HISTORICAL BACKGROUNDIn September, 9 A.D., the Roman Governor of Germania, Publius Quinctilius Varus, was informed by one of his auxiliary commanders, a Romanized German leader named Arminius, that several of the Germanic tribes near the Rhine had become restive and even rebellious. This was unwelcome news to Varus: Germania had only been pacified and declared a Province of Rome two years earlier, in 7 A.D. To prevent a widespread revolt from taking root in his newly-conquered province, the Roman Governor ordered the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Legions, along with their auxiliaries, to immediately march from their fortified encampments on the Weser River — in what is today, Central Germany — west towards the Rhine. Unfortunately for Varus, the rebels were not waiting for the Romans on the Rhine, but were in his own camp.
The traitor Arminius had laid a clever trap for the trusting Governor and his Legions; one that would spring closed on the unsuspecting Romans as they passed into the Teutoburg Forest. When the marching legions, already encumbered by a large baggage train, entered this area of heavy forest and wild marshes, the Romans were ambushed by a large army made up of Germanic tribes loyal to Arminius. Unable to deploy properly because of the broken, swampy ground and rough terrain, all three legions were virtually annihilated in a battle that lasted for three days. It was one of the worst Roman military defeats since Cannae. Varus, when it became obvious that the situation was hopeless, committed suicide rather than become a prisoner of Arminius. The loss of these three legions — near the present-day German city of Osnabrück — determined that Germania would cease to be a Roman Province. And despite several further Roman punitive invasions of German territory, the massacre in the Teutoburg Wald, would insure that the Rhine, and not the more eastern Elbe or Oder Rivers, would be the final border between the Roman Empire and the barbarians in the North.
CAESAR’S LEGIONS (2ND ED.) is an operational simulation of the Roman campaigns against the Gallic and Germanic Tribes to first expand, and to then protect the northern borders of the Roman Empire. The basic game system uses the familiar game turn sequence: first player moves and fights; then second player moves and fights. Combat occurs when enemy units occupy the same hex. What sets this game apart from others that use the same basic game mechanics (and die-roll generated combat results), is that the opposing players, besides using terrain, leaders, and combat strength, also use tactical maneuver cards to try to influence the outcome of each individual combat. Sixteen cards per player mean that each player has sixteen different options when it comes to his tactical conduct of a battle. Guess right about your opponent’s intentions, and you look like Caesar; guess wrong and there’ll be no Roman Triumph in your future! Starting with scenario III, the barbarians’ may set ambushes in wooded terrain in anticipation of Roman movements; in addition, barbarian movement may be concealed from the Roman player with the use of concealed movement markers, so long as the barbarians remain in forest hexes. These special barbarian ambush and concealed movement capabilities add suspense, excitement and most importantly, they substantially improve play-balance.
Despite the somehow off-putting use of modern military symbols for ancient military formations (a Roman cohort, for example, is represented by a battalion symbol), there really is quite a lot of period color and feel to the rules in CAESAR’S LEGIONS. The sacred eagle, religious and military symbol of the legion, plays an important role in all the scenarios. Ballista, siege towers, Roman fortifications, ships, marines and leaders all play their part, as well. Perhaps the best feature of the game, however, is that it gives the players a sense of the formidable strengths and weaknesses of the Roman legion. With good leadership, and on the proper ground, a legion was an awesome fighting unit. The Romans, through the institution of the legion, created the template for the professional military organizations that we see throughout the Western world today. The professional Roman legionnaire was a builder, engineer, mason, surveyor, and the finest, most disciplined soldier of his age.
CAESAR’S LEGIONS offers five scenarios covering a century of conflict between Rome and the Gallic and Germanic Tribes on the northern border of the expanding Roman Empire. These are: Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul (59 B.C.), twelve game turns; Caesar’s Crossing of the Rhine (55 B.C.), fifteen turns; Teutoburger Wald (6 A.D.), fifteen game turns; Idistaviso: Campaign for the Eagles (15 A.D.),consists of two 15 turn segments; and the Batavian Revolt (70 A.D.), consists of two 15 turn segments. The scenarios follow the programmed instruction format. As players play and learn the game system, rules are added and complexity steadily increases until the full game has been mastered. Needless to say, scenarios IV and V are probably the best two in terms of play-balance and excitement level. Players will quickly discover that CAESAR’S LEGIONS becomes a much more interesting and challenging game once barbarian concealed movement and the other more advanced rules are added to the game.
- Time Scale: not given
- Map Scale: 10 miles per hex
- Unit Size: legion, half legion, mob (barbarian), cohort/war band (barbarian), double cohort
- Unit Types: leaders/chiefs, eagles, legionary infantry, medium infantry, veteran medium infantry, light infantry, heavy cavalry, light cavalry, marines, ships, ballista, siege towers, and information markers
- Number of Players: two
- Complexity: average
- Solitaire Suitability: low
- Average Playing Time: 1½-2 + hours (depending on scenario)
- One 22” x 28” (two piece) hexagonal grid Map Board (with Turn Record Track incorporated)
- 448 ½” cardboard Counters
- One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet (with Combat Results Table and Tactical Results Matrix incorporated)
- One 8½” x 11” back-printed combined Terrain Effects Chart, Naval Combat Table, Siege Table, Combat Results Die-Roll Modifications Table, Tribal Mobilization Table, Tribal Strength Chart, Roman Desertion Table, Ambush and Concealed Movement Sheet, and Rebellion Climate Table
- Two identical decks of 16 Tactical Maneuver Cards
- One 8½” x 11” map-fold Avalon Hill ad slick
- One 5½” x 6½” Avalon Hill Customer Response Card
- One six-sided Die
- One 11¼” x 14½” x 1¼” flat cardboard Game Box