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Africanus: SPQR Module» Forums » Reviews

Subject: After 22 years, a review rss

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Avery
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The two scenarios in this SPQR module contain battles fought between Rome and Carthage during the Second Punic War, and, unsurprisingly, both feature the Roman general Publius "Africanus" Scipio. Contents include one sheet of counters and a map for Baecula. For details on the Ilipa map, read on...

Baecula, 208 BC

Publius (not-yet-Africanus) Scipio is the son of Publius Scipio and nephew of Gnaeus Scipio, who were both killed in an attempt to crush the Barca power center of Spain. Young Publius has been dispatched to resume this fight. At Baecula, however, he finds Hasdrubal Barca unwilling to engage the Romans, as his troops are destined for Italy in support of Hannibal. To simulate this reluctance, the Carthaginian player may choose not to stand and fight Scipio, and conduct an organized retreat. This would, of course, spoil the fun.



The Roman approach is very un-Roman here; Scipio has loaded up his flanks while leaving a relatively thin center. It is almost a Bizzaroworld Cannae, where Rome plays Carthage. Should Hasdrubal bring his phalanxes down the hill to engage the center, the Roman front will evaporate on contact, leaving his units facing the river but without an enemy. They must then turn to engage the bulk of Scipio’s legions, and turning is not something a phalanx does well. Failing to stay organized, the phalanxes and the rest of Hasdrubal’s forces will likely succumb to Rome’s superior numbers. Now we know why Hasdrubal chose not to fight…

Ilipa, 206 BC



Here we find Publius Scipio and his Romans pitted against Hasdrubal Gisgo, Mago Barca, and every Carthaginian ally in Spain’s Tri-State Region. This is one of the biggest of the SPQR scenarios, and it requires a pretty big map to accommodate all those nice folk. Mr. Berg and Mr. Herman suggest that I crease my Cannae map and abut lay it over my Zama map, but I just couldn’t bring myself to create a new fold on my favorite map. Instead, after pulling out every darned map in my GBoH collection (FYI: Alexander's Guagamela + Extension is too small), I found a full-sheet Chandragupta map whose hexes run to the edge of the map. I combined this with a map from Chariots of Fire just because the colors match (I'm funny like that).



Another item worth mentioning before anyone spends two hours setting this up: Carthage has no shot of winning this battle. Even with two players, this is a solo game. I spent the first hour just moving Roman formations and routing enemy units. When I finally got the opportunity to command the Carthaginian army, I came to the realization that there simply were no good moves available. Rome will undoubtedly devour both flanks, and Carthage’s only option is to split its center and fight on two fronts. Ultimately, this battle amounts to what the designers refer to as a “historical insight” scenario.

Herman and Berg do provide a few options to improve competitive play, but I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed the historical scenario, and mark it as one of the highlights of all the SPQR Second Punic War battles.

Africanus was released in 1994 and can still be found in the used market. It is important to note that in addition to SPQR, players must also own the War Elephant module for some its counters. Owners of SPQR Deluxe will rejoice in the fact that both of the battles featured here are contained in that edition, so no purchase required!

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Jon
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Nice.

That is a pretty huge battle there. And a very thin Carthaginian line. Precious room for error.
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Mike Hoyt
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Thanks for the post, it's interesting to learn about this series. Here is the same battle (Ilipa) in Commands & Colors: Ancients



In this one the Romans are at bottom and you can see how overweighted the flanks are. Carthage is backed up to the last row and packed tightly, so little room for retreats, which is deadly in CC:A. Also the excellent Carthaginian Heavy Infantry is behind everybody else, and difficult to get into the battle.
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Mike
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Nice review. I'm surprised it's so uneven, given how many HI and PH the Carthaginians have.
 
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Avery
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safemist wrote:
Nice review. I'm surprised it's so uneven, given how many HI and PH the Carthaginians have.


The problem for Carthage is that all the heavy hitters are in the center. Rome will avoid attacking here, and concentrate instead on Carthage's LI flanks.
 
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