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Subject: How do I win with Rome? rss

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José Herrera
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I know this game has been thoroughly playtested and that it is balanced, but I have been going trough a long series of games now where Carthage seems to win consistently.

This usually happens because Carthage gains an early advantage in victory points while managing to bottle up Rome in Syracuse/Tyndaris/Aleria.

Rome subsequently builds up her military while Carthage tries to convert her deck from expansion to defence by sending a combination of Clupea, Oristano, Heraclea, Thapsus, Hadrumetum and Hippo Rhegius to the empire deck, setting up a reserve with various troops, Nuoro and/or Hippana and hunkering down with fortification and some raid blockers in her hand. If Carthage manages to complete this "transformation" without being significantly disturbed by Rome, the game is often decided by turn 6.

I am writing this post because I find no definitive way to crack this Carthaginian nut with Rome. Not falling way behind early is important for Rome to survive. I see three ways in that this could be accomplished: achieving a foothold in Aleria, taking Agrigentum early and taking Panormus early. Hunkering down and expecting to win your first battles mid to late game is no good.

There are serious drawbacks to those three: scoring in Aleria requires you to at least achieve and hold parity at sea (complicated by storms at sea,...). I have tried to do this with mixed results by early purchase of the Neutral Colonist, which denies it to Carthage and really helps you build up your fleet.

I have found taking Agrigentum early to rely heavily on an initial deck order that allows you to knock out Syracuse very fast. The "Rome at the ready" rule should help here. If you can outpace Carthage to Camarina (while picking up fortification to fend off raiders), you then have a good shot at Agrigentum in the next 2 turns.

Finally, if the Carthaginian fleet is away holding down Aleria, you have naval access to Panormus from Tyndaris. I have found myself reliably executing this attack too late in the game without really managing to turn the tide, or having Panormus then become isolated and raided back into the Carthaginian sphere a few turns later.

Even if you manage to knock out one of these three targets, you are still losing the game unless you achieve momentum (I have found Tribune great for this), which I find very difficult. I have had games won by Rome, but it still feels like there is a lot more pressure on the Roman player.


Finally, a note about cavalry and neutral empire cards: I have as Rome tried to play the "raiding game" by denying Carthage the white Mercenary cavalry and purchasing Equites, and this really doesn't work. I think reliance on raiding is a mainly defensive strategy, and as Rome you have to be opportunistic but focus more on raid blocking. I mentioned "denying" Carthage a colonist, and I think this also applies to all the white cards. For example, I always prefer Ligurian Infantry to Accensi just so Carthage doesn't have them. If you manage to take away several of the neutral cards you start having a numerical advantage and Carthage will scramble for military resources. Otherwise she will achieve parity and have a dangerously efficient mercenary force with better cav than yours.

Sorry for the long post but I am genuinely interested in some answers that further my understanding.


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Jonathan F
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I feel the same and in my 11 games played, Carthage has won all but 2. now those were with varying opponents mostly except one fellow BGG gentlemen on here and we have played 4 games with Carthage winning 3 of 4.

I think we need more strategy and theory crafting discussion on this as well as some input by Dan. I played a face to face game last night with my cousin who is very sharp and picked it up very quickly and was able to hold his own with Carthage. he did what I like to do when denied merc cav card (the only neutral cav in deck), he loaded up on cheap raid blocking infantry so his exclusive cavalry could be preserved for raiding. my counter to this was bribing with Tribune and Magistrate which did work but each time I was only able to knock out cheap bribe bait and it deprived me of the chance to then use magistrate for cheap card drafting or 4 SP generation.

i think the key as Rome lies in quickly building up a navy so you can at least contest Corsica/Sardinia and not let Carthage have it all. the problem is that takes lots of SP and colonists which means you likely aren't drafting legions which are what you need to win battles on land and take territory. i got a second legion very quickly in my game last night and was able to take Thermae quickly but i had to use both legions and my Praetor plus other cav and location cards and all my opponent had to due was play war elephants and some light infantry to make the battle last 3 rounds while he was cycling to receive his general, greek mercs and other war elephants for his own offensive.

that makes me still wonder if it would be better for battles to start at 0 rather than defender +1. but i wasn't apart of the extensive play testing so i would like to hear Dan's response. Judd has also chimed in on some strategy posts on BGG and since he helped for years with playtesting, it would be good to go re-read those.

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Mike McCarthy
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Interesting how the game seems to be imbalanced in favor of the side that historically lost.
 
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Fernando Robert Yu
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I dunno..in the first game I played (so far the only one) Rome beat my Carthage...
 
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José Herrera
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freddieyu wrote:
Interesting how the game seems to be imbalanced in favor of the side that historically lost.


freddieyu wrote:
I dunno..in the first game I played (so far the only one) Rome beat my Carthage...


Every time I play this I learn something new, so that my perception of balance and strategic options is completely different now from my first game. For example, at first there were cards I didn't even consider useful for a given side, or even for either side, but I have come to realise they are all very important.

That, together with the stated fact that this game has been seriously developed, is the reason why I am convinced it is well balanced. It is just a very open, deep design.

I am now starting to think that my problem with Rome has as much to do with the way I play my cards as with the way I design my deck. With Carthage it's more or less straightforward: get some good merchant actions going, take advantage of your initial position to colonise fast and use your good money cards (Lilybaeum, Utica, Carthage) to maximum effect, while employing Hippo Accra for its colonist.

With Rome it isn't as clear-cut: you have lots of colonists and lower money cards. I think I have to learn to be more pragmatic with Rome than with Carthage, for example paying money more often to discard bad hands and outpace Carthage. Rome also has to be ready to suffer pillages, raids and victory point disadvantage for a while without becoming too embroiled in responding to Carthage's actions. Just developing up and holding your ground to strike before the VP gap is too wide,... easier said than done though,...
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Grant Linneberg
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I have no great insights to share, but would my experience is different. I've played 13 games PBEM so far (with two more ongoing) and the score is 8-5 for the Romans. So my thinking, until I saw this thread, was that the game was initially harder on the Carthaginians.
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Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Interestingly, like Grant, after 11 games, I do think the game is slightly in favor of Rome.

Perhaps it is a perfect game where in balance hangs right in the middle!
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R Russell
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I have this game but have never really had an opportunity to match wits against an opponent. This question intrigues me and by the responses I see getting posted I will posit a theory...

We all have a tendency to follow strategies and tactics that fit with our thinking. We default to these and, from what others are saying, Carthage requires a different strategy from Rome. If we have a particular bent in our thinking then when we play Rome we find a symbiosis of strategy and so prevail. Or else we just can't seem to win. And vice versa. Perhaps if people relay there experience in playing the different sides we might answer the question of the OP? Or is that giving away to many 'trade secrets'?
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Jonathan F
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rjr1968 wrote:
I have this game but have never really had an opportunity to match wits against an opponent. This question intrigues me and by the responses I see getting posted I will posit a theory...

We all have a tendency to follow strategies and tactics that fit with our thinking. We default to these and, from what others are saying, Carthage requires a different strategy from Rome. If we have a particular bent in our thinking then when we play Rome we find a symbiosis of strategy and so prevail. Or else we just can't seem to win. And vice versa. Perhaps if people relay there experience in playing the different sides we might answer the question of the OP? Or is that giving away to many 'trade secrets'?

That is a shame that you have not had the opportunity. Jump on the vassal request list and you will find some people Willing to play PBEM or even live. I would offer but I have five games going right now
 
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