Hannibal AAR – Turns 1-4

Having finished my War in the East AAR, it is time to turn to something a little more big picture:

This time I will be playing through Forced March Games’ Hannibal: Rome and Carthage in the Second Punic War, published by Matrix Games. Hannibal is a strategic level game with a simple, board game like interface. A nice break from the operational micromanagement of War in the East. Hannibal is also notoriously, punishingly difficult, so this AAR may be more likely to end in failure than success. I elected to start a game on Normal difficulty (harder than it sounds) and to use the standard first move, which starts the game with Hannibal activated and across the alps, in Cisalpine Gaul.

The Situation at the Beginning of Turn One: Hannibal in Cisalpine Gaul, Hasdrubal in Spain

Carthage Turn One:

I have the Gallic Aid card in my hand, which allows me to recruit extra Gallic units if I control 3 cities in Gaul, as well as avoiding attrition when moving into Transalpine Gaul, which will be important if I ever decide to move Hasdrubal from Spain into Italy. Hannibal storms Mediolanum and Patavium, losing 1 unit of Spanish cavalry (2 attack, 1 hit point) in the process. That is a pretty minor loss, and is easily replaced by the 2 Infantry and 1 Cavalry I gain from the Gallic Aid card. Hannibal returns to the countryside to bait the Romans into attacking on their turn. Hasdrubal stays in Spain, waiting for the inevitable turn one Roman invasion. At the end of turn I draw a Hannibal on the March card, which gives Hannibal special movement options, and recruit 2 infantry in Spain and an infantry and cavalry in Gaul.

Storming Patavium

Rome Turn One:

Rome firsts move a fleet out to Spain, attempting to destroy my fleet in the Iberian sea. The Roman fleet routs mine, sending it back to port in New Carthage. Rome then sends Scipio (Publius, not Africanus) to Spain, uses a special “Roman Siege” card to take Emporium, and then moves to engage the numerically superior forces of Hasdrubal in battle:

Hasdrubal vs. Scipio, Round One

There are heavy casualties on each side, but Hasdrubal is ultimately victorious, forcing Scipio and his remaining infantry unit to retreat back into Emporium:

Hasdrubal vs. Scipio, End of Battle

Fabius then moves into Cisalpine Gaul. When I send Hannibal to intercept, Fabius uses his special ability, which allows his to retreat before combat (modeling the Fabian Strategy). I get an opportunity to pursue, and choose to do so. Unfortunately, luck is with Fabius’s screening cavalry, and they cause 1 loss, while taking no losses. Not the most auspicious start to a game of Hannibal, given that the titular general often destroys a numerically superior Roman force on turn one. On the good side, I do get to draw a card for winning the battle, and I draw “Syracuse Revolts,” which could be useful in the near future.

After some random naval and leader movements, Rome plays 2 reinforcement in Rome cards, giving it a massive recruiting turn:

Roman Recruitment, Turn One

Not all is bad however, as a favorable random event occurs at the end of turn one:

A Leadership Change in Syracuse

Hiero, the ruler of Syracuse, has died. His 12-year-old son has taken over, and he lacks the respect of his people. This makes my “Syracuse Revolts” card much more likely to be successful, and ensures that I will play it first thing in turn two.

Carthage Turn Two:

At the beginning of each turn, Hannibal has to suggest a course of action to the Senate. I suggest that the senate reinforce Hasdrubal’s army in Spain, and the senate accepts my suggestion:

Hey Senate, Reinforce Spain!

Taking advantage of Hiero’s timely death, I then play Syracuse revolts, which turns out just as I had hoped:

Syracuse Revolts!

With Syracuse in my hands, I will have access to more fleets and will be able to take and hold Sicily, unless Rome gets a card to take Syracuse back.

After taking control of Syracuse, I move my fleet from Carthage to the Iberian sea and engage the Roman fleet. After a short battle, a destroy one ship and rout the other. This allows me to send Himilco, along with an African cavalry (2-2) and 3 Spanish infantry (1*-1) to link up with Hasdrubal, who besieges Emporium. Hannibal remains in Cisalpine Gaul, where he will recruit more Gallic infantry and attempt to bait the Romans into attacking.

At the end of the turn I draw a second Hannibal on the March Card, recruit 1 infantry in Spain, and recruit 2 infantry in Cisalpine Gaul.

Roman Turn Two:

Rome decides to get frisky this turn, moving Flaminius with 21(!) units into Cisalpine Gaul. Hannibal, mighty general that he is, elects to intercept with his meager 15 units. Luckily, his “Punic Tricks” give him an ace in the hole. An ambush:


The ambush causes massive damage to the Roman army. In the first turn of the combat, Hannibal’s army has 15 hits to 4 for the Romans. On turn 2 I have 14 hits. 4 hits in pursuit manages to eliminate the entire Roman army and kill Flaminius, at the cost of 3 African infantry (1-2) and 1 Gallic infantry (2-1). I think that is a trade I can afford, given that each Legion is strong (1*-2). I also get to draw a card, and pull Emergency Levies/Remove 1 Roman unit from 2 stacks, which is a very useful card. Demoralized, Rome ends their turn, with only minor efforts at recruitment:

Roman Recruitment, Turn Two

Carthage Turn Three:

I begin by requesting that the Senate upgrade defenses in Africa, because Carthage is looking empty, and I may want to reinforce Spain or Italy later. I recruit 3 African infantry (1-2), which form the backbone of my formations because they can take 2 losses, rather than 1, like Spanish or Gallic infantry. The siege of Emporium is going well; the city will surrender next year.

In an attempt to move further into Italy, and take advantage of the crushing victory from last turn, Hannibal attacks the city of Arminium, to seize the mountain pass between Cisalpine Gaul and Umbria-Samnium. After a successful attack on Arminium (with no losses!), Hannibal lays siege to the city of Ancona. Meanwhile, Hippocrates, the Syracusan leader, lays siege to the Roman town of Lilybaeum in Sicily.

Roman Turn Three:

Rome begins by moving a large (6 ship) fleet to the Iberian sea, which annihilates my smaller fleet in Spain. This allows Claudius, who has taken over for Scipio, to flee Spain, heading back to Genua in Cisalpine Gaul. Varro flees Sicily, landing in Tarentum. Rome elects to leave my sieges alone, as they have few units after last turns debacle.  Recruitment has picked up, however:

Roman Recruitment, Turn Three

Carthage Turn Four:

I recommend that the Senate reinforce Italy this turn, which will allow me to move Hasdrubal to Cisalpine Gaul. The Senate agrees. Emporium and Lilybaeum both surrender to my forces, which frees up Hasdrubal and Hippocrates. Hasdrubal travels to Transalpine Gaul, avoiding attrition due to my turn one play of Gallic Aid, and crosses into Cisalpine Gaul with the help of an extended move card. Hannibal maintains the siege of Ancona.

Spain and Northern Italy, Turn Four

Hippocrates moves to lay siege to the last Sicilian town in Roman hands, Messana.

Southern Italy and Africa, Turn Four

Next Post: Hannibal moves south, I hope.


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