Pax Romana PBEM – Turn 1 (and the last)

So, starting the game up. In first activation, perhaps not surprisingly Greece decided to hold his interests in Roman territory and send SoF army there. Fueled by destructive rage he went off to punish innocent Capuans and burned the town to ground, and then lurked behind the walls of Tarantine. Meanwhile in home, Pella was build to a City. After interior affairs and manpower addition, invaded northern barbarian territories and failed to secure foothold.  Stability check hurt Greece and became unstable. Pyrrhus activated and did something that lifted a bit of eyebrows (picture below).


Roman territory marker should not be present. Part of the infamous adventures of Pyrrhus.

Debacle followed. When turn was done and ready for validity check, it was pointed out that according to the log Pyrrhus could not perform all the activities he was involved in. Greece player then claimed that move was straight from Tarentum to Barium to give one more MP.

Later on, other errors were discovered, including SoF using total of 11 movement points out of 6 he had. When checking logs backwards out of curiosity, other similar errors were discovered. Extra moves, forgotten payments, wrongly counted casualties (and in one occasion entirely ignored army attack/defense DR in grounds of it being “automatic vicotry for Greece”), ignored leader loss checks, unfounded stability adjustments and so on.

East decided to leave the eastern army off map, and instead departed with all available forces from Alexander along the coast of Africa towards Carthaginian heartlands with firm intention to get footing there. Doomed attempt that may slow down the Carthage a bit, but not a whole lot. East decided then to invade Cilicia and Lycia with the main Eastern army. This may, or may not put pressure on Greece but in any case as history tells, war in two fronts is always good idea.

Carthage countered aggressive East by rising more troops in the capital followed by startup occupation of Spain and consolidation of forces in Africa. Not very surprisingly, Carthage failed in their attack against Eastern city on their home territory, and East held Leptis Magna with army and fleets.

In Rome, besides of being invaded by Pyrrhus, slaves were revolting in Rhegium as well. A quite typical – but also ill Roman start. Rome attempted to attack the stack from the sea to avoid interception risk by Pyrrhus but failed continuity due to Paestum garrison. When  garrison was destroyed, it denied control of Bruttium from Greece but stopped short of goal.

Rome attempted again to subdue the revolt (event nearly killed Roman leader), but customarily failed with both attacks and the army was left in extremely vulnerable position in Neapolis. Slave army was reduced to half it’s size but Romans lost one legion in the process. To recover the losses, Romans rised more manpower to attack the now really big barbarian army in the south. Before that happened though, the army was practically destroyed by Pyrrhus during the turn that was a bit weird.

Because of the rather messy and controversial Greek turn (or turns as it later turned out), I received mail with profound tone before I had time to check the logs for all errors. He had been wronged and the perfectly legal turn was misinterpreted, inspected and lawyered with foul intentions.

Instead of settling the errors in the logs that could have been done with some effort and modest effect in the gameplay, Greece player decided to play victim and agreed only to correct one move for his own benefit and leave other errors unchanged.  In hindsight, perhaps I should not wonder why his other games of Pax were aborted prematurely.

So ended the PBEM of Pax and I started to wonder once again if multiplayer games such as Pax can ever be played without game master that oversees the bureaucratic necessities and integrity of the logs. I also start to appreciate more and more the PBEM games which have more draconian rulings for errors.


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3 Responses to Pax Romana PBEM – Turn 1 (and the last)

  1. Prufrock says:

    Sorry to hear about the issues. With learning/feeling-out two-player PBEM games both players need to be pretty understanding about mistakes and take a collaborative approach to correcting them. Even with experienced players issues come up during Pax, and while not essential, it certainly helps to have a game master.

    I’d recommend you use VASSAL to record the moves and a dice rolling system such as ACTS to handle the micro-moves and dice rolls. The dice rolls and associated info get sent to all players, so it makes the whole thing transparent, and any errors show up clearly and can be rolled back to without too much stress.

    Just an indicator, I’ve played in three 4-player games, two with umpires and one without. There were points of discussion, but we got through and completed the games. I’ve also played a couple of two-player games. These were actually more fractious, because there is no jury of peers to help you resolve tricky issues, but good will and careful reading of the rule book can get you through.

    Good luck!

    • Tichy says:

      Agreeing you with collaboration. I would prefer that players document turns for sole purpose of easy verification. That would go a long way sorting disputes and recovering errors.

      Actually I don’t really like ACTS because it brings yet another layer – if you have several PBEM games going on, it becomes one step harder to correct the errors (referring to two logs instead of just one). It is time consuming enough to trace back moves in VASSAL and there is nothing wrong with VASSAL dice rolls. Is there? (I guess that is might be possible theoretically for someone to rewrite the log over and over again to get favorable DR, but same applies for card draws if that is the concern – question is, why would anyone bother, really?).

      I do prefer rolling back to correct errors as far as practicable (in severe cases, even it means rewriting part of the AM) – however, I am not in favor of skipping severe earlier errors that have direct effect in current gameplay (eg. oops, I lost 50% of my forces previous AM but hey, just a minor detail – no need to correct that. And now I attack you with full strength :D). If certain types of errors become recurring event, it becomes very tedious work to restore them (errors such as casualty count, moves and attacks that could not have occurred etc.).

      Playing several games of Fighting Wings and Wilderness War as PBEM I noticed how good practice it is to have draconian measures for errors (eg. the one making the error takes the worse of the encounter). One just have to accept the fact that oops, I’m screwed. 🙂 Of course, that only works if everyone accepts the system.

      Any interest to play for player Pax? It seems that there is place open… 😉

      • Prufrock says:

        My apologies – I’d skimmed and missed that it was a multiplayer game, hence my wittering on about two-player stuff. Most embarrassing 😀

        Yes, completely agree that you have to go back or the big errors. No good if someone is getting an advantage from playing wrongly. Sends the wrong signal 🙂

        The good thing I found about ACTS was that it allowed players to follow along with what was happening without waiting for the logfile, and if there was a slip up, it tended to get picked up pretty quickly.

        Regarding your game, many thanks for the invite, and though I would love to play, I could not manage the time commitment at the moment, sadly!


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