Saturday, February 1, 2014

Battle of the Trebia - AAR part 2

I picked up the action as a solo game on Thursday night, and fought out another hour of the battle. It started out with the Romans actually winning the first  roll with three impetus. They of course opted to act first...

And promptly turned a LULL card; they lost the toss so the Carthagenians played a card - another LULL, which the Romans actually won, and thus Sempronius turned a new card... WARBANDS CHARGE!
Note the really nice custom cards for Pulse of Battle (these don't come with the basic game, but have to be ordered separately - well worth it!)

Now, there was only one Warband of renegade Gauls in the Roman army, and here they are - Disordered, and with 3 UI lost; in other words, as bad as it can get without being removed! 

"OK, Boss, we'll charge those Elephants that have already beaten us twice - good plan!" This is an involuntary action, so the card can be good or bad depending. With the Elephants rolling a D12 and the Gauls a D4, the outcome was as expected; the Gauls were eliminated. 1 Roman Morale Point lost.

The Romans turn a TACTICAL ADVANTAGE ("save it and try to remember to use it!") card, followed by a MOVE ONE COMMAND GROUP. Sempronius opts to apply it (with the TA) to the badly exposed Roman Knights, but rolls only a single segment without "Fancy business"; the best he can do is to withdraw them 1/2 move, which is enough to get both Numdian units no longer positioned for Flank charges. 

With that, the initiative passes to Hannibal. He turns a MELEE card! First, a fresh unit of Spanish Scutarius boldly charges (up to 1/2 move distance straight ahead) into the untouched "Green" II Legion. 

The opposing Velites throw their Javelins and miss, deciding against an attempt to evade, which would likely fail, and as they are already Disordered (note the not so sacred chicken marker - damned Hyopothermia!), that would cost them a unit Integrity (UI). The Scutari decide to hold onto their Pila for a tougher combat, and roll a D12 vs the Velites D6, with the results as above; that results in the Velites being thrown back 6", losing 2 UI, and the Scutarius following up in good order. 2 more Roman Morale Points lost!

The other Carthagenian unit within 1/2 move of the enemy is a unit of hairy Gauls. They are better charging than being charged, so, they do; right into a unit of Roman Hastati of the III (Red) Legion.

The fates smile upon Hannibal's men once again, and the Hastati are forced back, losing 1 UI in the process; another lost Roman Morale Point. The scowl that Hannibal has been wearing since the Roman Knights ran down Mago's Javelinemen  starts to brighten!  

Hannibal draws a MOVE ONE COMMAND GROUP card, and applies it to his left central command, moving the Elephants forward and also adjusting his other Gallic Warband unit so that it has an open path for advancing, along with other minor adjustments. 

The next Carthagenian card is a MOVE card! Mago's Numidian cavalry only roll a single segment with no "fancy pants" (for the LA guys); they move so as to get on the flank of the Roman Knights, and also get them in the field of fire for their Javelins, but opt to hold their shooting for now. The Libyan veteran infantry adjust their lines and move forwards...

as do the right flank Elephants, the Carthagenian Noble cavalry, and the other unit of  Numidian Light Horse. The Roman Knights are starting to feel decidedly queasy - perhaps the Bratwurst they stole from the last Gallic village they burned to the ground in retribution for the inhabitants supporting the Punic cause was tainted?

On the Carthagenian left flank, the Elephants stomp ahead, and the Numidian Light Horse maneuver to get on the flanks of the Italian Allied cavalry and the Roman IV Legion. All cards have been now played from both sides 1st initiative. 

Hannibal; wins the toss handily for 4 impetus, and of course opts to go first - gotta keep the pressure on! He turns... WARBANDS CHARGE! Both units of Gauls surge forward, screaming with battle lust (while Hanno and Agbal, admiring the Gaul's nearly nekkid bodies, just watch with ordinary lust!)

"Barbarians!  Can't live with them, can't have triumphs without them" mutters Titus Hostilius. The first Gaul mauls the opposing Hastati of the II (Red) Legion, and they withdraw in Disorder, losing a UI and *another* Roman Morale Point in the process; the Gauls pursue, losing a UI (but no Morale Points) as a result. The Velites of the IV (Minifigs) Legion wisely opt to evade the charge,  which came from over 8" away, so it was automatically successful. 

Hannibal turns his next card - MOVE ONE COMMAND GROUP! He selects the right center command of  Gisgo, who rolls a Double Magic Move. The Spanish Scutari charge forwards again, this time striking the armored Princeps, who are still suffering from Hypothermia. Both sides throw their pila in the opening round, but the impetus of the Spaniards carries them forwards, and the Princeps are thrown back with the loss of two UI, and yet another Roman two Morale Points!

Meanwhile the Velites evade the Elephants (their javelins going wide of the mark in the process),  which content themselves with crushing the chests of a few Hastati, enraged by the Pila  they hurled at them. Another lost UI and Roman Morale Point, but the melee will continue on at the next opportunity. 

Hannibal turns a much needed LEADERSHIP card, and moves to his left flank to rally the many damaged units there, along with the efforts of his local commanders, Jabnit and Bromoseltzer, son of Bomilcar. This was followed by a second LEADERSHIP card, and the removal of many Disorder and  lost UI markers. Note that Leaders that are attached to their units can only attempt to rally that unit (at an additional Up 1) - not any others in their command. Of course, they can detach from the unit on this card as well. prior to making the rally attempts, or vice versa, as well as moving up to 12". Army Commanders can rally troops as well, but they are limited to only ONE unit per card, and doing so makes them susceptible to loss on the Army Morale Card - Hannibal has taken a calculated risk.  The Carthagenian Left is still somewhat battered, but their spirits have risen greatly!

With that, the initiative passes to Sempronius Longus and the Romans. He draws the LEADERSHIP card, but the Roman commanders have little success in steadying their own wavering troops. This is followed by a TACTICAL ADVANTAGE card, which is saved, and a MANEUVER card. Consul Sempronius uses that to wheel the Roman Knights around to face the previously Ambushing Numidians of Mago; however, as they begin the wheel, the Numidians seize the Opportunity to hurl their Javelins into the flank of the Knights, and this time missile fire finally manage to hit something; the Roman Equites lose a UI (and another Roman Morale Point), and are forced back, almost onto the second unit of Numidians! Maybe it isn't a good day to be a Patrician, after all?

On the Roman Northern flank, the Velites of the IV Legion wheel to protect the flanks of the rest of their Legion. Sempronius turns his final card - MISSILE COMBAT. This allows the Velites to remove their Arrow (Javelin)  markers, thus enabling them to shoot again. As none of the Velites have targets (and all but those of the IV Legion are out of position and battered), the card has little impact. "By the voluptuous vulva of Venus!" swears Longus. "Four cards and nothing to show for them at all! Amazingly, 

Carthage has won every single melee in the second turn so far, and the proud Romans are down to  just two Morale Points. It is time to dice for a new Initiative, and the wily Hannibal will once again roll his D12+1 against Sempronius" D10. He has only lost one Initiative roll so far, the first of this turn, which wound up helping the Carthagenians at least as much as the Romans!


An overview of the Battle as it stood following the "intermission", I picked up the battle Friday night from this point. Rome won the toss for Initiative, beating Carthage by 1 pip, and opted to go first, naturally! They turned a MELEE card. 

Up against the ropes, Semproniuis opts to charge with all the units that can engage (within 1/2 move of  an enemy directly to their front) in melee. Romans win battles in manly fashion, by straight up fights, not clever tactics, after all!  Five melees result. On the Roman left, the Roman Knights charge the flank of Mago's Numidian Light cavalry. Ambush, shambush! The Hastai of the I Legion (Yellow) resolve another round of Melee against the Elephants they are already in contact with. 

The Hastati of the II Legion (Green) charge the opposing Scutari.  Given that the Romans are Disordered and down a UI, his was perhaps not the most clever move. However, as can be seen my the markers, the rest of that Legion is in even worse shape.

Finally, the Hastai of the III (red) Legion charge a Gallic Warband and the Princeps of the IV Legion charge the other enemy Warband!

Results of the melees on the Roman Left:; the Roman Knights, unsurprisingly, hammer the Numidians, causing 2 UI loss to them, but but become Disordered in the process, and fail to push the enemy back. Hannibal surrenders 2 Morale :Points with bad grace. The Elephants, however, stomp the ravioli out of the opposing Hastatri, although they fail to drive them off. The Hastati lose 2 UI and, more importantly, two Morale Points; Rome is down to Zero MP! This is critical, because if the ARMY MORALE card is turned while they have no Morale Points, , there is a strong chance that the game will end immediately, and the Romans will have to retreat in defeat!

In the center, both melees have no discernible results (in both cases, each side rolled Odd, which ends the melee for now, and the difference was too small to cause any UI loss).

On the Roman right, the fresh Princeps make the most of their better quality (higher Defense Die Type), heavy armor, and also cast their Pila for good measure; the opposing Gauls are pushed back 3" with the loss of a UI and another Carthagenian Morale Point.

Hannibal now has only 2 Morale :Points left himself, and he calls out a prayer to Tannit to give her aid to his warriors. He then turns his card - MISSILE COMBAT. This allows him to remove the Arrow markers from the many units that have the. Useful, but no Carthagenian missile troops have targets at present, and the ineffective nature of missile fire has already been amply demonstrated. It is time to roll for initiative again. HJannkobal rolls a "2" on his D12, adding one to bring it up to three. Sempronius rolls an "8" on his D10; there will be 5 Impetus in the next initiative. Having won the toss, he is ecstatic, of course chooses to go first; if he can bring Hannibal below zero Morale :points, not only  with the hated Carthaginians be subject to the Army Morale Card themselves, but they will have to start paying the Romans 1 point from the kitty for every one they don't have to surrender (this is the only way that an army can increase it's Morale Points during a game, other than scenario specific rules).  It looks like the great Punic general will be on his own today! 

Sempronius turns his first card - a LULL.  Oh no! Hannibal's Leadership die roll beats his, and the wily African seizes the initiative. Carthage turns a card: MANEUVER. This is of marginal usefulness to him at present. He uses it to make minor adjustments in the facing of a few troops near the flanks. Sempronius turns his second card... another LULL! Hannibal seizes the initiative once again and turns a card - LEADERSHIP. Once again, useful, but a Move or Melee Card would be much more helpful at this point. Mago tries to rally his  Numidian LC and fails, and on his own attempt to rally some of his cavalry, Hannibal rolls a "1" on his D12+1, meaning he fails and can make no further attempts on this card. Curses!

Sempronius is relieved that the LULLs in the action have not cost him dearly. He turns his third card, and intermediately turns very pale - ARMY MORALE! The Roman consul consults his oracles. The sacred chickens refuse to eat, and the liver of the sacrificed calf is severely diseased! Disheartened, Sempronius rolls a "2" on his D10.  He must beat the opposing D12 roll, which comes  up a "6". The Romans have failed Army Morale, and must retreat. The Battle of the Trebia is over! Although his ambush failed to have the desired result, Hannibal has just barely managed to wrest a Marginal Victory from the jaws of defeat. 

Postscript: Note the spread of lost Roman Morale Points (gold coins) at the bottom right of the last photo! A check of the next two Roman cards shows that they would have been "Weather Worsens" (which would mean that it starts to sleet, adding a Hypothermia card to both decks), followed by another Army Morale card. A check of the Carthagenian cards showed that their next card was... Army Morale as well! Perhaps Hannibal's prayer to Tannit was answered, after all?


  1. Piquet games of all types lend themselves to narrative style play very well compared to more traditional igo ugo games and one reason I like them so much as it leads to deeper involvement in game even when played solo

    1. Needless to say, I concur with enthusiasm! :-)

  2. Great report, Peter. These kind of AARs help me learn the rules and showcase the flexibility of the Piquet/FOB/POB system. I am setting up a POB fantasy game on the table before the SuperBowl today.

    1. For Fantasy use, I think you may want to have a few more modifiers, especially for Armor, and you will probably want missile fire to be somewhat more effective. Otherwise, many of the ideas from HR will translate fairly well. (not surprising as HR is effectively a BoB2/FoB hybrid, plus magic and character rules). I'd suggest adding the Resolve (or whatever the PoB "Morale Check" card is to noth decks - except for Undead!

      One notable change from FoB in PoB is that there are no Routs! I am not sure if that works for Fantasy, but it is easy to reintroduce if desired. I do think the Even vs. Odd thing is a clever development of the FoB framework. More on all that later, in the Review.

  3. Hmmm, Fantasy routs....just the thing for Dragon diets.

  4. The Gods were listening! Very enjoyable and entertaining BatRep. Well done!

    1. Indeed they were! :-)

      Glad you enjoyed it, Jon!

  5. Thanks, Peter, for a great report. It made me get in touch with Brent for a copy of PoB. We are about to start a 2nd Punic War (using Hannibal Carthage Vs Rome for the strategy stuff) and will use PoB for fighting some of the battles.

    1. I think you'll like it, James, and of course I look forward to reading about your latest exploits!