Friday, November 22, 2013

Third Samnite War - The Conclusion

This post is a conclusion of my AAR for the Third Samnite War scenario in AGEOD's Birth of Rome game.  Ultimately I have to say that this scenario, while well-balanced, is primarily a land war of attrition.  A scenario with more naval activity might ultimately have proven more strategically interesting - though I did a poor job of utilizing what naval assets I had.

Throughout the scenario I tried to employ maneuver warfare to create an advantage over the AI.  The result was that there was never really any decisive battle but I also wasn't able to sufficiently disrupt the Samnite war-making capacity to bring about a decisive conclusion.

My plan for 297BCE was to attack the Etruscans north of Rome and force them out of the war before any other Samnite allies became active.  I moved a Consular army of almost 12,000 troops north to besiege Volaterrae.

Things did not go as well as planned.

Meanwhile a Samnite army struck at Grumentum in the south, retaking a city I'd taken in the latter half of 298BCE.

By December, the Umbrians had entered the war on the Samnite side, and an Etruscan army had moved to besiege Perusia.  I was able to move a reconstituted Consular army back north to intercept the attackers.  Their attack across the Tiber was not successful, however.  I should have brought them in from the southwest and not across the river.

The situation in the south being mostly quiet, I was able to move my other Consular army north to challenge the Etruscan force once the campaigning season began again in the Spring of 297.  Note that environmental attrition effects are modeled in the AGEOD engine.  Campaigning in the winter, particularly in the mountains, is a good way to end up with a completely ineffective army.  I tend to play with hard attrition turned on for both sides - even moving in good weather has a cost in strength and unit cohesion.

By May of 297 I've not only handled the Etruscan attackers, I'm actively invading the north again, this time with an eye toward conquering the Umbrians.  My main invasion force moves on Arretium while I screen Volaterrae with a force of cavalry.

November sees an end to the Umbrians.   The Etruscans are now isolated from the Senones, who have just entered the war.  This tribe of Gauls can field some very strong field armies and anything I can do to keep them from linking up with the Etruscans should help me control the north.

Before winter shuts down campaigning for 296, I strike at Arminium, a lightly defended city of the Senones and one of my objective towns.

The situation at the end of 296BCE.  Most of Samnium is under Roman control and their capital is under siege.  Utica is conquered and the Etruscans are isolated.  The Senate has reason to be please with the state of the war.

In the Spring of 295, the Gauls march.  A huge army of the Senones moves south and relieves the siege of  Bovianum.  Etruscan and Utican armies also attack south, laying siege to Populonia and overrunning Clusium. Resurgent Samnite armies appear in the southern cities.  In just two months, the entire character of the war has changed and Rome is on the defensive.

Hard fighting throughout the remainder of the year stabilizes the situation in the north. Volaterrae falls to the Romans, who have also recaptured Clusium.  War rages over the east and south still, with a large Gaulish army camped outside the gates of Velia, the Lucanian capital. Rebelling slaves ravage the territory around Neapolis.

Early in 294, some skillful negotiating convinces the Gauls to return to their homes with the booty they've won.

The situation at the beginning of 293BCE.  I've concentrated my armies to make a decisive attack against the army besieging Capua.

By the beginning of 292, I've secured Capua, retaken Grumentum, and decisively defeated the primary Samnite field army through the use of my combined Consular armies.  The Samnites have overrun Hatria, however.

291 Sees no offensives against the remaining Samnite cities.  Volsinii, a formerly Samnite-allied town north of Rome revolts, and I spend the year taking it back. The Samnites use this pause to try and rebuild their shattered armies and launch spoiling attacks on my cities in the South.

All but two objective cities are mine.  I have almost three times as many VPs as the Samnites and strong national morale.  Still, with a National Morale of 100, the Samnites are very much in the game.

My strategy in 290 is a two-pronged attack from the north and the south.  In the north I will first retake Hatria and then besiege Bovianum.  In the south I intend to step off from Grumentum with an objective of Luceria.

The Samnites concentrate at Bovianum and I'm decisively beaten. Through several battles in the area throughout the summer I'm barely able to withdraw my battered legions to safety.  My southern force is stalled for sometime due to the leader not being activated, prohibiting any offensive action and considerably slowing movement.  By early Autumn 290 I've besieged Luceria, but I'm nearly out of time.

A hard fought minor victory. The Samnites and their allies were no push-overs.  I'm interested in trying this scenario again at some point, with an eye toward using naval transport to land troops on the Adriatic coast rather than trying to push through the southern land route.

I really recommend the AGEOD engine for this scale of simulation.  Once you master the basics it plays fast, is historically very accurate, and allows for some very interesting and challenging game play.