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This is a repository for all the sessions of my run-through of Frédéric Bey's The Second Punic War Campaign Game, which are derived from SPQR, its modules, as well as C3i Magazine.
1. Tagus River, 220 BCE from C3i #18
2. Ticinus River, 218 BCE from C3i #7 or 10
3. Trebbia, 218 BCE from Consul for Rome
4. Umbria, 217 BCE from C3i #10
5. Cannae, 216 BCE from SPQR
6. Dertosa, 215 BCE from C3i #4
7. Caralis, 215 BCE from C3i #9
8. Nola, 214 BCE from C3i #8
9. Castrum Album, 214 BCE from C3i #10
10. 2nd Beneventum, 214 BCE from C3i Player’s Guide
11. Tispasa, 213 BCE from C3i #20
12. Acrillae, 213 BCE from C3i #8
13. Siga, 214 BCE from C3i #20
14. 1st Herdonia, 212 BCE from C3i #20
15. Tingis, 212 BCE from C3i #20
16. Castulo, 211 BCE from C3i #5
17. Himeras River, 211 BCE from C3i #17
18. 2nd Herdonia, 210 BCE from C3i #20
19. Numistro, 210 BCE from C3i #8
20. Baecula, 208 BCE from Africanus
21. Grumentum, 207 BCE from C3i #21
22. Metaurus, 207 BCE from Consul for Rome
23. Celt-Iberia, 207 BCE from C3i #6
24. Ilipa, 206 BCE from Africanus
25. Agathocles Tower, 204 BCE from C3i #10
26. Po River, 203 BCE from C3i #6
27. Great Plains, 203 BCE from C3i #4
28. Cirta, 203 BCE from C3i #10
29. Zama, 202 BCE from SPQR
We open with The Battle of Tagus River, where we find the fine young Hannibal still in New Carthage and taking on some local Spanish tribes who aren't falling in with the Barcid agenda.
As the scenario opens, these tribes are chasing down a seemingly unsuspecting Hannibal as he crosses the Tagus River. Hannibal, of course, sees them in his elephant's rear view mirror, and is about to conduct an wheeling maneuver which will put the tribes face to face with his heavy infantry.
Playing this scenario from Hannibal's perspective gave me a false sense of cockiness. I assumed my phalanx units would plow through the enemy's center while my cavalry came in from behind to seal the deal. Once the scenario settled in, I realized that this was all smoke and mirrors. The enemy was too wide and too deep. I was outnumbered and my phalanxes would soon be surrounded. I had too many holes in my line. My first day as Hannibal and I was blowing it!
Then, just as it became clear that it was all over for me, the enemy was routed. Apparently they had seen enough, and made for the trees. At any rate, it was a relief to know that I didn't have Hannibal killed before he got to Italy.
The Battle of Ticinus River
This was the first altercations Hannibal had with Rome after crossing the Alps and also provides an introduction to the Scipio family.
This was more of a skirmish than a battle. Rome had a chance of winning this, but a tribune KIA sealed their fate. Historically, Scipio was wounded in the battle, and was carried off the field by his 18 year old son, Scipio Not Yet Africanus. This story does have a bit of BS smell to it, much like Hannibal's too cute story of his youth:
A long time ago, in a strange place called Spain, Hamilcar Barca took his teenage sons Hasdrubal and Hannibal out for an afternoon of barbarian slaying. Hamilcar fell off his horse and died. This made Hannibal sad. Hannibal swore he would avenge their father's riding accident by taking a magical elephant named Surus through the Alps and sacking Rome. Hasdrubal agreed that this was indeed the most reasonable course of action, but suggested they put it off until after puberty.
Trebbia, 218 BCE
from Consul for Rome
Continuing on with The Second Punic War Campaign Game, I'll begin by letting you know that Rome won this battle. Historically, this was a blow out in Carthage's favor, but on the battleground known locally as my kitchen table, something hysterical, heretical, and ahistorical occurred. Of course, there's no sense in blaming myself for this travesty, so I have instead produced a scapegoat. Yes, he's the man you love to hate and hate to love: BERG!
"I'm inside your head, Avery Allen!"
That's right, it's the designer's fault. He put all these units on a too narrow map and left me to deal with it. As you can clearly see, there is no elbow room for either army. Ideally, Hannibal would like to have his heavy infantry slam into Rome's flanks while the Iberian and Celt infantry hit them head on. Since there isn't room to accommodate this tactic, I instead opted to send my forces in waves beginning with the Celts and Iberians, with the phalanxes in a holding pattern until the field became less congested.
Unfortunately, by the time the phalanx units found room to enter the battle, Carthage was down to its last rout points. Realizing that it was a lost cause for Hannibal, I consulted the scenario rules again, and found this Bergism:
Edge of the Mapworld Mentality and Flanking Both armies are pretty much pushed to the edge of the map; sorry, but it was unavoidable given the frontages.
Sorry? Tell that to Hannibal!
No, Mr Berg doesn't care about Hannibal. Just look at the back of the Consul for Rome rulebook:
"And, as did Hannibal, keep an eye out for the following:"
What kind of sicko are we dealing with? Who makes fun of a man who has lost an eye?
OK, that's enough picking on poor Mr Berg for one day. Let me try to compose myself, and return to the narrative.
Rome's victory in this battle gives them 15 rout points for use in any future battle on Italian soil. Not too shabby.
Maharbal's Victory in Umbria, 217 BCE
from C3i #10
Wow, I wonder what we can expect from a scenario with that title? Can't we build up a little suspense?
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I actually found a way for Maharbal to lose this scenario. It didn't come to pass, but boy was it close! Maharbal rolled a zero for the leader casualty check, and if the second roll produced a one or zero, he would be KIA for the duration of the campaign. Fortunately, Maharbal's life was spared for future scenarios, and I was spared further embarrassment.
Aside from that bit of drama, this battle played out as advertised, and lasted no more than 20 minutes.
That's fine, I need to conserve my strength anyway. Cannae is up next, and I don't think even Mr Berg can save the Romans this time.
Cannae, 216 BCE
I don’t often quote Britney Spears, but, “Oops! ...I did it again.” I’ve let the Romans win another unwinnable battle, and once again feel compelled to investigate the matter.
From a designer’s perspective, this scenario is problematic. The historical numbers are the subject of great debate, and the Roman Army at Cannae could have been anywhere between 20 and 100% greater than Hannibal’s. Furthermore, the Carthaginian victory was based on deception and the element of surprise. These elements are hard to simulate in a game where there is no hidden information. The Roman player can see Hannibal’s forces, and he knows his intention. Therefore, it’s unlikely that he will follow Varro’s lead and plow forward with his superior numbers while disregarding his flanks.
Fortunately, Richard Berg and Mark Herman have delivered a game, and not a simulation. They’ve presented us with some of the challenges each side faced, without making us trudge through an inevitable slaughter. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what they had to say in the design notes:
Because of its unusual nature –and its fame –this has been a difficult battle to “design”. We shy away from “You Must Do This” rules which force a historical outcome. We have made several scenario changes…to go along with basic rules changes that address some factors especially applicable to Cannae but certainly endemic to the era. Ultimately, it is our feeling that Cannae was Cannae because:
• A great general was having his Best Day.
• The Roman army was led by mediocrities who followed Roman tactical doctrine to the letter.
• Hannibal was most aware of what the Romans would do, especially with Varro in command, and...
• Varro, a nonentity at best, was having the worst possible day.
Understanding this, be aware that repeating the Carthaginian success will take a superior Carthaginian player playing at his top form. Some good die rolls won’t hurt either.
In my play, Carthage had early success on all fronts, but eventually lost its steam. Maharbal’s mighty cavalry turned out to be a bust, as several units (including his own) ran off in pursuit of the Roman cavalry, never to be seen again. The other flank was stuffed by Roman infantry who saw Hannibal coming a mile away, and Rome’s center was just too hard a nut for Carthage to crack. While the Romans suffered far greater casualties, it was clear that Carthage had seen enough for one day.
For those who simply can’t tolerate such a result, Berg and Herman offer a second variant on Cannae which features 4 Roman Legions as opposed to the 8 in the scenario I played. This may very well bring the numbers down to more historical proportions, but that all depends upon who you ask. At any rate, I can almost guarantee a more historical outcome.
As it stands, I have irrevocably altered history, and I may have created a Bizarro World where cats rule the htraE (oh, wait …they already do). At any rate, my namoR victory at eannaC has significantly altered my campaign, and consequentially cancels 4 upcoming battles on nailatI soil. Darn!
Me, blabbing on about my campaign game, as you, the captive audience, quietly suffer.
Up next, the Romans head to the Iberian Peninsula for a Dertosa family affair, featuring the Scipio brothers and Hannibal’s brother, Hasdrubal.
Dertosa, 215 BCE
from C3i #4
After Cannae, Hannibal started forwarding all his magazine subscriptions to Italy, and Rome was forced to concede that his stay would be a lengthy one. In response, Roman forces were sent off to the Barca power base in Spain, where it hoped to disrupt Carthage's reinforcements destined for Italy.
In preparation for the battle, Hasdrubal apparently read up on his brother's Cannae strategy, and decided to use a similar set up in hopes of crushing Rome's flanks.
How did it work for him? Well, in my play (and historically), not well...
His heavy infantry certainly chewed up Rome's flanks, but Rome feasted on Carthage's gooey center and won the day.
The Battle of Caralis, 215 BCE
from C3i #9
My seventh battle of the 2nd Punic War Campaign introduces a new Theater of Operations: The Islands (Sardinia & Sicily).
Sardinia, located halfway between Rome and Carthage, had obvious value for both parties as the war wore on, and naturally required a good battle to resolve its control.
Once again, we are introduced to more leaders named Hasdrubal, Hanno and Mago. Apparently, there were only about ten names available for Carthaginian parents of newborn sons. Fortunately for us, Dan Fournie and C3i Magazine have provided us with a great article which serves as a Carthaginian Commander decoder ring. Here are some highlights:
Hannibal Barca, son of Hamilcar Barca
Hannibal Monomachus, a subordinate of Hannibal Barca
Hannibal ?, a junior officer on Hannibal’s staff
Hasdrubal Barca, brother of Hannibal
Hasdrubal Gisgo, a commander in the Spanish and African theaters of operation.
Hasdrubal ?, one of Hannibal’s marshals
Hasdrubal Calvos aka The Bald, the one actually featured in this battle
Hasdrubal ?, admiral leading the fight against Scipio’s invasion
The Hannos are problematic, but there were at least ten listed, some of which may be the same Hanno.
Mago Barca, brother of Hannibal
Mago the Samnite, a marshal of Hannibal’s in Italy
+ 3 others
Deputy Commander under Hasdrubal Barca in Spain
+ 2 others
Hamilcar son of Bomilcar, and possibly brother of one of the Hannos
Hamilcar son of Gisgo, probably brother of Hasdrubal Gisgo
Hamilcar ?, subordinate of Hannibal in Italy
Subordinate General under Hasdrubal Barca in Spain
+ 2 others
Wow, I’m exhausted so I’ll skip the play by play and just let you know that Rome won the Battle of Caralis.
Looking forward, I should technically skip the Battle of Nola due to Rome’s victory in Cannae, but it looks kinda good, so I’m going to play it anyway.
Third Battle of Nola, 214 BCE
from C3i #8
In this battle we are offered a free deployment for both armies, albeit behind the dotted lines. The opportunity to arrange one’s own troops is a rarity in GBoH, and for that I am grateful. With so many possibilities, I find myself second guessing the deployment of each formation, and subsequently rearranging each unit multiple times. Should the cavalry go here, or here? Ugh…
The challenge for Carthage was that its army had been forced through a bottleneck and must now come out the other side ready to fight.
Rome, on the other hand, has nothing but open space. At first I habitually deployed them in a textbook Roman manipular formation. If you don’t have your Roman formation textbook handy or haven’t played SPQR, I will summarize:
Advance Line: Velites (fast men)
Similar to the Greek peltasts, velites were equipped with a small shield, javelin, sword, and a helmet. They typically formed more of a swarm than a line, and were deployed to harass and break up the opponent’s formation. They are also handy for clearing your own path of those pesky skirmishers or elephants.
First Line: Hastati (spearmen)
The hastati were equipped with a large oval shield or scutum, helmet, greaves, breastplate, sword, and 2 heavy throwing javelins, or pila. Each legion consisted of 1200 hastati, whose numbers were broken up into 10 smaller maniples (handfuls).
Second Line: Principes (first men)
Same as the hastati. Together, the principes and hastati were organized in a checkerboard formation, which enabled the lines to switch positions at the front. I’m not sure anyone has figured out how exactly this was performed in an actual battle (or SPQR, for that matter), but it sounds cute anyway.
Third Line: Triarii (third man)
The Triarii consisted of 600 men in 10 half-strength maniples. Equipped with a similar get-up as the the hastati and velites, but with a larger spear, the hasta. The triarii were typically made up of older veterans, and it was well-known then (and just as true today when playing SPQR) that when your triarii line is called upon, it’s time to get your affairs in order, because things aren’t going well.
Incidentally, if you’ve ever played Caesar: Conquest of Gaul or The Civil Wars, you will notice that these lines no longer exist. Somewhere around the beginning of the first century BC, Marius decided that the old formations were no longer tactically effective, and he sent the velites packing. Legions were now divided into ten cohorts, each consisting of 6 centuries (roughly 80 men each), and arranged in a four, three, three pattern known as the triplex acies (triple battle line).
All right, back to the game. My problem with the standard set up was that the Roman army was outnumbered, and if it sat back and waited for Carthage to advance into the open, Rome would soon find itself outflanked. I reckoned their best chance was to advance as quickly as possible, with the hopes of forcing a narrower playing field and also disrupting Carthage before it could properly organize its lines. Furthermore, Carthage would find itself fighting in patches of broken ground. To facilitate this plan, I set the velites to the side, where they, along with the triarii, could serve as the right flank as the hastati and principes advanced.
This rapid advance tactic depended upon winning the opening die roll for first turn, followed by a successful seizure attempt. Fortunately for Marcellus, both these things came to pass, and he was well on his way to proving his genius. In response, Hannibal sent his elephants out to provide a barrier between Rome and his vulnerable infantry still in column formation. Here is where Marcellus may have outsmarted himself; elephants can create havoc on legions, and the best prescription is usually throwing some velites in their way. I, of course, had left the velites behind, and my shortsightedness resulted in heavy Roman losses due to rampaging pachyderms. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so good…
Lucky, Rome still had an ace up its sleeve in the form of a detachment led by Nero, which would hopefully enter the battle somewhere near turn four. Historically, Nero’s detachment completely failed to show up, and I was afraid history would repeat itself as I desperately rolled for his entry turn after turn. Finally Nero showed himself just as the backside of the phalanxes were showing themselves, and his good timing resulted in the routing of two of Hannibal’s finest.
In the end, Rome was able to hold on for a victory in a very competitive battle. I don’t know if my plan helped or hurt the cause, but I am confident Rome would have lost without the aid of Nero’s detachment.
Castrum Album, 214 BCE
from C3i #10
Well, of all the battles of the Second Punic War Campaign, this was one of them. It is my 3rd of 5 battles from the Equus: Cavalry Battles of the Second Punic War 218-203 BC collection in C3i #10, and I must confess they are not my favorite. I find the smaller battles, particularly cavalry battles, make me a bit more aware of the game mechanics than the actual battle.
Here we find Publius C Scipio confronted by a gang of Numidians who have blocked the driveway to his Spanish seaside estate. The Numidians ride off with his lunch money but he makes it home in time for the Hércules CF match. Job done!
Next up is the Second Battle of Beneventum 214 BC, another battle that technically should be cancelled due to the Roman victory at Cannae.
The Second Battle of Beneventum, 214 BCE
from C3i's SPQR Player's Guide
Wow, are we already in the 5th year of the Second Punic War? Where does the time go?
This excellent scenario by Dan Fournie comes to us via the highly coveted SPQR Player's Guide, which is just chock-full of greatness. Incidentally, if anyone has one gathering dust on his or her shelf, I'd be happy to help reduce your clutter.
Following the slaughter at Cannae, Rome's seemingly inexhaustible supply of troops had been put to the test. Consequently, we find Tiberias Sempronius Gracchus leading 2 legions of slaves and convicts against Hanno, son of Bomilcar, and his army of mostly Bruttian and Lucanian origin.
Historically, this battle was the war's first major Roman victory in Italy, and it comes with an amusing but gruesome story:
To inspire his troops, Gracchus offered freedom to his slaves on the condition that they each furnish an enemy head in return. As the battle raged on, the slaves soon figured that a Roman head doesn't look all that different from a Bruttian head, and took to cutting the heads off their (hopefully) already deceased comrades. Upon further review, Gracchus revised his offer to freedom for all should Rome win the battle. Apparently, this did the trick, and the slaves dropped the heads and set upon the enemy.
To simulate this tidbit, Dan has offered to reduce 2 cohesion points from each slave unit upon the Roman player's declaration, which did indeed inspire my Romans to victory.
Again, highly recommended!
Moving forward, we will head to Africa and meet Syphax, and perhaps also introduce one of the war's more intriguing characters, Sophonisba.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This might not go too well for her.
SPQR from C3i #20
Tispasa, 213 BCE
Siga, 212 BCE
Tingis, 212 BCE
As The Second Punic War wore on, Rome looked to expand the battlefield into African soil. While they didn’t have the Roman troops to facilitate their ambition, they were able to find a willing
sucker sympathizer in the person of King Syphax of Numidia. Apparently, Rome had convinced Syphax that with the proper training and equipment, he could shed himself of Carthage’s hegemony. While ultimately unsuccessful, the revolt did further strain Carthage’s resources.
These scenarios also introduce Prince Masinissa of Eastern Numidia, who became the nemesis of poor Syphax. When Syphax backed the Romans, it was Masinissa who defeated him with the aid of Carthage. Later, when Hasdrubal Gisgo induced Syphax to support Carthage with the promise of his daughter Sophinisba’s hand in marriage, he found Masinissa fighting in support of Rome.
Of course, Rome would ultimately win the war, and Syphax would die in a Roman jail. Meanwhile, Masinissa would marry Sophinisba and become sole ruler of Numidia, and thrive in the bosom of Rome's good favor until his dying days.
Masinissa meets his maker, comforted by memories of sticking it to Syphax.
Because of the Roman victory at Cannae, battle 14 has been cancelled per campaign rules. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Battle 15 is reportedly missing in action, but I assure you that it wasn't that great anyway.
Castulo, 211 BCE
from C3i #5
In response to the Roman victory at Dertosa, Carthage sent two armies to Spain in hopes of ridding itself of the Scipio brothers. Among the reinforcements we find our friends Hasdrubal Barca and Prince Masinassa, fresh off their victory over Syphax.
The Scipios are feeling a bit cocky, so they split their forces in an attempt to crush both of Carthage’s armies simultaneously. This scenario follows Publius Scipio, whose unfortunate path will cross both armies as well as an Iberian and Numidian detachment.
The Roman Army begins the scenario on the map along with the Iberian Detachment. Scipio’s options are to exit the map along the eastern edge to presumably join his brother, or he must rout the two armies and at least one of the detachments. Obviously, the Iberian detachment will attempt to hold off Rome’s progress until the reinforcements arrive.
In my play, Rome did reasonably well in routing the Iberians before the Numidian detachment was released. Then things got ugly. The Numidian Cavalry is a tough customer, and rather than employing its usual approach of death by a thousand cuts, it instead went straight for the heart of the Roman Army. By the time Rome finally routed the Numidians, its legions were gassed and in no condition to take on Mago’s and Hasdrubal’s armies. Playing the part of Scipio, I remained calm and composed, and delivered my orders to the Roman Legions: RUN!!!!!
We ran and ran and didn't look back until safely off the eastern edge of the map.
Left behind by Scipio's brave legions were the Velites, the Celts, the Roman Cavalry, and Rome’s staunch guard, the Triarii. These remaining troops were now sandwiched between Mago and Hasdrubal, with little hope of escape.
To shed some light on my predicament, I will clarify the victory conditions:
Short of routing the two armies, Rome can win if it gets 165 points off the eastern edge of the map. Scipio’s surviving legions accounted for 130, which was less than I expected. To make up the 35 point deficit, I’d have to get the Triarii off the map, which was just not going to happen. By the time I got them heading in the right direction, they had Mago’s phalanxes on their heels and Hasdrubal’s phalanxes in their face. Here, the Triarii met their end.
I actually felt bad about abandoning my troops, and if I could do it all again (and I can), I would keep my legions on the field and suffer our fate together. Historically, Publius Scipio was killed in his defeat at Cartuso, as was his brother Gnaeus at Ilorca. Rome, however, still had one more Scipio up it sleeve...
I’m not sure this is a winnable scenario for Rome, but it is a lot of fun. If you'd like to see it in action, you can check out Calandale's video here.
Checking my itinerary, I see I am now heading back to Sicily for a showdown along the Himeras River.
Note: Because of the Roman victory at Cannae, battles 18 and 19 have been cancelled per campaign rules.
Battle of Himeras River, 211 BC
from C3i #17
Once again, Carthage finds itself in a battle upon Sicily’s Himeras River. Those who’ve played Tyrant: Battles of Carthage versus Syracuse may remember Carthage fighting Syracuse upon the river in 480 and 409 BC. Today they take on Marcellus who would rather be back in Italy taking on Hannibal, and frankly so would I. Instead we need to clean up things on The Islands Theater of Operations before moving onto bigger and better battles.
This scenario has a a little gimmick involving Muttines, a Liby-Phoenician cavalry commander, who’s become a bit disenchanted with Hanno and consequently promised Marcellus that his Numidian cavalry will not attack the Romans when the battle begins. Marcellus, of course, is skeptical, and finds himself looking over his shoulder the entire battle. In the end, Muttines honors his word, and Rome secures Sicily for the duration of the war.
Playing the scenario, the Carthaginian player choses whether he will attempt to roll for Muttines’ entry, at the risk of routing the Numidian cavalry altogether. I decided that Carthage had no chance of victory without the cavalry, and rolled for entry at every opportunity. Alas, they never did elect to fight, and Carthage was routed in quick fashion.
Baecula, 208 BC
from the Africanus module
At last we meet Publius Scipio Not-Yet-Africanus, 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, the Carthaginian player may choose to stand and fight Scipio, or conduct an organized retreat and spoil the fun for everyone. Now, I’ve tried that running thing at Castulo with poor results, so I elected to stand and fight the Romans.
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. When Hasdrubal brings his phalanxes down the hill to engage the center, it evaporates 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 would succumb to Rome’s superior numbers. Now I know why Hasdrubal chose not to fight…
Grumentum, 207 BC
from C3i #21
Lastly, we head back to Italy and catch up with Hannibal who is engaged in another indecisive battle. This scenario is a brutal and inelegant affair; Carthage’s heavy infantry forms a long double line in opposition to an equally long line of Roman legions, and neither side will break through before the end. If not for a Roman ambush detachment (shown at the top of the map), this battle would probably have gone in favor of Hannibal. Regardless, neither side was feeling too good after this one.
Up next: Hasdrubal finally makes his way to Italy, but appears to have lost his head.
Metaurus, 207 BC
from Consul for Rome: SPQR Module
After slipping away from Publius Scipio in Spain, Hasdrubal Barca led his forces through the Alps in hopes of reuniting with his brother in Italy. Upon his arrival, he sent a postcard to Hannibal:
Having a wonderful time here with the old gang. The landscape is so inspiring. Let's meet in Umbria, and then hit Rome.
The Italian postmaster, sensing there might be something encoded in this message, forwarded it to Consul Claudius Nero, who assembled his men and marched to meet Hasdrubal.
Nero joined forces with Consul Marius Livius, and together they pinned Hasdrubal against the Metaurus River and wiped out his army.
Nero's forces (on the far right) initially fought the tough terrain to meet Hasdrubal's Gaul division (top right), but found it too hard going. Besides, the Gauls were discovered to be completely hammered (I am not making this up) and posed no threat. This left Nero at liberty to hit Carthage's main body on the exposed left flank, to which Hasdrubal replied:
"Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish ladies,
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain,
For we have received orders
For a march to old It'ly,
And we may ne'er see you fair ladies again"
This battle marked the beginning of the end for Carthage, whose woes were mounting. Hannibal's hopes of reinforcements were dashed. Spain, the Barcan power center, was under attack. Carthage itself was being threatened. The Hydra of Rome was rearing its heads.
Speaking of heads, Nero had Hasdrubal's thrown into Hannibal's camp, which served as a postcard with an unmistakeable message.
Celt-Iberia, 207 BC
from C3i #6
We return to the Spanish Theater of Operations for a bit of filler.
This is a camp raid straight out of Bless the Beasts and the Children, and a Roman victory over the bedwetting Celts.
Up next, we'll stay on the Iberian peninsula for a double-map mutha of a battle, Ilipa.
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 the campaign.
This battle wraps up the Spanish Theater of Operations of The Second Punic War, and things look desperate for Carthage. All hope is now pinned on Mago, who, remarkably, will become the third Barca brother to conduct an invasion on Italian soil.
Agathocles Tower, 204 BC
from C3i #10
Another from the Equus cavalry battle series. Yep, it's a small battle on a big map.
Po River, 203 BC
from C3i #6
It's hard to imagine what Rome was doing the day they let Mago Barca sail unopposed into Genoa with 12,000 men...
Nonetheless, Rome did respond in its own fashion. 65,000 troops were quickly amassed and ordered to sit around for a year until Mago's reinforcements could arrive from Africa. Once it was established that Mago was ready, the battle on Po River ensued.
I'm not sure how the historical battle worked itself out, but I had the silly idea that Rome's reserve line (seen at top) would steer itself around the main line and hit the Carthaginian phalanx from behind. What did not occur to me was that Carthage's reserve line (seen at bottom) would be waiting for them. It was here, on the flanks, that the bulk of the battle played out.
Yet another GBoH rorschach test. What do you see in this picture?
The result: Another victory for Rome, despite a very sketchy general.
Carthage's dreams of slaying the giant were now dashed. All available resources, including Hannibal, were rushed back to defend the homeland against the inevitable wrath of Rome.
Great Plains, 203 BC
from C3i #4
Cirta, 203 BC
from C3i #10
Well, Scipio is now in Africa, but I guess we can't call him Africanus yet. We join him during a siege attempt on Utica, where he meets up with our old friends Syphax and Hasdrubal Gisgo.
Syphax, if you remember, is the Numidian king whose forces were trained by Rome in aid of his revolt against Carthage. Since that time, Hasdrubal has been whispering in his ear and tempting him with the hand of his hot daughter, Sophinisba. Apparently, this did the trick, and Hasdrubal and Syphax have combined arms against Scipio in the battle at Great Plains.
A perfect 10!
Yes, Sophonisba gets her own counter, and to explain its use I will cite from the original scenario text:
We've provided a counter for the lovely Sophinisba, who was not actually present at the battle, but was certainly an inspiration to several of the participants. We suggest that players, looking for a little "english" in their "wristage", "rub" her counter for luck on key dierolls. Sophoniba, it appears, was used to "having her counter rubbed."
Jeez, come on guys, not all of us are nerdy adolescents!
Scipio is outnumbered at Great Plains, but he has quality and, more importantly, Syphax's nemesis Prince Masinissa of Numidia on his side. We are used to seeing Masinissa and his fierce cavalry fighting for Carthage, but he has since taken stock of the war and wisely decided to back Rome. With his aid, Scipio makes an easy job of this battle.
The action resumes at Cirta, where Masinissa and Rome hunt down the fleeing Syphax.
So what happened to our cast of characters? Well, Syphax was indeed captured by Rome and would die in an Italian prison. Masinissa became the unified King of Numidia and a lifelong ally of Rome. In a strange twist of fate, he even married Gisgo's daughter Sophonisba. Alas, this bond was a deal breaker for Scipio, who probably had plans to parade her in chains at his triumph. Massinissa was forced to decide between the two, and, being the old romantic that he was, offered Sophonisba a cup of poison. She obliged.
Yes, it is a real tearjerker, but I can't dwell on that now. I've got to get going with the showdown between Hannibal and Scipio at Zama, and then, praise God, I can look forward to a Roman Holiday.
Zama, 202 BC
This is the final battle of The Second Punic War and the showdown between Hannibal and Scipio. Rome has a huge advantage in cavalry here, and Hannibal is all too aware of this fact. He's beefed up his elephant supply to compensate, and is banking on the Roman cavalry taking themselves out of the battle in pursuit of the enemy.
This is another well designed and thought-provoking scenario, which, considering the resumes of Berg and Herman, should be a surprise to no one. Nonetheless, I am always impressed as I witness the unfolding of a battle. Masinissa's cavalry was indeed tied up through much of the battle (as Hannibal hoped), but managed to return just in time to aid the Romans in victory.
Here we see that Hannibal has prudently held back his second line in favor of applying his heavy-hitters before Rome's cavalry returned. This was one of the few battles I've played where Carthage was able to shatter Rome's center.
Well, the war's over, and we can all go home now. In the end, it was a total victory for Rome, and Carthage only managed to win 6 battles. Some of this can certainly be attributed to the fact that I played using Simple GBOH, which creates favorable command situations for Rome through multiple formations activating simultaneously. Still, I find myself partial to Simple primarily because of the command system. Ironically, the command system of SGBoH is probably its most maligned aspect, but the more I play it, the more I appreciate the tough choices that it creates. Deciding which formation to activate can be agonizing, and one's opponent can divert a player from playing to his strength.
Lastly, I've included some thumbnails of all the battles. If nothing else, this campaign has allowed me the opportunity to create scenario images for future players. Lord knows it would have been helpful for me!
Thanks everyone for your support (and patience).
The Battles and results:
1. Tagus River, 220 BCE from C3i #18 -CARTH. VICTORY
2. Ticinus River, 218 BCE from C3i #7 or 10 -CARTH. VICTORY
3. Trebbia, 218 BCE from Consul for Rome -ROMAN VICTORY
4. Umbria, 217 BCE from C3i #10 -CARTH. VICTORY
5. Cannae, 216 BCE from SPQR -ROMAN VICTORY
6. Dertosa, 215 BCE from C3i #4-ROMAN VICTORY
7. Caralis, 215 BCE from C3i #9 -ROMAN VICTORY
8. Nola, 214 BCE from C3i #8 -CANCELLED
9. Castrum Album, 214 BCE from C3i #10 -ROMAN VICTORY
10. 2nd Beneventum, 214 BCE from C3i Player’s Guide -CANCELLED
11. Tispasa, 213 BCE from C3i #20 -ROMAN VICTORY
12. Acrillae, 213 BCE from C3i #8 -ROMAN VICTORY
13. Siga, 214 BCE from C3i #20 -CARTH. VICTORY
14. 1st Herdonia, 212 BCE from C3i #20 -CANCELLED
15. Tingis, 212 BCE from C3i #20 -ROMAN VICTORY
16. Castulo, 211 BCE from C3i #5 -CARTH. VICTORY
17. Himeras River, 211 BCE from C3i #17 -ROMAN VICTORY
18. 2nd Herdonia, 210 BCE from C3i #20 -CARTH. VICTORY
19. Numistro, 210 BCE from C3i #8 -CANCELLED
20. Baecula, 208 BCE from Africanus -ROMAN VICTORY
21. Grumentum, 207 BCE from C3i #21 -ROMAN VICTORY
22. Metaurus, 207 BCE from Consul for Rome -ROMAN VICTORY
23. Celt-Iberia, 207 BCE from C3i #6 -ROMAN VICTORY
24. Ilipa, 206 BCE from Africanus -ROMAN VICTORY
25. Agathocles Tower, 204 BCE from C3i #10 -ROMAN VICTORY
26. Po River, 203 BCE from C3i #6 -ROMAN VICTORY
27. Great Plains, 203 BCE from C3i #4 -ROMAN VICTORY
28. Cirta, 203 BCE from C3i #10 -ROMAN VICTORY
29. Zama, 202 BCE from SPQR -ROMAN VICTORY
Where the heck did this interest in WW1 come from?
Ashwin in thoughtful mood
That truly was a labour of love and demonstrates a commitment to an outstanding series.
Attaque! Toujours attaque!!
Very I m p r e s s i v e !!!!! Thank you Mr Avery, now I must try to learn this system again. Ohhhh the pain.
Many thanks for this. Having played Bagradas a couple of times and some Roman/Samnite encounters, I can see what a commitment and labour of love this sequence must have been. Its inspired me to break open the box again .
By the way, that looks like a pretty comprehensive list of scenarios, but I can't help noticing the lack of a Trasimene. Is there a scenario for this anywhere?
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Many thanks for this. Having played Bagradas a couple of times and some Roman/Samnite encounters, I can see what a commitment and labour of love this sequence must have been. Its inspired me to break open the box again
By the way, that looks like a pretty comprehensive list of scenarios, but I can't help noticing the lack of a Trasimene. Is there a scenario for this anywhere?
There is no Battle of Trasimene on file, purely because the Roman player would have nothing to do but die. Of course that doesn't stop fans from creating their own scenarios: