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MarsRobert
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Marius vs. Sulla and Strategy Guide

Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:26 pm

Ave! ;)

I would say straight away that being a huge fan of the great board game Imperium Romanum II, I was in heaven when I read about AJE and pre-ordered it straight away. Finally someone has done an historically accurate Roman game that has scenarios other than Caesar, especially ones after the old, tired, and overdone late Roman Republic period. Athough I've found the game rather complex and difficult to get a handle on, I keep plugging away at it and learning a bit more each time I play. The sheer depth and scope of it is amazing, and the game is far more interesting and historically accurate than that 'other' popular Roman game series. ;)

Anyway, liking to be very methodical in my approach to games, I've been trying to play the first scenario as the Marius faction. After repeated attempts, however, I keep getting shot down in flames, even at low difficulty levels. :( Apart from the fact that I'm still learning the game, what I'm finding frustrating is that it seems that I can either stop (if not totally put down) the Spanish rebellion, or concentrate on taking Rome and holding on in Italy, but not both. The best I've done so far was to transfer a few legions from Italy to Spain, and although I had the rebels on the run, Sulla made short work of me in Italy. :( Do any of you experts out there have any useful tips to help me get through this scenario as the Populaires? On the other hand, is playing Marius in this scenario the wrong one for a rookie to do, even at low difficulty?

Also, I finished reading the manual and hopefully it will help in my next game. I was hoping though that some veteran would post a cut to the chase short and sweet strategy guide on this forum. That would be very helpful to new players like me. After all, within the first few minutes of firing up the game I could tell that it was serious game and definitely not made for the casual gamer.

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koningtiger
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:35 pm

I am quite sure that playing Sila in that scenario is far more easy. Think they are the good guys, the ones that allways win. :D

Seriously, i am playing with Sila and in two years i have finished with the hugue pontic hordes and taken Rome with Strabon legions.

Sila with his 5 legions are unstoppable.

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Addams
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:35 pm

Maybe you should try the 4 emperors scenario, i personally found it to be way more easier to handle as a new player.

Vitellius maybe ? With spain and cisalpine gaul as main objective ? Nice, fun and not too hard.

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MarsRobert
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:38 pm

koningtiger wrote:I am quite sure that playing Sila in that scenario is far more easy. Think they are the good guys, the ones that allways win. :D

Seriously, i am playing with Sila and in two years i have finished with the hugue pontic hordes and taken Rome with Strabon legions.

Sila with his 5 legions are unstoppable.


But I wanted to play Marius because for one thing he was the father of the Roman Legions that we all know and love, for another I recently saw an excellent documentary on him, and also because he's something of a liberal compared to Sulla being the 'darling' of the Roman conservatives. ;)

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MarsRobert
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:39 pm

Addams wrote:Maybe you should try the 4 emperors scenario, i personally found it to be way more easier to handle as a new player.

Vitellius maybe ? With spain and cisalpine gaul as main objective ? Nice, fun and not too hard.


I expect that one to be the best scenario in the game. I can't wait to take Vespasian and Titus and sack Jerusalem!!! lol

BTW, in Gore Vidal's 'Julian', he referred to Vitellius as a porker!!! lol

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koningtiger
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:41 pm

Well, if you want an easier way choose Cesar in the second civil war. He is a Populist too and wins at the end. :)

That scenario with Caesar is easier say the people.

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MarsRobert
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:08 pm

koningtiger wrote:Well, if you want an easier way choose Cesar in the second civil war. He is a Populist too and wins at the end. :)

That scenario with Caesar is easier say the people.
lol

OK, if I understand you guys correctly, it may not be that I'm an inexperienced and bad player, but rather that taking Marius in the first scenario is maybe not the best place for a newbie to start. Sort of a Kobayashi Maru scenario??? ;)

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Narwhal
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:23 pm

In the first scenario, Sulla has an overwhelming advantage over both Marius and the Pontics - even I (with a long experience of AGEOD games) lost as Marius against the AI.

As for a beginner guide, check the "Beginner's Corner" here :

http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?632034-The-Hero-The-Traitor-and-The-Barbarian-an-AJE-PBEM-Beginner-AAR

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MarsRobert
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:04 pm

Narwhal wrote:In the first scenario, Sulla has an overwhelming advantage over both Marius and the Pontics - even I (with a long experience of AGEOD games) lost as Marius against the AI.

As for a beginner guide, check the "Beginner's Corner" here :

http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?632034-The-Hero-The-Traitor-and-The-Barbarian-an-AJE-PBEM-Beginner-AAR


Cool, thanks. Screenshots too. :)

BTW, another Marius gambit I was thinking of trying was to abandon most of Italy (at least initially), take Cinna's big army over to Spain and do a blitzkrieg on the rebels, then with that seasoned force come back to Italy in 1-2 years. In light of what you said though, it appears that Marius may indeed be a Kobayashi Maru situation, and I would be well-advised to play Sulla instead.

Cfant
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:15 pm

I'm at this scenario too. Beeing a total AGEOD-noob, I get hit hard ;) My latest try is to send the African troops to Spain at the beginning. So you have a two star general, what helps a lot in Spain and spares the more valuable troops for the Italian theatre. :) But maybe thats all a big blunder, I'll see.

lycortas2
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:29 pm

I am not on the band wagon that Marius is impossible to win with, sorry Narwhal! ;)
One thing that is often overlooked in this game system is national morale's effect on battle. Check out the victory cities in your objectives screen and take and hold those. I did some fiddling around with this and i think a good Marius player can get Sulla's morale down to 56-58 by the end of the first year. With your own morale at the 110-120 range you will win battles.

Mike

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Narwhal
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:32 pm

Depends on how many times you try the scenario (I did only once, but with a preknowledge of having played Pontus) and how buffed the AI is :)

AndrewKurtz
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:52 pm

This one has been kicking my butt too. Glad to know I'm not as bad a player as it appeared.

It would be fun to figure out a strategy that gets Marius close. Gonna keep trying. So far, I've tried three with no luck.

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Pat "Stonewall" Cleburne
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Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:40 pm

I'm doing pretty good on my second try. I've almost wiped Sulla from the map. Build alot of legions and go wherever Sulla isn't. Playing against another human would be a different story though.

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Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:23 am

I have trouble getting enough cash

vorkosigan
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Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:04 am

This is a quite hard scenario to play as the Populares vs. the AI. Against human players, the story might indeed be different. Against the AI - with detection bonus, extra time, all behaviors enabled and at Centurion level - I'm finding the bloody thing to be pretty tough. A few thoughts on my ongoing game - that I'm going to lose but I want to play to the bitter end. The Populares strategic initial situation is quite bad, in my opinion.

* The Optimates side has a major advantage: its commanders. One by one, their Offensive and Defensive ratings outclass everyone in your ranks, with the notable exception of Sertorius - who's a 1-star commander - and Marius - whose health is frail and you can't count on him on the long term. Even if outnumbered badly, Optimates commanders are force multipliers that are able to negate local superiority. Regarding Strategic ratings things are somewhat more balanced.

* In Hispania, the Populares are facing a Boxer rebellion like scenario. The Lusitanians outnumber your forces badly, your commander is just one star, and his stats are nothing to write home about. Instead of sending him right away to meet the Lusitanian Field Army head to head, I sent him instead to Carthago Nova, which looks to me as a much better position than Ilipa. I try to recruit right away the Hispanian legion available, followed by the Auxilia and the Equites as soon as possible. That acts as a deterrant for the Lusitanian AI, who favors - frustratingly - to attack well away of such a force.

* Taking out Rome quickly is critical: it opens up a lot of options, yet makes the Populares very predictable. The Populares have four legions on Italy at the start, but they're wildly separated. In my games, I've used the southern force to reduce Optimates fortresses along the Tarentum -> Rome route, which goes along the Apenines and the Abruzzi. Using Marius to siege and take Rome, and Cinna - with the bulk of the Socii Alae - to blockade Neapolis seems to me as a good option. However, next time I try this scenario I'll use the southern force to bolster Cinna's army siege abilities.

* I don't think that removing your forces from Africa or Sicily is a good idea. First, a Pontic army might pop out of nowhere and disembark with a tiny yet incredibly annoying force (the strategic sense of this escapes me, other than making Populares leaders life a nightmare). Second, as soon as Rome is captured, you get the option to activate the Numidian rebels. Their army is a nice addition - not the leader, who while brilliant, suffers great penalties when leaving Africa - provided that you defeat the Numidian king field army. This proved quite difficult: the Numidian AI is sneaky and likes to lure you towards Cirta with all your force, and then march on Utica. However, if this campaign can be resolved quickly and happily, the African leader, bolstered by the Legion everyone should be recruiting there as soon as possible, are the key to settle the Lusitanian matter.

* In Italy, I think one has to think about geography and defensively. Going after Optimates' commanders with Socii Alae and Slave Legions isn't a good idea - and you only have four legions there, and no good commander to lead them. Once you conquer Rome, Sulla will come to Rome within 9 months or so - for whatever reason, Optimates feel happy to leave the East to the Pontics. Most likely route for Sulla to come on Italy is by land, unless Lucullus is lucky (something bad happened to Lucullus during two of my games, and the Optimates had no fleet to speak of). I think that the way to go is to fortify/lay ambushes on the routes that follow the mountain passes that allow Optimates forces to cross from the Adriatic coast into the western coast. This is something that requires more skill and knowledge of game mechanics than I have at the moment, yet I think it is doable.

Things I want to try:

* Build up the Populares fleet so I can move forces more easily across theaters.
* Recruiting Italian Legions out of harm's way (in the Cisalpine Gaul, for instance).
* Figuring out why I can't trigger certain political decisions even when enabled and selected (namely, Proscriptions).

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MarsRobert
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Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:30 am

Wow! Thanks everyone for the suggestions. What's everyone think of my idea of moving Cinna's army to Spain and doing a blitzkrieg on the rebels? It seems to me that if successful, they will be more experienced and better able to confront Sulla's forces in Northern Italy. There are two big wild cards of course. One is how many of your initial Italian cities you can stand to loose without taking too big of a morale and treasury hit. The other is that you need to subdue the rebels in record time in order to be able to regroup to meet Sulla in Italy before he gets his Western offensive going. My guess is that you need to crush the rebels by the middle of the second year at the absolute latest.

Cfant
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Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:12 am

MarsRobert wrote:Wow! Thanks everyone for the suggestions. What's everyone think of my idea of moving Cinna's army to Spain and doing a blitzkrieg on the rebels? It seems to me that if successful, they will be more experienced and better able to confront Sulla's forces in Northern Italy. There are two big wild cards of course. One is how many of your initial Italian cities you can stand to loose without taking too big of a morale and treasury hit. The other is that you need to subdue the rebels in record time in order to be able to regroup to meet Sulla in Italy before he gets his Western offensive going. My guess is that you need to crush the rebels by the middle of the second year at the absolute latest.


Problem is: How to achieve a Blitzkrieg in these times? And the Populares are not too strong in Italy - Without Cinnas army the Optimates may as well retake Rome even without Sulla, while Cinna is hunting down these Lusitanians. KI tried to take Rome back in my game, when Marius was in north- and Cinna in southitaly.
Better to win the Numidian civil war und bring troops to Spain, as vorkosigan says. Although even this fight may take his time, as the KI seems to escape very often.

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Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:01 am

Thanks everyone for your work. This helps and gives me a hand.
Mike.

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koningtiger
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Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:04 am

Mars, Populares must keep Italy all they can, without Rome boost they are doomed.

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MarsRobert
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Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:46 pm

Yeah Koning, you are probably right. Even to concede Italy for a year or two while dealing with Spain would still probably spell defeat for the Populares. Also, in my euphoria I was forgetting something very important. The Populares initially do not have the transport capacity to move a large force from Italy to Spain. :(

Still in all there is a precedent for my initial optimism. In my last attempt I sent Marius and his two legions to Spain, and the result was that by early in the second year I had the Spanish rebels on the run. Again though, the price paid for this was that when Sulla finally got going in the second year, he ran roughshod over my troops in Italy.

I dunno. I begin to think that as some of you have said, this scenario is probably unwinable as the Mariuns for all but the most skilled and experienced players. Having said that, for some odd reason for the past couple of evenings when I've sat down to play AJE I keep thinking, "let me try Marius one more time." ;)

BTW, a bit off topic, but I see that Creative Assembly is working on Rome Total War 2. IMHO though, once you've played a deep and rich Roman game like AJE, you never want to go back to that old and tired Total War series. In fact, I finally got around to doing Empire Total War about six months ago and found myself getting quickly bored with it and feeling "been there, done that, have the t-shirt."

vorkosigan
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Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:43 am

MarsRobert wrote:Yeah Koning, you are probably right. Even to concede Italy for a year or two while dealing with Spain would still probably spell defeat for the Populares. Also, in my euphoria I was forgetting something very important. The Populares initially do not have the transport capacity to move a large force from Italy to Spain. :(

Still in all there is a precedent for my initial optimism. In my last attempt I sent Marius and his two legions to Spain, and the result was that by early in the second year I had the Spanish rebels on the run. Again though, the price paid for this was that when Sulla finally got going in the second year, he ran roughshod over my troops in Italy.

I dunno. I begin to think that as some of you have said, this scenario is probably unwinable as the Mariuns for all but the most skilled and experienced players. Having said that, for some odd reason for the past couple of evenings when I've sat down to play AJE I keep thinking, "let me try Marius one more time." ;)


I think that Sulla will probably ride roughshod over you no matter what, unless you can put on the table a really massive army and you can cajole him to attack it when you're holding the high ground (think of Gettysburg).

It all depends on the economy of Hispania, Africa and Sicily being stronger than that of Italy - which is going to be the only base for the Optimates if they're not defeating the Pontics to secure access to the wealth of the East. A strategy based on conquering Rome, ransack it - Proscriptions, Plunder the City Treasure, etc. - recruit as many Italian Legions and ships as possible and then retreating to Sicily and the West might work in the long term. Provided that the West economy can sustain those troops and the Pontics are denying the East to the Optimates.

MarsRobert wrote:BTW, a bit off topic, but I see that Creative Assembly is working on Rome Total War 2. IMHO though, once you've played a deep and rich Roman game like AJE, you never want to go back to that old and tired Total War series. In fact, I finally got around to doing Empire Total War about six months ago and found myself getting quickly bored with it and feeling "been there, done that, have the t-shirt."


Rome Total War with the historical mods was a more interesting game. However, the Total War overall gameplay gets quite old on me (although I love the tactical battles, no matter how out of whack - historically speaking - they can be since they look really really cool).

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MarsRobert
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Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:57 am

I hope I don't jinx myself by posting this message, but I think I have a live one going. :) It's early in the second year, I just took Rome, and the Tarantum force has been slowly but surely pacifying Southern Italy. I caught the dreaded Pulcher early on commanding an understrength force and soundly defeated him, and as a result (and also possibly because of pressure from Mithradites) Sulla has been almost anemic in Italy. :) I also built up my fleet a little and have been more or less successful in keeping Sulla's fleet and the pirates from interfering too much. The only dark spot is that I'm sort of just barely holding on in Spain, but now that it's a new year I'm going to earmark some new formations for that sideshow. Another critical factor is that unlike my previous games, I've been doing the political options a lot more. At any rate my morale is now at 115, and if I can keep up the pressure, who knows? I might be able to win a sudden death victory. :)

One very important thing I've been learning with this game is that you can never be in too much of a hurry. If you find yourself getting impatient and trying to rush the game, probably the best thing to do is save it and come back to it later. Anyway, the more I play it the more I like it. It's the first Roman game I've played that's worthy of their deep and rich history. Cant' wait to do the Dacian Wars and the Crisis of the Third Century. ;)

Concerning Total War, I think that series is badly in need of a major overhaul. It definitely has gotten old and tired. I agree that the tactical battles can be fun, but I hate when they degenerate into a mob melee and 80-90% casualties. Also, concerning the Barbarian Invasions expansion, although it was cool starting out in 375AD right after the death of Julian, it seems that once you weather the barbarian storm the game plays out just like the original. That is, capture a certain number of provinces by game end. Their sandbox was cool at first, but it has definitely gotten old. Not to be totally negative though, I would add that I loved Crassus at Carrhae and Artorius at Mons Badonicus. Those two were great fun, and I don't know how I pulled off a victory with Crassus! ;)

Boomer
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Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:26 pm

I've been playing as the Optimates in a game, and I have to say that Sulla is one badass dude. I've cleared out Greece, wiped most of the Marians out of Italy, and am on Pontus' tail in Asia. I've fought at least half a dozen huge battles with Sulla's Consular army and I don't think he's lost one fight yet.

MarsRobert,
You try the Roma Surrectum mod for Rome Total War? It's one of the best IMO. Battles are more strategic and the AI can blitz you in no time if you don't make the right moves. Total War was getting stale, but mods like Roma Surrectum and EB definitely breathed some new life into it.

Vadim
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Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:14 am

Hi all,

I played with the Optimates and i found that quit easy. And i wonder, does the Pontic forces have any chance against Roman ?

Let me sum up my campaign in a few words :

I got scare by the Populares in Italy so i decided to recrut as many legions as I could in the city my Italian forces were ( the one you can active only after round 14 15, Ancona or Arminum ) and some other in the south, far awar from my opponent. Then with Silla I blitzed Greece, which turn out much easier than expected. A couple of 1:4 battles which were easly won, huge casualty on the greek side.
Then I decided to secure Greece and to stop at Amphipholis. I also sended one Legion + one commander in Italy, always at the same city. Once my southern legions were ready i also decided to move then here, and as they could avoided major battle it turn up pretty well. I off course suffered some loss on the way but nothing deadly. Once they were ready i fought Cinna, and i won. Didnt destroy him but I started to get the upper hand in Italy, and now i have 110 Morale /46 for the Populares, got Rome back ( what did they did to our sacred city, it looks like a village now...) and i am heading south to punish Cinna once for all. Marius didn t show up until now. Could send a legion to Silla, who is now on his way to Ephesus.

Everytime he got to fought Pontus army he was outnumber 1:4 but he could easly crush them. With 4 legions and some auxiliar ( + two greeks unit) he could hold Thrace and even start a deadly counter-attack. So i am wondering, is there any way for Pontus to win a battle or you can t even think about it?


MarsRobert wrote:
BTW, a bit off topic, but I see that Creative Assembly is working on Rome Total War 2. IMHO though, once you've played a deep and rich Roman game like AJE, you never want to go back to that old and tired Total War series. In fact, I finally got around to doing Empire Total War about six months ago and found myself getting quickly bored with it and feeling "been there, done that, have the t-shirt."


Well, seems that all of us played RTW before. It was fine, but with the Total Realism mod, which mean you had to wait 3 4 more years after the release to get the game you were looking for. Problem is that you have time to get tired of it in between. And Total War are waaayyy too repetitive, it get boring after a quick while. You just outflanked the IA, again, and again, and you have to do all the tactical battle by urself otherwise you will suffer huge casuality- time consuming and repetitive. Still, i had fun back in the days with RTW...but AJE didn t exist at that time :thumbsup:

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MarsRobert
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Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:19 pm

After numerous tries with Marius I threw in the towel and played Sulla. I definitely see now that playing Marius is very tough and my experience level is not up to the task yet. In any event although playing the Sulla faction was much easier, the win was still most satisfying. Sulla's big Army of the East definitely kicks butt and takes names. :) Oh well, bring on the Great Mithridatic War where I will do it all again against Mithradites in addition to sending Pompey the Great to Spain. I definitely have a score to settle with the Spanish rebels, as they were a horror show when playing Marius.

Many thanks and appreciation to AEGOD for making such a rich, deep, and cool game, and to all the noble Romans who made it all possible. ;)

Cato
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Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:41 pm

I played Marius vs Sulla for the first time today - as Marius. Having read how hard this scenario is for the Populares I did not excpect to win it. I did manage to get a Minory Victory though - it was a very close call, a tense game being resolved the very last turn. Here is how I did it:

- Send the Roman forces in Africa to Italy ASAP. Africa can be held by Rex Hierbas and his Africans.
- Concentrate your force in Italy and avoid decisive battles - hit Sullas smaller stacks. In my game there was a lot of criss crossing all over Italia - lifting sieges, assaulting, hitting weak stacks, running for your life and so on. Sulla took Northern Italy and Sicily but I managed to keep Rome and the Italian peninsula - combined with VPs from victorious battles that was enough for a Minor Victory. The whole thing was actually a long contest of attrition.
- Use your fleet - not for battle but as a way to quickly supply units under siege and relocate units (mostly supply wagons). Set fleet to "Evade Combat" and no intereception of enemey naval forces.
- I did not give a damn about Hispania.

Cbob
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Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:25 am

Whew, glad I'm not the only one. I came close one game, had an army poised to invade Greece - only to see it rendered nearly immobile through lack of supplies. I've tried building an early legion in Spain but that seems to achieve little and saps resources. I've been sending my African force to Sardinia to clean out the pirates - with mixed success. I haven't decided if the Numidian Civil War is worth it. Anyway, I play Marius on principle, damn the optimates!

Boomer
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Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:43 am

Most of the scenarios seem to have a decent balance of leaders and stats, but in the Marius vs Sulla scenario, playing as Marius is just a never ending uphill battle. Sulla is just a force of nature with his legions. Historical? Seems to be. Frustrating to play against? Damn right.

I agree with some of Cato's tactics. Marius has to manage a hold in Italy. I haven't played as Marius in one game where Italy wasn't really the only valuable objective. Concentrating on Africa or Spain will just allow the more experienced and massive Optimates to chase you down and weaken you on resources and manpower. Seems you have to pick at the edges of the Sulla faction and muster your forces in Italy before Sulla returns from Greece for the big spanking.

Strategy
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Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:56 am

Have finally cracked this one as Marius, I think. It does require a bit of luck though; if you get caught in too many unfortunate battles or key maneuvers don't work out, you will end up losing slowly but surely.

The key, as always, is to keep an eye on what matters - the VP. Rome is the main source, but you need to keep an eye on the Spanish VP location which gives you 3 victory points.

I've started leaning toward using the starting money to buy an African Legion and then waiting a turn before starting the African war. With a Roman subordinate leader and a Legion, it is relatively easy to steamroller the Numidians. Build the Numidian 50CV horsemen as soon as you can afford it - they're superb. Go for Cirta early, and then chase down and destroy the Numidian King. It takes time, but the single Legion is enough to do the job. With spare change, buy the second legion to speed up the job. Leave the new King there - he is useless elsewhere, but the two Legions + the good cavalry are useful in other theatres. The elephants and phalanxes are a waste of money.

In Spain, I run north. Depending on the movements of the Spanish major army, I would consider covering the the Spanish VP location for a few turns, but it is important NOT to get caught up in a losing battle. I tend to use the March money to buy up the second Spanish Legion. With two legions and a 2-star leader (Hadrianus tends to be my choice), you can pretty much keep the Spanish in check. Pounce on weak and isolated forces, recapture the VP location whenever the Spanish take it, and avoid getting caught in battles against superior forces. At some point, you should be able to spare 2 or more Legions from Italy - when that happens, send them over. Hadrianus with 4 Legions will crush the Spanish armies.

Both Africa and Spain are fairly sure things once you know what to do - unfortunately, it is what happens in Italy that will be decisive. And... no point in pretending otherwise; you're going to need some luck.

For an opening, I concentrate at Capua in the beginning and march everyone on Rome. Holding Rome is vital; both because it is the greatest source of victory points, but also because it lets you use proscription (money for more legions). Plunder the treasury and post an auxilia there to keep order - it's worth it. Once you have Rome, you want to try and wipe out the Sullan presence in Italy. Unfortunately, even with Marius and every unit available to you, the concentrated Sullan forces can wipe you out, so you need to be extremely careful. I'd avoid gambling on a major battle, and instead hunt down isolated legions with a massive stack of Legions and Socii. I also detach the Sicilian Legion in Italy, join it up with a Legate and the Auxiliaries from Africa (whom I usually send to Sardinia first, before going to Pisa), and send the Legate+Legion+Aux down to Malta to conquer that space as early as possible (it's 50+ very secure VP... it might make the difference between winning and losing). Sell prisoners as often as possible (I'd even prioritize this over Prison legions, I think. Try to get a few battles in Africa early - once you've slaughtered the Africans, you'll have lots of prisoners).

If Sulla does not return to Italy (I've seen this a couple of times), you should eventually be able to build up such a crushing superiority of Legions there that you can wipe out the Sullan forces and then take the fight to Greece. If Sulla does return (more often than not), the situation gets tricky. Despite the low CV of the three legions, Sulla when he returns will slaughter any force that you can muster (a small annoyance in the game - there is no good way to compare actual real combat strengths other than play experience). So you'll have to follow the classic strategy - be where he isn't. This is complicated, because there is little pattern to his movements (so accidental meeting engagements can easily happen), and you also need to take back Rome ASAP whenever it gets taken by the Sullans. A few fatal missteps in this part of the game will result in a loss.

Curiously enough, it actually seems easier to win this with Sulla in Italy. If he stays in Asia, the Optimates will be racking up huge numbers of VPs from Pontus, which is almost impossible for the Populares to match. In Italy, his VP harvest will be a lot smaller as the Optimates will lose the war in Asia and you are (hopefully) not allowing him to win battles that give him VP. Also - know which cities give Sulla VP - you want to take those, even if they don't give you VP also (e.g., Athens is usually an easy target). The contest basically is one of attrition. Avoid Sulla. Hit isolated Sullan Legions. And take back Rome. Once Fimbria is active, consider sending a couple of Legions to support him as he will usually be able to cause a lot of trouble and seize your two VP locations over there (though avoid major Sullan forces left over - they'll likely crush you).

Following that formula, I'm usually pushing 1800+ VP advantage by 84 BC with Spain and Africa pacified (watch out for the Sullan events generating new armies there), while Sulla is still around 1000. It's not a very satisfying way to win - crushing Sulla is nigh impossible, except with a huge amount of luck. One thing that did seem to work for me, though, was to trap Sulla in Sicily (i.e., occuppy Rhegium with your strongest force if he crosses over there). I think he would still have won if he assaulted me, but the AI was not willing to run the risk. So for the last 1 1/2 years of the scenario, Cinna occuppied Rhegium while Sulla and Pompeius ruled in Sicily and the odds and ends that I could spare from strait guarding duty tried to defeat the rest of the Optimates running around (not an easy task, when most battles require 3 or 4 to 1 odds). In either case, it is extremely hard to really destroy the Optimates, so just focus on containing them and running out the clock. Won the game with 2811 VP, more than double the Optimates. Only VP location I did not control was Syracuse (since Sulla was blocking that). Still only a "Minor Victory", though... :w00t:
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