Decline and Fall

15 February, 2011

I had a solo game of the short version of this game last Saturday. On the first turn the Goths failed to break through (as did the Vandals). They also failed on the next turn, being left to watch the Huns surge ahead to sack Balkan cities. The Vandals broke through on the second turn and started advancing for Spain. The Goths decided to sit up in Germany away from the Huns and grow. It wasn’t a great strategy. The Huns got very powerful, turning on the Vandals and slaughtering them before turning on the Goths, with enough counters spare to head into North Africa and march for Egypt). The Vandals also got attacked by a daring raid by sea into Spain that overran many of their scattered tribesmen. However, on the return voyage the Roman leader, army and ships were destroyed. The Vandals now had a much safer voyage to Africa and sacked Carthage. They then decided to settle the islands of the Mediterranean, away from Huns; they got to Sicily and Corsica OK, but had a shipwreck on the way to the Balearic Isles. This pretty much sealed their fate (especially when a seaborne raid by the Eastern Empire destroyed their Berber allies). Using the random events, the Goths were struck by plague and then holed up by Huns in Scandinavia! They achieved nothing. However, the Huns were not able to break into the Eastern Empire; a Persian invasion (controlled by the Huns) was defeated by a seaborne response, though the counters from North Africa did succeed in sacking Alexandria.

The Romans won handily. The main mistakes I made were not noting that combined attacks are only possible close to one’s leader. This would have hampered the Huns. I also didn’t do sea movement properly, or carefully enough. Each movement of the fleet has at least a 1/6 chance of disaster. In particular, the move of the fleet to the counters being moved needs to be rolled for, which wouldn’t generally be a problem for the Romans as they only had one mobile army. It was more that I had the fleets in out-of-the-way places, when they could have and should have been with the field armies.

It’s an interesting game, and very nostalgic, as it’d be some 25 years since I played it. It doesn’t play that well solo, as the different players need to negotiate how they will work together; you can’t really play all-out attacks against all the others, as that benefits the Romans too much. The barbarians need to cooperate to some extent.