elxaime
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Hannibal Campaign PBEM - Some Thoughts

Mon Aug 29, 2016 4:00 am

Having played to a decent length several games of the big campaign of Hannibal as Rome, I am getting the sense it is not very balanced for PBEM. Here are some observations:

1. Although the game events seem designed for Hannibal to march over the Alps, in PBEM typically Hannibal lands by sea in southern Italy, where the Tarentum card is played to give him an immediate base of supply. A smart Carthaginian player will just avoid the hassle of marching over the Alps. Rome can't cover all the landing spots and Hannibal has a decent chance of winning even if he does a Normandy-style invasion into the main Roman Army (which, if they mass in one spot, pulling in the legion from Sicily and assuming they had time to raise the extra two legions by then, can muster seven legions with auxiliae)

2. Hannibal, before he ages, is so God-like that, assuming he fights with his forces in mass, every battle is a foregone conclusion where Rome gets slaughtered and loses 8-10 morale; yes, he was pretty successful, but it seems that even a Dictatorship buffed Roman host (say 8-10 legions) entrenched in good terrain still gets beat badly

3. Hannibal also, once he has a city, rarely seems bothered by supply issues and his army replaces its numbers just as fast as the Romans, which seems strange since Rome is on its home turf. I can understand the locals who joined Hannibal replacing their numbers quickly, but not the elite troops Hannibal had brought from Spain and Africa. In the game, assuming all events are played (all three Dictatorships plus the extra two legion when the Pirates are defeated at the start) the Romans can have a maximum of 13 legions, whereas Livy notes that by the year 210 they had 21 legions.

4. Hannibal, of course, increases his stats with his victories, while the Roman consuls swap out every year, so even if you get a good one, he is gone before long

5. Despite the morale-balancing events, the way AGEOD games typically handle NM means that once Carthage gets 40-50 NM ahead, the battles become even more pointless

6. Once Carthage gets bored of slaughtering the Roman armies, they can just park atop Rome itself, thus preventing any more legions from appearing and waiting for the city to surrender

7. Although Rome historically adopted a Fabian strategy, the Italian peninsula at this game scale really doesn't leave much room to run

My overall sense is that the most adaptive Roman strategy in Italy - run away for eight years (100+ game turns) waiting for Hannibal to get old - is not the most enjoyable for either player. Yes, there can be action in Spain and some of the islands, but once Hannibal has cleaned up in Italy he can hop a boat, leaving a flunky to hold down things, and go wherever the Romans are in Spain and beat them down.

I'd love to hear from experienced Roman-side PBEM players that I am wrong, but does this all boil down to waiting for Hannibal to turn gray? The campaign doesn't seem too fun in terms of balance if that is the case. Yes, I know he did win huge victories like Cannae and Trasimene. But not every battle, even in his prime, was that one-sided.

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Ebbingford
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Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:34 am

In my pbem games of this I seem to remember that Rome rules the seas.
Makes a naval expedition for Hannibal almost impossible......
"Umbrellas will not be opened in the presence of the enemy." Duke of Wellington before the Battle of Waterloo, 1815.

"Top hats will not be worn in the Eighth Army" Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein K.G.


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elxaime
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Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:46 pm

Ebbingford wrote:In my pbem games of this I seem to remember that Rome rules the seas.
Makes a naval expedition for Hannibal almost impossible......


Carthage has a strong economy and can build a decent fleet fast. I suppose the Roman counter is to build their already-strong fleet even stronger to overmatch it.

Along these lines, a quick question. In AJE, if a fleet is in port and set for offense and naval interception, will it intercept passing fleets from out of port? If so, that would be an effective counter to a Hannibal naval landing in southern Italy.

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Durk
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Tue Aug 30, 2016 3:25 am

I have never had a fleet sortie from a port on naval interception, but that may just be me. My fleets have to be at sea to intercept.

BuckTurgidson
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Tue Aug 30, 2016 6:21 pm

elxaime wrote:Having played to a decent length several games of the big campaign of Hannibal as Rome, I am getting the sense it is not very balanced for PBEM. Here are some observations:

1. Although the game events seem designed for Hannibal to march over the Alps, in PBEM typically Hannibal lands by sea in southern Italy, where the Tarentum card is played to give him an immediate base of supply. A smart Carthaginian player will just avoid the hassle of marching over the Alps. Rome can't cover all the landing spots and Hannibal has a decent chance of winning even if he does a Normandy-style invasion into the main Roman Army (which, if they mass in one spot, pulling in the legion from Sicily and assuming they had time to raise the extra two legions by then, can muster seven legions with auxiliae)

2. Hannibal, before he ages, is so God-like that, assuming he fights with his forces in mass, every battle is a foregone conclusion where Rome gets slaughtered and loses 8-10 morale; yes, he was pretty successful, but it seems that even a Dictatorship buffed Roman host (say 8-10 legions) entrenched in good terrain still gets beat badly

3. Hannibal also, once he has a city, rarely seems bothered by supply issues and his army replaces its numbers just as fast as the Romans, which seems strange since Rome is on its home turf. I can understand the locals who joined Hannibal replacing their numbers quickly, but not the elite troops Hannibal had brought from Spain and Africa. In the game, assuming all events are played (all three Dictatorships plus the extra two legion when the Pirates are defeated at the start) the Romans can have a maximum of 13 legions, whereas Livy notes that by the year 210 they had 21 legions.

4. Hannibal, of course, increases his stats with his victories, while the Roman consuls swap out every year, so even if you get a good one, he is gone before long

5. Despite the morale-balancing events, the way AGEOD games typically handle NM means that once Carthage gets 40-50 NM ahead, the battles become even more pointless

6. Once Carthage gets bored of slaughtering the Roman armies, they can just park atop Rome itself, thus preventing any more legions from appearing and waiting for the city to surrender

7. Although Rome historically adopted a Fabian strategy, the Italian peninsula at this game scale really doesn't leave much room to run

My overall sense is that the most adaptive Roman strategy in Italy - run away for eight years (100+ game turns) waiting for Hannibal to get old - is not the most enjoyable for either player. Yes, there can be action in Spain and some of the islands, but once Hannibal has cleaned up in Italy he can hop a boat, leaving a flunky to hold down things, and go wherever the Romans are in Spain and beat them down.

I'd love to hear from experienced Roman-side PBEM players that I am wrong, but does this all boil down to waiting for Hannibal to turn gray? The campaign doesn't seem too fun in terms of balance if that is the case. Yes, I know he did win huge victories like Cannae and Trasimene. But not every battle, even in his prime, was that one-sided.


This situation (Rome vs invincible Hannibal) was very unusual in history. The game cannot undo the benefit of 2000 years hindsight that the Roman player has. Perhaps a rule forcing Rome to attack a certain number of times?

About the Carthage NM too high problem, see a similar thread in Espana 1936. (The Nationalist player formed a 'super army' and drove NM unrealistically high.)

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James D Burns
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Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:27 pm

I think you're letting your gaming competitiveness and a need to win on equal terms get in the way of your strategic thinking. The way to fight Hannibal in a PBEM game is to wage war in areas he is not operating in. Playing vs. the AI Rome can easily defeat Hannibal toe to toe and perhaps players have developed bad habits because of it.

Rome should rule the seas in the scenario if not you've been slammed hard by a storm or made some kind of naval blunder. Hit him in places he cannot afford to lose and force him to react to the threat, that should pull enough strength out of Italy that you might be able to retake some stuff, but don't expect to hold anything for long if he returns. You can't win in Italy, but you can keep him tied down there if you constantly take it all back as soon as he leaves.

As far as Italy goes let him take all the level 1 fort bases and inland bases he wants. If he leaves the area retake it all and make him come back for it (rinse/repeat whenever opportunity knocks). Your coastal forts with harbors should be almost impervious to siege and if he does manage to start to take the walls down at one you can always evacuate by sea before he attacks and destroys you. Leave a few medium sized armies (12-14 command points) in Italy in some of your strongest coastal forts to take stuff from him if he leaves it unguarded and send everything else overseas to attack his rear areas. But for the most part you should hide behind your walls in Italy and only come out if its relatively safe to grab stuff.

The Romans will never win standing toe to toe with Hannibal but they have mobility on their side. Protect that advantage by maxing your fleet builds and use your mobility to constantly shift focus from theater to theater, always hitting his weak areas and leaving when he grows strong in the area.

Rome can easily win big morale point chunks of their own if Hannibal tries to meet them on the high seas, so in that regard he faces the same dilemma on the sea as Rome faces on land. Hannibal needs to avoid Romes fleet and Rome needs to avoid Hannibal.

Jim

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arsan
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Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:09 pm

The problem with that strategy (that i think is the right one for Romans, by the way) is that Rome city is not coastal.
And taking Rome means game over for the roman side (there is a huge NM lose by event when any side loses his capital that will end the game).

A focused CAR player can put Rome under siege (no roman army can defend Rome against Hannibal) and wait for it to surrender, not worrying to much for losses on other theatres. The only thing that should worry him is lossing Carthage, as it also means game over (there is a similar event of -100 NM or so).

In a very interesting PBEM game i had the game finally became a race to see which capital falls before. Finaly i won as Roman by taking Carthage barely one turn before the Rome garrison was finally starved to death. And this thanks to me hoarding like 10 supply carts inside Rome to make the siege last several years. That and having a CAR player that tried to play historically and didn't besiege Rome right away

I think a possible improvement would be making Rome work as a coastal city (removing Ostia town and considering it to by just a port on Rome region) to make it very difficult to siege unless CAR ruled the waves.

Regards!

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Durk
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Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:28 am

This is interesting you say that Rome cannot defend against Hannibal in Rome. In my experience, any time Carthage enters the region Rome occupies they lose value and are always weaker than the Romans. What are you doing to make the Carthaginians competent in this region of Rome?

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James D Burns
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Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:09 am

arsan wrote:TAnd this thanks to me hoarding like 10 supply carts inside Rome to make the siege last several years.
Regards!


You probably could have added a year or two if you'd done two things. First make sure you have only one tiny garrison unit in Rome so supply draw is as low as possible. Then delete most of the auto-spawn units to reduce supply draw whenever Rome is put under siege. You have no hope of winning a fight so the key to defending the city of Rome is keeping supply draw down. I'd even advocate deleting any depots there in advance to keep the size of any auto-spawn garrisons down to a minimum. Though it is possible having a depot there helps on surrender routine rolls so perhaps a level 1 depot is the best solution. I'm hazy on surrender rules so players should look it up to be sure before deciding what they'll do.

The second thing to do is delete any wagon after it turns red during a siege. I know its hard to do when you think about the rebuilding cost, but if you do the math of how much supply 10 wagons use, you'll see you can stretch out the life of your tiny garrison by a year or more if you are diligent about deleting used wagons as soon as they run dry on supplies.

Edit
: I guess I should note, I've never actually deleted the auto-spawn garrison units. Instead I've always sortied with them on red/red orders and caused as much damage as possible so my opponent has to pay for replacements. Once down to an element or two I stopped attacking as supply draw was negligible then. I never let them get totally wiped out as I wasn't sure if they'd spawn again or not if totally wiped out.

Jim

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arsan
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Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:35 pm

James D Burns wrote:You probably could have added a year or two if you'd done two things. First make sure you have only one tiny garrison unit in Rome so supply draw is as low as possible. Then delete most of the auto-spawn units to reduce supply draw whenever Rome is put under siege. You have no hope of winning a fight so the key to defending the city of Rome is keeping supply draw down. I'd even advocate deleting any depots there in advance to keep the size of any auto-spawn garrisons down to a minimum. Though it is possible having a depot there helps on surrender routine rolls so perhaps a level 1 depot is the best solution. I'm hazy on surrender rules so players should look it up to be sure before deciding what they'll do.

The second thing to do is delete any wagon after it turns red during a siege. I know its hard to do when you think about the rebuilding cost, but if you do the math of how much supply 10 wagons use, you'll see you can stretch out the life of your tiny garrison by a year or more if you are diligent about deleting used wagons as soon as they run dry on supplies.

Edit
: I guess I should note, I've never actually deleted the auto-spawn garrison units. Instead I've always sortied with them on red/red orders and caused as much damage as possible so my opponent has to pay for replacements. Once down to an element or two I stopped attacking as supply draw was negligible then. I never let them get totally wiped out as I wasn't sure if they'd spawn again or not if totally wiped out.

Jim


Oh, i certainly did all that too! ;)
Indeed It makes the siege take a lot longer!

I even managed to break the siege once for a turn by luring Hannibal and a big part of his force to Cisalpina with a distracting attack there, while i defeated the remaining siege force with my main army. It was a close thing, as Hannibal moved blindingly fast!

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arsan
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Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:41 pm

Durk wrote:This is interesting you say that Rome cannot defend against Hannibal in Rome. In my experience, any time Carthage enters the region Rome occupies they lose value and are always weaker than the Romans. What are you doing to make the Carthaginians competent in this region of Rome?


What i mean is that before Hannibal gets old, he can easely defeat any Roman force you put on his way, so there is no way to stop him besieging your capital any time he wants.
I have a screenshot somewhere of what happened when i tried to defend Rome against Hannibal. It was nearly a Cannae! :(
I will try to post It later...

For what i know there is nothing on Rome region that makes carthaginians weaker. There are events that give extra legions to rome once CAR gets near rome.
I think there are 3 events, each giving 2 veteran legions forfree. But even with all these, Hannibal can mop the floor with Roman armies on open Battle.
Only on very restricted ground (like swamps) the legions can somewhat stand their ground.
Maybe making rome region swamps coulb be a posible solution...

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Durk
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Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:26 am

So tell me this: It seems each time I get Hannibal on top of Rome, that is in the region of Rome, Hannibal cannot win a battle even at 6-1 odds. He is just weak.

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arsan
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Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:12 am

Really? I've never seen that.
In my experience, battle with Hannibal (in Rome or elsewhere) usually ends like this to the Romans:

[ATTACH]39918[/ATTACH]

That is the battle for Rome from my PBEM game i talked about above. I had something like 11 legions + alae, cavalry etc defending with a 5 defense commander. And they were completely trashed.
I also had another two legions still in recruitment and the standard Rome garrison inside the city that didn't participated on the battle (but where trapped there afterwards in the siege).

This is before Hannibal gets old event. After that he losses part of his magic and the romans get Scipio Africanus which is nearly as good as the "old" Hannibal.... but you must wait 10 years for this to happen!
Regards
Attachments
Rome battle.jpg

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Franciscus
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Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:34 am

Hi

I confirm that there is nothing in the region of Rome that "weakens" Hannibal...

Regards
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

elxaime
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Sat Sep 03, 2016 5:35 am

I suspect the PBEM issues are a function of three game dynamics. First, I get the sense Hannibal's abilities were balanced based on complaints that, in games against Carthage controlled by the AI, he wasn't a big enough challenge. So they made him a God, which means that in PBEM in the hands of any competent player he is unbeatable in any battle where the forces aren't vastly disproportionate. Second, the way replacements work removes many inhibitions on Hannibal. Whereas in reality he had a near impossible time replacing his Iberian and African veterans, not to mention his elephants, when they took losses in Italy, in the game they fill right back up since Carthage has plenty of money. Third, it is too easy to end the game by Carthage sitting atop Rome. Yes, it can take years, but once Hannibal has beaten down the Roman field army it is just a matter of time before they starve since Rome isn't a port.

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