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Thread: The Punic Curse

  1. #101
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    The Danubian Wars: The career of Titus Didius

    One thing the Republic did not lack in these years was able ambitious men. Even so too many turned their backs on the qualities that had made Rome mistress of the West in the search of personal, or family, wealth. What it lacked was able men, content to serve the state and who never made any demands beyond that of fair recognition of their efforts.

    However, even in this era of moral decline, some remnants of the older Roman virtues survived. In this the career of Titus Didius [1] is exemplary, both for the insight into the nature of the wars on the Danube in this period and as to the type of man Rome now needed more than ever.

    He took control of the 9th Legion in early 668 and drove off a major incursion on the Illyrian frontier. Even in this, his first battle, he skillfully outmanouvered the feared Dazid and won a stuning victory for only minimal losses for his legion.



    He brought that particular warband to bay in Moesi in late May, killing or capturing all the barbarians



    Even before the summer was over, he successfully defended the Illyrian provinces against a new encroachment.



    In early 669 he ambushed a barbarian warband in the snow. More slaves and more gold was sent back to Rome.



    For several years, the tribes on his sector lay quiet, battered by their defeats. However, by late 671 he was again called to protect Illyria.



    And again the victory was testament to his skill and his willingness to protect the lives of his men.

    The next two years saw little but minor skirmishes but this relative peace was shattered in May 673.



    Here he won perhaps his greatest victory. Outnumbered, he routed the enemy for minimal losses. However, for once, he became careless. Pursuit saw him run into an ambush



    From this he scarcely escaped leaving a third of his legion dead on the battlefield.

    It took till September, and the arrival of the 11th Legion before vengence was taken.



    By the summer of 674 he was fully engaged in a series of minor skirmishes on the lower Danube. Although his legion was not involved in the tragic events at Vindelicia [2], like all the commanders on the Danube he was blamed. The normal ebb and flow of war, Rome could accept, a defeat of that magnitude, with those consequences, was intolerable.

    With the first snows of that winter, he had the chance to redeem his own reputation faced with yet another incursion.



    By late 675, faced with the ongoing consequences of the Vindelician campaign, the 9th were again deployed in the north. He managed to protect Hristi from the same terrible fate



    [3]

    With the colony secure, his was the legion that finally avenged Vindelicia. Not many prisoners were taken as the legions exacted their revenge for almost 3 years of continuous warfare.



    After this his legion returned to Illyria. Campaigning was constant, but the major incursions seemed to have died away.

    On the morning of 19 August 672, this great man was found dead in his field tent. Aged 71 he was still leading his legion in the field.



    Beaten only once in a long career, noted for his low losses when many others were careless of Roman lives, content to serve when many others manouvered for their own gain. However, his reputation at the time was tainted by Vindelicia, unfairly as he had been campaigning in Thrace. Still like all the Danubian army, he felt responsible, to a man of his character, defending Roman citizens was the reason for the army.

    [1] If anyone has read Lindsay Davis' wonderful tales of Vespasian's Rome they will realise why his name stuck in my mind while I was playing.
    [2] next post!
    [3] To conserve manpower, I started to sit and wait for the tribe to return rather than persue them.
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  2. #102
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    I understand the urge to conserve manpower (as it's your most restraining factor), but I don't really see it reflected in that series of battles (the series that featured your second footnote): you won the first battle handsomely, but the other two were terribly bloody 'victories'. I guess it could've been far worse if you had pursued - it could have been another Breuci.

    Don't know the tales of Vespasian's Rome, so the only other thing I can say is: gratuitous cliffhanger! What happened at Vindelicia? I know, I know, all's fair in writing and war... I'll wait patiently, with just the slightest amount of grumbling.
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  3. #103
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    That's a whole lot of fighting. This constant drain cannot be good for Rome's manpower. Hopefully Rome can figure out how to shorten its borders with the barbarians sometime in the future, to ensure this sort of thing becomes less problematic.
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  4. #104
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    I understand the urge to conserve manpower (as it's your most restraining factor), but I don't really see it reflected in that series of battles (the series that featured your second footnote): you won the first battle handsomely, but the other two were terribly bloody 'victories'. I guess it could've been far worse if you had pursued - it could have been another Breuci.

    Don't know the tales of Vespasian's Rome, so the only other thing I can say is: gratuitous cliffhanger! What happened at Vindelicia? I know, I know, all's fair in writing and war... I'll wait patiently, with just the slightest amount of grumbling.
    Its odd, sometimes the defensive battles were as bad as the offensive but on balance they give me a slight edge in terms of losses (terrain bonuses etc). The other problem is that invariably the barbarians are better led so I tend to have that disadvantage all the time - most of my generals are #6, some #5, rare for much better.

    The stories are an attempt to transplant the humourous private eye genre back to Rome. As with any series they are a bit & miss, but the better ones are good and as ever its an easy way to learn a lot about a particular period. A trip we made some 15 years back to Syria and N Jordan was enhanced by having read one of her books set in the region. Her hero is Marcus Didius which is why Titus' name grabbed my warped attention.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saithis View Post
    That's a whole lot of fighting. This constant drain cannot be good for Rome's manpower. Hopefully Rome can figure out how to shorten its borders with the barbarians sometime in the future, to ensure this sort of thing becomes less problematic.
    The reality is each month I get about 3000 new manpower, so one of those battles cleans out any gain. My solution going forward was to rely more on mercanaries. I disband weakened citizen cohorts and replace them with mercenaries (my economy is very strong and getting better) so in effect I substitute gold for manpower. This allows me slowly (more in the period of the third chapter after this set of reports) to actually build up 2 more legions .... which prove to be incredibly valuable.

    The other good thing is this is the last period when the Danube is aflame (I'm about 12 years ahead in game play), so that running sore finally calms down.
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  5. #105
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    The Vindelicia Campaign, 674-676 AUC

    Vindelicia and the resulting campaign influenced Roman policy along the Danube for the next three decades. In effect, how to prevent such an event ever happening again led to the debate as to what border Rome needed. To some, it was a clear argument that the border had to be anchored on the Danube. Others took the view that this logic led to Rome seeking domination over all the Balkans and Germany, an impossible task. In that case maybe Rome should abandon its newly acquired outer provinces and retreat to provinces that were shielded by the mountains.

    The campaign opened badly. 7th Legion was caught unprepared by a massive Auionian influx and was routed in early June 674. Defeat on the field of battle was rare, but not unusual. Fresh legions could always be sent to a threatened area to reinforce and drive off even the largest of invasions.



    What happened next was worse. By mid-July a few terrified survivors of the military colony arrived in Raetia. With the legion shattered, the barbarians had turned their attention to the small settlement. Protected by little but earthworks and a stockade, it was vulnerable. Many of the men were veterans so the defense had been well organised but overwhelmed.



    By the time this disaster was known, the 14th legion had arrived and together with the battered 7th was preparing to relieve the colony.



    On 9 August, the two legions brought the Auionii to battle



    And in a fierce struggle drove them off. By 14 August, the legions reached the old settlement. Even men who had fought in the civil war and faced many barbarian raids were reduced to tears at what they found. There were no survivors, even the livestock and family pets had been massacred and the entire settlement burnt to the ground. Here was found a torn dress, there a child's toy. Where eventually the forum would have stood, there were clear signs of the last phase of organised resistance. In the month since the destruction a foul strange dust had fallen over the colony.

    With this, the legions readily pursued their foes more rashly than was wise. But the desire for revenge overcame cautious calculation.



    And the senate ordered the colony to be rebuilt.



    Almost by accident this determined Rome's strategy on the Danube. There was to be no retreat behind the Alps, so the frontier would be pushed eastwards till it lay along the defensible Danube.

    The rest of the campaign took well over a year. No mercy was offered, and even by the usual nature of Roman revenge this was harsh. Villages were destroyed, their livestock killed or driven off. However, the war was not one sided. In September, the 14th Legion was routed near the colony.



    Leading to panic in the new settlement. This time however, the rebuilt fort held. Equally the long brutal campaign had badly weakened the Auionii



    It took till May 676 before the Auiones were finally defeated



    Worn down by nearly 2 years of warfare they were starving, most were wounded, and no match for the 7th and 14th legions that brought them to bay. The resulting battle was brief and very few were spared. The slaves were sent to the newly opened silver mines in Iberia [1]. None of this tribe were to be allowed the life of relative luxury in Rome followed by becoming freedmen on the death of their owner.

    [1] – The Romans used raw acids to loosen the silver from the rock. Few who worked in such conditions were expected to live for long.
    Last edited by loki100; 11-08-2012 at 17:38.
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  6. #106
    Major dragonizer's Avatar
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    Ouch that hurts but life goes on.
    Use my EU3 strategy destroy everyone then life is simpler?
    easier said than done though.
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  7. #107
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Those Barbarians are doing a real number on you. Does barbarian tech improve over time like rebel tech in EU, or are they just stubborn, hard-to-kill bastards?
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  8. #108
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    Ugh. You won, but what a great sacrifice in blood it took. Ah well, in the end the province was colored red once more, and you repaid barbarian cruelty many times over with Roman cruelty. Those silver mines sound incredibly nasty. Hurray for civilization.

    By the way, idly Wikipedia'd Titus Didius and found out that there is a historic counterpart to your steadfast commander - also quite capable of relentlessly slaughtering barbarians, although the historic one had some questionable methods.

    Saithis already asked about the barbarians and their tech development (or lack thereof), so rather than repeating her question, I'll just see what your response to her is.
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  9. #109
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    Pretty difficult years! The Balkans are a really big drain on Roman manpower and will be probably for quite some time until you can fully colonize and stabilize the region.


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  10. #110
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dragonizer View Post
    Ouch that hurts but life goes on.
    Use my EU3 strategy destroy everyone then life is simpler?
    easier said than done though.
    In effect this barbarian mechanic is a strong balancing tool in Rome. You can't permanently deal with them (short of colonising the whole map), so they force a divergence of manpower on a regular basis and stop you ever being able to use most of your strength for expansion at the expense of your civilised rivals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saithis View Post
    Those Barbarians are doing a real number on you. Does barbarian tech improve over time like rebel tech in EU, or are they just stubborn, hard-to-kill bastards?
    I don't think so, but then tech gain in Rome is a minor part of the game. They are beatable as usually their dominant unit is 'militia' which fare badly against my heavy infantry. But they are invariably well lead (8-9 leaders) and I'm struggling with 5-6 (in part due to the need to keep certain disloyal people away from the legions). That costs quite a lot that better tech/troops can't easily overcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    Ugh. You won, but what a great sacrifice in blood it took. Ah well, in the end the province was colored red once more, and you repaid barbarian cruelty many times over with Roman cruelty. Those silver mines sound incredibly nasty. Hurray for civilization.

    By the way, idly Wikipedia'd Titus Didius and found out that there is a historic counterpart to your steadfast commander - also quite capable of relentlessly slaughtering barbarians, although the historic one had some questionable methods.

    Saithis already asked about the barbarians and their tech development (or lack thereof), so rather than repeating her question, I'll just see what your response to her is.
    He does come over as a bit of bastard doesn't he. Guess all you can say is it was typical for the time? But of course my massacres were just retribution for their barbaric acts ... that has been the claim of Empires across the ages.

    Quote Originally Posted by Qorten View Post
    Pretty difficult years! The Balkans are a really big drain on Roman manpower and will be probably for quite some time until you can fully colonize and stabilize the region.
    Oddly at the end of that time it suddenly goes quiet. I'm about 20 years ahead now and that was the last really dangerous incursion and its now held just by a single legion. Which is good as the manpower drain was becoming a real threat to my ability to ever be able to take on the Seleucids and Pontus/Parthia. Egypt terrifies me.
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  11. #111
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    Consolidation on the Danube

    After the drama and horror of the Vindelicia campaign, the frontier fell quiet. Raid and counterraid continued but the barbarian tribes had suffered some major defeats and Roman vengence had been thorough. It would take them a generation before they could again muster a serious threat.

    In consequence, Rome was able to create a sequence of new colonies that gave it effective control over Pannonia as the frontier gradually approached the security of the Danube. Maezae, Taurisci and Pannonia itself were steadily added in the period to summer 676.



    However, this expansion, and the issue of the disposal of the spoils of war, led to a major domestic crisis that was as profound as the Auionian invasion. The new governor of the newly expanded province, Lucius Mettelus, found evidence that the previous governor, Quintus Sertorious had been guilty of systemically diverting state funds to his own coffers. In itself this was scarcely remarkable for the time, but to this was added the allegation that it was this diversion of funds that had meant the fort at Vindelicia had been too weak to fend off the initial onslaught.

    As was his right, Sertorious initially demanded a trial before the Senate. As a member of the dominant mercantile faction, he had every expection of acquittal and, at worst, retiring from public life with his gains.

    The trial was more a political test of strength than any formal operation of justice. In particular it coincided with a shift in the leadership of the faction. It was this, unseen shift of power, that damned Sertorious. His old political faction was on the wane as others within the faction sought to strengthen their emerging alliance with the Religious faction [1].

    The first stage of the trial concluded with a frank statement of his venality, what shocked the Senate was the introduction of the charge of responsibility for the destruction of Vindelicia [2]. Stunned, Sertorius looked to his allies to have this removed from the record, their silence told him all he needed to know.

    Before the Senate met 2 days later to continue his trial, he had gone into voluntary exile in Egypt [3]



    [1] - think of the machinations of the Christian Democrats in the period 1950-1991, you'll have a flavour of what this refers to
    [2] Cicero, the trial of Verres is the basis for this
    [3] by convention after hearing the charges and the evidence the accused could withdraw and opt not to contest the rest of the trial. If they did so, they went into voluntary exile taking most of their wealth with them.
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  12. #112
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    Ahh what would we do without corruption then and now.
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  13. #113
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Ah, good ol' crony justice. I like the, shall we say 'pragmatic' approach to justice - so much more flexible than that modern, rigid interpretation of the concept.

    Good progress colonizing the Danubian frontier. How long before those colonies become productive provinces (in terms of income and/or manpower), as opposed to merely being speedbumps to slow the barbarian incursions into your civilized heartland?
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  14. #114
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Aha, the return of your biggest opponent: corruption. Where would Rome be if it wasn't for the petty struggles of men?
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  15. #115
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    Another very enjoyable AAR by you loki! Captivating yet a light enough read, and I especially like how you're structuring this.

    It also seems that Rome is showing its best in your game, with eventful foreign matters and a vibrant political scene. Looking forward to more!
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  16. #116
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dragonizer View Post
    Ahh what would we do without corruption then and now.
    Indeed, corruption does seem to go so naturally with Empire ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuyvesant View Post
    Ah, good ol' crony justice. I like the, shall we say 'pragmatic' approach to justice - so much more flexible than that modern, rigid interpretation of the concept.

    Good progress colonizing the Danubian frontier. How long before those colonies become productive provinces (in terms of income and/or manpower), as opposed to merely being speedbumps to slow the barbarian incursions into your civilized heartland?
    They start culture flipping in the next 10 years or so, and then add a small (300 or so) chunk of much needed manpower once that happens. They are not (& I'm about 20 years ahead in game) of much value yet, but I fancy the idea of borders running on the Danube and Rhine - it has a sort of neatness to it

    Quote Originally Posted by Saithis View Post
    Aha, the return of your biggest opponent: corruption. Where would Rome be if it wasn't for the petty struggles of men?
    well Greek brigands (next post) run corruption close as an opponent, but yes it does capture the wonderful but utterly self-serving nature of this period. Just how Rome expanded IRL, never mind avoided collapse, I'm not sure I quite understand

    Quote Originally Posted by Malurous View Post
    Another very enjoyable AAR by you loki! Captivating yet a light enough read, and I especially like how you're structuring this.

    It also seems that Rome is showing its best in your game, with eventful foreign matters and a vibrant political scene. Looking forward to more!
    Glad you like it. I've gleefully nicked a lot of the narrative structure from Chilango2's Mexican (V2) AAR, with his working of a detailed narrative where it is very easy to just pass over the material.

    The game is proving to be brilliant. I've had to stop for the moment so as not to get too far ahead but I'm really pleased with the consequences of picking such a late start date. It indeed has a real mix of domestic politics and revolts and major tussles with powers outside my starting borders.
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  17. #117
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    Domestic Revolts, 662-679 AUC

    If the Danubian war was one steady drain on Rome's manpower, the frequent domestic revolts were another. In this period none were a threat to the Republic but all demanded time and attention.

    Most were local revolts with very local causes. A corrupt governor, even a dispute within the province that escalated was enough. Inevitably the nearest legion was dispatched and the rebellion quickly crushed.

    The exception was in southern Italy. Here, localism (the Greek heritage from the period of Magna Grecia ran deep [1]) blended with banditry. Major revolts were common, small scale raiding of convoys using the only overland route to Sicily were too common. Almost invariably one, often two, legions were stationed in the province. This formed a major commitment when Rome was stretched with the Danubian campaign and the North African wars.

    Most of the revolts were bloody shortlived affairs, with the local legions able to crush the outbreak at a cost. However, others were far worse. Typical of this was the 662 campaign when the 2nd Legion was forced to fall back to Lucania. There by mid-August it was joined by the 17th deployed from N Africa and originally planned to be disbanded.



    In combination the two legions retook the main towns and dispersed the rebel army by early September. The problem was that beaten in battle, most of the rebels simply slipped back into the hills.



    As the legions withdrew, the rebellion flared anew.



    Again, the Senate believed it was over, only for the revolt to break out yet again.



    This time the two legions were permanently deployed in the province until late 667 when the 2nd had to be deployed to N Africa to defeat a small rebellion that was threatening the new colonies in Cyrenicia.



    Lured into a false sense of security, the Senate left the 2nd in N Africa and the renumbered 1st Legion remained in Ager Bruttius



    The new revolt was put down but almost at the cost of the complete destruction of the legion.

    By late 670, having only partially recovered its manpower, a new revolt broke out.



    The result was a defeat even more shocking than Vindelicia. The legion had been lured into the hills on the promise of being able to ambush the brigands. Betrayed, and trapped in a narrow pass, few escaped the initial slaughter and none made it back to the coast. Italy was open, as the nearest legions were in N Africa and the Danube.

    A fresh legion was hastily formed [2] and the 2nd recalled. In combination they relieved the provincial capital, driving the rebels back into the hills.



    Still the endless cycle of revolt was not ended. In 672 it flared up again



    This was followed by 5 years of relative quiet until 677 when the legions were partially withdrawn. Again the weakened force was not sufficient to hold the province.



    This time the 11th legion had to be withdrawn from the upper Danube in order to regain control of the province [3]




    [1] Carlo Levi in the classic Cristo si e fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli) describes his period of exile in the region in the 1930s. He records his surprise he could understand the local dialect, as, having been trained as a doctor, he understood Classical Greek which was still the basis of the dialect spoken in the region.
    [2] some spare cohorts raised in the civil war and mercenaries increasingly my only means to expand the army, or, as in this case, replace a lost legion
    [3] Ager Bruttius has a revolt risk of 35%, fortunately at some stage in what will be the third chapter it flips to Roman culture and the rebellions die away
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  18. #118
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    Those rebels certainly were persistent.
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  19. #119
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    Pesky, uppity farmers and assorted brigands. Looks like you must have decimated the population in the heel of Italy. The number of deaths is staggering. At least we know that eventually things will calm down - but how long before that happens? I must say, expanding in the East seems an ever more distant prospect, the way the Danube and these sorto-Greeks eat up your manpower.
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  20. #120
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    It's impressive that the rebels always manage to put together those 25000 strong armies after some of those losses - do they have reinforcements sailing in from Greece or something?
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