dans221
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War Over Sicily: First Punic War MP AAR

Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:27 am

Greetings everyone, and welcome to my first ever AAR. The First Punic War is the reason I bought AGEOD's Birth of Rome, and this particular PBEM has really gotten me interested in the AJE series and the mechanics of how everything works. I'm still trying to get to grips with the subtleties of the game, so I'm going to go in detail over every turn so and would appreciate any advice or comments on things I could have done differently, or explanations on why things happened the way they did.

I'm playing as Rome's great nemesis, Carthage, and Alex (aka Bob) is playing as Rome. Carthage has historically wanted control over Sicily to ensure a stranglehold on Mediterranean trade and by the time that the First Punic War started it had eroded Greek (Syracusan) control over the island.

The causus belli was due to a group of Roman mercenaries that had taken control of the city of Messana across from the strait to the peninsula. Hiero, the Syrausan king, was annoyed at their raiding practices and was threatening to siege the town which prompted the Mamertimes (the mercenaries) to ask for Carthaginian help. The Carthaginians though started negotiating with Hiero which caused the Mamertimes to plead for help from the Roman senate.

This is where the scenario starts. The political map is below:
[ATTACH]22195[/ATTACH]

The scenario can be won by either Rome or Carthage holding all of Sicily for two years, or Rome or Carthage falling under siege. I seem to hold all the cards at the beginning of this scenario. I have a very strong navy, while Rome has none. Etruscans north of Rome are once again making an appearance allied against Rome. Syracuse is allied to me as well although it can easily swtich to Rome's side. Rome only has a foothold on the island in the form of Messana. I've had a fairly easy time as Carthage against the Roman AI taking Messana and holding out for two years, but I imagined it would be a different proposition with a much more experienced human player than myself.

First the army composition. I have two locked armies in Carthage (active after 18 turns) and Lilybauem. Hiero is my ally and is a 4-2-2 three-star general. I have a small stack in Panormus under a 1-star general Hanno Messina (it seems a lot of the Carthaginian generals share the name Hanno!). My armies are extremely diverse. First of all, I have acces to a large pool of mercenaries that can spawn all across Carthage's far-flung holdings:
[ATTACH]22196[/ATTACH]
- Iberian and Celtic mercenaries spawn in Gades
- Ligurian mercenaries spawn in Sardinia
- Greek and Italiot mercenaries spawn in Lilybauem
- Numidian mercenaries spawn in Carthage
My favourite mercenaries are Iberian and Ligurians because they have a lot of army strength per command points and also have a useful hill/mountain combat bonus which defines a lot of the terrain in Sicily. They need to be transported in by ship however, while Greek/Italiot mercenaries spawn in Sicily directly. Even so, none of my units come close to the strength per man of the Roman legions and my greatest weakness is the high cost of replacement. The backbone of my army will be mercenary and it costs 25k per line infantry replacement chit, whereas the Romans only have to pay 3k per heavy infantry replacement. It's a good thing I make more money than Rome, but not nearly close to 8 times more which is the replacement cost ratio!

I also have access to regular Carthaginian and African troops, and while Syracuse is an ally to some Syracusan troops. These troops are mostly hoplites but also have good cavalry and elephant units which can disrupt Roman entrenchments.

Rome starts with four legions distributed across two consular armies -- they also have an option to cross the Messana Strait in the first year even if I do choose to blockade it. Rome has allies in Massilia and Emporiae which can supply additional fleets to its tiny starting fleet thorugh later options.

Initially I hold almost all of Sicily which gives me a lot of victory points compared to the Romans (23 vs 5 gain per turn at the beginning). Later on, I will have the option to declare war on Numidia -- although it seems rather foolish to do so while not holding all of Sicily.

Lastly, I wanted to link to another AAR for this scenario written from Rome's point of view: http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?665999-Struggle-for-the-Mediterranean-a-BOR-Punic-War-MP-AAR
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dans221
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Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:24 am

Turn 1: May, 264 BC

A quick rundown through Carthage's starting armies.

The Etruscans in Volsinii:
[ATTACH]22202[/ATTACH]
Unfortunately, the Etruscans are locked and Volsinii has no port. I believe that the Romans will siege Volsinii in first turn and there's no possibility for me to evacuate this force by sea. Landing an army to reinforce Volsinii would be dangerous as it might trigger a Roman dictator and additional legions which is the last thing I want to happen. Luckily, Volsinii is a level 2 fort so the Romans will need to siege it. My hope is that the Etruscans will hold up one of the two consular armies until the first year passes so I am free to engage only the first consular army in Sicily.

Mago's force in Carthage:
[ATTACH]22203[/ATTACH]
This force is unfortunately locked for 18 turns. Mago is the suffete and he changes after a while (does anyone know how long he stays a suffete?). He's a capable general, but unfortunately for me he has a penalty for leaving Africa so I cannot use him in Sicily. This is a big force and I need to scroll further right to see the whole stack. It also has elephants!

Hanno the Elder's force in Lilybauem:
[ATTACH]22204[/ATTACH]
This force is unfortunately also locked for 10 turns. Hanno is a very capable leader and I'll talk more about him later.

Hanno Messina's force in Panormus:
[ATTACH]22205[/ATTACH]
This force is not locked, but Hanno Messina is not much of a commander.

Hiero's force in Syracuse:
[ATTACH]22206[/ATTACH]
This is the bulk of my available starting army. Hiero is a 4-2-3 three-star general and although he doesn't have the greatest stats, he does have some useful traits:
- defender: he gets a one point bonus that applies that applies to the whole stack when defending in a fort (what exactly does that mean?)
- fast mover: 25% bonus to movement for the whole. That's very nice!
- diplomatic: +1 CP per ability level for the stackhe command. That's very, very nice for me. I intend to heavily recruit mercenaries so getting more CPs allows me to have a larger army

Syracuse also starts in charge of Catania with Artemidorus stationed there with a unit of hoplites. This is a level 1 fort, so I don't feel very safe leaving the hoplite unit here as garrison.

My strategy is to try to besiege Messana before the Romans get there. I merge Hanno Messina and Artemidorus' forces with Hiero's as he moves towards Messana -- which is a mountainous terrain which works to my disadvtantage. I set Hiero's force on offensive stance so that if the consular army attempts to cross this turn, I would ideally want to be able to engage immediately upon crossing the Messana Strait while it has cohesion losses from its long march from Capua and from crossing the strait.

I've also set one of my two big starting fleets to blockade the Messana Strait and the other to blockade Rhegium to prevent a naval pick-up. I also start with minor fleets in Sardinia, Corsia, and Hispania and I'm bringing these to Carthage to unify my fleets. Since most of my army is locked at the beginning and since I intend to blitz Messana. I cannot recruit mercenaries this turn since I have 0 VPs but I should be able to do so next turn. But I've spent most of my significant starting treasury (which is 1500 denarii) as follows:

Recruitment in Carthage:
2 x Equites
3 x African Pedites
2 x Iaculatores
1 x Carthaginian pediatatus

Recruitment in Syracuse:
1 x Pedites
Attachments
turn1hiero.png
turn1panormus.png
turn1hanno.png
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turn1etruscans.png

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loki100
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Mon Apr 08, 2013 6:10 pm

nice bit of scene setting, those victory conditions should encourage the armies to get close and personal pretty quickly
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dans221
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Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:03 pm

Turn 2: June, 264 BC

One of the Roman consular armies, as I predicted, besieges Volsinii this turn. The other consular army crossed the Messana strait overnight. My fleet will now blockade the strait so further crossings won't be possible -- so my hope is that I would be able to defeat this lone consular army with my armies in Sicily and prevent Hiero's turning against me. Unfortunately for me, Hiero did not engage the army as it crossed in spite of having an offensive stance (don't know exactly why this happened -- seems like there's a chance that you don't engage, especially I suppose at the end of the 30-day period since the Romans crossed on day 27).

Hiero's army is now merged in Messana and is on offensive stance. Hopefully it can engage the Roman army before it recovers cohesion. I've had good success in single-player fighting in Messana immediately after the Romans crossed:
[ATTACH]22215[/ATTACH]

I've now ordered Greek and Italiot mercenary reinforcements so that I can quickly add these to Hiero's stack.
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turn2hiero.png

dans221
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Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:12 pm

Turn 3: July, 264 BC

Bad news. The engagement at Messana resulted in a defeat for me. I actually lost fewer troops than the Romans during the battle (so why did I retreat?) perhaps since the Romans were not particularly well-entrenched, but I took 75 hits on the retreat, more than I took during battle. I am staying put in Tyndaris, and bringing in the recent mercenary reinforcements.
[ATTACH]22220[/ATTACH]

The main worry with losing this battle is that I retreated to Tyndaris which gives the Romans free reign to move towards Syracuse. I'm not certain what the turn-over conditions are (against the AI, just having any army there was sufficient for Syracuse to turn over). I'm planning to bring in my fleet to Tyndaris as well and pick up my army to land in Catania or Syracuse to prevent its turning over. The other consular army is still besieging Volsinii so I'm not too worried about maintaining a blockade at the Messana Strait for now.

I also recruited Numidian Mercenaries since I can bring them over to Sicily more quickly than any other mercenary unit since I will have a fleet in Carthage shortly. In retrospect, this was probably a mistake.
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loki100
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Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:56 pm

sometimes you can 'lose' if your opponent is in defend at all costs. That often tends to mean they hold the field (but the big gamble is of course a catastrophic defeat if it goes room)
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dans221
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Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:38 pm

Thanks, that's probably exactly what happened. He had unusually high losses which would be explained by him holding at all costs so that he wouldn't have to retreat on the other side of the strait.

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Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:40 pm

Turn 4: August, 264 BC

The Romans stormed and killed the garrison in Catania. My army is now reinforced with mercenaries and I also added the marines onboard the fleets (don't imagine there will be much naval combat yet and I urgently need more land troops) and I hope to greatly outnumber the Roman army (I have 5 green dots and he has 2 green dots -- not quite sure exactly what the colours and number of dots mean but I have more of them!). However, I'm concerned he can move to Syracuse and trigger Hiero's turn-over event. I have no idea what's going to happen next. I order the intercept of the Roman army in the hope of catching him before Syracuse turns over. I noticed I've managed not to post a single screenshot of Sicily which is where all the action is happening so here it is:
[ATTACH]22222[/ATTACH]
The objectives in Sicily are marked, of which the Romans only have Messana.
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loki100
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Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:13 pm

you're right, number of dots is an indicator of size, colour of health (supply and strength of elements). So an army with red dots is at risk of falling apart and you may find a battle will see losses quickly translate into lost elements.
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Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:58 am

Turn 5: September, 264 BC

More bad news. There were three engagements with the Roman force, all in Messana, all defeats.

First battle on day 4. Balance of forces is (carthage) 1437 vs 1355 (rome) and hits taken is 99 vs 70. His entrenchment bonus is 21.
[ATTACH]22228[/ATTACH]

Second battle on day 8. Balance of forces is (carthage) 967 vs 1189 (rome) and hits taken is 82 vs 50.
[ATTACH]22229[/ATTACH]

Third battle on day 14. . Balance of forces is (carthage) 675 vs 1097 (rome) and hits taken is 30 vs 15. His entrenchment bonus went up to 100.
[ATTACH]22230[/ATTACH]

I took 46 additional hits from the retreat and lost 1 unit (doesn't say which one). I lost two national morale points. And because of his "victories", Hiero raises in seniority to 3. So my army is pretty beaten up and I'm still in the same situation I was last turn -- he can march on Syracuse and I'm worried that it's about to turn over. Over in Volsinii the Romans have now reached 2 breaches, so it's time to establish the blockade on the Messana Strait, as his other consular army will be free very soon. I load up Hiero and his army and sail to Syracuse. Hopefully it's not too late.
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loki100
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Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:53 am

ouch ... looks like the armies were well matched but they had all the advantages of terrain etc?
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Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:41 am

dans221 wrote:Turn 4: August, 264 BC

The Romans stormed and killed the garrison in Catania. My army is now reinforced with mercenaries and I also added the marines onboard the fleets (don't imagine there will be much naval combat yet and I urgently need more land troops) and I hope to greatly outnumber the Roman army (I have 5 green dots and he has 2 green dots -- not quite sure exactly what the colours and number of dots mean but I have more of them!). However, I'm concerned he can move to Syracuse and trigger Hiero's turn-over event. I have no idea what's going to happen next. I order the intercept of the Roman army in the hope of catching him before Syracuse turns over. I noticed I've managed not to post a single screenshot of Sicily which is where all the action is happening so here it is:
[ATTACH]22222[/ATTACH]
The objectives in Sicily are marked, of which the Romans only have Messana.


Regarding the "dots", they can be misleading as they represent units, regardless of their type or size. For instance, a mighty legion would be one dot; a Socii cavalry would also be one dot... ;)

dans221
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Fri Apr 12, 2013 3:44 pm

Yeah, it looks like Messana is cursed ground for me. I didn't realize this at the time, but the frontage rules really work against me there as I cannot use my numerical advantage and so the number of dots make no difference. Add Roman entrenchment bonuses and it's a death trap. No wonder the Roman wants to keep engaging in Messana.

Now why is it that previously I had one engagement in Messana prior to retreating and in this latest case I fought three times? Is it because I had set to intercept the consular army and the last time I had simply moved to Messana?

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Fri Apr 12, 2013 3:55 pm

Also, another thing that's not clear to me is what happens with eliminated elements. In that series of battles, I was able to kill three elements (two psiloi, one socii equite) -- but are the Romans able to get back their elements? I noticed that as Carthage I'm unable to get back my own elements once they're gone.

edit: in my latest turn, I received a message that "Hoplites Mercenarii Received: Mercenary Peltastes". That's good news but why did this happen? Is it a random event? Is there some way to replace elements for my destroyed mercenary? I have no idea.

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Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:44 pm

Turn 6: October, 264 BC

Hiero got shipped successfully to Syracuse. The Romans waited out in Messana, probably hoping for another engagement. I still needed to recover losses from the engagements last month, so I'm going to sit in Syracuse defensively. The other half of my fleet is now blockading the Strait. Here is the map situation:
[ATTACH]22250[/ATTACH]

Over in Volsinii the Romans got a third breach. Don't they only need two breaches since it's a level two fort? Anyway, the longer Volsinii holds out the better.
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Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:48 am

can't speak for AJE/BOR but in general in AGE games it is easier to replace losses within an element than to replace an element.

However, a force in defend (or even better, passive) stance has some chance to repair & - "Hoplites Mercenarii Received: Mercenary Peltastes" is the sort of message that indicates an element has been replaced.
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Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:32 am

Turn 7: November, 264 BC

Consul Claudex moves over to Syracuse. Luckily Syracuse doesn't turn over. However, I'm in defensive stance, no battle occurs, and the Romans are now besieging Syracusae.

Here is a terrain map of Sicily. The northern part of the island is very hilly and the southern is mostly clear, except for Syracusae itself which is hilly:
[ATTACH]22274[/ATTACH]

I've kept reinforcing my army and with the garrison in I have 80,000 men and 2100 strength. The Roman army seems similar to before so I should greatly outnumber at this point.

Meanwhile, I'm still recruiting mercenaries and new troops in Africa. Hanno has four more turns before getting unlocked. Is Syracusae going to hold or is it going to turn over to the Romans before that?

p.s. thanks Loki for the explanation.
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loki100
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Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:56 am

at least that force in Siracusa is too powerful for the Romans to assault so that should buy you time - and sea resupply should help drag the siege out
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Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:11 pm

Just started reading this (only made it through the first explanatory post) and I'll try to catch up later. Damn lunch break doesn't last long enough! The scenario seems set up to encourage a very active style of play, so reading the actual posts (of which there are quite a few already, I see) should be interesting.

dans221
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Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:21 pm

Thanks for the comments! I'm posting turn-by-turn with most of the details but if it's too much, I can make more abridged posts.

Turn 8: December, 264 BC

Romans breached Volsinii a fifth time, assaulted and killed the garrison. Two battles, and lost 3 national morale points in total:
[ATTACH]22333[/ATTACH]
[ATTACH]22334[/ATTACH]
I brought in some more troops to Syracusae. Since I don't know what would happen with the turn-over conditions and since I greatly outnumber the Roman besiegers, I thought I would sally my army and hopefully force the Romans to retreat and hopefully prevent Syracusae's turn over...

In Africa, I got an economic development event that increases loyalty and taxes. Loyalty is already 100%, so perhaps I should start putting some requisitions so such future events are not wasted.
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turn8volsinii2.jpg
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Solemnace
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Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:32 pm

That was an impressive display by the Etruscans. Despite their only being 6,000 or so starving Etruscans they managed to inflict over 3,000 Casualties on the Romans. Given they were doomed anyway that is rather impressive.

dans221
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Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:22 pm

The Etruscans fought bravely, but as you'll see Hiero most certainly did not! That man is an incompetent coward and traitor!

Turn 9: January, 263 BC

Total disaster in Syracuse. Hiero engaged in 7 battles, losing 5 of them and stalemating the other two, losing a lot of elements, and hardly making any dents in the Roman army in spite of a 3 to 1 numerical advantage.

The series of battles resulted in the combined loss of 5 national morale points. Here are the first five battles:
[ATTACH]22335[/ATTACH][ATTACH]22336[/ATTACH][ATTACH]22337[/ATTACH][ATTACH]22338[/ATTACH][ATTACH]22339[/ATTACH]
Attachments
turn9syracuse5.jpg
turn9syracuse4.jpg
turn9syracuse3.jpg
turn9syracuse2.jpg
turn9syracuse1.jpg

dans221
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Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:27 pm

(cont'd) the last two battles:

[ATTACH]22340[/ATTACH]
[ATTACH]22341[/ATTACH]

After this series of crushing defeats, Hiero turns over to the Roman side.
[ATTACH]22342[/ATTACH]

The situation is pretty dire. The only good thing is that Hiero remains locked until attacked. I have a number of militiae in Syracuse and I'm afraid that they will unlock Hiero so I move them over to the ships that were guarding Syracuse's port against a blockade or a Roman drop-off of the second consular army. Hanno's army in Lilybauem is still blocked for 2 two more turns, and all the non-Syracusan units formely under Hiero's control appeared in Lilybauem.
[ATTACH]22343[/ATTACH]

Losing Syracuse gives me another -5 national morale, dropping me down to 85 whereas the Romans are now up to 113. So I receive a pretty severe battle penalty whereas the Romans receive a substantial bonus. If I wasn't able to defeat one consular army with a 3:1 numerical superiority and more or less even national morale, will I stand a chance now?
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turn9sicilyMap.jpg
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turn9syracuse6.jpg

Gen. Monkey-Bear
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Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:08 am

That's quite a casualty list.

I've wondered this: is it ever a good idea to exchange Syracuse for Messana in the game? I mean, both seem just as valuable . . . perhaps someone more familiar with the game than I could answer.

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loki100
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Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:59 am

grim losses, but maybe not as bad as it looks. I'd suspect hills plus rain effectively negated your advantage in size in those battles and that the actual fighting (look at the detailed battle reports) were more or less 1-1. Also once a force starts to lose one of those long ongoing battles it can escalate to pretty bad losses as casualties get translated into lost elements.
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dans221
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Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:33 pm

Gen. Monkey-Bear wrote: I've wondered this: is it ever a good idea to exchange Syracuse for Messana in the game? I mean, both seem just as valuable . . . perhaps someone more familiar with the game than I could answer.


I wouldn't take that deal, especially at the beginning of the FPW. If you lose Syracuse then you lose Hiero and the Romans get him like it happened in the last turn. Also, Syracuse is more valuable -- it's got a stronger fort, more income, and gives access to more recruitable units.

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Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:50 am

Ah, I see. That explains why it seems like both players are always fighting for Syracuse but Messana usually stays in Roman posession.

Also, is there any way to bring Hiero back into play, or is he out for good?

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Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:16 am

If the Romans trigger Hiero's defection (which I don't understand the exact condition when it happens), he's on the Roman side -- for good as far as I know. That's why the last turn I posted was a complete disaster for Carthage. Not only did Rome crush my armies even though I outnumbered him, but now Hiero switched to his side. The only good thing is that unless I attack Syracusan territory (Syracusae and Tauromentum, which started on my side but are now on Rome's side), Hiero's armies are locked. He also has a small fleet that's locked unless I attack.

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Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:44 am

Turn 10: February, 263 BC

Nothing happens. The Romans stay put in Syracuse, probably recuperating whatever losses they had from the series of battles last turn. My Sicily army is still locked for this turn. I no longer need to defend Syracuse by sea, so I move that fleet to port.

Turn 11: March, 262 BC

Annual city tax income comes in the treasury! I recruit some mercenaries.

The new Roman consul moves his Syracuse army and sieges Camarina:
[ATTACH]22417[/ATTACH]

He probably chose Camarina because it doesn't have a port and his fleet cannot really compete with me at sea at this time. Hanno Senior's army is unlocked this turn and I decide to counter by sieging Messana. I have to maintain a blockade of its port anyway to prevent the other consular army from crossing the strait into Sicily.

Speaking of Hanno, he's a quite decent commander at 3-5-3 but has a bad trait in that he cannot spy neighbouring armies very well:
[ATTACH]22418[/ATTACH]
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loki100
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Wed May 01, 2013 7:58 am

"Hanno the almost blind" is an unusual name for a commander :cool:
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