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Rome Runs Rampant

Posted July 23rd, 2016 at 01:51 PM by Sylvano the Wasabus
We haven’t played a Big Game in a while and I was getting an itch for it.

It’s not just a big ‘scape game- it’s historical in proportion. Our figures have been divided into factions (about thirty at last count) and so we chose which factions will be in the game. We draw up a grid map, add rivers and lakes, sometimes with mountains and other biomes. Then we assign each faction a capitol that generates fifty points per turn. We add outposts all over the map. You have to conquer them- they’re considered independent and their points are 10 X 20d. If you capture an outpost it generates twenty points per turn.

For this game my middle son chose Romans. He’s a big fan of the Roman army and we have a well stocked Roman faction with ballistas, war elephants, light and heavy cavalry and some Gaulish troops as well as the standard Legionaries and archers.

It was just the two of us playing and we decided to just be two factions each. He chose the forces of Arc, but don’t think of Joan. Suri of Arc is their aggressive leader and their army is based on their heavy cavalry. They’re expensive point wise, but my son loves them.

I have been slowly making a gnoll drawer and so I chose gnolls so I could use my new figures. Who doesn’t love new figures? When I make a faction I try to balance it- make sure that it has heavy and light troops, good heroes and weak heroes, cheap troops and strong heavy fighters. The gnolls have a lot of weak dogs with bows and crossbows but not a lot of tough gruffs. Their heroes are vicious but most have just three defence and four life- they don’t hang around long.

I also chose the forces of York, which is a small faction. Frequently I will combine York and the even smaller faction of Kukumerlant if I have a lot of points to spend. York is based on Edward of York’s forces in the war of the Roses, so it is heavy on lightly armoured archers with some pike men and very little cavalry, mostly mounted heroes.

In some games we have used mercenaries but we decided not to in this game. We were really interested in testing our factions and using strategy to overcome challenges. We play a different game than you- we don’t use order markers- each side is allowed to use all its figures each turn if they wish.

The game began with Rome taking an early lead. They took over all the outposts around them. The Roman archers were especially deadly, their arrow volley quickly destroying any heroes or strong opponents.

The forces of Arc suffered one humiliating defeat after another. The start of a game usually has a lot of low point battles and Arc was able to send only one hero or one squad against an outpost with 180 or more points. They did damage for certain, but they could not stand against repeated attacks by lesser figures and they were defeated several times in a row.

The gnolls expanded quickly as well, and came into early conflict with Rome. The gnolls had the point advantage as the Romans had been building roads (30 points per map square). But in the battles, the points didn’t seem to matter so much.

Our Romans also have a pilum option- for five points a figure can carry a one shot spear – a pilum – that they can use on their move turn, and still attack afterwards. It’s deadly. I tried to use the gnolls superior movement to control all the heights and shoot but my son would send his Legionaries forward to take my first attack and then follow up with the Roman archers volleying. He took a lot of archers too.

In the first battles he cut down all my gnoll heroes with volley fire. So I switched tactics, and used more cheap squads, but they couldn’t stand against the Legionaries. I tried delaying tactics- occupying his force with tiny forces so I could build up more points. In the big final battle I outpointed him 1400 to 1000 points but it was not enough. I took the heights and tried my best and although he suffered heavy losses his forces won the day.

Our Big Game is also a game of diplomacy. The gnolls still had other smaller forces in the area and so the nervous Romans made us an offer- we pay them 20 points per turn in tribute and supply forces to fight with their army and they would not completely annihilate us. The gnolls agreed to be a vassal state, even though we both knew it wouldn’t last forever.

The first Roman peace was born and it looked like Rome was in position to conquer the entire world.

(to be continued)
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