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Subject: Why you should play Sword of Rome as soon as humanly possible rss

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Tom Grant
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After I first acquired Sword of Rome, way back in 2005 when it was first published, I only had one experience, a two-player game with my wargaming buddy Paul. Now that we have a regular group of 4 or 5 people who weekly play wargames, it was a golden opportunity to give Sword of Rome a try, this time with the right number of players. The publication of the 5-player expansion made the opportunity even more enticing.

Now, with a few games under our belt, I feel as though we've had the experience needed to write a review. Just to give you fair warning, I'm about to slavish a disgusting amount of praise on this game. Infatuation can often be embarrassing. You've been warned.

What makes this game great
In summary, here's what makes this game worth your money, attention, and time:

* Intriguing subject.
* Interesting variations among the positions.
* Excellent play balance.
* Brilliant game mechanics.
* Challenging strategic and tactical puzzles.
* Scales reasonably well.
* Tons of table talk.
* High replayability


Intriguing subject
If you have any interest in ancient history, the period covered (4th to 3rd century BC) is fascinating. Rome is not yet the superpower of the Mediterranean. In fact, the Roman Republic is regularly clashing with several other local powers, including the Greeks, Etruscans, Samnites, Carthaginians, and Gauls. The situation is very fluid, as are the alliances among these competing nations.

The designer, Wray Farrell, has done an excellent job of capturing the feel for the times in the game itself. Of course, the decks for each power (it's a card-driven game, like Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage and We the People) add a lot of color. So, too, do other, less obvious game mechanics, such as the heavy emphasis on cities as the centers of power in the ancient world. The political control and military defense of cities is, perhaps, the first of Sword of Rome's fundamental mechanics that you need to understand in order to win the game.



Interesting variations among the positions
Each position in the game has its interesting advantages and disadvantages. (Note: The same player handles both the Etruscans and the Samnites.)

The Greeks have excellent generals, but have to pay a political penalty (simulating the petty rivalries among Greek city-states) to keep them in the field.

The Romans have enemies on all sides, including a minor "non-player character" race, the Volscii, beating on them from the start. However, the Romans have a powerful advantage over time: unlike other powers, they can build new cities, and the cities become the factories for new armies. The Romans also have to draw two new consuls each turn, often forcing the Roman player to endure lamentable leaders.

The Etruscans can stop battles through bribery (discarding a value 3 card permanently). However, they risk losing their bribery ability if they lose too much territory, and the number of value 3 cards in their deck effectively limits their bribery ability, too.

The Samnites don't have much in the way of leadership, troops, or anything else, but they are potentially the toughest race on defense. If they hold on to their mountain redoubts, they can snipe at the Romans, Greeks, and Gauls whenever needed.

The Gauls have the ability to manufacture extra victory points (very important in this game) through pillaging. However, they are competing with other Gallic tribes for these spoils, and they have other disadvantages (poor at sieges, no ability to save critical cards between turns) that put the brakes on the Gallic horde.

The Carthaginians (playable only with the five-player expansion) can hire mercenaries to build powerful armies, and they have unmatched ability to move by sea. However, they are also susceptible to political unrest, which cuts down on their hand size. Half the mercenaries disappear each turn, and there are a lot of "screw with Carthage" cards in other people's decks. Unless they ally with the Greeks, they will be locked in a bloody knife-fight over control of Sicily for much of the game, limiting their ability to make gains elsewhere on the map.



Excellent play balance
There's no clearly advantaged or disadvantaged player in Sword of Rome. In our games, we've seen every side win, or come close to winning.

The one significant exception is the three-player game. Putting the Gauls on remote control (roll two dice, look at a chart that simulates what the Gauls might have done that turn to hurt other players) helps, but it doesn't completely change the fact that the Etruscans don't have to worry about a Gallic invasion. This situation tips the balance slightly in the Etruscan/Samnite direction, though not fatally.

Even though there's a bit of a "beat up on the leader" side to the game, it's pretty minor, compared to many other multi-player wargames. You can play cannily to stay in second or third place, while positioning yourself for a critical turn or two of VP generation.



Brilliant game mechanics
Sword of Rome already excels, just by being a well-balanced, multi-player wargame--a hard thing to do, as generations of failed attempts can show. However, Sword of Rome also has some absolutely brilliant game mechanics, on top of being laudably balanced:

* Quick, easy combat. Both attacker and defender roll three dice, apply modifiers, and look at the result. Based on the numbers rolled on each die, you will know immediately what the casualties are.
* The victory point track. Everyone starts with 6 points, and then can lose VPs by losing key VP point-generating spaces, or gain VPs by conquering these spaces. Plus, if you're really feeling ballsy, you can win an early victory if you accumulate enough VPs in the first few turns. These mechanics encourage risk-taking in a game that otherwise might be fraught with "turtling" problems.
* The "Desperate Times" cards. Every player has two special cards, always available to play. You can use them to interrupt the normal course of play to take a turn. Once played, each card is then permanently discarded. The Desperate Times cards have both offensive and defensive uses: not only can you pull yourself out of a hole with them, but you can also seize the initiative to go for the win.



Challenging strategic and tactical puzzles
Every turn of Sword of Rome is interesting. Every position in the game is interesting. For example, as the Gauls, you need to push hard early in the game to win, since your VP-generating pillaging will, over time, attract the enmity of the other players. As the Romans, you need to wheel and deal until you've built enough cities to make yourself the powerhouse of the Mediterranean.

The tactical puzzles are equally challenging. Based on your goals for the turn, is it worth fighting a close battle? If you have a good leader, is it worth positioning him where he might intercept an enemy force, or is it better just to attack and not risk failing the interception? Is it better to use a card to activate your own troops, or to activate one of the non-player powers (Voscii, Trans-Alpine Gauls, and in the four-player game, the Carthaginians) instead?



Scales reasonably well
While, as noted earlier, there may be slight problems with the three-player game, the four- and five-player versions are excellent. However, don't take my comments to mean that a three-player game is a waste of time. Far from it: everyone still has a very good chance of winning the game.



Tons of table talk
Based on what I've told you so far about the game, you probably won't be surprised to hear that playing the game involves a lot of table talk. Offers, threats, bluffs, "friendly advice," and offers to ally happen constantly. You can't take an action without inviting the interest of one of the other players.



High replayability
It'll be a long time before you feel that you've played out all the possibilities in Sword of Rome. First, you have to play all the sides. Then, you have to try out different strategies for the each side. Finally, you have to figure out whether early or late wins are better, and if there are deeper elements to the game that you need to master over time. (Yes, there are.) Take even the best card-driven wargame, and at least double the replayability to estimate how many times Sword of Rome will be worth playing.
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Good Review for this underrated game, Tom.

SoR is one of my favourite games, but I know some people who don't like it. They are overlooking things!

From my point of view however there are a few things on the minus side:
* The bribe ability of the Etruscans has never proved of much use in our games. The designer should have been done this in a different way.
* The Pyrrhus Victory card doesn't work. Has anyone ever wanted to play the event!?
* Combat results can be extreme. You can lose heavily even with all the best odds. Well I learned to live with that. After all you are not a general in this game, but you send out one on a campaign. And people can mess things up, you know.
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marc lecours
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I agree with Henri that the bribe ability is not that good and that 2 or 3 cards are not attractive enough to use as events instead of OPs.

On the other hand I love this game. Being a multiplayer game it is balanced by the fact that people can gang up on the leader. Yet I have not seen the kingmaker syndrome (at least not as much as in other multiplayer wargames. The main reason is that it is hard for some players to fight each other. In a 4 player game, let us say that Greeks are leading.The Gaul cannot hurt the Greek without a long term campaign in the south. So all the Gaul player can do is choose not to attack the Roman or Samnite player for a turn.(not much of a contribution to kingmaking). The Etruscan-Samnite player can pretty much only march his Samnites south. But if he does then the Romans grab some victory areas in Samnium and shoot out ahead. The Romans can head south alone but that is not a huge threat to the Greeks.

What makes this game stand out is the victory points. You get a victory point for grabbing one of the key victory point cities. In most games this would count as one victory point if you hold it at the end of the game. But in Sword of Rome, it counts as one victory point every turn ! ( there are about 8 or 9 turns if I remember well) And you only need about 6 extra victory points to win. So this is a little bit of a defensive game. If you can grab one extra city and hold onto it and all your other ones then that should be enough to win. It takes a lot of planning for Rome to win a victory city in the south without losing one in the north.

Since the victory spaces are more or less a zero sum game, every gain by a player is a loss by another. And losing even one early on is disastrous. If you lose a victory city then you have to try desperation attacks, you might not be able to afford waiting to build up a force. This makes the game very tense. If you lose a city you can't turtle.

The other tense thing are battles. There is an advantage to being stronger than the opponent, BUT there is always a good chance of a disaster. There can be a bit of a tendency to turtle, but defense is not that great either. Basically a battle is dangerous for both players. One is going to lose big and one is going to win big (if a player gains one victory space early then it is huge). Going into battle is tough on the nerves. You have done your best to have +3 on the die roll modifiers but you can still roll badly. You have calculated that even if you lose the battle your position is not so bad. Still, the enemy might have been saving a great battle card for this moment (The Samnites in particular have a few really nice ones). This is all as it should be. In those days (as in all days) battles were risky. In fact you had no idea how many troops the enemy had and where they were.

When two powers fight everyone else cheers for the underdog. But if the stronger player wins then suddenly everyone is in an alliance. This is reasonable historically.

In the 4 player game (i have not played the 5 player game) the non player powers are really well done. Carthage in particular is able to give the Greeks a run for their money. In fact the Greeks often spend most of the first half of the game fighting against the Carthaginians.

Another thing that is well done is that conquests don't help your manpower but losses hurt the manpower. This means that holding on to your own areas is very very important. It also means that even if you lose most of your armies, you should have a reasonably strong army again within 3 turns.

Probaly the best part of the game is that the nations have such different personalities. Gaul, Rome, Etruscan-Samnite, Greeks are hugely different from each other. They are balanced, each can win. Each time you play with a different power, it is like playing a different board game.

This is a balance of power game. Every one is trying to strengthen their position by eliminating their weaknesses. But the balance is precarious. One battle can shift the balance (but in practice it usually takes two consecutive victories to shift the balance).

Good game. One of the better "multiplayer" wargames. (as opposed to so called multiplayer games where there are really two alliances.)
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Tom Grant
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Quote:
* The Pyrrhus Victory card doesn't work. Has anyone ever wanted to play the event!?


I didn't get the opportunity in our last game, because it ended before the moment when I planned to use the card. (We called the game because it was getting too late, and I was already ahead as the Greeks in VPs.) My plan was to use it for a last-turn, sure-fire victory, so that I could grab another VP location.

In an earlier game, I used it in a desperate situation against the Carthaginians. I was fighting a retreating battle, and bleeding troops by the bucket. Pyrrhic Victory helped me get enough breathing room to bounce back. I would have lost about the same number of troops anyway, and the automatic victory helped me hurt the Carthaginians enough that they thought twice about assaulting Syracuse.
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Tom Grant
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Great comments, Marc. You added a lot of important points that I didn't cover in my review.
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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anemaat wrote:
The Pyrrhus Victory card doesn't work. Has anyone ever wanted to play the event!?


The only time I've ever thought to use it was when I had cut off the retreat path of a large Roman army and didn't want to risk bad dice rolls taking away my glory, but I lost the opportunity so I have no idea if it was a bad move or not. It would've kept him away from Capua for a while, though.
 
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Great, I read this great review about this great game that is a multi-player war game that sounds great and I can only find one copy listed at $110.

Thanks a lot, Tom!
 
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enzo622 wrote:
Great, I read this great review about this great game that is a multi-player war game that sounds great and I can only find one copy listed at $110.

Thanks a lot, Tom!


It's on the GMT P500 list for reprint. You won't get it as soon as humanly possible but you'd be helping other people!
 
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BagpipeDan wrote:
enzo622 wrote:
Great, I read this great review about this great game that is a multi-player war game that sounds great and I can only find one copy listed at $110.

Thanks a lot, Tom!


It's on the GMT P500 list for reprint. You won't get it as soon as humanly possible but you'd be helping other people!


I have the GMT order page open on another browser...

One question: I'm actually not familiar with Hannibal, so how exactly does the card-driven system work here? Is it like CC:A and Mem '44 (I hope not) or something different?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Tom Grant
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enzo622 wrote:
BagpipeDan wrote:
enzo622 wrote:
Great, I read this great review about this great game that is a multi-player war game that sounds great and I can only find one copy listed at $110.

Thanks a lot, Tom!


It's on the GMT P500 list for reprint. You won't get it as soon as humanly possible but you'd be helping other people!


I have the GMT order page open on another browser...

One question: I'm actually not familiar with Hannibal, so how exactly does the card-driven system work here? Is it like CC:A and Mem '44 (I hope not) or something different?

Thanks in advance.


You can use each card to either...

* Activate a leader and the troops under him to move and attack.
* Raising or lowering the loyalty of cities and/or placing control markers where you have troops
* Playing the event on the card.

Very different from tactical games like the two you mentioned.
 
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Combat results can be extreme. You can lose heavily even with all the best odds. Well I learned to live with that. After all you are not a general in this game, but you send out one on a campaign. And people can mess things up, you know.


The Combat system killed the game for me. The range 3-18 is to large when the typical modifier is about +3. Not only can small armies with poor leaders beat large armies with good leaders, but if they do it is likely to be a smashing victory with far-reaching long-term consequences.

Smashing victory because in addition to the dice total determnining the overall combat result, the numbers on the individual dice determine the casualty level. Each '6' is two enemy casualties. Each '1' by the loser of a battle is 1 casualty to the loser's own troops ('1s' rolled by the winner are ignored). Each '5' is one enemy casualty, each '4' is one enemy casulty for the winner but nothing for the loser.

Far-reaching long-term consequences because battles have political consequences in proportion to casualties on the losing side. Now, this is actually a pretty cool idea and I like it in Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage. However, it doesn't work well in a system prone to freak results. A particular problem occurs with the expansion, where Carthage is faced by an 'Unrest' level. To try to crush the Unrest Carthage can attack it. If Carthage loses the battle vs Unrest, the Unrest level increases by an amount proportionate to how badly Carthage lost. The Unrest level also prevents Carthage drawing cards at the start of the turn. A loss by Carthage to the Unrest can pretty much remove Carthage as an active force in the game...

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Well, I got to play H:RvC today at the WBC. An extremely polite gentleman was gracious enough to teach me (and allow me to redo more than a few moves!).

I liked the game, but it did start to suffer the lather-rinse-repeat syndrome on turns. I felt the turns became move then battle with a dozen or more cards and repeat. Is SoR similar to this or does it have more interesting decisions?

BTW, the WBC rawks!
 
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Even though I dislike SoR's combat system, I think it is very possible you would find it has 'more interesting decisions'.

Partly this is because it is multiplayer, which adds a whole new diplomatic level to the game. There are also non-player nations which players can activate.

Partly it is because each player has there own deck, so with every card you are having to choose between its event and its numerical value. In Hannibal it often happens that you have to use cards for their numerical value.
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Quote:
Combat results can be extreme. You can lose heavily even with all the best odds. Well I learned to live with that. After all you are not a general in this game, but you send out one on a campaign. And people can mess things up, you know.


The Combat system killed the game for me. The range 3-18 is to large when the typical modifier is about +3. Not only can small armies with poor leaders beat large armies with good leaders, but if they do it is likely to be a smashing victory with far-reaching long-term consequences.

Smashing victory because in addition to the dice total determnining the overall combat result, the numbers on the individual dice determine the casualty level. Each '6' is two enemy casualties. Each '1' by the loser of a battle is 1 casualty to the loser's own troops ('1s' rolled by the winner are ignored). Each '5' is one enemy casualty, each '4' is one enemy casulty for the winner but nothing for the loser.

Far-reaching long-term consequences because battles have political consequences in proportion to casualties on the losing side. Now, this is actually a pretty cool idea and I like it in Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage. However, it doesn't work well in a system prone to freak results. A particular problem occurs with the expansion, where Carthage is faced by an 'Unrest' level. To try to crush the Unrest Carthage can attack it. If Carthage loses the battle vs Unrest, the Unrest level increases by an amount proportionate to how badly Carthage lost. The Unrest level also prevents Carthage drawing cards at the start of the turn. A loss by Carthage to the Unrest can pretty much remove Carthage as an active force in the game...



This is a game of careful building and not risking everything. Those who will go all out assault without leaving reserves will often gain, but also catastrophically lose everything.
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It doesn't just affect all-out all assault. Any time you go into battle with a large army you are risking losing, not only that army, but considerable political support.

I guess I'd probably get used to this if I played regularly, but enough other players agreed with my analyis that we stopped playing the game.
 
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What I meant to say is that if you have only one army on the board and no other units kept in reserve or defending your cities and you lose that army you are - as Americans say - caught with your pants down.

Engaging into battle with your whole army - maximum 10 CUs with no other CUs behind - means risking everything, or at least a lot. A lot of players don't understand that and they miss the beauty and the essence of the game. You have to play with care!
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Yes, I understood what you meant. However, that wasn't what I was tallking about in the passage you quoted. Even if you have 2 or 3 large armies, fighting a battle with one of them, even against a much smaller foe, is a big risk.

 
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Statistics don't lie. Your chances in percentages when engaging into battle are even provided with the game. But it is true, dissasters are not excluded. No result is guaranteed! Setbacks happen and should be accepted. Just as in real life and in the ebb and flow of history.
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Alright, I clearly haven't been explaining myself very well.

My problem with the combat system is not that a large army can lose to a small one. That is a positive feature, common to many wargames. My problem is that the defeat can be very severe. In other wargames, if a large army loses a battle with a small one they will generally take a few casualties and have to retreat. In Sword of Rome, because of the way the casualty system is tied to the battle result, a large army that loses to a small one is likely to lose over half its troops.
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Ah, the holy grail of wargaming - a combat resolution system that everyone just loves!

It is what it is, and Wray likely meant it to perform pretty much the way it does. We've seen endless ways to skin this cat and they all have fans and detractors. I'm not a big fan of the Battle Cards in WtP or H:RvC but there are lots of folks who love them. I'm quite partial to the way combat works in The Napoleonic Wars but you'll find a lot of folks who hate that too. Ditto in For the People and on it goes...

But you are quite right about the effect losing a battle can have in a game where recovering from disaster is a real challenge (owing to the cumulative victory point thing covered quite well in this thread). Group dynamics has a lot do do with how this works itself out. The zero sum aspect should give the disastee(?) immediate allies and the disastor a case of the lonelies until a new disaster disrupts the balance again.

Incidently, how many have seen five player games where Greece and Carthage do agree to team up? From an admittedly small sample size, I have begun to conclude that it shouldn't be allowed (much like France and Britain in The Napoleonic Wars). Rome is toast and there isn't much either Gaul or the Etruscan/Sammite player can do about it from what we saw. Gaul really only has one way to rack up vps and it won't be at the expense of either Greece or Carthage, and Et/Sam is in a poor position to be anything more than a minor nuisance to Greece (and it would be adding insult to injury to have him feast on Rome with the others). So, given that the Sammites will do what they can to Greece and the tension between Gaul, Rome and the Etruscans won't have any particularly adverse effect on Carthage, it seems to throw the balance to Carthage even with the unrest business to contend with.

It strikes me that as in the four player game, Carthage and Greece are meant to be at each other just to keep things even...
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Combat mechanics investigated
Philip Thomas wrote:

My problem with the combat system is not that a large army can lose to a small one. That is a positive feature, common to many wargames. My problem is that the defeat can be very severe. In other wargames, if a large army loses a battle with a small one they will generally take a few casualties and have to retreat. In Sword of Rome, because of the way the casualty system is tied to the battle result, a large army that loses to a small one is likely to lose over half its troops.


SoR has unique and clever combat system, but it has a structural flaw which you allude to. It's too "swingy", and under the hood, it's actually backwards.

I played SoR once immediately after its release. I can't fairly judge the overall game after just one play. However, I felt something was screwy with the combat system. It bothered me enough that I wrote a perl script to simulate combat under DRMs from -12 to +12 (assuming 3+ CUs on each side).

To summarize combat: each side rolls 3d6. The attacker totals his dice, adds the attacker's DRM and compares it with the defender's 3d6. High roll wins, defender wins ties. Without rerolling the dice, casualties are determined. Again, assuming 3+ CU's per side, the winner inflicts 2 hits per 5 or 6 rolled, 1 hit for 4's. The Loser inflicts 1 hit for each 4, 5 or 6, and sustains one hit on himself for each 1 rolled. It sounds like a neat system, but it gives bizarro results.

Following shows the results of 466560 trials for each DRM (this is 10-fold more than needed to fill in the 6^6 space of all 3d6 vs 3d6 die rolls). I've summarized about 1/3 of the DRMs cases:

===================================================================
|-------- Expected Casualties -------|
ATT DEF |---- ATTACKER ----| |--- DEFENDER ----|
DRM Wins Wins Wins Loses Either Wins Loses Either
---- ----- ----- ---- ----- ------ ---- ----- ------
-12 0.06% 99.9% 0.00 3.00 3.00 1.50 8.10 1.50

-5 9.7% 90.3% 0.55 3.23 2.97 1.40 5.53 1.80
-3 20.6% 79.4% 0.75 3.45 2.89 1.31 4.93 2.05
-1 36.4% 63.6% 0.93 3.76 2.74 1.18 4.41 2.35
0 45.3% 54.7% 1.02 3.95 2.63 1.10 4.17 2.50
+1 54.5% 45.5% 1.10 4.17 2.50 1.02 3.95 2.62
+3 72.0% 28.0% 1.24 4.66 2.20 0.84 3.60 2.83
+5 85.5% 14.5% 1.36 5.22 1.92 0.65 3.33 2.94

+12 99.8% 0.2% 1.50 7.73 1.51 0.03 3.00 3.00
===================================================================


The script appears correct for the boundary cases at least. Attacking with an overwhelming DRM means that almost any 3d6 for either player will result in a victory. This asymptotes to an expectation that the attacker receives 1.5 hits (each 4-6 produces 1 hit on the defender's dice). Similarly the defender should suffer 3.00 hits. Remember that loser's 1's are 1 hit against the loser, and the winner does 2 hits for each 5-6. Similarly, the banzai charge of a -12 DRM attack gives shows the reverse.

The fundamental problem is with _unusual_ outcomes. For example, when the steamroller +12 DRM smackdown goes haywire (roughly 1 in 500 chance), the expected losses for the overhwelming favorite is 7.73 CUs! Meanwhile, the expected losses for the miraculously victorious defending army is only 0.03 CUs. You can't hold up a bronzed plaque of the battle of Cannae and convince me that this is the property you'd wish in your CRT.

The reason for this weird situation is obvious when you consider the combat mechanic. The only way the army on the downside of a +12 DRM can win is with massively skewed dice. These winner/loser rolls also dictate losses.

The property that everone will expect is that as the DRM increases, the overall expected losses for the attacker go down, while those of the defender go up. This is in fact true in SoR. But why is this true?

Looking carefully at the table above, something seems pathological. As the DRM goes up, the overall expected losses for the Attacker ("Either" case) goes down. That makes sense. Yet, comparing only cases where the attacker wins, we see the expected losses go _up_ as the DRM becomes more favorable! The expected losses when the attacker loses also goes up as their DRM gets more favorable. This is backwards, right? It seems impossible.

The same backwards results occur for the defender. Overall ("Either" case), the expected defender losses go up as the DRM is more favorable to the attacker. Ok, cool. That sounds right. But for only cases where the defender wins, the expected losses go _down_. Ditto for cases where the defender loses. Certainly this is bad craziness. How can this possibly be true?

The weighting changes. The overall expected losses ("Either") derives from:

[(prob win) * (expected losses in a win)] + [(prob loses) * (expected losses in a loss)]

At very low DRMs, nearly the entire overall expected losses ("Either") comes from the "Loses" case. At DRM -12, the attacker will almost certainly lose and the expected losses for "Loses" and "Either" are the same, 3.00 CUs. At very high DRMs, the reverse is true. At DRM +12, the attacker will almost certainly win, and the expected losses for "Wins" and "Either" are essentially the same, 1.50 CUs (even though the expected losses for the unlikely case where he loses is 7.73 CUs).

As the probability of winning changes, the overall expected losses will be dictated more or less by the expected losses from winning vs those expected from losing. The fact that the trend in losses for Win-only and Lose-only cases run one direction (counter to intuition) doesn't prevent the overall expected losses from trending in the intuitive and opposite direction.

The swingy-ness that I mentioned at top can also be seen in the table. As the probability of victory shifts farther from 50:50, the losses for the unlikely loser grows larger. A +0 DRM averages roughly 4.0 CUs of damage to the loser. But as one side grows more favored, their expected losses grow to >5CUs if they happen to lose. The near-boundary cases of +12 DRM and -12 DRM cause horrific casualties (~8 CUs) to the victorious underdog's enemy.

I hope that I've made this clear enough. I hope that I haven't been both legendarily long-winded and opaque.

I suspect that the designer vetted the behavior of the overall expected losses as a function of the DRM, but not the details underlying them. It seems to me, that the underlying property is... not what one would hope for. It was a deal-breaker for me at any rate.
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Richard Young
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Interesting points and may explain why some reviewers have expressed difficulties with their experiences at the hands of the combat system. The problem would appear to lie in the way casualties for either side are assigned, not the way wins or loses are established. Any suggestons?
 
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Philip Thomas
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Well, you could ditch the current combat assignment completely and use a seperate casualties table. In Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage (which has a lot of other similarities to Sword of Rome) after you work out who won or lost you roll on one table for "attrition", which both sides take, and another for "retreat losses" which only the loser takes.

Or, perhaps slightly neater, after rolling combat the attacker and defender could roll 3d6 again, this time applying the casualty assignment rules. It would still be possible to get a crazy result, but much more unlikely.
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Richard Young
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Philip Thomas wrote:
...Or, perhaps slightly neater, after rolling combat the attacker and defender could roll 3d6 again, this time applying the casualty assignment rules. It would still be possible to get a crazy result, but much more unlikely.


Being more in keeping with the original design, I like your second suggestion and will see about trying it at the next opportunity. Thanks Phillip!
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If Greece agrees to ally with Carthage he should be smacked upside the head for being an idiot. Carthage would be -very- happy with such an alliance, but it's immensely uneven.
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