Monday, 11 September 2017

Fall of Rome (1973) boardgame replay - Scenario 4

I am playing through the six scenarios in the SPI boardgame Fall of Rome  (1973 version).  I have already written up Scenarios 1 and 2 in a previous post and Scenario 3 in this post.

Scenario 4

So, scenario 3 was very bad with lots of barbarian invasions, revolution and unhappy legions.  Scenario 4 does have barbarian invasions and starts with a bad one – 25 Germanic strength points heading for Rome.  It took quite a few turns to get rid of the German barbarian invasion of this size when they randomly appeared in scenario 3.  The legions are happy and won’t rebel the moment they get together, random barbarian invasions chances are moderate and there is a one-third chance of internal revolutions happening each year.

The big difference between Scenario 4 and the previous 3 is that the militia for some roman provinces are active.  This mean that when a non-Roman force invades one of these provinces militia strength point will appear to help defend.  Militia was not active for Roman provinces in the previous scenarios and even in scenario 4, they are active only to ½ the strength they should be for the province.  And it is only some provinces – Britannia, Gallia, Illyria, Thracia, Syria and Aegyptus. This works two ways – it is good they will be there to assist with invasions, but bad because if there is a chance of revolution and militia are on the map, they will automatically revolt :-(  And worse, in scenarios 1, 2 and 3, there were about 34 legions to move around the board.  Scenario 4 has 12.  Not a lot. I am assuming this low legion count and province militia is to represent the field army concept of the later Roman Empire.

Luckily I do not need to hold all the provinces I start with to win, and can lose about 30 points of provinces and still claim victory.  So it will an interesting scenario – trying to hold on to what I can, and likely making a decision on what provinces to abandon.

Setup.  White markers are to remind me the provinces with active militia.

Turn 1 - 332 AD
Revolt in Africa (1SP) but put it down.  Germans moved in Illyria.  Reading the rules they will not control the province if there is Militia,of which the Romans have some now!  So I put the Militia in a different area and the Germans are attritioned at the end of the turn.  And then I bribe them to stay in Illyria and not move to Rome.  a plan to deal with the German invasions!
The Scythian stack entered Dacia and then I remembered Dacians have active militia - they turn up and defeat the Scythians!  I should have been doing this for the last fee scenarios as well.
Persians take Armenia.
End of turn 1 - Persians control Armenia, Germans still in Illyria

Turn 2 – 333 AD
Persians in Syria eliminate the defending militia and legions, but now down to 8SP.  I move in 3 legions to dispute control.  Taurican raiding party arrive in Thrace. 15SP appear in Scythia.
End of turn 2 - Persians in Syria, some Germans still in Illyria.

Turn 3 – 334 AD
Scythians fail to move, Persians in Syria eliminate the 3 legions I moved there, at a loss of 3 themselves.  I move 2 more legions in to continue to dispute control.  Persians have only 5SP and so do not control Syria yet.  I am running out of legions though!  Taurican raiders are routed.
End of turn 3 - Germans in Illyria (not many now) and Persians still in Syria.

Turn 4 – 335 AD
Scythians still do not move.  Persians fail to dislodge the legions in Syria (due to the 1/2DE combat result is treated as No Effect for legions). A 8SP Scythian raiding party is created (rolled same result twice!).  Germans is Illyria finally dissipate due to attrition.
End of turn 4 - Germans finally cleared from Illyria.

Turn 5 – 336 AD
Scythians don't move. Taurican and Dacian raiding parties appear. Hopefully some militia will help stop them reaching the high victory provinces  Managed to eliminate the Persians in Syria at the cost of losing 3 Legions.   So I keep Persia and Persian reinforcements will only trickle in over a number of turns so the militia may be able to take them out.
End of Turn 5 - Persians kicked out of Syria, Empire free of revolts and barbarians. 

Turn 6 – 337 AD
None of the four barbarian stacks moved (all failed the movement die).  Pictish 2SP appeared but hopefully Britannia's 3SP militia will see them off.  2SP of Persians come back to the board, as well as five legions.  I am now back to full strength for legions - 12.
End of turn 6 - The growing stacks of barbarians continue to fail to move (there is a one-third of a chance they will not moved each time they want to move)

Turn 7 – 338 AD
Well, it had to happen - revolts in Britannia, Hispania, Illyria, Cyprus, Aegyptus.  Lucky no militia were out in those places or the revolt would be harder to put out.  I put down all the revolts except Aegyptus, Britannia and Illyria, and also survived a possible legion rebellion with the 4 legion I put into Illyria. Bribed the Scythian barbarian horde; but not the Scythian raiders that go via Taurica and get caught up in battle there.  Persians and Roman legions stand off (i.e. combat was no result) in Syria.
End of turn 7 - Revolts occur across the Empire and put down some of them.  Persians come back to Syria.  I am now bribing some of the barbarians not to move.

Turn 8 – 339 AD
Amazingly all the non-Roman combat Vs the legions had no effect, all but one was a 1/2DE (which is no effect on legions)! German 25SP appears.  I bribe that instead of the Scythians.  Persia and Legions eliminate each other in Syria.
End of turn 8 - Syria cleared of the Persians.  Scythians are coming as bribing the Germans not to move instead. Illyrian revolt still going one year on. 

Turn 9 – 340 AD
Another 20SP of Germans appear that I will bribe.  Scythian horde bogged down in Dacia.  Persian 3SP into Syria but the Syrian militia knock them down to 1SP.  I lost 4 legions to the Illyrian revolt and 2 revolting militia still in Illyria. Mutual destruction in Aegyptus but the revolt there is put down.  I have three legions on the table, none coming at the end of the turn. 
End of turn 9 - I have three legions in the Empire.  Illyria still in revolt, some Persians arrive in Syria.

Turn 10 – 341 AD
A good turn - one lot of Scythians eliminated by the Dacian militia and attrition,the other raiding party goes to Thrace but eliminated by militia. Persians eliminated by Syrian militia and finally the revolt in Britannia put down.  And 3 legions return. Still bribing the two German stacks.
End of turn 10 - Dacian militia take care of the Scythians; Persians in Syria eliminated but Illyria still in revolt.

Turn 11 – 342 AD
not much to report - German raiding party appear but will bribe it to stay in Germania.  Attempted to put down revolt in Illyria but no luck.  Got back the rest of my legions.  Persian 3SP heading for Syria but not worried as militia in Syria is 5SP.
End of turn 11 - Illyria still in revolt! 

Turn 12 – 343 AD
Last turn. Failed to put down the revolt, failed to get rid of the Persians in Syria.  But other than that, I still control the rest of the Empire I had when the scenario started.  I control 80 victory points and only needed 65 to win!
End of game - never did manage to put down the Illyrian revolt; more Persians arrive in Syria.  Still own the rest of the empire though so a win!

Firstly, I was really lucky with revolts - there is a third of a chance and so on average i should have got 4, but only got 2.  It would have been a very different game with a few more revolts, especially the midgame when I had so few legions - I would not have been able to put them down.

Secondly, I stopped worrying about the Treasury for both Persians an Romans after turn 3.  If I did not go crazy bribing barbarians (i.e. at least 50SP a turn!), the treasury was not going to be an issue for the Romans.  The Persians were getting enough they could but all their units back when needed.

Lastly, having some militia available in some of the provinces really helped offset the lack of legions and they saved the day quite a few times during the game.  Of course, this is offset by the fact that they have a random chance to revolt at a larger value than normal.

It is a little like a training game to show how Roman militia work, getting you ready for scenario 5 and 6 where they play a greater part than in this scenario. A bit of a slow moving game with some of the turns having very little of interest happening.  If more had happened though I would have lost!


  1. Lucky? You were one of the good emperors!

    1. Yes, the lack of revolts had nothing to do with the dice rolls but how I projected my personality into the game - my own force of will :-)

  2. Interesting game - thanks for posting!

  3. Thanks Paul! i have two more scenarios to play.