Monday, 17 May 2021

Hannibal, Rome vs Carthage on Vassal Part Two

Picking up from my post in March

Steve and I carried on with eventually two games of Hannibal at the end of which we both felt we had a good feel for the game mechanics and best play, given that the beauty of Card Driven Games (CDG's) is that you can never really come up with specific game strategies and approaches because the games can be quite different one to another based on the cards you end up getting to play.

This post report was certainly more of a challenge than previous ones because this Vassal module rather uniquely doesn't have a screen capture button to allow a record of play to be easily grabbed, so I ended up resigning myself to manually taking screen captures from saved game stages to try and illustrate how our two games ended up.

So to summarise:
Below is the map of our first game that ended up with a crushing victory to Steve playing Carthage ending with 13 provinces controlled to Rome's 5.
The end of Game One with Hannibal and others in control in Italy and Scipio winning in North Africa but not quickly enough. A Carthage win 13 -8

Steve played a canny game, storming into Italy with Hannibal and managing to bring most of his army plus two elephants and capitalising on P.Scipio's disastrous early attempt to invade Spain as I fumbled my way through the early moves trying to work out how this game worked.

The Italian front at the end of Game 1 with Hannibal, Hasdrubal and Mago dominating Italy and Varo and Fabius cooped up in Rome

Once Hannibal was established in the northern provinces of Italy he contented himself just to being a force in being, tying down Roman forces and generals whilst revolts broke out in Syracuse, Sicily and Corsica, which required Roman expeditions to crush and deposit the odd garrison to prevent further trouble and incursions from other Carthaginian generals.

Rome managed a brief resurgence in the middle years prior to Scipio Africanus turning up but Carthage managed to maintain its lead and then with Scipio A making heavy weather of progress in North Africa proceeded to support Hannibal with other forces that started to eat in to Italy.

Scipio A managed to beat up the Carthaginians in North Africa and get before an empty Carthage in the last year of the war but didn't have the cards or time to successfully lay siege and take the place to offset the lead that Carthage had grabbed in captured provinces. 
The North African front with about three more card plays to end the game. Scipio has beaten off the Carthaginians who have retreated back to Utica, and he made a dash for Carthage to try and take the city and win the war but ran out of time and cards!

Soundly chastened by my thrashing, Steve and I changed sides and I took Carthage for our second game which given the lessons learnt meant both of us were playing a better game and now just needed the right cards at the right time to put that learning to good use.

Thus Steve immediately rushed garrisons up to the passes in the Italian Alps to block Hannibal looking to do a similar job as in the first game. The plan worked and as Hannibal cautiously working his way through Liguria, Steve whacked him with several cards that saw half his army dead and all the elephants gone before he had to turn and face a Roman landing force in his rear that defeated the remnants of his army and saw Hannibal fleeing to Spain.

End of Game Two, and only one province separating the two sides with Eastern Numidia left uncontrolled winning the war for Rome

Carthage came back though, defeating two Roman ten point armies in Massilia and in Cisalpine Gaul as Hannibal regrouped and came charging back towards the Alps, this time penetrating into Italy.

Rome then turned its attentions to Sicily, or more precisely Syracuse which revolted and saw a large Roman army before its walls that spent a year laying siege to no avail and ending up decimated as Carthaginian cards repelled siege points and wore down the Roman force.

The Italian front in stalemate as Hannibal with his ten strong army and a siege train faces off Marcellus with a similar sized force but secure in Rome with plenty of allies.

The final game was a close run thing with very rarely more than two provinces in it and with Scipio A making his move against North Africa all to play for in the final years of the war as Hannibal tied down Rome's forces in Italy with a large army and siege train threatening Rome.

In the end Rome came out on top with one province in it, as Carthage reduced Scipio to just control of Western Numidia but not enough cards left to reoccupy Eastern Numidia.

The North African front as Carthage commits troops and generals to fend off Scipio A, but not quite able to keep him at bay whilst keeping control of the provinces.

So Steve came out on top in both games. Well played mate. 

We both really enjoyed Hannibal and this game is up there with our other top CDG's such as Mr Maddison's War which both of us would play at the drop of a hat. The cards really challenge the players to make the best of the situation they face, never being fully in control as 'events, dear boy, events', to quote a famous British prime minister, keep cropping up and need to be dealt with as you try to win a war - great stuff!

This Vassal module played ok but if the designer feels inclined, the addition of a screen grab button would be a useful update.

Next up, Steve and I are back in WWII North Africa as we reacquaint ourselves with an old favourite with a rather unique hidden movement system, the 1984 game from Frank Chadwick and Games Design Workshop, 8th Army: Operation Crusader, more anon.

Before that though I will be taking a look at the Trafalgar game planning, following up on my previous post that looked at terrain and storage. Then I hope to have some pictures and a post of my first trip away since the second lockdown as Carolyn and I take a break up to Shrewsbury and North Wales and enjoy our new found freedoms!


  1. Cool reports, and a reminder of how good a game Hannibal is! Must check out solo options for it again. Cheers for an enjoyable read, and will look forward to your 8th Army report as well.

    1. Hi and thanks for your comment. Well my wife bought me an original AH copy of the game last Xmas and based on this play through on Vassal I’m really looking forward to playing it face to face and really pleased to have it in the library. It really is a great game.

      We played 8th Army years ago so it will be a real ‘blast from the past’ for us so I am hoping it lives up to our memories of the games we had previously.

      More anon

  2. Been exploring Vassal quite a bit these days, even branching out from the relatively safe space of C&C. I'll have to look into this one - my regular opponent is an ancients fan.

    1. We have found Vassal to be a really good substitute for our normal face to face weekly gaming during the pandemic and with FaceTime linked up we can chat as we play and have the normal experience of playing a board game, so I now recommend it happily to anyone interested in giving it a go.

      If you are interested in Ancients then this is a must have game. Lots of period history feel with all the unpredictability that CDGs can deliver.