With both Kevin and me having won one game each in the finals series, we entered our third game. However would win this one would be in the pole position to win the entire championship (first who wins three games).
Both preceding games had come down the the last few cards, despite Hannibal having been eliminated quite early in the second game. Well, here's an account of how our third game went:
Rome: Kevin Worth
Carthage: Charles Féaux de la Croix
This animation shows the evolving map situation. It's best viewed in a separate window since the below has been reduced in size to fit the window...
Hannibal made an effort to get through the Ariminium gap before the Romans would be able to muster a huge army there in order for it to serve as a roadblock. As Rome lacked the transports to bring Longus back to Italy that worked out nicely and Samnium fell into Carthaginian hands by the end of the campaigning season.
Bad news arrived from Rome in that the Roman people had elected Marcellus - a seasoned and talented general - consul for the year 217 BC. This allowed the Romans to go toe to toe with Hannibal and a series of battles whittled down his force somewhat. Hannibal - at this point down in Lucania - judged that further remaining in the South would prove untenable and thus stole past Marcellus, passed Rome, force marched to Ariminium and defeated the rearguard consul Paulus had left there before venturing into Gallia Cisalpine in an effort to bring Gisgo's smallish army up there to battle.
Marcellus followed in hot pursuit and made it to Firmum Picenum, just a few miles south of Hannibal's camp. Hannibal then had to battle his way through to the lands of the Boii, where the consuls Varro and Paulus had left a rearguard.
Then the Romans launched a concerted offensive against Hannibal. Proconsul Marcellus struck first and badly defeated Hannibal who only limped to Insubrian lands with a token force, very much with an escape to Spain being on his mind. Yet then the consuls struck and Varro assumed command the day of the battle (much as at the historical battle of Cannae).
Both sides mustered 7 battle cards. However, Varro managed to beat the odds as Hannibal's cards were horrific (3 of them being double envelopments we couldn't afford to play). Yet once Hannibal, who had easily gained the initiative had played all his non-DE cards, he had to - there being no space to withdraw to - play the Double Envelopment and by doing so seal his fate as that gave Varro once again the initiative. Hannibal died before 216 BC drew to a close.
With Hannibal out of the way, the Romans sought to bring the war to the enemy. Marcellus crossed the Alps and marched into Idubeda if only to be defeated by Hasdrubal's numerically somewhat inferior field army which had rushed up north from New Carthage. Yet the Romans saw opportunity in defeat and landed a consular army under Publius Scipio in Baetica towards the end of that year's campaigning season. While this prevented Hasdrubal from reaching them in time, the Romans were taken on by Mago's expedition coming from Carthage and were soundly defeated.
Repulsing these two invasions meant the immediate emergency following Hannibal's death had been overcome, but news of the younger Scipio being about to muster an army of his own meant that the Carthaginians had little time for hitting Marcellus in Massiliote territory before the armies of Marcellus and the young Scipio might join and renew the attack.
So Hasdrubal ventured into Massiliote lands and took on Marcellus in two pitched battles, winning the second of the two, wiping out Marcellus and eliminating that threat before it might have become unmanageable upon the young Scipio's arrival.
Apparently those failed invasions of Spain dampened the Roman Senate's appetite for overseas adventures in part because there was still some mopping-up work to do in Italy and on the islands since Sardinia revolted and Syracuse soon also defected. The other reason was the Carthaginians' rapid recovery with both Spain and Africa being protected by respectable field armies. Furthermore, the serious political bleeding exacted in previous years (province count, defeats and Hannibal's demise) was stopped and both Spain and Africa soon were once more solidly Carthaginian.
It is quite remarkable that not a single battle took place after 212 BC. Rome was simply too busy in Italy and on Sicily, not to mention the lack of transports it had to contend with. It's also worth pointing out that a full-strength army under Mago was guarding Sardinia by 207-206 BC. The Carthaginians had managed to recover remarkably well!
The following table shows this:
Looking at this table, I find it quite remarkable that both sides had fairly similar force levels for much of the game. Also, Rome's passivity after Turn 5 also becomes more explicable once you consider that Fabius was elected consul in turns 6, 7 and 9. So at least 5 CUs were tied down in Italy and only one consul was available for overseas expeditions. Anyway, back to the narrative of the final turns:
The siege of Syracuse proved remarkably unsuccessful and frought with setbacks (OPPOSING FLEET, SURPISE SORTIE).
Eventually it became quite apparent that Syracuse would not fall in time and that the only way to win would be a last ditch effort to take Carthage itself. The leaderless garrison of Carthage met Africanus on the battlefield outside of the city's gates. Doing so doomed them, but meant that the Romans no longer had sufficient time to take the capital. It was really an impractical effort anyway considering Hanno's strong army and full contingent of allies would have born down upon the invader.
So the Roman Senate conceded that the war was lost. Kevin sure had to contend with similar frustrations as I had in the previous finals game, in which I equally didn't really obtain quite the results I hoped for after killing Hannibal early on.
In both games Carthage managed to hang on and win despite Hannibal's early demise. Those are uphill battles but such games are far from lost as these two back-to-back Carthaginian victories readily illustrate.
The fact that no battles (leaving aside the skirmish at Carthage right at the end) took place after Turn 5 means few battles were fought (only 10).