Carthage 8

Team Roma and Team Cartha tackle Berg’s beast; summer 2013 

Back to the war for its final resolution…

…the continuing saga of Team Roma and Team Cartha, battling it out during spring/summer 2013 over the 1st Punic War at The Source in the Twin Cities. With victory points tied at 21 and only two turns remaining after 50+ hours of glorious wargaming, the final two turns promised to be a barnburner. Fate (or Berg) did not disappoint.

Link to previous session report:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1016147

As usual, Sicily was an important front…. 

…but this session, Sardinia would ultimately generate glorious victory for one side and tragic defeat for the other 

VPs at end of last session 

242 B.C. 

Politics, Upgrades and Builds

Rome

Rome consul: Otacilius 308 (15D) Consul Army I (in Sicily)
Field consul: Mamilius 306 (15D) Consul Army III (in Sardinia)
Fabius 330 (25C) Consul II Army
Lutatius 340 (16D) Consul IV Army
Cornelius 311 (25D) Legion VIII (Raised this phase)
Fleet III (3s): Valerius 303 (25C)
Fleet I (9s): Servilius 325 (15E)

Note: Team Roma broke out the soundtrack from Spartacus for key moments during this session; played loudly and proudly on a jambone.

Kubrick and his film, Spartacus, set the mood.

Cartha

Orientation: Alert
Cartha reinforced with a few SPs here and there.

Activations

setting up for last session

The turn began with Team Roma ordering Lutatius to move his Consul Army IV north. The idea was to rotate the poorly led and understrength armies out of Sicily (hard limit of only 2 Roman consul armies ever in a province) and leave an abundance of garrisons (for reinforcing Sicily) in the extreme south of Italy.

Permission was requested from the Senate: surely, that esteemed body would see the wisdom in Team Roma’s strategy. No, they would not; apparently too many of them were making too much gold off of a shady supply contract for IV army in Sicily. Consequently, the Senate responded with resounding “NO!” (sadly, the vote was not even close). By doing so, Team Roma was now stuck for the turn, since the luckless Lutatius had only one activation – essentially gumming up the province for any effective maneuvering.

Cartha quickly capitalized on this republican corruption by mobilizing the wretched remains of Deathstar v1.0. Hanno the Great led his vastly diminished mob (12 SPs) to Drepanum to initiate yet another Sicilian siege. Rome dispatched one of its two remaining fleets to the city to assist with supply for the besieged. Elsewhere, Rome suffered two further failures attempting to take a few minor cities by assault and involuntary surrender. The turn was going very poorly for Rome.

After much gnashing of the teeth at how the Senate, as usual, had upset the applecart, Consul II army was sent north (from southern Italy). Related, Cornelius and his freshly raised Legion VIII were ordered south from Rome to dump its contingent of brave lads within close range of Sicily; they would be desperately needed in 241 B.C. Elsewhere, Rome experienced a smitten of success in 242 B.C. by capturing the last remaining Carthaginian minor city in Sardinia.

showdown in sicily

At that point, ALL the Roman activation chits had been drawn for the turn (we wonder what the odds of that were!). The wily, and no longer crabby, Carthaginian got a BIG smile on his face and said, “Now, Romans, it is Cartha’s turn to administer some harsh wargaming justice.”

First, Cartha sent a fleet against the Roman ships at Drepanum and quicky dispensed with the Roman rabble. More bad news then arrived for Team Roma in the form of Berg’s infamous random events table: a revolt in Sardinia. Much cursing, as Team Roma had only 5 SPs remaining in Sardinia. The revolt must be addressed with 10 SPs; which would put a crimp in the manpower raise for 241 B.C. (some forces would need to be devoted to the damm revolt). Additionally, all SPs in the province had to be immediately dispatched to Caralis on the southern tip of Sardinia. Drool could be seen dripping from the wily Carthaginian ‘s mouth as he gazed at potentially THE key province: it was now ripe for his picking. At long last, the Carthaginian sensed victory within his grasp.

Deathstar v2.0 under Carthalo then kicked into gear, with his first of three activations. Cartha’s commander ordered the force out of Lily towards Drepanum. Otacilius, leading Consul Army I, bravely intercepted. Surprisingly, the net battle DRM for Rome was -1 (-3 odds, +1cav, +2vets, +1eff, only a -2ldr) {note; intercepting forces become the attacker in this game}.

A die was tossed….a 7!; resulting in 15% losses for Cartha and only 3 SP losses for Rome. Post battle, the Deathstar sat with 55 SPs vs 24 SPs for the triumphant Consul Army I. With the Deathstar’s status now deteriorated, it flailed around Sicily like a wounded dog for its last two activations. It ran south to take Enna (an automatic, given the revolt) and then finished the turn licking its wounds in Lily. Otacilius had accomplished something incredibly important at this stage of the game: stopping and distracting Carthalo. Perhaps, the Carthaginian was not so wily afterall.

As an aside, we forgot (as always!) about leader causalities until after the turn. We then decided to retroactively apply them. Dice were thrown. Of course, given the dice gods intense hatred of Team Cartha this game, Carthalo was wounded. A great shout went up in the Roman camp, as Cartha’s commander again cursed the dice gods. We decided to let the poor Carthaginian off the hook – given the amount of errors each side had committed in the game, the many leader loss rolls we had forgotten and that we would have had to adjust the last few activations.

In the final act of the turn, Hiero sieged Enna in East Sicily. We then prepared for a real nail biting final turn.

242 B.C. Activation chits in order

241 B.C. 

Politics, Upgrades and Builds

Rome

Rome consul: C. Atilius 333 (15E) Consul Army I (in Sicily)
Field consul: Sempron 323 (25D) Consul Army III (raised 2 new legions!)
A.Atilius 313 (27B) Consul IV Army 

(Note: Prior to the random draw from the leader cup {also known as “How can the Senate totally $&%%(^(% this turn” phase} One Roman commander asked the other, “Who do you we need for this final turn to lead this army?”

The other responded with “We need a B! {there are NO A’s and only two “B” rated leaders for Rome. Most are “D” or “E” – which, are horrible.

Anyways, a chant of “We want a B begins”…A leader chit was drawn. A “B” appeared: A.Atilius. Much rejoicing)

A.Atilius arrives for the last turn: the luck gods smile on Team Roma….or perhaps they are just toying with Team Roma prior to delivering the final epic BOOOOOOOOOF

Manlius 317 (26C) Consul II Army
Fleet III (1s): Fabius 330 (25C)
Fleet I (9s): Mamilius 306 15D

Carthage

A new family takes over the reins of power. Orientation of alert: Cartha misses its chance at aggressive by one pip (which would have given it a third army for the final turn).

Activations

Cartha drew first blood with Hanno the Great leading Deathstar v1.0 to Sardinia. Two cities quickly fell to involuntary surrender.

Hanno the Great, destroyer of Deathstar v1.0, grabs a little redemption in Sardinia

Team Roma began to look quite worried at this point. Rome dispatched one of its two fleets to Sardinia, but, it scattered and could not reform.

Carthalo sortied out of Lily with 56 SPs. Rome tried to intercept, but failed. Carthalo then attempted to take Drepanum by involuntary surrender. He failed and then stopped for the activation when he blew yet another continuation roll. Cartha decided to dispatch a fleet to Syracuse; apparently planning to lay siege to that great city later in the turn.

Rome finally managed to get moving. Team Roma ordered C.Atilius to take Consul Army I out of Sicily to make way for prime time A.Atilius and his Consul Army IV. Sensing danger in Sardinia, Rome quickly dispatched Consul Army III under Sempron to plug the gap. Unfortunately, rough seas scattered the hapless relief force.

Rome’s emergency force sent to Sardinia flounders on the coast

Hiero, in his last act of the game, managed to liberate the city of Enna from the barbarians. Then began a truly amazing movement by Manlius and his Consul Army II; perhaps responsible for the final outcome of this match.

Manlius began the activation in Rheghium. Cartha had wisely blocked the straits separating Sicily and Italy with a fleet. Manlius bypassed via Tartetum, and embarked his force for Sicily. Arriving safely in East Sicily, he took a minor city by involuntary surrender and then marched on Drepanum. Surprisingly, CARTHALO was caught completely napping and failed to intercept. Manlius then embarked his army for Sardinia and took another minor city by involuntary surrender. The appearance of Consul Army II in Sardinia significantly changed the balance of power in the province back into Rome’s favor. Team Roma began to breathe just a little easier.

Legendary March of Manlius: 241 B.C….and at The Source 2013 A.D.

Back to Sicily…CARTHALO finally captured Drepanum by involuntary surrender. However, the knucklehead blew yet another continuation roll, setting in motion yet another wild chain of events. With Team Cartha’s Deathstar v2.0 lounging in Drepanum, A.Atilius decided to lay siege (note: Cartha failed to consider avoidance – something both sides missed throughout the game).

This precipitated a potentially disastrous situation for Carthalo and his Deathstar v2.0. If A.Atilius could sieze the city and sack it, Carthalo & Deathstar v2.0 would disappear forever. Fate (or Berg) then, of course, provided us with a siege chit. Deathstar v2.0 lost 18 SPs in the siege (now reduced to only 33 frightened and starving SPs) vs a smaller besieging force of 21 SPs.

remains of the once mighty deathstar v2.0

For a change, Berg’s infamous random events produced a ho-humer event…thankfully, given the drama unfolding in Sicily and Sardinia. Rome and Cartha traded minor cities in Sardinia. Both commanders failed their continuation rolls and decided to end the war in the renowned brothels of Sardinia accordingly.

That left two activation chits remaining in the cup: one for CARTHALO and one for A.Atilius. Pretty amazing that after 50+ hours of gaming, and probably 600+ activation chits, the only two chits remaining were for the two best commanders in the game – and really the only forces that could move the dial at that point. The hand of fate (or Berg) could not have generated a richer wargaming narrative.

241 B.C. Activation chits in order

And a view of both Sardinia and Sicily at that fateful moment

The 2nd to last activation chit was drawn: A.Atilius’ turn in the barrel. Team Roma debated options. Finally, it was decided to attempt to take Drepanum by treachery. If successful, the surrender of CARTHALO and Deathstar v2 would provide a truly glorious end to particular story. The Spartacus soundtrack was cued…a contingent of the 1st MN Wargaming Society gathered…..a die was tossed. Someone shouted “Well, there goes 50+ hours of gaming….all on one lousy die roll.” No surrender; the gods of drama had something else in store for us.

Final activation; 241 B.C. 

Theme to the Good, the Bad, the Ugly temporarily replaced the Spartacus soundtrack

It was time for the last activation chit of the game. CARTHALO decided bold action was required. He would sail to Sardinia, liberate just ONE minor city and, thus, win the game. CARTHALO first attempted to disengage from Drepanum via sail. We agreed that Rome would get a chance to intercept. Although, we think, the rules are clear (6.53 in the series rules indicates that interception may be attempted), we couldn’t get our head around how a besieged force, in a friendly unblockaded port, couldn’t just hop on transports and sail away. Anyways, we tossed another die….. Interception! A loud cheer rang out in the Roman camp.

The Roman DRM for the battle was a net -6 (-2 odds, -4 tactical)…only a “X” result could possibly save Rome……the die was cast..and, of course, given the dice gods intense hatred of the wily Carthaginian this game, an “8” resulted and Team Roma had their IMPROBABLE X result!

Time for another Roman miracle victory? Nah…..not, this time. The dice gods took pity on poor Team Cartha and gave Team Roma a dreaded “1” on the X table: total disaster for Rome (its army suffering 30% loses and forced to flee the field, with Carthalo suffering barely a scratch). Icing on the cake? A.Atilius wounded (he should have at least died gloriously). Worst yet, CARTHALO could continue its movement towards Sardinia. And, he did.

After making the short journey by sail, CARTHALO disembarked on the coast of Sardinia. Rome would have only one last chance to intercept the force. Manlius leading Consul Army II attempted the long-shot (he would need a 2 or less). Romans shouted to their gods, “Save us!”. The die was hurled. Bingo! INTERCEPTION!

A gift from the dice gods for a bald man: an interception to possibly save the game for Rome

Manlius’ improbable interception set up the mother of all battles to decide this epic game. The net DRM for Rome was +3 (+1 status, +1 vets, +1 Ldr – Cartha suffered a horrible roll)….Spartacus music cued again..…a crowd gathers… the die is thrown……. “8”!… A MAJOR victory for Rome. CARTHALO is stopped inches away from taking back a Sardinian minor city, freeing the province from the clutches of Rome and being warmly remembered forever in wargaming lore. No, he’s a goat now….and the Roman banners still fly proudly over Sardinia. The story ends. Rome wins. ALL HAIL MANLIUS!

When the fat lady sang…

1st Minnesota 

For our last session, we began at 7 PM (in contrast to our previous sessions that all began in late morning). We thought it would be fun to finish up our epic lark with the main army from 1st MN at the gaming tables. Good crowd that night; we continue our creep to equalling the Magic contingent that appears every Friday nite: we will convert the unwashed masses. 

Two good AARs from the club for the session that evening:

Gordo: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1023407

Alberta Clipper: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1023393

The After-party 

Too many good things to say about this particular wargaming experience (9 sessions+boot camp) and the wargame that generated it; easily a top ten experience in my wargaming journey and Berg’s Carthage moves onto my list of top ten wargame. Dan and John are always fantastic gaming mates; high quality wargamers and fun guys to spend 50+ hours over the gaming tables (a necessary prereq for playing an epic beast). We’re planning to co-author an article regarding the experience…and probably debrief this lark on a future episode of Guns, Dice, Butter.

Until then, we’ll jump into the first game in this series, Republic of Rome (Pyrrhus of Epirus demands some play time) – and, we’re FINALLY, planning to kick off Empires in Arms Sawtadee for the fall/winter wargaming season.

Thank you, again, Mr.Berg, for this outstanding game, and, hopefully, you’ll get us the third game in this series MUCH sooner than later. All hail Carthage!

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