I Think I Finally Got the Hang of Bagradas

This particular scenario is sort of a starter tutorial on using calvary to good effect, and also one of the rare scenarios in the base game featuring elephants. I’m not Hasdrubal this time, but Xanthippus. (One of the more ancient Hasdrubals is on my right flank. I’m not sure that was a great idea, then or in this game.) Hamilcar is waay over on the left flank. I guess Hasdrubal needed supervision or something.

On the other side (I’m not sure why I side on the Carthagian army for these scenarios, especially when I keep losing, even when playing against myself) are the Romans this time, led by Regulus and Anonymous Leader Guy.

My problem in previous scenarios is that I didn’t know how to handle calvary. If you don’t handle them correctly, they (having, basically, life points of 3 blocks versus foot units with 4 blocks) they get slaughtered. Elephants are even worse, consisting of only two life points, but it helps that they ignore one side of the combat dice rolled against them.

Calvary is very mobile, but I could never figure out the right time to evade; and elephants are slow but man, you don’t want to be a strong unit and fight against them. The way elephant combat works replicates them historically stomping heavier units who can’t get out of the way, and do poorly against fleeter, though less powerful, units. It’s rather simple and brilliant.

The Roman army in this scenario is very heavy on foot (heavy foot and medium foot, with tiny sprinklings of light foot), whereas the Carthagian army has more calvary units and the elephants, and some foot.

I read the historical paragraph a little more closely this time, and found out it also contained some strategy tips (which I had always sort of glossed over before):

Carthaginian cavalry and elephants routed the Roman cavalry, and then turned on the flanks and rear of the Roman army, now fully engaged with the Carthaginian infantry. The Roman army disintegrated. Those who survived told of the horror of being overrun by elephants and cavalry.

I really should have listened to that earlier. And that was exactly what I did—I held back on the elephants but still moved them (I think of the term “developing pieces” in chess) to provide support for the Carthagian foot units, and moved calvary more as kind of guerilla movements, each with a leader to provide a combat bonus.

And it pretty much happened like the historical version. It didn’t help the Romans that they had only four cards per turn (which is how you order units to move, and sometimes you get cards that aren’t ideal, because war communications are not—another simple and brilliant simulation that doesn’t get in the way), to represent to dumbassness over-confidence of Regulus; and six cards for Xanthippus, who actually had a clue and trained up his army beforehand.

The Cartagians achieved the goal of 7 flags fairly easily. I kept playing afterwards, though, to see if the Romans could fight back. It… didn’t work out so well for the Romans, because by this time the slow Carthagian foot had made it to the front lines, and the Roman heavy and medium foot had been pretty much stomped by elephants, leaving the rest of the Romans easy pickings. (The elephants each had to retreat, actually, but when they do that they still trample the opponents and friendly units in the adjacent spaces, so… yeah. They’re quite, quite dangerous.)

Regulus was killed when his third unit died around him and he became more vulnerable to the leader hit rules; Anonymous Leader Guy fled the battlefield. All the Carthagian leaders survived, although Hasdrubal (whichever one he was) went into combat around halfway through the battle, then fled nearly off the battlefield on his own side, and never rejoined the rest of his homies and seemed to have a smoke with the rest of his medium calvary unit. Meanwhile Xanthippus and Hamilcar almost died four times each. I don’t know if this is what happened in the real battle, but somehow I wouldn’t be terribly surprised.

I can’t wait for next year. Or the next scenarios, now that I think I have the hang of mounted units. I hear in later expansions there are medium and heavy camel units. So neat.