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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

StephenT

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This is an After Action Report of my first ever game, played as Rome on Normal difficulty with 1.1. I've kept it fairly straightforward as a description of events, rather than going into a lot of elaborate characterisation and storytelling, so hopefully it can work as an introduction to how the game works for others. As of writing, I've played through 18 years of the game.


rome_01.jpg


Rome’s rise to destiny begins on the Kalends of January, 474 ab urbe condita, under the consulship of L Aemilius Barbula. The international situation is a hostile one: we are at war with Magna Graecia and Epirus. Massilia is our tributary ally, but every other country in the world either dislikes us, or positively hates us. The one advantage of our position is that it will offer many opportunities in the coming years for the Roman people to prove their military virtue and courage in adversity.

First, though, we review our domestic situation, for money is the sinews of war.

Our income of 1.9 Gold puts us fourth in the world. Carthage is almost three times richer than us, and Egypt and the Seleucids are over twice as wealthy. Still, the strength of Rome lies in the valour of its people, not ease and luxury. Our manpower of 141 is second only to Egypt.

We have 8 provinces, of which Roma itself is obviously the most valuable, followed by Campania. Roma is at 90% civilisation, but most of our other provinces have a value of 60-65%. We currently lack the technology to construct any improvements. (And because this game is played with 1.1, we’re unlikely to ever get enough technology to do that…)

The first problem is that two of our governors are disloyal to the Republic. Apulia’s governor, L Valerius Flaccus, has a loyalty of only 30%. Campania’s governor, G Fabius Pictor, is even worse with only 20%. Unfortunately, there is little we can do about this at present. However, Etruria’s governor Q Ogulnius Gallus has a loyalty of 40%, and we therefore replace him with the more reliable G Sempronius Blaesus. This boosts our net income to 1.5 per month.

We decide to create trade routes. Samnium offers its grain to Massilia in return for wine, which will lower the revolt risk there. We also attempt to trade salt to Macedon in return for horses, but this is refused. The Gods may well decree that the Macedonians will regret this arrogance at a later date, but for the moment we decide not to pursue the insult. As for internal trade, Etruria ships its iron to Roma to allow the construction of more heavy infantry there. Umbrian stone is exchanged for Apulian grain. Lucanian wood is also shipped to Roma to allow the construction of triremes and archers there. Following the Macedonian trade refusal, Picenum’s salt is sent to Roma. We fail to interest any of the Greek nations in Campania’s fish, but the Massilians offer to trade wine for them. Trade brings us 0.38 per month, for a total net income of 1.88.

rome_02.jpg


We adopt three new national ideas, which reflect the martial virtues of the Roman people. Professional Soldiers boosts our heavy infantry, Organised Recruitment allows us to train troops more quickly, and Civic Duty makes our citizen soldiers more fearsome on the defensive.

As far as military affairs go, we presently have two legions. One comprises 5,000 heavy infantry and the other 3,000 heavy infantry and 3,000 archers. We appoint the following commanders to our armies: Legio I based in Roma gets M Valerius Maximus, who is both Brave and skilled (Martial 7) and quite charismatic (Charisma 6), but equally importantly is loyal to the Senate and People of Rome (Loyalty 70%). The Legio II is put under the command of G Fabricius Luscinus, who is equally skilled, even more loyal (85%) but has a Suspicious nature. G Aurelius Cotta takes command of the Classis Romana, which comprises 9 galleys.

The war with Epirus is certain to require more soldiers, but we are cautious at first, not wanting to overload our finances. We recruit 2 cohorts of heavy infantry in Etruria and 1 of archers in Lucania. With these preparations in place, we are ready to begin our conquests.


Next: the First Epirote War, 281-278 BC
 

coz1

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Super, the first actual Rome AAR! Looks good so far. One question since I've yet to really explore the game, what did you mean when you mentioned this:
We currently lack the technology to construct any improvements. (And because this game is played with 1.1, we’re unlikely to ever get enough technology to do that…)
Why is that the case?
 

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Chapter II - The First Epirote War 281-278 BC


As the year 474 AUC begins, Legio II is ordered to invade Tarentum, the least-defended of Magna Graecia’s provinces. The Legio I begins the march southwards from Roma. Meanwhile, our navy is despatched to contest the straits and prevent Epirus from invading our territory. On 1 February, once our trade routes are established, we begin recruiting two more heavy infantry and an archer in Roma, and on 3 February Carthage joins us in the war against Epirus.

On 4 January Consul Barbula – who is 51 years old - marries the 16-year old Scribonia Dives. She is quite a character, being both Sarcastic and Loving. However, the demands of his young bride clearly distract the consul from conducting affairs of state properly, because on 16 March he is removed from office. L Julius Libo, former Governor of Lucania, is elected in his place.

Battle is first joined in the war on 25 February, when our nine galleys attack three Epirote galleys off Syracuse. They flee, but no ships are lost on either side. However, on 10 March we are able to sink one enemy galley in the same location.

Finally, on the last day of March the Legio II engages 3,000 enemy forces under Dioedas Philonid in Tarentum. We win an inconclusive victory, killing 240 of the enemy (8%) who retreat towards Apulia. On 7 April our fleet arrives in the Mare Hadriaticum, driving off one Greek galley. We leave five ships to block the Straits of Otranto while the damaged vessels retreat back to Lucania to be repaired.

On 5 May the Legio I ends its long march south from Roma and attacks 4,000 Greeks under Asklepiodorus Zoticid in Ager Bruttius. He is an excellent general (Martial 9) but Roman troop quality and numbers prevail. We suffer 404 losses (7%) but inflict 513 (13%) on the enemy.

Another archer is recruited in Rome, where we are assembling a third legion to pursue the retreating Greeks while our main armies besiege their cities. A Claudius Caudex is nominated to command it.

On 18 May the Roman ships heading back for repair are ambushed by a lone Epirote galley. We escape unharmed, but the enemy warship quickly carries word back to the Greek admiral of our location, and they organise a second attack. This is brutally successful – one of our galleys is captured and the others forced to retreat. We begin construction of two more galleys to restore our strength. To add to the tale of disasters, on 3 August plague strikes in Roma, and we lack the money to invest in the sanitary technology that would be needed to prevent it spreading. Many citizens die.

On 7 October the walls of Tarentum are breached and Luscinus orders an assault. This is victorious, although 312 of our men are killed – and the Legio II’s morale is badly hit, needing a long time to recover. Meanwhile, the new Legio III attacks the Greeks in Apulia, where they have laid siege to our city there. Unfortunately, the terrain counts against us; the Greek general launches an attack on our relief army as it is crossing a river, defeating the two halves of our force in detail. We lose the battle, along with 885 men – 18% of our army.

On 12 November the siege of Ager Bruttius ends in victory. Having conquered all of Magna Graecia, we send an envoy demanding that they cede half their country to Rome and enter into a tributary relationship. They reject our perfectly reasonable demands, presumably trusting to their intact army and alliance with Epirus to save them. Stultos facit Fortuna, quos vult perdere…

Having captured Tarentum, the Legio II is marching northwards. On 17 January 475 it engages the enemy in the Second Battle of Apulia. This time we are successful, lifting the siege and killing 842 of the enemy (17%). General Luscinus orders a pursuit. Meanwhile, on 24 January Maximus’ Legio I attacks the Greeks in Lucania and wins a brilliant victory, killing 1,042 men – over 26% of Zoticid’s army. At this point, the Greeks accept our renewed demand to cede Ager Bruttius and pay 1 tribute per month – which almost doubles our income. We consider it unlikely that they will be able to continue this tribute payment indefinitely… but that will only give us an excuse to attack them a second time.

We appoint Proconsul Barbula (and his teenage bride) as governor of our newly captured province. Its wood is traded to Dalmatia in return for iron. We also decide to send gifts to the Aetolian League – the only Greek state not currently paying tribute to Macedon – in the hopes of gaining an ally. Now we only have Epirus to deal with.

On 15 March our main fleet, reinforced by the two new triremes, engages the Epirote Navy off Syracuse with success -and on 22 July we sink two ships of their navy in the Sinus Tarentinus. We now have naval dominance, and in particular we control the Straits of Messina. On 6 May Maximus leads the Legio I ashore in an amphibious invasion against 8,000 Syracusans under Cineas. The battle is hard-fought, but we lose – 1,509 of our troops are killed (25%) but the Greeks lose 2,078 (26%).

We will need a new strategy. On 28 September we send both the I and II Legiones to attack Syracuse a second time, by assaulting across the Straits of Messina in overwhelming force rather than landing by sea. Meanwhile, Aetolia grants us military access, and the Legio III is shipped across the ocean to Greece for an attack directly against Epirus.

rome_03.jpg



While these military measures are being put into effect, grand national sacrifices are held to increase our stability to +1. In December, distressing news comes from our ally Massilia: a huge barbarian horde of 19,000 Taurini is pillaging their territory and has laid siege to their capital city. As a precaution we recruit more troops, to form a fourth legion.

On 23 January 476 Maximus defeats the Epirotes in Syracuse, losing 1,410 men (11%) and killing 1,065 of the enemy (14%). They retreat deeper into Carthaginian-held Sicily. Meanwhile, our spies report that the Carthaginians have ferried an army by sea into the Adriatic and attacked Epirus - but since they are not Romans, their attack fails miserably. Our own Legio III engages on 4 February, marching in by land from Aetolia. General Caudex engages 6,000 Epirotes (including 3,000 heavy infantry, the first such we have encountered) under Euripides Sosiclid. Unfortunately, our own invasion is also defeated.

Clearly we have displeased the gods in some way. It is perhaps not entirely coincidental that on 6 May our former ruler Proconsul Barbula dies – although history does not record whether this was due to exhaustion at the hands (and other parts) of his Loving wife Scribonia Dives. He is replaced as governor of Ager Bruttius by S Carvilius Maximus.

On 24 May, after a short siege, Syracuse falls to Maximus’s victorious Legio I. He is now 35 years old, and as well as being personally Brave now has the Tactician trait as well – although this is balanced by his Narrowminded approach to research. Half of his cohorts are now personally loyal to him, although he himself is still loyal to the Senate and People of Rome (75%). Following this victory, Epirus accepts our demand to hand over Syracuse and pay 1 Gold per month in tribute.

The doors to the temple of Ianus in Roma are closed at last, and the Legio I is awarded the title ‘Victrix’ in honour of its success. With peace, we can now reorganise our armies: stationing Legio I Victrix on Sicily, Legio II in Ager Bruttius, and Legio III on the northern border, where it will be joined by the new Legio IV once it is ready. The situation in the north appears turbulent - but little do we know exactly what dangers await us there.


Next: The Pentri War 277-76 BC
 

StephenT

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coz1 said:
Super, the first actual Rome AAR! Looks good so far. One question since I've yet to really explore the game, what did you mean when you mentioned this:

Why is that the case?
Because tech progress appears to be bugged. :( When I started the game, it was saying I should expect to get the first level of technology by about 485; but as each year goes by, that completion date gets pushed out another year. I'm currently up to 493 and it's saying I won't research Level 1 until 510 or so...

There are lots of angry threads about this on the forum. :)
 

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Yes, the first Rome AAR! Great! It looks like you gotten off on the right foot, despite my intial thought that with low loyalties there will be a civil war.
 

coz1

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Good to know about the bug. I'd missed that in my reading.

Nice description of the back and forth in your war. Had some tough times there so it seems Rome is no bully to start.
 

unmerged(59077)

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Too bad about the Tech.

Pyrrhus didn't give you too much trouble then?
 

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Pyrrhus gave me no trouble at all (unfortunately). It seems that the Roman army does get defeated quite a lot, but always comes back again for more - quite like history, really.

And tonight I played on until 500 AUC, and am still at tech level 0. It's now saying it'll be 513 before I get Level 1. However, some of the Greek nations are already at 1. Maybe I should stop conquering people and adding new provinces. :D.
 

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Chapter III - The Pentri War 277-76 BC and the Achaei War 273-72 BC


After the minimum possible period of mourning - just one month after the death of her first husband - Scribonia Dives remarries. Her new partner is none other than Consul Libo, Proconsul Barbula’s successor as Roman head of state. Popular gossip speculates as to whether she possesses magical powers of seduction and sexual glamour – but a few people even wonder if she, not her successive husbands, is the true power behind the government of the Republic…

On 31 July Massilia falls to the barbarians who have been besieging her, and the horde begins to march towards our border. L Caecilius Metellus is placed in command of the new Legio IV. However, the barbarians disperse, and we begin colonisation of Liguria. Legio III marches north into Bononia to secure that territory too. It seems that the Roman frontier will be pushed forward successfully into the wild lands north of the Apennines.

On 2 December 2,000 peasant rebels rise up in Syracusa, but Maximus’ veteran legion soon defeats them.

However, this is the quiet before the storm. On 2 March 477 the Celts of Bononia rise against our garrison. 6,000 wild savages attack the Legio III – and then our scouts spot an even larger horde of Pentri coming over the Alps. The Legio IV is sent as a reinforcement – which is just as well, because the Legio III is defeated. Luckily, the Pentri devastate the local barbarians themselves, allowing us a window of opportunity to colonise the province. It seems the crisis has been averted...

rome_04.jpg



Meanwhile, a political row erupts in Campania, where the disloyalty of Governor Pictor has become notorious. He attempts to enslave many of our allies, and we force him out of office – replacing him with the young Q Lutatius Catulus.

On 17 May, the barbarians of Liguria rebel. On 21 May, the Legio IV arrives in Bononia and is met by a second revolt – the local Tarbelli have allied with the Pentri to drive out the advance of civilisation once and for all. The whole northern frontier is afire.

We lose badly, with 1,042 men killed. The Tarbelli tribe – 6,000 strong – then march across the border into Etruria while their allies the Pentri invade Umbria with 12,000 fierce Celtic warriors, and 1,000 more barbarians ravage Liguria. Against them we have only the defeated remnants of Legio III falling back from Bononia to Liguria, and Legio IV retreating to Etruria. Rome faces a worse crisis than at the height of the Epirote War.

At least we have one stroke of fortune. On 5 July the retreating, badly understrength Legio III is able to defeat the barbarian rebels in Liguria. However, it is now at only 62% of its regulation capacity. On 8 August Metellus’ Legio IV retreats into Etruria and is engaged by the Tarbelli there. His forces, low on morale and weakened by previous combat losses, are defeated. On 16 September, after a month-long voyage, Maximus’ Legio I Victrix arrives in Etruria. However, he too loses – our fourth major defeat in just seven months.

On 2 December, one year to the day after their last revolt, 2,000 peasant rebels rise up in Syracusa. Our last remaining intact force, the Legio II, is currently at sea being brought north – instead, it is diverted back to Sicily to deal with them.

On 8 April 478, after long and careful preparation, Metellus leads the Legio IV back into Etruria, at the start of a coordinated multi-direction assault involving our entire army of four legions. With better than 4-1 odds we win the battle – although even now we lose more of our own men than the enemy. This victory comes just in time, as the walls of Tarquinia had already been breached by the enemy when we arrived. The Tarbelli barbarians retreat into Umbria to link up with their Pentri allies.

We now order the entire army to advance into Umbria. 25,000 Romans face up against 14,000 Pentri and Tarbelli… Under Maximus’ command we are utterly victorious, killing 3,414 of the enemy (24%) for a loss of 1,315 (5%) of our own. The barbarians retreat back towards Etruria, and we pursue. On 2 August we catch up with them, but the skirmish is inconclusive and the enemy continue their flight towards Liguria. As they flee we use naval transport to send one legion (Caudex’s III) on ahead to secure the mountain passes and thus win a defensive advantage. Finally, on 22 November battle is joined for the last time. The barbarian horde is utterly destroyed, its surviving members shipped back to Roma in chains. Legio III is given the title ‘Defensor’ to mark the successful defence of the northern frontier, which won us 9 Gold and 1.1 slaves.

Having witnessed first-hand the danger these barbarians can pose to our frontiers we revise our military strategy. We will now station three legions in the north and just leave one in Sicily. Meanwhile, our fleet has been built up to 14 galleys, enough to transport two legions simultaneously.

On 15 September 480 Ager Bruttius converts to the Roman religion. To celebrate, on 1 November we order mass national sacrifices, raising our stability to +2.

Three years after the Pentri War, barbarians again trouble the frontiers. On 2 April 481 19,000 Achaei attack the 8,000 men of the Legio III Defensor in Bononia. We lose – hardly surprising given the odds and thus no disgrace to the commander – but manage to kill 4,268 of the enemy (22%) in return for only 676 (8%) of our own men killed. On 28 May Luscinus’ Legio II, which was despatched to the rescue as soon as the barbarians were spotted, engages the enemy. Again we lose, but there is no reason for the barbarians to celebrate – we kill 4,178 (29%) of them and lose only 668 (8%) of our own men.

Meanwhile, the Caraceni tribe in Liguria take advantage of the disturbance to revolt. They are defeated, but retreat to join the Achaei in Bononia. By 13 July we have once again concentrated all four of our legions in the north - Legio I Victrix arrives from Sicily by sea - but suffered two more defeats in the process. We begin raising another army, Legio V, under the command of G Lutatius Catulus.

Meanwhile, on 5 November Etruria becomes fully Romanised.

The year 482 begins with a military disaster. On 2 January the barbarians capture and pillage Bononia, just 4 days before the relief army arrives. Our vengeful legions defeat the Achaei, killing 1,848 of the enemy (36%) then assault the city to recapture it before pursuing the barbarians into Gallia Cisalpina.

Our victorious revenge adds lustre to the name of General Maximus, conqueror of Sicily and commander of the Legio I Victrix. On 17 March 482 he is elected Consul. Soon after he marries Antonia Dentata, which means that for the first time in eight years Scribonia Dives is no longer wife of the ruling consul. On 18 May our forces catch up with and defeat the pillagers of Bononia, and Maximus orders every adult male in their army to be crucified along the borders of the province as a salutary lesson to all who dare to challenge Rome.

Although small barbarian warbands and uprisings continue to disturb the peace of the frontier, none are particularly serious. However, more important matters are afoot in the south...


Next: The Second Epirote War 272-70 BC
 

comagoosie

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You seem to have a problem with barbarians, though that should mean colonizing northern provinces should be possible.
 

StephenT

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comagoosie said:
You seem to have a problem with barbarians, though that should mean colonizing northern provinces should be possible.
But the Republic has no interest in the terra silvestris horribilisque to the north of us. We want to extend our rule over civilised people, not unwashed hairy barbarians. :)
 

StephenT

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Chapter IV - The Second Epirote War 272-70 BC

On 2 July 482 Magna Graecia cancels payment of the tribute which we imposed on them back in 475. We naturally decide to punish them for this lack of respect towards the Republic. On 1 June Propraetor Pictor (the disloyal and therefore expendable former governor of Campania) is sent to declare war on Magna Graecia. They are allied to Epirus and Rhodes, so this may mean a major war – in the event, Rhodes chooses to go to war with us but Epirus does not. For the moment.

The Legiones II and V are ordered to the attack, while the III is en route from Gallia by sea. Then something shocking happens: a Carthaginian army lands in Tarentum before we can get there! Fortunately, they are defeated and driven back out to sea. A Punic foothold in Italy would be even worse than a Greek one.

On 29 August our army engages the enemy in Tarentum. 10,000 Greeks under our old foe Asklepiodorus Zoticid face 16,000 Romans under Catulus, plus another 8,000 landing by sea. We win the battle, but Zoticid’s masterful command of tactics means that we lose 1,930 men (8%) in return for only 100 Greeks killed! He then retires from the field in good order and heads for Lucania, so Legio V is left to besiege Tarentum while the other two legions pursue the enemy.

Meanwhile, news comes that Epirus has also cancelled the tribute they are paying us. An interesting development...

On 1 December we engage the Greeks in Lucania. Again, we win but at a cost of more than twice as many Romans killed than Greeks. Despite the dubious nature of this victory, our former admiral Cotta, currently in command of the Legio III Defensor, is awarded a Triumph because his loyalty has dropped to 30%.

On 3 April 484, the Greek army returns to attack our forces besieging Tarentum, which have been reinforced by sea. However, not only do we win, but Zoticid is captured! Because he has been such a noble and skilful opponent, we decide to treat the Greek general magnanimously and spare his life. On 27 April Tarentum falls and the last free Greek city on the Italian peninsula joins the Roman Republic. Rhodes agrees to a white peace at the same time.

That just leaves one piece of unfinished business… Epirus. After ferrying two legions (II and III) to Aetolia, on 7 June we declare war. The invasion is a rapid success, and on 28 August 484 Epirus concedes defeat and submits itself to the wise guidance of the Roman Senate. We now have our first foothold in Greece.

The Legio III Defensor is left as a garrison in Epirus while the rest of the troops are withdrawn back to Italy. Meanwhile, our army is expanded again with the addition of a new Legio VI. After some debate, the Senate agrees to confer citizenship on our former opponent Asklepiodorus Zoticid, and appoints him as Legatus of the newly formed legion. Why let his martial talents go to waste?

Two years go by with little of note. On 13 November 484 Umbria is Romanised, while on 14 October 485 Luscinus, commander of the Legio II, dies of old age and is replaced by G Sulpicius Paterculus. Consul Maximus starts a family and has two children, a daughter and a son.

On 8 February 486 an invading horde of 8,000 Namnetes attack Maximus’ Legio I Victrix in Bononia. He loses the battle – despite killing 5,784 of the barbarians (64%) for a loss of only 958 of our own (12%). Still, the Populus is unforgiving. Maximus is not re-elected as consul – instead, Cotta, former admiral and currently commander of the Legio III Defensor in Epirus, is chosen to lead the Republic.

rome_05.jpg



Over the following two years the Republic again knows peace – other than minor skirmishes against barbarians in the north. However, we are not idle. Each of our six legions is reinforced by the addition of an ala socorum of allied troops, boosting its strength to 10,000 men – 6,000 heavy infantry and 4,000 archers. Our navy is also expanded to 20 ships, allowing us to transport two legions simultaneously.

In 488, Consul Cotta turns his attention to Macedon. This upstart nation has several times refused our honest offer to trade for horses. Furthermore, they are expanding rapidly, having already taken over most of the Dalmatian Kingdom. They are both a rival and a potential threat to us; and the path of wisdom seems to lie in reducing their pretensions through arms. A naval reconnaissance mission is despatched to discover their true strength, while our armies are prepared for an invasion.

However, domestic events intervene before Cotta’s plan can be put into effect. On 19 March the consul is voted out of office. Our new ruler is once again the charismatic L Julius Libo – husband of the redoubtable Scribonia Dives, back in power after six years in the political wilderness.

The results of our voyage of reconnaissance now become available. Macedon has 30,000 men under arms: half our own total. However, their allies in the Achaean League, Pergamon, Bythinia and Sparta would add at least 40,000 more to that figure, should they choose to come to Macedon’s assistance. Their fleet numbers 8 galleys with more under construction. Libo decides to continue with Cotta’s plan; at Scribonia’s suggestion Proconsul Cotta’s own Legio III Defensor will be given the honour of leading the attack. Hopefully we will be able to deal with the enemy’s allies piecemeal if they intervene.

We are about to embark on the greatest war Rome has fought in over a hundred years; an attack on the heartland of Greek civilisation, defended by the heirs of Alexander the Great. As our armies march forth, the soothsayers claim that the omens are favourable... but who can truly know the will of the Gods?


Next: The First Macedonian War 265-63 BC.
 

Lord E

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Nice to see the first Roman AAR.
It seems like you are doing pretty well although you have suffered some defeats against both enemies and barbarians, but I guess a defeat just makes the Romans even more stubborn and strong and then when you fight back you fight harder and crush the enemies. The wars you have fought so far have seemed pretty easy, but I think this new conflict against the Macedonians might be a harder struggle; still it shall be interesting to see how it develops. Looking forward to it :)
 

comagoosie

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I sense that there will be a tough war ahead. I, personally, think it is too risky, but is not to say it wouldn't make this AAR interesting. :D
 

StephenT

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I should probably say that my natural playing style is a builder and consolidator rather than a warmonger. In EU3 I'd much rather have Stability +3, profitable trade and high technology, and every province with all its buildings constructed and converted to my religion, etc - rather than just setting out to conquer vast tracts of land and paint the map all one colour. That will probably influence how I play Rome too - although it wouldn't be realistic to lead the Roman Republic without at least a little warmongering. :)

And since this is my first game, I'm still feeling my way as to the best method of fighting barbarians, judging how strong an opponent is, etc. It's certainly true that so far, the barbarians have been more of a problem than rival nations...
 

Sir Humphrey

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Its been fantastic reading, thats for sure. More Rome!
 

Forster

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I am enjoying this. I was disappointed to hear about the technology bug, but at least now I know why I didn't seem to be getting anywhere.
 

StephenT

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Chapter V: The First Macedonian War 265-63 BC


On 11 May 489, the unnoticeable and cautious T Sempronius Gracchus is sent to assassinate Aristotle Philonid, the best Macedonian general. He succeeds, and so the following month we launch a follow-up attack on Nikomedes Zagreid, the only other Macedonian commander with a Martial rating of 8. Sadly, the gods frown on us and this attempt fails. Clearly, we need to trust in the courage and devotion of our soldiers, not unmanly Greek-style intrigue. Therefore on 15 July 489 we declare war on Macedon.

Our stability drops, but we immediately hold a pious national invocation and sacrifice to Jupiter and Mars for victory. Sparta, Illyria and the Achaean League join Macedon in the war, but Bithynia and Pergamon do not. This will be a hard fight nevertheless.

Immediately, the massed armies of Rome march across the borders. Legio V attacks the 5,000 enemy troops in Thessaly, Legio VI attacks the 6,000 men in Taulanti, while Cotta leads the Legiones II and III directly against the 10,000 men defending the enemy capital. Meanwhile, our fleet lands the Legio IV in Dalmatae. Maximus’s Legio I Victrix is left behind in Italy as a strategic reserve.

On 16 August the first fighting of the war occurs when the Classis Romana under Caudex intercepts two Achaean warships in the Sinus Tarentinus. Although the battle is indecisive, Consul Libo awards a triumph to Caudex to boost his flagging loyalty – and shortly afterwards our admiral is able to run down the fleeing Greeks and sink them both.

On 31 August battle is joined in Macedonia province. We win a glorious victory, killing 1,402 of the enemy (11%) for a loss of only half a percent of our own forces. Legio II is sent on to attack Paeonia while Cotta lays siege to the enemy capital of Pilla itself. Meanwhile, on 24 September we successfully defeat the enemy in Thessaly (they lose 692 men, a 14% loss) and on 2 October we prove that our Greek general is better than their best Greek general: Asklepiodorus Zoticid’s Legio VI defeats Nikomedes Zagreid’s 9,000 men inflicting 772 casualties (9%).

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On 4 October the Classis Romana is engaged by 5 Achaean and 2 Spartan ships. The battle is hard-fought, but reinforcements from our Classis II arrive in time to win the day and sink two enemy ships. Our three worst-damaged galleys are quickly despatched to harbour in Aetolia, because the main Macedonian fleet of 10 ships has been spotted approaching. The Second Battle of Sinus Cyparissius begins on 13 November; the enemy lose no warships, but their commander Pantauchus is washed overboard and rescued by one of our vessels, which immediately renders him a prisoner.

On 6 December the Legio II in Paeonia is engaged by Zagreid’s army as it withdraws from Taulanti. Unfortunately, the masterful Macedonian strategist is too wily for our honest troops, and despite our superior numbers we lose the battle and 1,203 men (12%). General Paterculus leads his retreating forces into the safety of the Dalmatian hills.

On 2 January 490 the walls of Epidamnos in Taulanti are breached, and Zoticid orders the assault. This is victorious, and the Legio VI is immediately ordered to reinforce the siege of Macedonia, because enemy troops have been sighted marching to the relief of their capital city. Meanwhile on 30 January the retreating Legio II arrives in Dardania, the rump surviving province of Illyria. Fortunately, we win the ensuing battle despite our poor morale (7-1 odds don’t exactly hurt) and lay siege to the province.

On 17 February Zagreid’s army launches an attack on Cotta’s Legio III Defensor in Macedonia. The battle is a close-run thing, and the morale of the Roman troops almost breaks; but in the end we win a narrow victory, killing 1,158 of the enemy (13%) while losing 1,493 of our own (15%).

Meanwhile on 14 March our 17 remaining ships are attacked by 12 enemy vessels. Both sides lose two galleys, but as the battle is over Admiral Caudex is greeted by the news that he has been elected Consul. Libo and Scribonia’s plan to boost his loyalty by awarding him a triumph has backfired; as the most well-known and successful of our military commanders the Populus now insists on raising him to the highest dignity in the state.

On 24 April the enemy launches a second attack on our forces in Macedonia with 13,000 men. We manage to maintain the siege of Pilla, killing 1,901 of the enemy (15%) and driving them off again. On 11 May we occupy the capital of Dardania, forcing the Illyrians to submit. Since they are an inland tribe on the far side of Macedon to us, we choose not to annex them, instead asking for a swingeing tribute of 2 Gold per month. Legio II is then sent to Scodra, which is a Macedonian province currently under siege by the Vindelici barbarians.

We also attempt to assault Pilla, but the attack fails despite the 10-1 odds and breached walls. On 16 July, however, Delmion in Dalmatae finally falls after 361 days of siege. On 21 August Legio II arrives in Scodra, but battle does not begin until the Legio IV also arrives from Dalmatae on 2 October and we are able to drive the Vindelici off. A successful assault on the city follows, as it has been weakened by the barbarian siege and the walls are already breached. Meanwhile, the Third Battle of Macedonia starts on 10 October as Zagreid once again attempts to raise the siege. We win, killing 1,144 of the enemy (13%) for little loss on our own side. Is Zagreid’s star finally on the wane? The desperate defenders of Pilla still defy our beseiging legions, but it is surely only a matter of time.

On 20 December Larissa in Thessaly falls after a 451 day siege. Catulus leads the Legio V south to Argolis. On 31 December our navy is attacked by the Macedonian fleet, and thanks to Consul Caudex’s inspired leadership we actually sink five of the 10 enemy galleys despite only having nine of our own in the battle.

Meanwhile, the Vindelici tribe has recovered its strength and enters Dalmatae to lay siege to our newly captured cities there. Metellus leads the Legio IV against them. Sadly, we lose the battle despite killing 2,261 of the enemy (25%) for a loss of 804 (9%) of our own men, and are forced to retreat back to Scodra.

On 12 March we attack the Macedonian forces in Argolis, winning a difficult victory (708 enemy casualties – 14%; 1,590 friendly dead – 16%) despite outnumbering them 2-1. However, our triumph may be short-lived, because our scouts spot 20,000 men of the Achaean League marching to attack our legion.

On 12 April 491 Pilla, capital of Macedon, finally falls after an epic 587 day siege. We now control five of the enemy’s provinces (although one is beset by barbarians) and are besieging one more… However, the main Macedonian army has rallied in Maedi province while our southern flank is under threat from the Achaeans. We offer a treaty, but the enemy reject our generous offer of their three Adriatic coastal provinces and 50 cash in return for peace. Proconsul Cotta therefore leads our main force against the stubborn defenders of Maedi.

On 9 May the Achaeans attack Legio V with 13,000 light infantry, 4,000 archers and 2000 hoplites, plus 1000 cavalry. Outnumbered by more than 2-1 we lose the battle, but inflict equal losses (1,075) on the enemy.

On 19 July, though, the Macedonians accept our revised demand for just three provinces and no tribute, and peace returns to the Republic. Dalmatae, Scodra and Taulanti are now under our control. Most importantly, we now have access to horses as well as more iron.


Gracchus is rewarded for his services in assassinating the enemy leader by being given the governorship of Scodra province. Proconsul Libo is awarded Taulanti – the fact that this means his wife Scribonia Dives will now be on the other side of an ocean from Roma may well have been a factor in Consul Caudex’s calculations...

There still remains some unfinished business, in the shape of the Vindelici barbarians still rampaging through Dalmatae. On 6 August Metellus attacks them again – and again loses while killing one third of the enemy army. On 10 December the barbarians capture and pillage the province. However, on 20 January 492 our relief army finally arrives – two legions strong led by Zoticid and Metellus – and kills another 2,500 or so of them. Zoticid is ordered to finish the job, pursuing the defeated barbarians and capturing no less than 22 Gold in plunder.

The following year, an excellent harvest proves that the gods approve of Rome’s actions. We honour them by rebuilding our naval losses and recruiting 6,000 cavalry using our newly acquired horses.


Next: the Second Macedonian War 258-54 BC