Mark came over Saturday for our monthly FtF gaming. This time was his choice, and he went for Spartacus, which he got a couple months ago. No complaints here, didn’t get it only for money reasons, and it looks very good.

The subtitle is more accurate than the main title: Crisis in the Roman Republic 80-71 BC. Spartacus’ slave revolt is the part that’s popularly remembered, but it happened towards the end of an ongoing military crisis where Rome was dealing with a well-lead revolt in Spain and a war in Asia Minor.

I was nowhere near top form for almost the entire day. A bit fuzzy-headed combined with a new game was sadly not a good mix. (I was feeling poorly Sunday too, obviously fighting off something.) Even without that I must say I was having trouble getting a good picture of the game in my head. There are some very fiddly bits with the rolls for interception, avoidance, and withdrawing, which a player aid would be handy for.

Suffice it to say that we didn’t get very far in our game. Definitely want another crack at it, as it is a good system, and ‘is that up or down?’ trouble aside, very interesting.

But for what we did manage: We went for the second scenario, which starts just before Mithradates declares war, and the true crisis starts. I had Sertorius, and the year was a mixed bag. I was able to win against Pompey in western Spain, but the force holding down central Spain against Metellus was defeated and nearly wiped out on a rout. Things slowly went from bad to worse there for the rest of the year.

For the second turn, I lead off with Mithradates declaring war. The way the game works, there’s only limited actions available there the first turn. I advanced out at the end and took over a couple provinces. In Spain, things continued to go poorly, though the threat of Sertorius’s army kept Mark from getting too dangerous, as I shifted back and forth to threaten Metellus, and then Pompey as the two Roman armies shifted close to each other. Raiding allowed me to break his grip on Further Spain as he moved out of the area. The previous turn saw a small erosion of Roman Stability, this turn it took a serious turn for the worse.

For the third turn, things really went my way. Neither of us paid much attention to Asia Minor, but I was able to advance a bit further. In Spain, Sertorius managed to beat off an attack from a heavily reinforced Pompey (‘6′ on the reinforcements roll, which he used to bring all six legions in that army from reduced to full strength), but was wounded in the process. I brought in the second best leader to take over. He beat off another attack, and Mark was forced to join Pompey and Metellus’ armies, which I drove back into Gaul.

We ended the day with Sertorius on the offensive in Gaul and effectively in full control of Spain (there were still a couple major cities in the south, and some ports that needed claiming to make a naval voyage more risky. Stability fell to about -34, and we judged it a Sertorian win.

Further notes: The dice with the game seem to roll sub-par, especially the yellow ones. The Romans being traditionally red, this led to some poor battles for me until I swapped to some dice that we normally use with SFB (which wants low rolls, so it’s not as if these are my ‘roll high dice’. The meat of the battle system itself is good. I like the main results rolls, where casualties and victory are related, but aren’t directly related, though the pursuit can be quite painful (which, alas, is quite historical).

I definitely want to try again with better knowledge of the game, and a clearer head.