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Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Carth Strat: Fortress Cisalpine rss

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Per Sylvan
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First of all.. I've been playing HRvC since the first publishing date. I've always thought that playing Rome was the way to easy victory (of course, back then - 1st ed rules - Rome got six BCs for Allies in Italy, so even Longus could sometimes have the courage to pick a fight with Hannibal). Anyhow, by lately I've switched opinion.. Why? Because of the Unbeatable Fortress Cisalpine Strat (TM).


The Unbeatable Fortress Cisalpine Strat

Turn 1:
Hannibal + Gisgo uses three cards to cross the Alps into Cisalpine with 10 CUs. They will normally hit Cisalpine with 7 to 9 CUs remaining.


Turn 2-7:

- Hannibal + Gisgo sits on Boii Tribe, guarding Cisalpine.
- Hasdrubal sits in New Carthage, guarding Spain.
- Hanno assumes the role of watchdog in Africa.

Mago helps out in Spain or Africa as needed (but generally, is prolly most needed in Africa, to provide more maneoverability (sp?).

Playing of '3' cards: These cards are essential to this strat. You use your '3' cards to play as Reinforcements. Mainly to Hannibal, but once he has acheived 16-17 CUs, you can add CUs to Hasdrubal/Hanno as needed.


Turn 8-9:
During these turns, you fortify your revolt-prone provinces. Ie; East/West Numidia and Celtiberia. Drop 1 CU in each of three spaces in these provinces, to secure them from revolt.

Await game-end, and your inevitable 9-9 Provinces win.... devil



Weaknesses:
Not much..


During Turn 2, Rome can't really afford to send out expeditionary forces into Africa or Spain. They have only 16 + 5 CUs + any Allied Aux in on the entire board. Sending away 10 CUs into Spain/Africa , will leave only some 10-11 CUs in Italy facing Hannibal. Prolly not wise.

By Turn 3, which is the earliest opportunity for Roman counter-offensive, Spain/Africa has:

Spain: 6 CUs + 3 (Hasdrubal SR) + 4 Allies = 13 cards (+ any reinforcements through cards)

Africa: 8 CUs + 2 (Mago/Hanno SR) + 6 Allies = 16 cards (+ any reinforcements through cards)

Neither nut is easy to crack.. Of course you might get dealt a hand with only '1' cards, thus paralyzing your generals, but hey - I'll take the risk..


The key here is wheter Hannibal can hold his own in Italy for 9 turns.
Can he? Well.. Remember your '3' cards. You're actually not doing much, other than staying put. Any '3' cards goes to reinforce Hannibal. Once Hannibal sits with 14 CUs in Boii, he has reached the magic 20 for battlecards;

14 CUs + 4 (hannibal sr) + 1 Tribe + 1 Ally (Cis Gaul).

...at that point it is rather futile to attemp attacking hannibal . even scpio a won't get more than 16 (10 for CUs + 4 for Scipio SR + 2 for allies in italy...).


So, if you enjoy HRvC, don't tell your game about this strat. We wouldn't want them to know that the game is broken, right? cool
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Charles F.
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Perry wrote:

So, if you enjoy HRvC, don't tell your game about this strat. We wouldn't want them to know that the game is broken, right? cool


What you describe is the "stalemate strategy". As the reigning Wargameroom HRC champion, let me say that it's feasible but by no means failproof. It's as far as I'm concerned the Plan B I resort to should I not get past the Adriatic bottleneck.

The game is far from broken.
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Eric Torrence
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In my playing of HRvC, there are far too many ways for
Rome to clear PC markers out of provinces in Spain and
Africa for this to be foolproof. The Romans could easily
reverse the stalemate strategy by landing Scipio A in
Spain and holding one province. Then you would have to
choose a straight-up fight with Hasdrubal, or recall
Hannibal to clean up the mess. Either way, hardly foolproof
on either side.
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Peter White
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Spain and Africa are not exactly bulletproof, especially Spain which can be attacked from two directions with a Campaign card. I would inclined to leave Gisgo in Spain for that reason, if you are serious about a stalemate strategy.

I would also say that Hannibal can be wrestled out of Italy, even while playing turtle. Hannibal with ~15-20 CUs is pretty intimidating. But Proconsul Scipio A. plus Proconsul Marcellus and ~35-45 CUs at their disposal could challenge even Hannibal. Remember Rome can weather many defeats and keep coming, as long there are no unfortunate DE wipe outs.
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Per Sylvan
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Peter White wrote:
Spain which can be attacked from two directions with a Campaign card.


But you can only move one army with naval movement with a campaign. So that would mandate that you had sent an army to Massilia already. It is still not impossible, but it gets a bit obvious , as to what is about to happen.

Peter White wrote:
Iwould also say that Hannibal can be wrestled out of Italy, even while playing turtle. Hannibal with ~15-20 CUs is pretty intimidating. But Proconsul Scipio A. plus Proconsul Marcellus and ~35-45 CUs at their disposal could challenge even Hannibal. Remember Rome can weather many defeats and keep coming, as long there are no unfortunate DE wipe outs.


You probably can. Last time I faced this, Scipio arrived on the scene, marched north on his first cardplay, to do battle with hannibal, and got wiped out by a DE.. shake Boy, was I devasted after that , or what.. zombie
 
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Peter White
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Perry wrote:
Peter White wrote:
Spain which can be attacked from two directions with a Campaign card.


But you can only move one army with naval movement with a campaign. So that would mandate that you had sent an army to Massilia already. It is still not impossible, but it gets a bit obvious , as to what is about to happen.


There is no significant downside to being obvious, if Carthage is going to concede the initiative entirely. I would just move an army over there on Turn 4 or 5, and leave it there as a feint until Scipio A. appears. If Hannibal is not going after Italy, Rome can spare the 10-12 CUs and a general.

Besides, it is just as easy to launch an invasion of Africa from Massilia as Rome, if that is in the cards.

Furthermore, threatening to cut off Hannibal's retreat route back to Spain has psychological value, at the very least, in case I choose to go straight at Hannibal.

Quote:
You probably can. Last time I faced this, Scipio arrived on the scene, marched north on his first cardplay, to do battle with hannibal, and got wiped out by a DE.. shake Boy, was I devasted after that , or what.. zombie


Scipio A. on the attack with 16 BCs versus Hannibal's 15-20 BCs is not likely to be DE'd, although obviously weird luck does happen. And even a DE is only 1 in 3 to get the kill. Rome with an average hand has to be willing to retreat on the first play, if the DE zone looks on the weak side.
 
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Eric Brosius
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Peter White wrote:
I would also say that Hannibal can be wrestled out of Italy, even while playing turtle. Hannibal with ~15-20 CUs is pretty intimidating. But Proconsul Scipio A. plus Proconsul Marcellus and ~35-45 CUs at their disposal could challenge even Hannibal. Remember Rome can weather many defeats and keep coming, as long there are no unfortunate DE wipe outs.


The great thing about this game is that there are few sure things.

If Carthage is passive, Rome can build up 30 or more SPs sitting on the gate to Cisalpine Gaul. If you get a hand with a number of cards capable of moving armies, and especially if you have two generals in the area, you can whack repeatedly at Hannibal, even if you're at a disadvantage in each battle, and whittle his forces down. Obviously a DE loss that costs all 10 of your CPs is painful, but you can still whack again with another fresh load of CPs.
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Fredrik Borg
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I have recently tried the "go after Hannibal repeated times"-idea. It can work, but one should remember that one will loose a lot of PCs in the process of waring him down. That can be hard to keep up with.

Fredrik.
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Charles F.
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Steeledragon wrote:
I have recently tried the "go after Hannibal repeated times"-idea. It can work, but one should remember that one will loose a lot of PCs in the process of waring him down. That can be hard to keep up with.


It's a common instrument in the Roman toolbox. And you're quite right, that one has to make the right judgment of how hard to push. Rome can take a lot of PC marker and attritional punishment, but one can of course overtax those resources.
 
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Per Sylvan
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Steeledragon wrote:
I have recently tried the "go after Hannibal repeated times"-idea. It can work, but one should remember that one will loose a lot of PCs in the process of waring him down. That can be hard to keep up with.

Fredrik.


What I fail to understand, is how even this is ever going to help.

Once Hannibal hits 14-15 CUs in Cisalpine (which can happen as early as Turn 2, but should definitely happen by Turn 3), he sits with a full 20 BC hand.

If Rome launches two generals with SR3 & 10 units, they still only have 15 BC each.... AND they've got a worse SR...Of course they MAY win, and given enough tries they WILL win. But it is a steep uphill struggle..
 
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Charles F.
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Perry wrote:

What I fail to understand, is how even this is ever going to help.


Well, you want to keep attriting him so that he never gets to build such a superstack. Once he does, it may be best to hunker down and - at least until Africanus arrives - "hit 'em where they ain't", i.e. Africa or Spain subject to opportunities afforded by the cards.
 
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Peter White
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Perry wrote:

Once Hannibal hits 14-15 CUs in Cisalpine (which can happen as early as Turn 2, but should definitely happen by Turn 3), he sits with a full 20 BC hand.


If Carthage is willing to commit 100% of his 3 Ops cards in the first few turns, then Rome will probably have to wait for Scipio A..

Even a "lousy" 3 BR general has almost a 10% chance of outright defeating Hannibal in a 15 BC to 20 BC battle. Any time a Roman general can accomplish a non-DE loss that inflicts 2 (or more) damage in attrition, that is a marginal Roman victory. At the average cost of ~5-6 CUs and ~2 PC markers, Rome can grind away ~2 CUs from Hannibal per bout.

Assuming no weird luck, Rome can very easily afford to dance to that song 4, 5, or even 6 times.

How strong will Hannibal look after 10 CUs have been ground away? Note that Hannibal merely has to fall below 14 CUs for the math to start shifting in Rome's favor..

Obviously this is very far from a sure thing for Rome. One nasty DE rout and the math can look very bad.

But look at it another way: What choice does Rome have? Either Rome draws the right cards for a successful offense in Spain or Africa, or the Gallic turtle must be killed. Rome will need to take some risks, the only question is where.
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Charles F.
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Peter, do you have a spreadsheet which calculates battle odds and losses?

I sure don't have the math skills to come up with a fitting formula... I gotta use my gut to defeat my foes!

Which works well enough. And I like the fuzziness of not knowing the clear odds that CRTs provide.
 
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Peter White
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charlesf wrote:
Peter, do you have a spreadsheet which calculates battle odds and losses?


I used this as a reference:
http://grognard.com/info/han.txt

There are a number of factors this analysis does not take into account, but I think the general approach is reasonable. I would be surprised if a more sophisticated approach did not yield similar results.

The tables above notably do not take into account Withdrawal odds. In the context of this discussion, Hannibal Withdrawing from battle is a complicated issue.
 
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Charles F.
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Peter, thanks for the link.

Withdrawal sure is the big factor which is unaccounted by the tables. For some matchups, this factor is a minor concern. But the greater the discrepancy in battle ratings there is, the more important this becomes.

Take a 4 BR attacker vs. a 1 BR defender. The table suggests that the latter would be favoured if having 8 BCs against 5 BCs of the aforementioned attacker.

Of course, if things don't pan out for the superior general, he's most likely to succeed in withdrawing from battle.

And then there's of course Hannibal's PR ability... (PR as in probe, not public relations )
 
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Fredrik Borg
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SFRR wrote:
Hey all, thank you all for your wonderful strategic insights. This is a great thread for the newer HRvC player, especially one who is dedicated to the Carthaginian cause!

Question: what is "DE?" ("Displacement?")


I am sure you know by now, but anyway

DE = Double Envelopment
 
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Kristian Madsen
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The grognard in me chuckled as I took "DE" to be the dreaded D(efender) Elim(inated) of classic wargame CRT fame.

(I wonder if Mark Herman had this in mind when designing the "All" result on the Retreat table?)

/kgm
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Riku Riekkinen
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I'm a happy Roman, if I get Scipio A in 9-9 situation. I usually go for Spain through Massilia with 2 stacks... ( Africa only if the cards dictate that ).
 
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Chris Durian
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Eric Brosius wrote:

If Carthage is passive, Rome can build up 30 or more SPs sitting on the gate to Cisalpine Gaul.


Putting more CUs on the "Roadblock" army than are necessary to yield a BC hand of 20 with the average Roman General increases the risk to that army without any corresponding reward. Best case Carthage scenario: Hannibal gets Ally Deserts AND Marharbal's Cavalry; Rome could be looking at a battle that starts off at 20 to 15 Battle Cards in Rome's favour, but after taking into account cards and Elephants, could wind up at 17-17. With a "2" battle rated General (other than Flaminius perhaps, due to his special ability), I'll take those odds with Hannibal, especially if there's a chance of DE-ing a huge stack. Here's how the Battle Card count works out:

Let's assume P. Scipio or Nero (with the average "2" battle rating) sits atop a stack of 25 CU. The maximum initial battle card deal is 20 per player. So either of these generals would need only 16CU's to end up with exactly 20 BC:

16CU + 2 (battle rating) + 2 (Roman allies in Italy)

Any CU above and beyond that -- 9 in this case -- are superfluous and simply being put at risk in the event of a Carthaginian DE victory. (Additional CUs in this stack CAN be useful if the Roman player is planning on advancing into Gallia Cisalpina, and/or doing back to back attacks on Hannibal's army, as Eric suggests, but this reply is to point out the potential risks of amassing that force).
So, how do we get to the 17-17 scenario? The inital count:

Rome: 20 BC
Carthage: 15 BC = 10CU + 4 (Hannibal's battle rating) + 1 (Gallia Cis ally)

Now, let's say Carthage executes a successful elephant charge with 2 elephant CUs. (vs. P Scipio or Nero this is 66%):
Rome: 18 BC (20 - 2)
Carthage: 15 BC

Next, the Carthage player plays Ally Deserts:
Rome: 17BC (18 - 1)
Carthage: 16BC (15 + 1)

Finally, add Marharbal's Cavalry, the Double Envelopment card that still requires a counterattack die roll by Rome.
Rome: 17BC
Carthage: 17BC (16 + 1)

Now, as the Carthage player if I see 3 DE's and at least 3 Probes and 2 Reserves (not extremely likely, but not extremely unlikely either), I may gamble on the idea that Rome can only match 4 DE assaults (5 would be the max). Taking the gamble depends on the distribution of the rest of my BC hand (the more balanced, the better in this case). Let's play out a scenario and see how probable or improbable a DE-ALL result feels:

Carthage: MArharbal's Cavalry
Rome: Match with DE (1st of 2), misses CA roll (66% chance of missing)

Carthage: DE
Rome: Match with DE (2 of 2), automatic initiative

Rome: Probe
Carthage: match with Probe (1 of 3), makes CA roll (66% chance of hitting)

Carthage: DE
Rome: Match with Reserve (1 of 2), automatic initiative

Rome: Probe
Carthage: Match with Probe (2 of 3), FAILS CA roll (33% chance of missing, but even Hannibal has his off days)

Rome: Probe
Carthage: Match with Probe (3 of 3), makes CA roll (66% chance)

Carthage: DE (3 of 3)
Rome: Match with Reserve (2 of 2), automatic initiative

***At this point, Carthage still has 2 Reserves to match Rome's Probes, while Rome can match only 1 more DE with its Reserve.

Rome: Probe
Carthage: Match with Reserve (1 of 2)

***At this point, Rome can only possibly have 1 more Probe (only 8 in the deck). So with the initial distribution, Rome cannot win with Probes.

Carthage makes the CA roll (66%), and uses its final reserve as a DE.

Now Rome has lost the battle, and has a 33% chance of losing all 25 CUs.robot

If Carthage fails the CA roll, even if Rome has another Probe and plays it, Carthage matches, and the battle proceeds to the Flanks and Frontal Assaults, which Carthage should have a decided advantage with Hannibal hitting CA's at 66% and Nero/P Scipio only hitting at 33%. But in this case, Battle attrition could certainly result in a Pyhrric-style victory for Rome.

If the distribution were slightly in Rome's favor with Probes/Reserves/DEs, Carthage could lose to a Probe, and on average lose 4-5CUs. If Hannibal is sitting on a 13CU stack, then, the risk/reward analysis is pretty attractive. (Hannibal with 9CU vs Nero attacking with 10CU to Mutina, for instance, gives us a 14-14 battle, and that's before Elephants, which hit at 66% vs Nero).

If the BC distribution looks wonky (i.e. Carthage gets zero or 1 reserve), Hannibal has a good chance of withdrawing successfully before Rome can win with anything other than Probe.

The point of going through this exercise is to illustrate that even a "massive" army of 25-30CU sitting in Arminium (or worse, Mutina) can be at risk to a DE-ALL defeat under certain, not-totally-pie-in-the-sky circumstances. They aren't extremely likely, but neither do they seem extremely unlikely. When you consider the risk-reward to Hannibal of attacking such a stack, even with only Ally Deserts and 2 elephants vs a 2 general, the pragmatic Rome player may want to limit his risk to only the number of CUs that are necessary to start with a 20BC count, should Hannibal attack.


 
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