The rules of the game require that the commander of the "interior Gauls," those that start in Alesia, may not communicate in any way with the commander of the "exterior Gauls," those that start off the map, until they actually join forces. The "exterior Gauls" start off-map in the southwest but can move from one off-map "zone" to the next without revealing the makeup of forces in each zone. Romans can send cavalry on reconnaissance patrols off-map, which means that the Romans can actually gain more information about the disposition of the exterior Gallic forces than the interior Gallic commander has. The objective of the Gauls as a team is to effect the escape of Vercengitorix from Alesia off the map; the objective of the Romans is to kill him.
Paul gave me choice of roles, and I selected to be Vercengitorix, commander of the Gallic forces inside Alesia - only because I liked the idea of having interior lines of communication. Grant and W.J. elected to be the Roman commanders Caesar and Labienus, respectively, leaving Paul as Vercassivellaunus to command the "exterior Gauls."
This was a lengthy game. I think the rules explanation alone ran over an hour. The initial Roman set up took a fair amount of time after that. But as experienced wargamers, we got the hang of the game in good time.
|Turn 3: Gauls deploy from Alesia, while relief forces|
arrive from south (right) and west (bottom)
Photo by Paul Rice
Later in the morning, I was able to cross the river and establish a bridgehead. Vercingetorix followed soon after and took position on the river to the south, ready to advance an escape or retreat to Alesia depending on how the battle shaped between the southern Romans and the exterior Gauls. Paul expanded the scale of his western and southern incursions and added pressure in the southeast and other diversionary deployments to keep the Romans from over-concentrating at the points of attack.
|End position: Gauls establish a southern corridor for|
the escape of Vercengitorix
Photo by Paul Rice
We discussed at length whether the Gauls had an inherent advantage. Paul, the only one with experience in the game, had seen plenty of Roman victories and offered a rematch with switched sides to demonstrate how the Romans could be played. He felt that the Gauls might have a 60-40 advantage over the Romans overall, but that it was certainly a winnable game for the Romans.
All in all, this was a fun game for a number of reasons, not the least of which was sinking my teeth into an old school Avalon Hill wargame. Other than Midway, I hadn't played many such games in a long time, so it was good to revisit my serious boardgaming roots.