A bit of Hannibal

Time seems to fly while busy a bit here and there. Have really not got too many games on table recently, save couple of X-wing matches that ended pretty badly for the Empire (again). Somehow slow flying ion-turret armed y-wing with shield upgrade and R2D2 is pretty tough to kill – especially when opponent did never miss a shot from the ion turret and empire always failed theirs.

Still wondering how to play Empire with (practically) two tie fighters, tie advanced, tie bomber and two interceptors. At least significant boost of luck is needed unless scoring three hits in the whole game is considered normal ;).

Besides of that, we have got couple of classic Hannibal: Carthage vs. Rome games in. In first of the two, I managed to draw my opponents attention sufficiently to contest Africa almost at the start, before Hannibal set foot in Italy. It was tough call to commit Longus for such a task, but apparently Hanno was even worse off – he had no sufficient troops present, nor enough cards to operate in the far corner of Africa. It was a long running struggle where blows were exchanged in both sides, and regardless of the Roman superiority in numbers, Hanno did eventually beat Roman invasion force and started slow recovery. Meanwhile, Hannibal marched to Italy.

Just prior Africanus set in, it looked grim for Rome. Then, more troops poured to Africa, and with avoiding battles in the mainland Italy, sufficient balance was held. Once Africanus entered the game, he shipped himself with an expeditionary force straight to Africa, beat Hanno to death and then entered quickly to the suburbias of Carthage and laid siege to the city. Not a long after, Hannibal was gaining significant support in Italy, but siege of Carthage was not to be undone and it fell rather quickly.

First win for Rome in a long, long time.

Second game had similar starting point, and thinking that because African expedition worked like a dream last time, it would work again. Mistake. A big one. Carthage adopted another way and avoided decisive conflict at all cost – development that boosted forces of Carthage to massive 15 units in North Italy. Roman good African start lasted first three rounds, but it eat up the resources more rapidly than I could replenish – especially after Cato started to throw sticks on the wheel… Fighting fires in Etruria, Apulian and  Syracusan traitors and Corsica, it was all too overwhelming, and Romans had disparity of 4 or more provinces each round after Africa was restored to Carthage. Losing the neutral pool to carthage spelled doom to Rome.

Instead of instant kill, Hannibal dominated the land, and at the end almost whole of the map was blue. One of the best land battles of all times occurred during this game. Hannibal and Africanus took field in Etruria, and started in equal terms – until Africanus draw Elephant fright. That reduced the Hannibal’s hand from 16 to 14 versus 16 of Africanus. Battle went on and on and there appeared to be no good news for Hannibal. Until at the very end, when he only had two cards in hand, he draw Deserters and got the only card that would save him. Africanus was then beaten from the field and under the questionable leadership of Longus.

After so many games and I still struggle to find solid functional strategy for Rome. Through survival to conquest much depends on the circumstances, and the drain of manpower that must be forced on Carthage. Wait too long and they become way too powerful, act too early and they will beat you. Perhaps should try to draw the Iberian power base out next time. It is, however very tough job as long as Hasdrubal is in charge.

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