The Latini empire was given three objectives by the umpire:
These were not the exact wordings of course, but this was the main gist of my objectives. Initial strategy was to be focused on building an alliance against Caspia and securing my borders. This meant the subjugation of Colchis and aggressive guarding of my border with the Chatti/Batavi barbarians. Syracuse did not feature in my initial plans.
The initial talks with the other Hyborian nations quickly revealed that, due to the race over Gandus and the Caspian outbidding me for Hyrcanian support, I would not get any immediate support from the countries in the north of Hyboria. Talks with Samaria however were more promising, particulary after a failed attempt to install a spy network by the Samarian gave me some leverage against him, and eventually an alliance was agreed upon, stipulating a military invasion of Caspia late in the first year.
In the mean time, fevered talks were going on with representatives of Colchis, which focused on Latinum protecting them from their aggressive neighbours (conveniently not mentioning the fact that Latinum was probably most likely to be aggressive towards Colchis). This, after three turns, lead to the inclusion of Colchis in the Latinum empire, and the advance of Latini troops into Aea and beyond.
As said, a plan was made with Samaria to invade Caspia in the autumn of the first year. The place of invasion would be in the central valley between Colchis, Samaria and Caspia. Latinum would advance north from Colchis, meet up with a Samarian army coming out of the mountains to the east, and then jointly advance north to take Brumagara and crush any Caspian force present there. A sound plan, which, according to off the record talks with BD, could have meant big trouble for Caspia. Unfortunately, Samaria proved to be an untrustworthy ally. As is well described in the story about the couple meeting in Caspia featured in Hyboria Today, the Samarian army turned up too late to be of any use. As winter was rapidly approaching, I turned the Latini armies back south and awaited a new season.
While all this was going on, I was also building a war fleet, which was turned to good use pirating upon Caspian and Hyrcanian trade all along the southern coast of Caspia. Through a bit of luck and diplomacy, neither Caspia nor Hyrcanum were aware that these pirates were actually Latini, thinking the barbarians from the island of Labdalon were responsible. In fact, of 12 pirate ships operating in the area, only 2 were Labdalonian, and even these were operating under Latini command, following a particularly successfull round of diplomacy. The entire episode of the pirates lasted only a few turns, but it did bring in a decent amount of cash which would come in handy later.
Finally, another parallel development was the establishment of a temple to the Iulian religion in the heart of the enemy's capital. The influence of this temple in the city affairs was to rise to a very high point, seriously threatening the stability of its reign, before Caspia clamped down firmly on it and reduced it to almost nihil over the course of a number of turns.
Thus ended the first year of Latinum in Hyboria. My attempts at attacking Caspia were moderately successfull, the military side being somewhat of a fiasco, though not through a fault of mine, but I had a firm political power base in Artagera in the form of the Iulian temple, which at that point was nearing the high point of its influence. I had high hopes for the following year, but events were to turn against Latinum in a big way.
Early in the second year, the appearance of a new and strong king in Laconica threatened to drastically influence the strategy of Latinum. I had no idea of Phil's intentions, so I decided on a two-pronged approach: as all other nations did, I sent many a diplomat to Laconica with offers of peace and alliance (methinks that for a time there, there were more foreigner ambassadors in Lakadaemon than there were Laconicans), and ordered the garrison of Bartaventumnium to go south and capture Syracuse to preclude any expansion plans Laconica might have.
The diplomacy worked well, but the invasion of Syracuse turned out to be a debacle. As the majority of my troops was in the north preparing for an invasion of Caspia, I had only a very limited amount of units for the siege, and the Syracusans were found to be particularly unimpressed by this meagre showing. The troops invading Syracuse were only saved by paying off the Syracusans to let them go freely. The Syracusan episode was ended just a turn later when Laconica brought the city under its' control.
As said, the diplomacy worked, but as seen from Phil's wrap up, this was not through any clever diplomacy on my part, but rather the fact that Laconica wanted a free hand in the north and not be distracted by events on his western borders. Nevertheless, a military alliance was made, with the first positive result being the near-destruction of the Caspian fleet off Labdalon, although the speed of the Caspian arrival meant that no Laconican ships actually took part in the engagement. A second result was the joint occupation of Labdalon, not unimportant, as it turned out to be.
On the land side, I executed a surprise attack on Trebia using half my army, capturing the city and holding it against the returning Caspian fleet, which fled towards Gauzania. Most of the remainder of the Latini army marched west from Rosciusium to eventually join up with the army in Trebia, thereby concentrating 90% of the Latini army withing striking distance of Artagera. The great epic of the Caspian War had begun.
At this point, things seemed to be going well. The Caspian fleet along with a part of his army was severely mauled and ineffective for at least a few turns, or so I thought, I had a large army ready to advance into Caspia and an alliance with Laconica to call upon in times of need. The only shadow was the involvement of Hyrcanum in the war. I had hoped to take on Caspia alone, but it turned out Hyrcanum had been waiting for this opportunity all through the first year...
The opening move of the Caspian War was a Caspian-led Brumagaran attack on a Latinum lead Colchisian army outside Aea. As documented in Hyboria Today, this led to a Brumagaran victory and to the siege of Aea, which would drag on for a very long time, due to the remarkable ineptness of the Brumagarans in all things concerning sieges. As a side show, although I had enforced a treaty with them before pulling away my troops guarding them, the Batavi promptly betrayed me and attacked and sacked Colchisium, instigated by the Caspian as it turned out.
I now made a decision which in hindsight was the wrong one: I was aware that the Hyrcanian army lagged behind the Caspian one, and I wanted to crush Caspia while it was still without its ally. Unfortunately, Caspia had appreciated this situation as well and sent its skirmishers south to delay the Latini advance, leading to the fateful Battle of Artagera where the Latini army took on both Caspian and Hyrcanian armies. Needless to say, defeat was swift, and Caspia showed excellent generalship when the Manus Minor, presumed lost at sea or ineffective, showed up in the rear of my retreating army, cutting off the way to Trebia. Only scattered remains of my once proud army managed to get back to Latinum. The future looked bleak indeed...
All through winter and spring of the third year, I desperately attempted to turn the tide of Caspian and Hyrcanian troops pouring south to take their piece of a defeated Latinum. I employed the rebels led by ex-Caspian Harak Nission, whom I had had in my influence for quite some time, and who had already served me admirably in raiding the Caspian gold mines. They were sent into the passes in the Montes Inciviles leading from Caspia to Latinum, with orders to delay the enemy advance as long as possible using avalanches, blockades and anything else they could think of. This turned out to be surprisingly effective, as the enemy advance was delayed a full turn, allowing me to scrape an army together once more out of new recruits and returning stragglers. This, combined with Laconican aid, gave me some semblance of an army again to use in stopping the flood. Rubiconium was deemed lost however, and an evacuation of the citizens there was made.
As expected, in Spring Rubiconium fell to the enemy, and this triggered an event in Bartaventumnium that proved to be of tremendous consequence: the Senate revolted against and expelled Bartholomeus Sinister Grassus. This was the result of a failed matrix argument on my side which had attempted to quench the Caspian-sponsored anti BSG party in the Senate, but - luckily I add - this backfired in a spectacular way.
As it turned out, with Bartholomeus out of the way, Caspia became suddenly open for suggestions, and we hatched a plan to turn upon Hyrcanum. This worked beautifully: through a combination of cutting off the supplies coming through the mountains (Harak Nission again) and looting and burning the country side, the Hyrcanian army was soon starved and becoming more and more ineffective. The Latini army, supported by Laconican troops, then made a stand north of Samnium in a carefully prepared defensive position, and repulsed the Hyrcanian troops, which then mutinied or were slaughtered by the Caspians behind them. This was the end of the Caspian/Hyrcanian invasion of Latinum.
I was feeling very proud of myself for having stopped the invasion, although honesty bids me to say that this was entirely thanks to Caspia changing sides. I was now preparing to retire within my - significantly shrunken - borders and start building a country from the ashes of the Latini empire again. Unfortunately, the totally unexpected Laconican invasion of Bartaventumnium changed all that, and had the campaign continued, I don't think Latinum would have survived for long, particularly now that I know what Phil had in store for the future...
Oh yes, for those wondering (BD :) ), Bartholomeus Sinister Grassus was still alive and well, having retired to Labdalon (told you it would be important) and being firmly in command of some rogue troops and ships there...
I enjoyed this campaign very much and would definitely like to participate in another one. Although the campaign was originally intended to be a means of generating DBM battles, it quickly became far more than that, much to the enjoyment of all of us, I think. I'd like to thank our long-suffering umpire Alan for all the trouble he went through to bring us one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences ever. Three cheers (and three beers?) for the umpire!