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Subject: Triumph Or Tragedy rss

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Steve
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Triumph Or Tragedy - A Close Run Thing

After a few plays this most recent match stood out as worthy of my first after action report.

Game Info:

I occasionally play Julius Caesar with my 10-year-old son. We operate an on-going handicap system; at the moment he’s playing at 12 points handicap, which he can use in the following ways:

5 points to reveal my on-board units
4 points to reveal my hand of cards (including the card played each turn)
3 points to reveal my reserves
1 point each levy added to setup

After each game we make a 1-point change in initial handicap in favour of the loser.

This match he elected to play as Pompey and chose to reveal my on-board units and took the remaining 7 points as extra levies.



Year 705 (49BC)

Pompey determined to hold Rome from the outset but the old general, in his over-confidence sent only two of his untried legions. I responded by launching a full-out assault led by Marcus Antonius with myself, Julius Caesar, arriving two days later to finish off the last of the opposition legions while suffering only negligible losses.
(This largely negated the initial levy handicap.)

Next I built up my forces on the border between Gaul and Spain, but then my supposedly loyal elite legion defected to Pompey’s senatorial forces in Tarraco.

Thwarted in Spain I progressed through southern Italy in pursuit of Pompey until, abandoned by his soldiers, he fled across Mare Nostrum to Africa while the feckless Spanish elites defected back from Pompey to their proper commander in Spain.

Pompey consolidated his navy throughout Mare Nostrum, until his forces could transport with impunity from one end of the inland sea to the other. I countered in an attempt to cut off Spain by commissioning two Navis in Massilia and subduing the Mare Hispanum at the end of the year.

The incompetent Praetor overseeing logistics ordered insufficient supplies in port for the vessels to over-winter and the fleets had to be disbanded at the end of the year.

My triumph at Rome would have to wait until the next year.


(End of turn 1 - Caesar 3VP, Pompey 8VP)


Year 706 (48BC)

I opened the year with sacrifices to Mars for my fresh campaigns in Spain. Four full strength legions marched on Tarraco, but Pompey called timely reinforcements from Carthago Nova into the action. Repulsed but uncowed my legions pulled back to Narbo, leaving the enemy's survivors in Tarraco depleted, demoralised and ready to desert. I determined to deal with the Spanish resistance in person, leaving Marcus Antonius to manage Italy and consolidate my position with the Senate in Rome.

Pompey transported forces across the sea, and his colleague Scipio sent embassies throughout Asia Minor, threatening to take Byzantium and securing extra legions in Ephesus.

Antonius rightly sensing the mood of the Senate, ascertained that if Pompey could gain the support of the citizenry in both Byzantium and Athens my position in Rome would become precarious or even untenable. Leaving a freshly recruited, but loyal legion in the capital, he sailed post-haste across the Mare Hadriaticus to Greece. Once again my naval Praetor was to lose me my foothold on the sea, but I get ahead of myself. Antonius struck across Macedonia to Thessalonika from whence, by the grace of Mercury, he could reach both Byzantium and Athens, and awaited word of Scipio’s next move.

Meanwhile I led another assault on Tarraco. Personally taking charge of the siege works and being sure to employ only my most loyal troops in the initial assault, I soon took Tarraco. This time there were no mistakes and I ordered the construction of a new Navis to prevent further Pompeyan interference in Hispania.

As winter approached the transports used by Antonius to cross to Macedonia faced stormy weather. I have heard that they tried first to put into the port of Dyrrachium but found the harbour master unfavourable to their request. Then their much reduced remnants crossed back to Italy and found my own home port of Ravenna unwilling to acquiesce to their request for safe harbour. The Praetor of the navy had failed to provision the fleet with winter quarters and the sailors melted away like snow-flakes in the spring.

My triumph was postponed until the next year.


(End of turn 2 - Caesar 4VP, Pompey 7VP)


Year 707 (47BC)

Having received no news of Scipio’s whereabouts, Antonius split his forces to defend both Athens and Byzantium. He personally recruited a legion at Athens and ordered siege defences (ballistae) constructed at Byzantium.

Pompey redoubled his efforts on the sea in order to react to the twin threats in East and West. I countered in the Mare Hispanum and seized that sea from Pompey’s admiral, but my Navis greatly wanted for repairs after the battle.

The way was opened for me to suppress the remaining senatorial legions in Spain and to turn my thoughts to reducing Pompey’s influence in the south and the east.

My legions in Italy had marched to Syracuse and found the city gates open in welcome; the last of Pompey’s forces had fled to Africa.

My triumph would soon be at hand.


(End of turn 3 - Caesar 7VP, Pompey 6VP)



Year 708 (46BC)

Until this time the gods had favoured my enterprise at every turn
(lots of favourable card draws for me). But this year Pompey and Scipio stole the initiative. Scipio had recruited a huge force in Asia, and Antonius’ preparations in both Athens and Byzantium had scarce begun when, confident of his superiority, Antonius ordered his ballistae, auxiliaries and cavalry at Byzantium to march on Antioch. Scipio struck firmly against the forces on the march. The Byzantine heavy cavalry protecting the precious siege train found themselves fettered to the ballistae unable to bring their superior manoeuvrability to bear on the inexorable Asian legions. The Greek archers inflicted swift pin-pricks upon Scipio’s men, but could not compensate for the ignominy of retreat. Scipio’s Syrians harried the army of Byzantium, leaving them no choice but to face the arduous crossing at the Bosphorus in the teeth of the Syrian lion.

The Senate, wearied by incessant warring, told me that if I could not end matters within a year, there would be nothing left in the treasury and no triumph would be possible.


(End of turn 4 - Caesar 7VP, Pompey 6VP)


Year 709 (45BC)

Scipio and Pompey excelled themselves in the Spring, launching attacks in Asia and preparing for amphibious landings in Greece. Once again the Greek archers acquitted themselves magnificently, fighting to the last man to screen a retreat by the cavalry and ballistae of Byzantium. Espying a gift from Fortuna, I made sacrifice to Apollo and ordered my Spanish legions to cross the sea to Uttica in hopes of crushing Pompey’s main naval base. The operation was a complete success under my personal command.

In order to secure a triumph I had to demonstrate to the Senate that I could finish the war by taking a key city within the year. From Uttica I could threaten Alexandria, but I must not lose Athens or Byzantium.
(A 10-point win would be so much better than a majority points win).

Scipio called up forces from Ephesus to cut off the Byzantine retreat to the Bosphorus and attacked the weak city garrison. Byzantium fell and Marcus Antonius, my ever faithful friend, led a relief force at full speed from Athens. I ordered my fleet into the Eastern sea to facilitate troop transport to Alexandria, but there would be insufficient time this year. As the campaigning season drew to a close, three battles took place. In the first, my legion marching through North Africa arrived at the gates of Alexandria; in the second Pompey led a small amphibious assault against Athens; and finally Antonius besieged Byzantium, while the remnants of the Byzantine army reinforced across the Bosphorus strait.

The African legion scattered at the foot of the Alexandrian walls and fled to die from thirst in the parched Egyptian desert. Pompey, the old yet brave general won his final battle storming into Athens. Antonius, unheeding the misfortunes at Alexandria and Athens, fought to save my honour to the last and fell bravely mounting the ramparts and towers of Byzantium. It is my certain belief and deepest regret that the loss of all three actions to Pompey's armies was soully due to my absence; if only I could have been there.

I returned to Rome under truce meeting Pompey in Italy and agreed the conditions of an end to the civil war. Pompey retired with full honour. I accepted proconsular authority with dictatorial special powers, but agreed to step aside in favour of my newly adopted son and heir Octavius upon his attaining consular age. He would assume the dictatorship and Brutus would be appointed his Master of Horse.

No triumph was celebrated at Rome.


(End of turn 5 - Caesar 7VP, Pompey 7VP (6 Cities, 1 leader killed) – tie broken in favour of Caesar for holding Rome)

Next game’s handicap raised to 13 points.
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Michael McCalpin
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A clever handicap system and a fun AAR. At what value did you start the handicap system? The reason for my interest is that in my own limited experience playing against my eldest of about the same age, it is I who needs the points!
 
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Steve
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mmccalpin wrote:
A clever handicap system and a fun AAR. At what value did you start the handicap system? The reason for my interest is that in my own limited experience playing against my eldest of about the same age, it is I who needs the points!

After our first play (which was played completely revealed) it was clear that he didn't grasp key concepts of wargaming. Concentrate forces locally, rather than throw them into fights with little hope of success. So the next game I offered to play my side open, while his remained concealed. I still managed to win so gave him some free levies to start. Since then we've formulated the handicap system to keep the interest going.

I make a point of always playing to my utmost ability in games with my children, but I happily handicap at the outset and incentivise play through shifting the handicaps. I learned the value of this approach from years of playing Go.
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Yuliyan Kalaydzhiev
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Enjoyed the session report quite a lot!

The handicap system is a jewel, thanks for the brain food!
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