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Subject: PAX AAR Aug 20 & Labor Day: 4P: 10 turn scenario rss

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David Dockter
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PAX AAR Aug 20 and Labor Day 2011

With summer drawing to close, we decided to get one more game in of PAX (the 10 turn campaign scenario) given how much we enjoyed the previous games. We starting playing PAX with the out break of summer and managed to squeeze in a few games and develop a few house rules to address a few items that bugged us (few supply/attrition effects, the stability system – all countries bunching towards the top, some of the cards, etc). Bob played Carthage, Casey took Rome, D donned the eastern fez and I led the geeks (or greeks).

TURN 1



Mr.Soldier of Fortune

Greeks initiated by clearing some of the tribes in the Danube. We’ve went back on forth on proper use of the Soldier of Fortune (SoF) army (after instituting a house rule that they can’t be used in Italy turn 1 – puts Rome in too much of a hole they can’t recover from). The choice has been to clean tribes up north or toss them into Asia Minor. The East responded with concentrating its army in Pontus. Carthage massed in Sicily and Rome cleaned out Tarentum. Carthage then moved to Spain. In the east, mr.fez (the east) moved the Alexandria horde to Asia Minor. Rome moved an army to the northern frontier of Italy.

Greece quickly moved the SoF to Galatia to screen against the eastern army in Pontus. Greece then got stuck with another activation (meaning the east still retained 2 activations to Greece’s 1) and went conservative – concentrating in Ionia and taking Ephesus. East then moves an army to Ionia preparing for the upcoming cage match with his Greek nemesis.

Back in the west, Carthage continued to expand in Spain while Rome takes out tribes in Narbonensis to begin his cavalry building program in Gual. Back in the east, the Greeks take Miletus, while the East cuts behind the Greek forces in Ionia. Luckily for the Greeks, the SoF army intercepts the fez boys and inflicts a big loss (70%) on the easterners.

GOP (provinces): East 9, Carthage 10, Rome 3, Greece 8
CVP (cities/towns): East 2/2, Carthage 1/4, Rome 3/4, Greece 4/1
VPs: E8,C4,R4,G6
Income: E21, C19, R18, G23
Builds (HI/LI/Cav/Galley – including mtc): E4/2/0/2, C3/3/0/2, Rome 3/0/0/0, Greece 5/3/0/3

Turn Summary: Good start for both East & Greece…although Eastern losses at hands of SoF gives edge to Greece. Rome had no disaster. Carthage rolled unopposed into Sicily and Spain as usual.

TURN 2



First of many barbarian invasions of Italy and Gaul this game


East moved first and had to bring a leader into Cappadocia (after preparing for the booty call boof last turn). Greeks continued their expansion in the Danube. Carthage brings an elite leader to Spain, and, it being Bob vs. Casey, of course generates a 10 inf + 2 cav german invasion of Rome’s holdings in Narbonensis. Rome marches north to combat the german horde and is destroyed to the last camp follower. The first (of what would be many) monuments are erected to honor Bob (Hannibal jr.) and taunt Casey (da luckless lowly roman loser). The East takes Galatia and Greeks quickly request reinforcements from the homeland; East is beginning to look like it is gaining the upper hand in Asia Minor. Rome gets a move and manages not to suffer another disaster and destroys the German invaders. Greeks manage to position a 2nd army in Asia Minor to attempt to hold the fez wearers at bay. Carthage sends Hannibal to Sicily to complete that acquisition, but, Hannibal is defeated by the indigenous forces. Carthage gets another activation and another barbarian invasion to punish the Romans. Rome does manage to at least take some of the Danube.

The tide turns in the east, with The East suffering a slave revolt. Greeks move forward into Cilicia, after cleaning out Lycia. East draws the SoF and uses to block Greeks at Tarsus. Greek takes Pontus and Galatia. Rome and Carthage consolidate their positions.

GOP (provinces): East 6, Carthage 14, Rome 6, Greece 10
CVP (cities/towns): East 2/5, Carthage 3/3, Rome 4/4, Greece 5/2
VPs: E10,C12,R7,G15
Income: E20, C28, R23, G29
Builds (HI/LI/Cav/Galley – including mtc): E1/0/0/1, C4/4/0/2, Rome 4/4/2/1, Greece 5/0/0/5

Turn Summary: Carthage and Greece sprint to the lead, with Rome and the East stuffed real good. We’ve seen this in each of our PAX games: two countries out to a fast start, two stuffed. We’ve yet to seen a country stuffed in the first three turns be able to bounce back (into the lead)…doesn’t mean it can’t happen…but, our conclusion ranges from it being unlikely to almost impossible.

The group has concluded (after 4 games) that PAX as a 5 turn scenario works well – one long day…lots of laughs and fun. But, it just doesn’t allow a country to bounce back in the 10 turn game. And, no need to try to turn PAX into something it isn’t (like Empire in Arms lite). So, enjoy it for what it is: a moderately complex, decent (combat resolution is very cool…lots of fun maneuvering) day long, affair that will be significantly impacted (if you are Rome and the East) by random events (usually bad), and, even more so, order of activations.

TURN 3



To the Cilician Gates

East moves to try to hold Greeks at Antioch. Greeks build cities in Asia Minor to consolidate its position. Carthage moves back into Spain in a big way. Rome battles tribes in Southern Gual. East gets stunk big by the activation order, with the Greeks having THREE moves after them. Rome also gets stuck, with Carthage getting TWO moves after them (coming on the heels of Carthage getting the last move in each of the first two turns). Carthage uses the advantage to raid Gual, while the Greeks use the advantage to secure Asia Minor except The Cilician Gates.

GOP (provinces): East 5, Carthage 15, Rome 5, Greece 13
CVP (cities/towns): East 6/1, Carthage 5/3, Rome 5/3, Greece 7/1
VPs: E14,C19.5,R8.5,G24
Income: E32, C35, R25, G28
Builds (HI/LI/Cav/Galley – including mtc): E8/0/2/1, C5/6/0/2, Rome 8/0/0/0, Greece 8/2/0/4

Turn Summary: After Carthage Greece sprinted to the lead, both got to have at least two moves after their opponent this turn; turning their lead into a runaway. The East is almost totally bottled up, with Greece holding all of Asia Minor but a couple of spaces. Rome didn’t have a bad turn; it’s just that Carthage getting the last two moves meant they couldn’t make any progress.

TURN 4



Poseidon destroys the Carthaginian fleet

East consolidates in Antioch. The Greeks enter The Cilician Gates in force. Carthage disengages (temporarily) from Gaul. Roman army moves into the Danube. Pontus (controlled by Carthage) causes some mischief, taking a Greek city on its run to The Danube. Carthage then takes a stab at Crete, but the naval force dies in the deep sea zone of that coast. Glorious. The East continued to await the Greek onslaught. Rome clears tribes in Germania. Carthage gets stuck with its last activation (Rome will move twice after). East generates another German invasion, as the roman player shrieks in agony, yet again. Greece uses its last activations (moving after the East) to use the German barbarians to attack Rome (just to hear more sounds of roman agony) and reposition a big Greek army in Macedonia (setting up a next turn attack on Carthage).

GOP (provinces): East 5, Carthage 14, Rome 7, Greece 15
CVP (cities/towns): East 7/1, Carthage 8/3, Rome 7/1, Greece 9/0
VPs: E14.5,C29,R11,G33.5
Income: E33, C43, R31, G45
Builds (HI/LI/Cav/Galley – including mtc): E6/0/2/4, C6/8/0/4, Rome 6/0/2/0, Greece 5/4/0/5

TURN SUMMARY: Rome suffers more pain. The East has a cork in its bottle. Greece and Carthage dominating.

TURN 5



Antioch falls under the greek sword

Greek goes first and prepares for an attack on Carthage (if the activation order complies) and starts another city building program in Greece. Greece fails to cover two cities in Cilicia with an adequate defense. We’ve found that two heavies plus a light on a city makes for a very formidable defense. Greek player believed that the East was going to also launch against Carthage. Greek player was sadly mistaken. East then moved and took out the two Greek cities in Cilicia (cries of “backstab” are heard). Carthage and Rome consolidate in Hispania and Gaul. Greece gets stuck with the next two activations, but is then able to reinforce Lycia and threaten East in Antioch. Yet another German invasion strikes the luckless Roman. East reinforces Cilicia. Rome and Carthage spar in Gaul. Carthage uses another barbarian force to take the Greek capital at Pella (the shame!). Rome position finally looks stable at the end of the turn; meaning Rome may FINALLY be able to do something about Carthage.

GOP (provinces): East 7, Carthage 14, Rome 6, Greece 13
CVP (cities/towns): East 7(2)/0, Carthage 10/3, Rome 9/0, Greece 9/0
VPs: E16.5,C41,R13,G40.5
Income: E37, C49, R35, G43
Builds (HI/LI/Cav/Galley – including mtc): E10/1/0/1, C2/4/12 (yes 12 cav)/4, Rome 7/5/2/0, Greece 7/4/0/4

TURN Summary: As indicated, Rome finally looks like it might be able to get on a roll. The East did manage to at least bust out somewhat in Asia Minor. Carthage takes the lead and strategic edge. Greece suffers a setback, but, position still relatively secure.

TURN 6



The East gets hits by a nasty booty call.


Carthage goes first and eliminates the Roman build in Narbonensis. Greece reclaims its cities in Cilicia (and hit the sacking of city sweepstakes for big bling). East tries to flank Greeks and lunge into Galatia. Romans move big army into Germania. Greeks respond to flank attack by moving back into The Cilician Gates and threatening Antioch yet again. Greek gets stuck with its last activation and takes Anitoch.

Both The East and Rome each get three activations after Greece and Carthage. Could they bounce back? No. Romans tried to clean Gaul. East did manage to launch a big attack on Antioch, but the Greeks hold out with one flipped heavy (coupled with a raid it launched into Syria means isolation for the East). And then, the East gets hit with a nasty booty call; resulting in significant loss to the East.

GOP (provinces): East 6, Carthage 14, Rome 8, Greece 15
CVP (cities/towns): East 9/2, Carthage 12/2, Rome 9/2, Greece 11(1)/1
VPs: E17,C53,R15.5,G47.5
Income: E38, C54, R38, G50
Builds (HI/LI/Cav/Galley – including mtc): E11/2/0/1, C2/12 (yes 12 lights)/4/4, Rome 8/6/2/0, Greece 13/5/0/4

TURN Summary: Carthage keeps rolling. Rome, no progress (although, for a change, no significant spinning of wheels against barbarian invasions, etc.). The East suffered a big loss (Antioch and raid into Syria). Greeks bounced back stronger.


TURN 7



Casey, the lowly luckless Roman, spends yet another turn in the agony booth

Rome draws an elite leader providing a good omen (well, good omen if you weren’t Casey playing Bob. In this case, it only means that the luck gods are even setting you up for a bigger fall). Rome goes first and draws a card that kills its elite Roman leader: the look on Casey’s face was priceless. But, of course, it gets better. Carthage goes next and draws a card that kills the other Roman leader! Rome is leaderless for the turn. That can’t be good. Bob, Hannibal Jr., then discovered that we had failed to re-shuffle all the cards from last turn. Bob redraws and we give Casey a 1/3 die roll to get back his elite. Shockingly, he makes the roll. Maybe Rome CAN finally get moving on Turn 7.

Greeks reinforce their raid into Syria, aiming for gold coast down Cleopatra way. East consolidates big army in Tarsus. Rome tries yet again to clean up Gaul before moving on Spain. One tactic Carthage used successfully in Gaul and Spain was to fill every empty space with light infantry that would promptly withdraw/or fight, maximizing the Roman slog thru the areas. The East managed to draw the SoF for the second time in the game and use it to block the Greeks lunge towards Egypt. Greece attacked Tarsus twice…and loses twice. Rome manages to get their entire army in Gaul isolated when Carthage makes a lucky intercept. East makes one last lunge at Antioch, but the Greeks managed to barely hold the position yet again and isolate the Eastern army.

GOP (provinces): East 5, Carthage 14, Rome 7, Greece 17
CVP (cities/towns): East 9/1, Carthage 13/3, Rome 10/1, Greece 12/2
VPs: E17,C63,R18.5,G60

TURN SUMMARY: We’re done. We looked at the situation and concluded this one would probably end in either a Greek or Carthage (we’ll give Hannibal Jr. the edge). Of course, we could have played out the last three turns, but, decided we’d squeezed this particular PAX game for most of its play value.

As always, we had a blast and would continue to HIGHLY recommend this wargame. Great job, Mr.Berg and Mr.Randall. We’ve moving on to Clash of Monarchs for our fall sessions and hope to get back to PAX in the spring if possible.


Closing PAX thoughts for now…

1) We think we almost fixed the stability track by adding in drift. However, it got triggered by our house rule (the rev & stability card just causes a round of drift) too much. So, we’ll have another look at that.

2) VPs: We still think there is too much of a break between them (7-4-2-0 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in GOP…and similar in CVP). So, next time, we’ll put a muffler on them…maybe..3/2/1/0 or similar

3) Still don’t like the lack of impact via supply and attrition in this game. We’ll also come up with a house rule to address next time.

4) Most of the other house rules we started using last time seemed to work pretty well.











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Mick Weitz
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Awesome! I love Pax. Wish I had a group like yours, Doc.

Good Gaming~! Mick
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Rob Doupe
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Quote:
We’ve went back on forth on proper use of the Soldier of Fortune (SoF) army (after instituting a house rule that they can’t be used in Italy turn 1 – puts Rome in too much of a hole they can’t recover from).


Wow, that's quite a house rule. The decision of which way the SoF goes drives the direction of the first several turns. While I agree that SoF can hobble Rome early, I don't know that I'd want to remove the threat altogether.

In our games, there's typically some tense negotiation between Greece and Rome to settle the matter of the SoF one way or the other. This confrontation kicks off the game in a more exciting fashion that the gradual buildup you see otherwise.
 
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David Dockter
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We haven't found that Rome can bounce back from an early gutting. So, it's not a credible threat (no-one would take out a player turn 1) in our group (we won't eliminate someone in our group from having a chance to win the 20 hour game in the first few hours).

I would add that you need the "right group" to play PAX. Our bigger group has played ALOT of EiA; where we gut at will. We took four players from that much larger group that we thought would make for a good 20 hour PAX game. PAX isn't really that type of a game (going for the throat...more of enjoy the trip from A to B, worry less about the destination); Sort of a heavy sh*ts and giggles game (we like those) - as in prepare to receive what the luck gods will give you in the key battles, the cards (some TOTALLY killer cards), and, most importantly, what will the order of activations be?

So, it's more of "let's see what the roller coaster brings" game - in contrast to something like EiA (no random events - and the system is more resilient to die rolls {except that game ending pursuit roll sometimes}, so you have much more a feeling that you are driving the beast rather than the beast doing it to you. And, again, I've made the mistake of invoking EiA :-) and PAX is NOT EiA-lite ...which we are constantly in search of: can anyone design a EiA-lite for us wargamers in search of some complexity & chrome & great wargame play that will take 15 - 20 hours?

I do think PAX is meatier than NAP Wars - and much less a victim of "I-got-great-cards-and-you-got-bunk-so-you're-toast" than NAP Wars (this is good). Again, we really enjoy PAX and it is now in our multiplayer rotation (I think the first "new" multi-player wargame in the last 10 years that gets in). Hope CoM makes it next. And, always open to suggestions. :-)
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