Richard and I concluded this game today. It might have been my bad play couple with poor die rolls, but the poor Romans had a hard time and collapsed early. We will swap sides and try again.
As per the previous post on Part 1, Richard has again been inspired to provide the following game narrative.
The difficulties for the Loyalist Roman player foreshadowed at the end of Turn 1 came home to roost as the Jutes occupied Tolosa, whilst the Usurper force commanded by Magnentius gathered the entire Britannae garrison and landed in Gallia Lugdunum and fought a series of battles with Silvanus in Gallia Belgica resulting in heavy losses to the Loyalists.
Whilst the Jute incursion and capture of Tolosa was swiftly crushed by the Loyalists and the Jutes were eliminated from play, the distraction of having to shut down this invasion in a rear area and the severe weakening of Silvanus and his move away from the Rhine frontier to confront Magnentius allowed substantial Frankish and Vandal forces to invade and cause significant damage to frontier defences in Gallia Belgica. The Loyalist player decided to eliminate the growing Barbarian threat to Italia Annonensis and resettled the substantial Vandal force in Africa at Cathago.
The control of provinces was stabilised for this turn and only 1VP lost for Barbarian plunder, however, not enough control was regained to allow the loyalist to gain any VPs.
The Visigoths invaded in force and made for the Italian heartland. The Loyalist played the Eagles Leave Britain event, which brought the Britons into Britannae as a loyalist tribe, however, they were soon assailed by the migrating Saxons who landed at Camulodorum and this province remained uncontrolled by the loyalist for the remainder of the game.
The Franks advanced across the Rhine and played "Garrison Surprised" at Augustodorum in Gallia Belgica, wiping out the garrison and successfully besieging the city and gaining plunder, before immediately moving on to attack the Loyalist Roman force in Durocortorum who avoided battle. The Loyalist player then played the "Invaders go East" card and the significant Frankish force was placed in the far east box and out of Gallia Belgica. (They will feature in the final act of the game a little later on....)
In another blow, the Barbarians targeted Theodosius Snr at Mediolanum, with Usurper Emperor and flipped control over Italia Annonensis away from the Loyalists. The Loyalist summoned support from Byzantium allies who took up positions in Sirmium to shore up the province of Illyria and there was some manoeuvre, but no decisive combat between the usurper and loyalists for the remainder of the turn, although a successful interception by the Usurper Emperor and then subsequent avoid battle by the Loyalist left a substantial Usurper force consolidated in Southern Gallia at Lugdunum.
Some limited raiding generated plunder and this coupled with losses of provinces in Gallia lead to negative VPs for the loyalist. (They lose immediately if the VP total goes to zero).
The Franks, seeking revenge for their banishment migrated swiftly through the trails of Germania and found themselves once again on the border, poised for further incursion through play of Barbarian migration in the strategy phase and also regular migration in that phase, now moving at up to 2 spaces per migration move.
Patricide or not?
A series of bloody battles between the two rival Emperors Theodosius Jnr (Loyalist) vs his dad Snr (Usurper) sealed the fate of the empire this turn. In a horrendous run of combat rolls by the Loyalist (which pervaded the entire session), saw significant losses accrue to the Loyalist forces, to the point that they were a spent force after losing battle after battle. Theodosius Jnr was eventually eliminated after his force was completely wiped out and this also cost the Loyalists a VP due to elimination of Emperor.
Things were no better elsewhere as the Franks moved a huge force under Aleric into Italia Suburbicarica and defeated Arbogastus on the outskirts of Rome following the Barbarians play of "Barbarian Fervor" which gave a massive +4 DRM. Rome was subsequently sacked by the Franks.
In a final cruel blow to the loyalists, the Barbarian played "Revolt against Rome" which flipped the only just resettled Alleman tribe back to Barbarian control and cost the Loyalists control of another province.
With control of the provinces, now just Africa and Illyria this generated a devastating -4 VPs. This was enough to drop the Loyalist VP to zero, so game over.
An extremely tough game for the Roman player, who was unbalanced by Usurpers and had a shocking run of combat die roll losses. The timing of the receipt of the Usurper Emperor cards in this game, meant that the Loyalist player was constantly battling a civil war whilst being unable to offer any effective resistance against the Barbarians.
It will be interesting to see if further play of this game can generate some kind of workable strategy to hold off the Barbarians whilst dealing with the devastation and distraction which is caused by the Usurper threat, which seems to be a devastating element of the Barbarian player's armoury.