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Subject: Solo Campaign - De Bello Gallico rss

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Tom Swider
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I lost my text for a much more descriptive report (ugh ... not sure how it happened) so I'll just briefly summarize.

The campaign game is leaps and bound more interesting than the introductory scenario because the interactions and consequence of decisions are more intertwining. The victory conditions encourage you to approach the game time in terms of years rather than months. That is, determine goals for the year, and how to achieve them while hedging against the random events.

The Romans are the better army but can still be defeated in the field. I've seen this twice so far in this game. The Barbarian fortunes can ebb and flow but they tend to rising up in numbers as well as die off due to attritions, bad march results, combat, etc. They also are in a better position to withdraw before combat, and don't have to stay in combat if not willing to take the field.

All of the above requires more strategic usage of stratagem markers rather than blowing out your entire supply on your turn.

The image below shows the end of April 56 BC. For this year, Rome intends to establish its third colony, this one being just south of the Rhine, with the intent of colonizing the Rhine in subsequent years. This seems attractive because the river will allow a single strong force to protect them as long as they have an engineer available. The force around Lugdunum is on defense with the intent of containing the Barbarians to the north. Caesar's objective is to clear out the Aquatain, where the current Barbarian Supreme Leader, Ambiorix, has been menacing Toulosa.

Seeing Caesar force march his way to the west, Ambiorix, despite a large army, need not waste it on direct combat and runs to the north. The size of force hedges against any supply losses, and there are active tribes that can contribute reinforcements if needed. Vercingetorix is lurking in Lutetia (near the Parisii tribe) with the other major army. As the Germans came into play on the side of the Barbarians, they and Gallic forces will attempt to divert in the east.

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Tom Swider
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Campaign Year 55 BC Summary
Mixed results for the Romans. In the western campaign for the Acquatain, only one of three cities were taken. During the summer, all three were under siege. Antonius approached one city and started siege, left a Veteran legion behind which built a fort, allowing Antonius to go to a second and third city. Only one feel, led by Antonius. The other Barbarian civis passed their supply checks. However, in August, the Barbarian civis units pillaged their cities rather than allowing for the chance of the Romans having them defect to Tribute. The pillage of the city heavily discourages the Romans from attempting to use Tribute as they'd have to survive two winter attrition rolls.

So that results seems a push, or possibly pro Roman. The Romans didn't take all of the Aquantain but with no Barbarian presence, the Romans are likely to be the first to occupy the cities and claim control. It's possible that the Barbarians could recruit tribal units and dice movement rolls to occupy, assuming the Romans can't establish their presence on the April turn.

In the east, no progress. The attempts to establish a colony kept failing. In September, the occupying force had no choice but to march off board back to the Italia box. The lesson learned is that you need to use a 2 value leader to lead colonization attempts so that you can get two Tribute attempts each month rather than one.

The Romans only have 1 Barbarian city, but should have at least 3 next year. I think they're just a little behind but they seem to have a reasonable chance of winning. However, the Barbarians are at full strength and have two strong standing armies. Likely Roman plan is to squat on the remaining two Aquitaine cities with the current force, focus on an eastern/Rhine campaign, and get all the Cavalry possible in Caesar's command in order to try forcing a showdown with one of the main armies (but with support from two other smaller armies. Should be close.

One concern I have about the game is that it seems like it's too easy for the Barbarians to max out their force pool. I suspect that this suggests that the Barbarians should be played a little more aggressively, staking a reasonably large army with a leadership totaling about 2-3 (e.g. chief and a 1-2 named leader).


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Tom Swider
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Campaign Year 54 BC Summary
The Romans achieved partial results from their game plan. In April, reinforcements from Italia joined Caesar in the Lugdunum colony, with the idea of marching on Alesia. The Barbarian counter to that was to play a Migration from Alesia. This pillages the city and forces units moving into or adjacent to that hex end their march. The end result was Alesia fell to the Romans, but the army left to try to hold it over the winter was eliminated, only being held by Q Cicero. I think this was a reasonable play of the Migration stratagemn, though I was hoping that the Barbarians could hold it until the last game year.

The Romans were able to bring more stability to the Acquatain, though there is still a threat. The Barbarians attempted another siege on Tolosa, which ultimately failed in a Barbarian rout (and the loss of named leaders Dumnorix and Galba). Ambiorix assembled a large force in Avaricum (just north of Gergovia) but was targeted by the Romans when the "Dissent in the Roman Ranks" came up. The only desertion was Ambiorix, whereas the army just could not move that turn (September). The Galls only have two named leaders left: Vertcingetorix (in Bibracle) and Vercass (Lutetia). The Galls have their armies in a more supportive position on the whole.

Brutus established its third colony in Arae Flaviae, constructed a civis, and withstood a seige by the Germans. Almost the entire German army stood outside of AF, and was subject to yet a second occurance of the Dissent in Barbarian Ranks event, disbanding the entire force. It may seem harsh, but as Barbarian units generally recover at a rate of 2-3 units per stratagem, these events hurt but are not crippling. A good point to remember when playing the game: much of how you do depends upon your reaction to the events.

The Romans did not get to force the Barbarians into battle like they would have, but are otherwise on track for colonies (have 3, need 5+) and Barbarian cities (have 4, need 7), and have put a significant dent in Barbarian leadership.

Roman game plan for the upcoming campaign year is to send agents to strike at Vercingtetorix before the Barbarians can accumulate stratagem markers, as his location is known from winter plays of agents. Recruiting efforts in April will be to get the Aeduii back into play for their cavalary, as it will be needed to force Vercingetorix into combat. Brutus will continue up the Rhine to settle colonies, awaiting the arrival of the next impeditus.

Ideally, it would also be helpful to focus on converting tribal loyalty. However, the pool of stratagems favors the Barbarians in this respect. The Romans have 2 and the Barbarians 3, and these would be better spent on colonization efforts.

I think the best chance for a Barbarian victory will be for them to focus on the destruction of Roman colonies, given the large efforts needed to create one in the first place.


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Tom Swider
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Barbarian Concession June 53 BC
The strike against Vercingetorix went much better than expected, ultimately resulting in falling to Rome's assassins. The way it played out:

April: The end of year 54 BC saw Vercingetorix declared the new Supreme Leader. Rome knew it possessed no other stratagems, and had its full stable of stratagems collected. Aeduii Chief was raised as were its client forces. Caesar's force (Legions from Praetorean Guard, one other Imperial, one Veteran, and one Recruit) and Aueduii moved to Bribracle, whereupon agents struck twice unsuccessfully. A Tribute attempt successfully removed the civis, leaving V's forces (about 4 Levies, 4 heavy inf, 2 cav and 2 missile) in the city. It was still a tough force, so Caesar just declared a siege (no attack).

In response, the Barbarians attempted to get relief forces there to compel Caesar out (e.g. losing a combat and retreating). This relief force and its commanders were wiped out in their entirety ... Caesar won initiative, missile attacks force cause a discipline check which was failed, which left the relief force with little to strike back with. Then on May turn, Caesar builds a Roman Campa to protect it from being dislodge and having to retreat in future combats.

The game lasted another two turns, with Vercingetorix eventually being brought down by agents.

Lessons learned:

1) Romans need to move much faster in the initial 1-2 years as if the Barbarians get their full compliment of forces, it is much more difficult to make progress.

2) Barbarian leaders with leadership of 2 or 3 need to be kept free range and never stay inside of cities unless very far from Roman forces. The temptation to quarter in cities must be restisted, as Rome gets to move first in the spring. Consider that Caesar could conceivably move 4 times (one normal and 3 forced marches), he can get to anywhere in Gall if avoiding any rolls of 1 which isn't impossible (5/6 x 5/6 x 5/6 x 5/6 = 48%). They must adapt to the ebb and flow of changing army sizes due to recruitment and supply/winter whims. Levies are good for garrisons as the "?" results in Tribute typically mean the Romans have to match the strength points 2:1 for the force to switch or disband.

3) The Rhine is a natural route for Roman expansion. It's easier to defend as there aren't as many tribes nearby, and the fast movement rate.

I think CiG comes reasonably close in representing the period in game form. It seems possible to duplicate the actual campaign results, and encourages players to adapt to methods appropriate to either formal or guerilla war.
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