides against recruiting the Arabs as a client state and Quietus continues on towards the cities that lie at the delta of the Tigris. The siege at Dura Europa is ended as the defending militia is compelled to switch their allegiance away from Parthia. Severus secures control of the city. Further to the East Chosroes continues to build up his armies in Ctesiphon and Vologesia.



In Armenia, Junius advances on the waiting Armenian army but his continued navigation errors forces a sudden clash between the two forces as the Romans find themselves much closer to the enemy than they had realised. The first major battle of the campaign begins.
The battle begins with the exchange of missiles. The Romans inflict a large number of casualties on the defenders, who lose 5 SPs (to Rome’s 2), a full third of the army. The melee phase begins – the fighting is fierce and the Armenians lose another 5 SPs. Their army is melting away. The Cavalry-heavy Armenians do inflict a discipline check on the Roman Army. The Romans are mainly veterans so Junius is confident his men will remain in good order in the face of the swirling Armenian cav.



The roll has to be anything but a 1. Anything but a 1. The discipline check fails. The entire army is disrupted.
The ensuing pursuit is brutal. The cataphracts charge through the disrupted legions. Another discipline check. Anything but a 1, anything but a 1. Another fail. The Romans are routed from the field and the army disappears into the mountains never to be heard from again. An extraordinary triumph for the Armenians against terrible odds, and bitter shame for Junius and the Roman Empire.

The following month the random event is fantastically relevant. A die roll of Roman cities lose their Civis units – it’s a 6. The units are removed from the three Roman controlled cities closest to Armenia. News of the battle obviously triggering a local uprising against the empire. The final three are removed from recently subdued Dumathea, Dura Europa and Thapsacus. The conquest will not be as straightforward as hoped for.



114AD, August / September / Winter

The following months are somewhat quiet as the Romans deal with the revolting cities and scramble to bring in further forces to deal with the Armenian front, with Sentius arriving in Antioch with fresh legions.

Trajan heads east and decisively removes the Civis unit at Carrhae. A loyal Civis is installed and Trajan considers pushing on but winter is coming and, if caught on the road or in the wilderness, winter attrition is brutal. Further south Severus awaits Trajan’s orders. Still further south Quietus reaches the Tigris and removes the Parthian defences at Charax. Reinforcements are quickly sent to neighboring Teredon.



With Ctespihon now in view of Trajan’s army and Severus pushing to the south of the region, and the small but so far effective army now with a view up the Tigris, the Parthian king begins to deploy his growing army. Chosroes personally leads a force to Ninus, west of Ctesiphon, in anticipation of Trajan’s arrival. Suren is sent with an army to reinforce Vologesia, blocking Severus and Mihran is sent down the Tigris with a large force and orders to meet and defeat Quietus. Meanwhile, the Armenian king continues to rebuild his army with an eye on the undefended Roman cities to the west.



As winter sets in news comes from Roma of a revolt at home. Diligent Trajan has left enough legions in Rome to deal with the revolt but it would be risky to bring too many more to the east. Further revolts in Armenia, Carrhae, Edessa and Thapsacus add to the Roman’s problems. Several decisive battles will be fought in 115 that will determine whether Rome can continue its invasion of the east or whether the Parthians will look at pushing back.


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Kev.
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Nice write up. You wrung more from the game than I could. I had the entire series.

Great pics too.
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James
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Cheers. I found that it required a bit of imgination but I'm big on narrative-driven wargames so that was ok.
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rory willis
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does a force have to have a leader to move an attack or can it move an attack without? had this game awhile but never played it its really good!
 
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James
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I don't really remember the rules now but someone on the forum should be able to answer. It is a fun game.
 
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rory willis
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yes it is well I know some one will answer tks for you answer to having a fun time with this
 
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rory willis
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do you think you could help me with the siege rules? how do you assault a civics unit? please
 
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Edgar Gallego
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You don't need a leader to move/attack.
 
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rory willis
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thank you I went with that do you think you can help me with the siege rules try to siege a civic unit using assult help an thanks again
 
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Edgar Gallego
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You are using the Trajan rules (not the Ancient Wars ones, right?).

During the Combat Segment you can declare it's one of the 3 types of Siege:
1- Blockade: you don't combat. You wait until the enemy supply segment to see if they starve or not.

2- Assault: you treat this like a regular combat, but there are some exceptions
- There are only 2 rounds of combat: Fire and Melee (no Pursuit).
- Neither player may take a Maneuver Advantage.
- Ignore all numerical combat losses to the defending units in the city. The only way to eliminate enemy units in an Assault is through disruption.
- If the defender loses the battle, he does not retreat. Defending units remain in the city and retain control of it (you must kill them all, by disruption as explained above, or they will resist)

3- Formal Siege: the attacker must have had at least 1 Impeditus unit in the hex since the beginning of the turn (thus, you cannot conduct a formal siege on the same turn that the Impeditus unit entered the hex). It's like an Assault, except that the besieging player rolls once (regardless of the number of Impeditus units present) on the Formal Siege Table and immediately applies the results.
 
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rory willis
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well I got that wrong thank you for your help this is a cool game a lot of fun! I do have one more question recruiting how many can I take from the pool? I play a stratagem marker political or if the roman plays off map reinforcements which I don't know what that is is it another marker? hey thanks in advance
 
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rory willis
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oh yes I am using the Trajan rules thanks!
 
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rory willis
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ok I found everything else but how many recruits do I get to take thanks
 
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rory willis
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wow I found it all a clever rule book this game rocks!
 
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Edgar Gallego
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rory willis wrote:
ok I found everything else but how many recruits do I get to take thanks


1 unit for each Political Stratagem, and remember that using a Stratagem requires a leader, and has a limit, and there are restrictions about where to recruit, whom, and how many.
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Edgar Gallego
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rory willis wrote:
wow I found it all a clever rule book this game rocks!


Yes, this game is a gem
 
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rory willis
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thanks again off to work now but when I get back in 8 or so hours its on! I think I would like to get the whole series
 
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rory willis
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well I am playing it again the Armenian war once you get the rules down this is preety quick but don't try to cross a desert,a lot of fun this one!!!!!!!
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rory willis
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so if I disrupt a unit during during siege combat I need to disrupt it one more time to kill it? help please
 
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rory willis
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an I would have to wait till the next siege trun to get the next disruption?
 
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rory willis
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hey I have could you help with the disruption question?
 
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James
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Hi Rory. I dont remeber the rules to this game. You might better posting your question in the rules section where more people will see it.
 
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rory willis
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thank you
 
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rory willis
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is just one disruption good for the kill or do you need two
 
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rory willis
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is the formal siege table the basic siege table? help please thanks
 
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