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Subject: Carthaginian strategies rss

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Per Sylvan
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A quick disclaimer: Though I am by no means an expert player, still I have played HRVC since its publishing. I have always found the relative lack of strat articles a bit strange. I’d just like to drop a few thoughts here, which could be the basis for further debate & analysis by the true experts.
The REAL challenge, however, is to write a Roman strat article, imho…I’ll see if I can muster some extra endurance and have a shot at it, otherwise, I’d love to read someone else’s article on that matter!


I consider Carthage to have 5 main strats in HRVC.
However, the beauty of this game, is that you are seldom committed to one of these strats for all the game. You can start out with Cisalpine Fortress, then switch to Island Hopping once Hannibal is ousted, etc. Anyhow, even though you might switch between the strats several time during a game, it is stil valuable to be aware of your options, and the strengths and drawbacks of them all.
Therefore, here goes, the strats in order of my own preference:

1) Cisalpine Fortress (Italian strat)
2) Capture Italy (Italian strat, northern or southern variation)
3) Island Hopping (non-Italian strat)
4) Sitzkrieg (non-Italian strat)
5) Assault Rome (Italian strat)


Carthaginian Strategies

Cisalpine Fortress (Italian strat)

Description:
The general idea is to get Hannibal into Gallia Cisalpine on Turn 1, take the province and keep a 9-9 province count throughout the game. If you have the extra manpower, and the right cards, you might want to try to hassle the Roman with incursion to Sicily or Corsica as to put extra pressure on them.

The moves:
Enter G Cisalpine on Turn 1 with Hannibal.
Camp in Gallia Cisalpina for the remainder of the game. Use your ‘3’ cards to reinforce Hannibal at all times.
Run reinforcements from Spain-Italy around turn 4-5, in order to build Hannibal up to 15-16 CU strength, sitting in either Boii or Verona (by doing so, you are blocking any Roman advances into Cisalpine.
Once you get Hannibal up to 15 CUs, then you are nearly invincible…Imagine the battlecard draw:
15 CUs + Hannibal (4) + G Cisalp (1) = 20 cards (max allowed)
Even Scipio can only get 16 Battlecards if he attacks! (10 CUs + Scipio 4 + 2 provinces)
During turn 8-9, you fortify your revolt-prone provinces. Ie; East/West Numidia and Celtiberia. Drop 1-2 CU in each of three spaces in these provinces, to secure them from revolt.

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

Strength/Advantages:
Personally, I find the Cisalpine Fortress strat the superior way to play Carthage, and rather hard to beat also! There are many Carthaginian eventcards that are tied with having Hannibal/a general in Italy. Having Hannibal in Italy all game will force Rome to spend cards/actions on countering Carthaginian eventcards.
Also, you will rather quickly have an almost unbeatable fortress in north Italy, and you are not too bad off in any other province. Hasdrubal in Spain, together with as little as 5 CUs, still equals 12 Battlecards…
Africa might be an issue, but if Rome fail to keep CUs in Italy, then Hannibal can quickly capitalize and move in…Also, it is rather easy for Hasdrubal to boat into Africa. Remember to keep at least one general back in Spain, so you don’t expose yourself too much there.

Weaknesses/Disadvantages:
I find Cisalpine Fortress to be the strongest strat. I would mainly leave it to other to prove me wrong, and point out the weaknesses.
I suppose you could argue that you are rather exposed in Spain initially (only 2 CUs and Hasdrubal during turn 1). But Spain receives 2 CUs per turn in reinforcement, plus potential recruitment cards, and reinforcements that can be shipped from Africa, so…Also, Rome does not have the force to move into Spain quickly. I mean, what can Longus +8CUs really do after all??



Capture Italy (northern gambit)

General description:
Move into Italy early (turn 1 or early I turn 2), and play an aggressive game in the northern part of Italy. Trying to grab Cisalpine + one of Etruria/Samnium quickly.
The idea is to exploit Rome’s initial weakness in CUs and competent generals, by attacking into Italy proper.

The moves:
You have two ways into Italy: Cisalpine or Liguria-Etruria. Cisalpine offers better retreat options, and should therefore be your preference. After taking Cisalpine, build up a 10 CUs+ army, and move south.
Again, you have two options: Etruria or Samnium. It is all about how Rome deploys, but Samnium means not having to cross a pass and you have better retreat options also.

However DON’T forget to reinforce…Even though you will likely win initial battles, you risk getting worn down from battle attrition. Consider spending your ‘3’ cards as reinforcement with Hannibal.
Remember to bring another general along (like Gisgo). If you need to get out of Italy, drop Gisgo w/1CU to cover your retreat path, and run to the safety of Spain.

Strength/Advantages:
You are going to be strong initially, and you will be able to play aggressively, as long as you have the manpower and until Rome outgrow you in CUs and generals.

If you get your campaign going, for example scoring a 2nd province in Turn 2 or so, then you can really get something rolling…

Weaknesses/Disadvantages:
Even if you are strong initially, your strength will soon get sapped, unless you get reinforcements. You have three ways of doing it:

- Use ‘3’ cards to add 1 CU/each
- Run reinforcements from Spain to Italy, using Gisgo or Hasdrubal
- Reinforcement cards

You will risk getting weak in Spain, while you fight in Italy. Don’t worry too much about it. If Rome sails to Spain, he will weaken his position in Italy. Not until after Scipio A is on the scene, is it likely that he will have the force to threaten both Spain and stall Hannibal.

Also, you are vulnerable to losses in Italy. One lost battle and you are in trouble.


Capture Italy (southern gambit)
This is the same as the northern gambit, just that you move down into Lucania/Apulia, and try growing your influence there. The southern approach is more risky. You have less ways out, if things go badly (in fact, your only choice is Adriatic Pirates, or a risky boat trip w/o the help of the Pirates). One defeat can spell doom for Hannibal, since it is very difficult to cover your retreat.

You might get tempted to play the southern gambit in games where get 2+ of the southern Italy cards in your hand. Generally, however, you don’t want to risk your main army in Southern Italy. Better then, to use only a token army in Southern Italy, forcing Rome to divert troops to hunt it, rather than concentrating on Hannibal in the north…

Southern Italy Event cards: Adriatic Pirates, Traitor in Tarentum, Bruttium Recruits


Island Hopping (non-Italian strat)

General description:

Carthage needs nine provinces to Win. That could mean Africa+Spain+1 other province.

Why risk it in Italy, full of Roman troops? Go Island Hopping and score that province…

The idea here is to send an army into either Corsica/Sardinia, or Sicily, in order to fight for that province and the Win. The ideal way to get it over, is to send Mago over, on the last cardplay of a turn. Then have Hannibal follow suit on the first cardplay of the next turn, w/1 CU (to minimize the risk of seatravel).
Hannibal with 10CUs in Corsica/Sardinia, has 14 Combatcrads, and 15 Combatcards, once he takes control of the province. It is not

The moves:
Island-hopping is all about mastering sea movement. You don’t necessarily need to move too much by sea, but you need to time it well. It is therefore helpful to see a table of sea movement odds. Go look for one, so you get a feeling for what is possible and what is unlikely to succeed

Generally, you just can’t afford getting a full 10 CU force sunk by Sea Movement. You are therefore looking for a total modifier of -4, which means you succeed on 1-5 and bounce on a ‘6’.

In order to achieve a -4 modifier, you need to:
- Move FROM a -2 port (Carthage/New Carthage)
- Move TO a -1 port (on Sicily or Corsica)
- Have the target space converted or revolted beforehand (to avoid the +1 Modifier for Roman PC)
- Have another -1 Modifier (either Mago, who however is a lousy general or, preferably, Syracuse/Macedonia/Carth Naval victory)

Try to time the invasion in such a manner that you can ship two loads of troops over to the island at once. That way you can fortify the province at once. Mago+Hasdrubal can get over in one shipment with 10 CUs. If you want to transfer Hannibal though, you will forfeit Mago’s bonus. Perhaps better to let Hasdrubal handle the assault, unless you can arrange the 1-5 success rate of the Sea Movement?
Try to time the invasion in such a way as when Rome does not have a Campaign card up his sleeve. Things to look for:

- Does Rome move armies around, instead of travelling by sea?
- Does Rome ignore an obvious target, that he could reach by sea? (like an undefended armystack or an exposed general that is guarding a valuable target)
- Does Rome not travel by sea, to help out in a province where it should need army re-infs

Those are all signs that might imply that Rome is w/o Campaign or ‘3’ cards.

The idea here is to send an army into either Corsica/Sardinia, or Sicily, in order to fight for that province and the Win. The ideal way to get it over, is to send Mago over, on the last cardplay of a turn. Then have Hannibal follow suit on the first cardplay of the next turn, w/1 CU (to minimize the risk of seatravel).

Strength/Advantages:
Actually, the strat can play out similarly to the Cisalpine Fortress strat, but even deadlier...Hannibal with 15 CUs in Corsica, is even stronger than a Hannibal with 15 in Gallia Cisalpine, since there are fewer allies to gain from the islands.

Once you have captured a few PCs on the islands, you usually have a retreat option if you lose in a battle or two.

You have to decide about Sicily or Corsica.
Siciliy has the advantage that you may play Grain Revolt (which is a very powerful card when timed right), and you may defend Syracuse if it defects.

The downside of Sicily is that it is more difficult to defend, since Rome can march units over the Messana straits.
Corsica has the advantage that it is more difficult for Rome to reinforce. However, you cannot help out Syracuse from this island, or play Grain Revolt.

Weaknesses/Disadvantages:
The main weakness is that an island army Is more vulnerable than a Cisalpine army. Rome may move with Sea Movement directly into 4 out of 5 spaces at Corsica, and 5 out of 6 spaces on Sicily. Cisalpine is much less accessible for Roman troops.
In addition to this, a damaged army on an island, has a harder time to escape, than an army sitting in Cisalpine. If the ‘-1’ ports are blocked, or can get intercepted, you are likely to get annihilated.


Sitzkrieg (non-Italian strat)

General description:


In the Sitzkrieg strat, the idea is just to keep Spain/Africa, and crushing any Roman incursions.
Hope for a good carddraw in the last 1-2 turns. 
Of course, the sitzkrieg can develop into Islandhopping, during the last 1-2 rds, where you could make a play for Sicily or Corsica/Sardinia.
The main weakness of this strat, is that you have to depend on Rome’s mistakes, in order to win. You want Rome to attack against your Spanish/African strongholds, or he have to forget to fortify his islands against revolt. You might pull It off, but against an able Roman player you are probably better off with any of the more proactive strats.

The moves:
Hannibal + 2 generals stays in Spain.
Hanno + 1 general (probably Hasdrubal) sits in Africa.
After putting together this lineup, the idea is to do, well, nothing…
In the endgame, grab a province either by Island Hopping, aim for Cisalpine, or revolt something.

Strength/Advantages:
The whole strategy is about waiting for the Roman to make a mistake. If the Roman is sane, he will probably decline battle (xpt with some very favorable card combo), and sit tight himself. This will of course lead to a rather uninspired game. Since Carthage has slightly better revolt cards, a 10-8 province count at the start of last turn, could actually be a slight upper edge for Carthage.

Weaknesses/Disadvantages:
There are several weaknesses in this one:

- You are waiting for the Roman to do mistakes (ie, reckless attacks into well-defended Africa/Spain). A Roman that just sits tight, will be very well off.
- With no/few battles during the game, Rome will of course be able to fortify his islands and Italy proper, if the Roman plays correctly. The sitzkrieg strat may be a prudent one for the initial turns, but if you don’t take the initiative, you will risk to lose out in the long-run.

With these drawbacks mentioned, I might point out that few Romans will comfort themselves with just staying put for a whole game. At least when Scipio A comes around, they are likely to want to try an attack. However, imho, it is overly brave – a fully mustered Africa/Spain, with 15-20 CUs in each, is surely a formidable nut to crack…That being said, perhaps this is the biggest risk you will run with this strat:
- You risk a very boring game, with little action!




Assault Rome (Italian strat)

General description:
This sudden death victory condition really does not need much of a description. Move in on Rome with a large stack of CUs, and arm yourself with patience 
However, assaulting Rome should probably not be termed a strategy in itself. It is a Carthaginian Victory Condition, yes. But at a -2 Siege Modifier, and with few retreat options nearby, the assault on Rome seems very very distant to say the least. And don’t forget about the Winter Attritions that you are about to get hit by either…

The moves:
In order to seriously threaten Rome, you need several conditions in place.
You need a Siege Train, you need Italy entirely, or close to, devoid of Roman troops and you need time…
Without a Siege Train, you have 1/3 chance of scoring a siege damage, for each siege attempt. That means in average that you need to play 9 cards in order to take Rome.
With the Siege Train, you have ½ chance of scoring a siege damage, for each siege attempt. That means in average 6 cards.
However, this does not take into account the two cards that eliminate siege points.
In order to be able to play these many cards, you will of course need to have total dominance in Italy to begin with…

Strength/Advantages:

Not too many advantages with this approach really…
Assaulting Rome is not so much a strategy in itself, rather an opportunity that will present itself when some specific conditions are met (Italy devoid of Romans, bulk of Italian provinces are already Carthaginian) or as a desperate measure when you are losing the war elsewhere, like in Africa/Carthage.

Weaknesses/Disadvantages:
- Few retreat options (unless you have already taken Etruria and/or Samnium)
- Very time-consuming
- Battle disadvantage for Carthage to fight in Latium (+2 BCs for Rome)

It is easy to thwart an assault on Rome. Therefore, avoid if possible…





General Variation, to most of the above strats:
Hasdrubal – Hero of Carthage

Some Carthaginians are reluctant to risk Hannibal in Italy. Instead they send Hasdrubal to do the heavy work – since losing him is less a setback for Carthage. While this is true, Hasdrubal is also a much less able general than Hannibal. If Rome puts serious pressure on Hasdrubal; double-attacks w/Campaign Cards etc, then he will quickly find himself in serious trouble. If you are afraid of losing Hannibal in Italy, then perhaps you don’t have the nerves to play the game at all!

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BJ
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Great article. I generally play with Carthage and have never considered the Cisalpine Fortress strategy of taking Cisalpine with the intention of just holding it and building up Hannibal. It seems very effective, I will give it a try next time I play.
 
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The Fortress Cisalpania strategy is probably the way to go - unfortunately, I think it's also the least interesting way to play the game. I know there have been debates about this before, but I'd love to hear some ways to weaken the strategy while possibly preserving Carthage's chances.

If I hear something promising, maybe I'll bust out H: RvC the next time my friend comes over rather than Twilight Struggle...
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David Male
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I have never been faced with a CisAlpine Fortress, and I agree that it would make for a rather dull game. ....However, Hannibal can only be in one space. If Hannibal will not move, then I would place two strong armies around, and start to turn the province over. If this forces a move, then Hannibal has a smaller army when moving, and the second Roman army can attempt intercepts on the new battle space, or attack the residue of Hannibals non-moving army on the following turn. In other words, use the Roman advantage of huge manpower resources.
If Hannibal is bottled up in CisAlpine Gaul, (and mobility is one of his major advantages) a Roman campaign in Africa or Spain looks a better option than usual. In other words, I do not see this strategy being as good as is suggested.
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Juan F. Santana Miralles
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Excellent article, thanks a lot for sharing!
 
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Charles F.
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Hannibal should just about always go for Italy. That's where Hannibal belongs. I haven't seen any elite player do anything else in ages.

Plan A as Carthage is to compell Rome to sue for peace. To destroy Rome's armies in the field, gobble up Italian provinces, very much keep the initiative and push Rome so far, that the political situation is no longer salvagable.

Yet, if Rome's too strong and able to contain Hannibal in Cisalpine Gaul, the Cisalpine Fortress is Plan B. But it can also unravel. Roman campaigns, attritional whittling-down and good generals really don't make it the superior strategy the orginal post makes it out to be.

The trouble with the standard game is that the conservative Italy First Roman T1 superstack roadblock strategy is so powerful. It can lead to that Northern stalemate. This is why I developed an alternative 218BC historical setup (see variant section), which starts off with Scipio already at Massilia (as he was that summer, en route to Spain). This allows for the historical campaign in Transalpine Gaul to unfold, encourages Rome more towards the historical aggressive "attack Spain" strategy. And the extra Carthaginian CUs in Cisalpine Gaul (portraying the local revolt there) gives Hannibal more offensive oomph.

As a consequence of these changes of mine, both sides have greater opportunities to go after the home bases of their enemy. This leads to a more fluid and hence more fun game. Not that Standard HRC can't go that way, but you'll see distinctly fewer stalemate situations arising playing this this setup variant. I highly recommend it.
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Perry wrote:

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


I don't get it. how is nine all a win? Isn't that a tie?
 
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BrentS
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booored wrote:
Perry wrote:

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


I don't get it. how is nine all a win? Isn't that a tie?


Equal provinces if the game plays out to the end of Turn 9 tie breaks to Carthage....there is no drawing in HRvC.

I am far less experienced than a number of posters here but when playing Rome and seeing Hannibal making an early start for Gallia Cisalpinia, I've found it effective to take P. Scipio and an army there, even if it is inferior to his, and camp in Taurini. As the Carthaginians cannot be certain of the transalpine attrition roll, and a lost battle kills Hannibal (who cannot retreat over the pass) they have more often than not been deterred. Hannibal may choose to take the coastal route into Italy but a Carthaginian Cisalpine Gaul strategy has been deflected into a war on the peninsula, which is a whole different game.

Brent.
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Ryan Kieffer

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goshublue wrote:


I am far less experienced than a number of posters here but when playing Rome and seeing Hannibal making an early start for Gallia Cisalpinia, I've found it effective to take P. Scipio and an army there, even if it is inferior to his, and camp in Taurini. As the Carthaginians cannot be certain of the transalpine attrition roll, and a lost battle kills Hannibal (who cannot retreat over the pass) they have more often than not been deterred. Hannibal may choose to take the coastal route into Italy but a Carthaginian Cisalpine Gaul strategy has been deflected into a war on the peninsula, which is a whole different game.

Brent.

If P Scipio only has 8 men, I don't believe most players would be deterred. Scipio will only get 12 cards (13 if he intercepts, but then Hannibal will be on the tribe), whereas Hannibal will likely receive 8+4+1=13. So 13-12 (or 14-13 if on the Tribes) in Hannibal's favor. Plus he gets elephants, so 66% chance that Rome will have two less. Though if you have Elephant Fright you are at an advantage, fear of that could also be a deterrent. It is somewhat risky, but at the same time, it's very probable that Hannibal will win in my opinion, and then Scipio is going to lose quite a few CU's, and Rome will be at a significant disadvantage early on. It's certainly possible for Rome to score the kill (and I've seen it happen) but I'm not sure the odds are worth the risk, unless you also have Elephant Fright or maybe Ally Deserts.

Also, for anyone who's reading this, hoping to get a discussion of winning percentages going in the General Thread, or in the Roman Strategies thread, I posted some stats from 700 games from Wargameroom.com, hopefully we can have some good discussion!

-Ryan
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Simon
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I usually deal with Hannibal occupying Cisp by posting a watching force in northern italy and then focusing on winning the war in Spain..

As Carthage i tend to find the best strategy is remaining fluid between many of the above strategies. I often try to take northern italy, this islands and southern italy from different directions at various points in the game. It depends on what Rome does really.
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Russ Williams
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Chief4ryan4 wrote:
Also, for anyone who's reading this, hoping to get a discussion of winning percentages going in the General Thread, or in the Roman Strategies thread, I posted some stats from 700 games from Wargameroom.com, hopefully we can have some good discussion!

(And the link to that post is: Winning Percentages - 700+ game sample size - Discussion hopefully!)

Cool stats, thanks!
 
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Joshua Herbert
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How can you move 10CU by sea with one card? My understanding is that you can only move 5 CU by sea, and even with a campaign card move only one general with 5CU by sea. I have only played once thus far, so maybe I am missing something here. Thanks.
 
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Andy Latto
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The only place I see the restriction of sea movement to 5 CU is in rule 11.4, which states
Rule 11.4 wrote:
11.4 Sea Movement Limit
A Major or Minor Campaign Card event allows an Army
with up to 10 CUs to use naval movement (only one of the
two or three armies that may move with a Campaign Card
can use Naval movement). A 3 OC allows one Army with up
to five CUs to use sea movement.


Is there some other place in the rules that has the second half of this without the first?
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