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 Against The Odds: A Journal of History and Simulation Rome, Inc. Issue #53  Against The Odds magazine has had a great history so far as the...

Against The Odds: A Journal of History and Simulation, Rome, Inc. Issue 53 Against The Odds: A Journal of History and Simulation, Rome, Inc. Issue 53

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Roman Empire

 Against The Odds: A Journal of History and Simulation

Rome, Inc. Issue #53

 Against The Odds magazine has had a great history so far as the games that have come with the magazine, despite the fact that many wargamers slightly hold their noses up at 'magazine wargames'. Basically, if it didn't come in a three inch box it wasn't really a wargame.  Some of my greatest memories have come from playing magazine wargames, a few of them from games that came from ATO. Unfortunately, a lot of gamers look at wargaming magazines as teens look at Playboy magazine. They rip open the plastic just to find the game inside. A little like emptying the box of Cracker Jacks to find the prize. The articles that come with the magazines are just as important, if not more so, than the game inside. Yes, we are wargamers, but we were history nuts long before we found our first wargame (unless you were lucky enough to have a wargamer in the family). Here is a list of the written pieces that come in this issue:

The Whiff  of Grapeshot: This touches on the sweeping history of the issue's contents. This one also has a touching farewell to David W. Tschanz, a long time wargamer and contributing author. He also was a former editor of 'Cry Havoc'. Even while battling cancer he made sure to contribute an article on Marius's Mules.

Order of Appearance - Information on upcoming issues

Rome, Inc: The Roman Empire from Augustus to Diocletian, 27BCE - 286CE

 The Republic

 Julian Emperors

 Claudian Emperors

 Flavian Emperors

 Adoptive Emperors

 Antonine Emperors

 Severan Emperors

 Barracks Emperors

 Illyrian Emperors

 Appendix 1: Incorporating Rome

 Appendix 2: Bread & Circuses


The above are all from the pen of Philip Jelley

On Guards : Who Guards the Praetorian Guards? - Philip Jelley

Gaius Marius and the Reform of the Roman Legion - David W, Tschanz

And the Data Shows:

  Good Pop, Bad Pop - This is Mostly About Some of the  Egyptian Pharaohs and Then Goes Into Louis XI, and Louis XIV of France - Ed Heinsman

Simulation Corner:

 War on the Installment Plan - This is About Resources/Money in Games - John Prados

The Fifth Columnist:

 In-Depth Book Reviews From Behind the Lines - John D, Burtt

So, you can see that there is a ton of history to read about between the covers of Issue #53. It is amazing at times the amount of nuggets that one finds in articles like these.

 The game that comes in this issue is Rome, Inc. This is a solitaire game that places the player as the CEO of the Roman Empire. Your job is to see the Empire through all of the tumults that can possibly happen during those years. Many times the threat to your plans will come from inside the Empire, and not from barbarians without. A good number of the Roman Emperors did not die in bed. You are sometimes stuck with an Emperor that you would probably like to get assassinated ASAP. This is what comes with the game:

Map - One full color 22" x 34" mapsheet

Counters - 280 full color 1/2" die-cut pieces

Rules length - 12 pages

Charts and tables - 2 pages

Complexity - Medium

Playing time - From 3 to 4 hours per scenario

How challenging is it solitaire? - Excellent

Design - Philip Jelley

Development - Dave Boe

Graphic Design - Mark Mahaffey

 This is one of ATO's blurbs about the game:

"You decide where to allocate resources (capital spending), raise new forces (hiring), undertake prestige projects (public relations), pleasing the mob (shareholders), or even setting aside a reserve for a rainy decade or two. You’ll need to blend military expansion with careful administration, as well as intrigue, making the most of what you have each turn, just like any modern-day business.

ROME, INC. will give you a new perception of how war is a cost, business is a benefit, and empire is somewhere in between. It’s up to you to find a balance."

 So, a solitaire game on a period of history that I am all too familiar with. Not by my own choosing, probably eighty percent of the books written about Rome are in the Empire period. I much prefer the Republican Era, but it is not like I am adrift here. I have a liking for a few of the Emperors. One of my favorites was a Thracian named Maximinus Thrax. He was a giant of a man that was the first Emperor to not be of the ruling classes. In fact, he was a lowly soldier that worked his way to the top. I also know that having an Emperor with a 'C' starting your name was not a good thing. Hence, Caracalla, Commodus, and Caligula (I know it is not his real name, in fact it means 'little boots', but everyone knows him by it). You also get to deal with some 'baddies' (from the Roman point of view). Queen Zenobia, who was a much greater threat to Rome than Cleopatra was. She actually conquered a good amount of Roman territory. She is hardly known about at all, compared to Cleo. 

 As the game states, "The player, a CEO of this vast corporate empire, appoints consuls and governors, raises taxes, deploys legions, fleets, and auxiliaries to garrison provinces, and fights wars to expand the prestige and power of Rome." I would add, to also try and keep the Empire alive. However bad the 3rd century was for Rome, the 4th was much worse. So, the player gets a break in only having to last until Diocletian. The game goes from the first Emperor Octavian (the other name will not be mentioned), to the emperor Diocletian.  With murder, and mayhem galore for roughly 300 years. My favorite Emperor story is Octavian wandering about the palace beating his head on the walls shouting "Quintili Vare, legiones redde ( Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions).

 One thing about the game that you need to know is that it is a 'big' game. 'Big' in the fact that there is a lot to do, not in space. Myself, and others, have been amazed when we opened the rulebook, and saw what we had bought into. I had really assumed that it would be close to a beer and pretzel game than the simulation it turned out to be. If you are not looking for an in depth simulation of the period, then look somewhere else. I would liken it to any other deep empire building game, which instead of building an empire, you try and keep this one off life support. I would say remember what Kenny Rogers said "know when to hold them, know when to fold them",  keep an eye out for the next great Emperor, and then try and keep him alive as long as possible.

 The game/simulation shows exactly how tough it was to keep the Empire in statis, let alone to try and conquer more territory. You do not want to roam about your house like Octavian. 

  The game is very deep, and dare I say, excellent. It shows you in an extremely small footprint the history of Rome in the first three centuries. Naturally, after the beginning setups in each scenario it becomes the history of your Rome. You will, however, feel all of the pressures that were put on the empire at different times. The scenarios are:

27 BCE Scenario

70 CE Scenario

138 CE Scenario

222 CE Scenario

Any of these may be combined into campaign games.

 The magazine articles are top notch, and they only lend to the player's feeling that "he has chosen well". Thank you, Against The Odds Magazine, for allowing me to take this issue's game for a spin. Thank you also for all of the deep history of the Roman Empire that you have crammed into your magazine.


Against The Odds Magazine

Against the Odds (

Against The Odds Magazine Issue #53

Against the Odds (

Field of Glory II DLC Legions Triumphant by Slitherine Games  If you haven't been completely oblivious late...

Field of Glory II DLC Legions Triumphant by Slitherine Games Field of Glory II DLC Legions Triumphant by Slitherine Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Roman Empire


 If you haven't been completely oblivious lately, you will know that Slitherine Games has released the best PC game of ancient warfare to date, Field of Glory II. This was followed by its first DLC, Immortal Fire. FOG II has been updated on a regular basis to add even more features and to enhance this already great game. FOG I had a ton of DLCs released, from ancient to medieval warfare. 

 I will list here the new things that come with Legions Triumphant:

  • 10 new factions: Alans, Anglo-Saxons, Caledonians, Goths, Hephthalites, Huns, Palmyrans, Picts, Romano-British and Sassanid Persians.

  • 17 new units: Early Imperial Legionaries, Early Imperial Auxiliaries, Auxiliary Archers, Veteran auxiliary cavalry, Roman Lancers, Late Roman Lancers, Legio Palatina, Legio Comitatensis, Auxilia Palatina, Limitanei, Armoured Horse Archers, Expert Armoured Horse Archers, Fierce Nomad Horse Archers (Huns), Fierce Nomad Light Horse Archers (Huns), Irregular Foot (trousered), Pictish Spearmen and Jewish Zealots. Also the following that were available in the base game, but not used: Roman auxiliary cavalry, Sassanid levy spearmen.

  • 22 new army lists (which together with 2 in the free patch, expands the total number of army lists to 132).

o   Alan 25-476 AD

o   Anglo-Saxon 449-476 AD

o   Armenian 253-476 AD

o   Bosporan 11-375 AD

o   Caledonian 50-225 AD

o   Germanic/Gothic Foot Tribes 260-476 AD (Franks, Alamanni, Visigoths, early Vandals etc.)

o   Germanic/Gothic Horse Tribes 260-476 AD (Ostrogoths, Gepids, later Vandals etc.)

o   Hephthalite 350-476 AD

o   Hunnic 250-375 AD

o   Hunnic 376-476 AD

o   Indian 320-476 AD

o   Jewish Revolt 66-135 AD

o   Palmyran 258-273 AD

o   Pictish 210-476 AD

o   Roman 24 BC – 196 AD

o   Roman 197-284 AD

o   Roman 285-378 AD

o   Roman 379-424 AD

o   Roman 425-476 AD

o   Romano-British 407-476 AD

o   Sarmatian 25-375 AD

o   Sassanid Persian 224-476 AD

  • 10 new Epic Battles: Watling Street 61 AD, Adamclisi 102 AD, Hormozdgan 224 AD, Emesa 272 AD, Argentoratum 357 AD, Maranga 363 AD, Adrianople 378 AD, Frigidus 394 AD, Chalons 451 AD, Nedao 454 AD (each playable from either side).

  • 36 new Quick Battles (each playable from either side).

  • With Legions Triumphant (together with the base game and Immortal Fire) the Custom Battles and the Sandbox Campaigns modules now include 132 army lists.

  • 4 new historically-based campaigns:

o   Third Century Crisis

o   King of Kings (Sassanid Persia)

o   Stilicho

o   Empire of the Huns
The free patch accompanying the release of Legions Triumphant includes major improvements to the campaign system.

  • Ability to fight on after a lost battle.
  • Ability to name your campaign units.
  • Maximum number of battles in sandbox campaigns increased, with more decision points and new possible decisions and events.
  • Additional enemies in sandbox campaigns. You will need to fend off attacks by other enemies as well as advancing the campaign against your primary opponent.
  • Units not only increase in quality following victories, but will upgrade to higher quality unit types when they reach the required quality. (e.g. Raw Pikemen > Pikemen > Veteran Pikemen).
  • Anachronistic what if campaigns – by turning off the date and geographical filters you can set up sandbox campaigns between any two nations covered by the game from 550 BC to 476 AD. Additional enemies in the campaign will fit the date of the main enemy – so that it will be as if your army had been transported in time to a new era.
Other major changes in the free patch:

o   Improved AI.

o   Evaders may suffer casualties even if they escape their pursuers.

o   Chargers will now follow normal pursuit rules if their opponents break on contact. i.e. Infantry (apart from warbands and raw troops) will not pursue.

 As I mentioned, one of the best things about this game is the fact that it is continually being upgraded, and you do not even have to buy DLCs to get the enhancements to the core game. 

 I do not like one thing about the new DLC, and that is the choice of the 'Epic Battles' that come with it. I am not a sandbox type player that likes to pit X against Y army in different circumstances. I like to play historical battles. I can deal with plausible 'what if' situations, but that is about it. The choice of battles to include is highly subjective so it is possible that many other gamers will like the included choices. The modding and scenario creating community for FOG II is amazing and very large. So I have no doubt that the battles that I want to re-fight will be along shortly.

 Speaking of the modding community, there are now mods for all of the following wars/eras to play:

The American Revolution

The Age of Reason

Napoleonic Wars

 This is just a taste of the modding done for the game. These mods push the envelope for the game. There are also tons of mods of redone Epic Battles and completely new ones during ancient times. There are also many full campaigns that have been uploaded for ancient times.

 This is an AAR of my replay of the battle of Chalons that comes with the Legions triumphant DLC. The Roman general Aetius has collected what is left of the Western Roman Empire's Army. Added to this are Franks, Alans, and Visigoths to turn back a Hun invasion of Gaul by Attila. Historically the battle was a loss for the Huns, but the winning Allies did not try to destroy the Huns and their allies. So Attila lived to fight another day until dying of a nose bleed, of all things. I am playing the Huns and trying to change history. The Huns also have allies in this battle, among them the Ostrogoths, and Gepids. The Hunnish cavalry is the typical horse archer from the steppes of Eurasia, and fought in the same way the older Scythians did, and the Mongols in another 700 years. they will ride close and blot out the sun with arrows until you break formation and try to come to grips with them. Historically they were placed in the center of the Hunnish Army at Chalons. I wonder if a better placement would have been to put them on a flank of the Roman/Allied Army instead.

 The first two turns are more a a meet and greet between the enemies. I believe I am going to hold back my right from the Roman Army and try to crush their allies in the center and their right. On turn three my Hunnish cavalry has already disrupted some of the Alan units in the center. Unfortunately, my Gepid lancers on my right flank are not nearly a match to the Roman horse there. On my left flank, my Ostrogoths and the enemy's Visigoths seem to be equally matched.  On turn four my Hunnish archers are still taking a large toll of the Alans. Turn five is much the same, although I do have my archers on both flanks trying to envelop the enemy. I know that one enemy cavalry charge can disperse my archers to the winds, so I will not really rely on them too much. By turn six, it looks like I am fighting three separate battles. The Huns are decimating the Alans in the center, while the Romans are smashing up my Gepids on my right. The fight on my left could go either way. I have chased off some Visigoths, but my Ostrogoths are taking a beating in the center of the conflict. So it is turn eight, and my Hunnish archers have blown a hole through the middle of the Roman/Allied line. I have lost a lot of troops, but my Huns will now be able to sweep either right or left to destroy either the Romans themselves or the Visigoths. Fighting the battle from Roman side, it will be tough to come up with a strategy to keep the Huns at bay.

 This is an excellent game by Slitherine, and will only get better. This DLC Legions Triumphant is another great add on to the base game. I just wish they had asked me which Epic Battles to include; just kidding. 


Caracalla A Military Biography by Ilkka Syvänne    Why did the names of some of the worst Roman emperors start with ...

Caracalla A Military Biography by Ilkka Syvänne Caracalla A Military Biography by Ilkka Syvänne

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Roman Empire


 Why did the names of some of the worst Roman emperors start with the letter 'C', as in, Caligula, Commodus, and Caracalla? I am not talking about the the emperors who only wore the purple for a short time, but those who at least had a few years in their reign.

 I am not a big fan of the Roman Empire; most of my reading is done during the period of the Republic. I have to say that this book is truly an amazing gold mine of military history and everything else you would want to know about the Roman army during this time.

 Caracalla, or more correctly, at birth Lucius Septimus Bassianus, and later Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus was described by Gibbon as "the common enemy of mankind". The author of this book cuts through 1800 years of slanted history to give us the real story of the man and his rule. The book even goes into the history before his birth and after his death. 

 This book has worked its way into the top five of my favorite books. For someone who has been reading voraciously for fifty-three years it is quite an accomplishment. The writing is superb, and it still amazes me what the author has packed into a little over three hundred pages. The book is also filled with pictures, some colorized, maps and diagrams. This is a one book encyclopedia of Roman history and military during the middle part of the empire. When you can take a subject that the reader normally doesn't care about and turn it into a page turner, that is something few authors have been able to do. Caracalla has been one of the poster children for despots for many years. To bring his story into perspective and help the reader rethink his views on a much maligned man is not an easy task. To be honest, the author does not try to make him a Boy Scout, but to bring the history of the time alive for the reader to judge for himself what he would have done in the same situation. Since Caligula, the emperor had been a marked man. Except for the time of the 'good' emperors - Trajan to Marcus Aurelius - the man in the gilded seat seems to have had a target on his head. Very few of the Roman emperors died in their beds, at least of natural causes.
Oddly enough, Caracalla's murder seems to be one of the very few where the Roman Army was actually upset over his demise. Usually they were in the plot thick as thieves.

 I cannot praise the book enough. From the illustrations to the diagrams that show how Caracalla tried to emulate the army of Alexander the Great, the information in the book is priceless. 


Author: Ilkka Syvanne
Publisher: Pen And Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers