The Victory of Arminius
Teutoburg Forest, IX AD
Review by David Lent
The Victory of Arminius is a simulation of the battle in 9 AD where three Roman legions were ambushed and destroyed. It was due to treachery by a German in service for the Romans named Arminius.
Arminius is won with victory points. The Romans get points based on how many and what Roman units they exit off the Northern portion of the map. 10 to 15 points give a draw, while the various levels of Roman victory occur with 16-31 points. 1 to 9 points is a strategic German victory, while 0 points is an overwhelming German victory.
Arminius can be purchased in boxed or Ziploc format. I went with the Ziploc edition to save money and space. Included with this game are 140 ½” counters, 11”x17” mounted map and a 12 page rulebook. All of the components are good quality and it’s unusual, but nice to see a mounted map with a Ziploc game.
Sequence of Play:
1) Roman movement
2) Roman combat
3) German movement
4) German combat
5) Advance game turn
There are three important aspects of this game that need to be described before going on. They are deployment modes, facing and stacking.
The deployment modes are movement and combat mode. The front side of the counter is movement mode and has maximum movement, but reduced combat strength. Combat mode gives maximum combat strength, but reduced movement.
All units have a facing in Arminius. The front 3 hexes exert a zone of control in combat mode. In movement mode, the unit only exerts a zone of control in the front hex. Facing changes cost extra movement points, except when moving on a road while in movement mode.
The stacking limit for this game is three. In addition, the units may face in different directions. Regular units must be from the same legion to stack together. However, Roman auxiliaries can stack with any unit. Eagles (standards), leaders, wagons and catapults do not add to the stacking limit. There can be only 1 wagon in a hex though. Fortifications increase the stacking limit in a hex.
Combat in this game is rather unusual. First, an attacking unit must pass a morale check to do so. Otherwise, they are repulsed and retreat. Next, each player determines the amount of assault dice they get determined by a large list of factors. Then the combat values are determined by the values of the units in the stack along with half the value of supporting units. Supporting units must be adjacent to a unit that is under assault and adjacent to either a leader or Eagle (standard). Finally, the dice are rolled and the highest result wins. Depending on how much you won by, the following results may occur: battle rages, one unit is disrupted, two units are disrupted, one disrupt and a leader is wounded or one unit is eliminated.
There are two scenarios: historical and the optional scenario. The optional scenario allows the Romans to have the extra Germanica legion. The rulebook doesn’t say which legion is Germanica. I assumed it is Legion I as that is the historical number of that legion.
The basic setup is for the Germans to determine their forces (some determined randomly) and deploy them on the map at least two hexes from any trail hex. The Romans puts all of their units organized by legions in stacks not to exceed the stacking limit in the order he wants them to enter.
Romans forces are forced to move on the road in movement mode until the Germans ambush them. The first turn that the Germans attack, they automatically pass all morale checks.
The Roman forces have their hands full in this game. Once the Germans set off their ambushes, the Romans are fighting in a really crowded space. Stacks keep falling over and the Roman advance is really slow. If the Romans choose to use the road to continue their movement, they must be in movement mode, which greatly reduces their combat efficiency. The swamp is a tempting short cut, but it costs three movement points per hex and really slows down movement. There are a maximum of 15 turns in this game and it’s really easy for the Germans to block the Roman path and delay them.
This game is interesting the first couple times you play it since it does a good job simulating the crowded chaos of being ambushed in a forest. However, it’s really difficult for a game like this to have a lot of replayability for the Roman player, because having to walk into an ambush every game is disheartening. However, this game is a lot of fun for the German player for the opposite reason.
I’ve been ambushed enough and wish to move onto something else.
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View the components in the unboxing video below: