The 1st Punic War
3 Player Campaign | Six Player Campaign | Other Resources
The 1st Punic War between Rome and Carthage broke out because a bunch of unemployed Campanian mercenaries turned brigand called the Mamertines (Children of Mars) took the Sicilian city of Messana in 288 BC as their base of operations for raids throughout central Sicily. In 264 BC, Hiero, the tyrant of Syracuse, besieged Messana in hopes of driving out them out. The Mamertines appealed to both Rome and Carthage for help. The Carthaginians got there first, placing a small garrison, which was expelled by the Mamertines when the Roman army appeared.
Heiro then formed an alliance with Carthage and conducted a joint seige of Messana.
A Roman relief army under Consul Appius Claudius lifted the seige and then marched
on Syracuse. In 263 BC, facing attack by two consular armies, Heiro decided to shift his allegiance from Carthage to Rome. With Syracuse as their military base, the Romans then moved south in 262 BC to assault the Carthaginian city of Agrigentum. After a long siege during which the Romans beat off a relief force, the Carthaginians surrendered the city to Rome.
In 260 BC the Romans tried to challenge Carthage's naval supremacy. At first they were unsuccessful, losing the Battle of the Lipara islands. However a change of tactics involving the use of a boarding plank with a large spike at the end (i.e., a corvus) allowed the Romans to employ their legionaries as marines. This meant the Romans could change a naval battle into something more like a land battle where their superior infantry held the edge over the more lightly armed Carthaginian marines. These new tactics were the reason for the Roman's victory at Mylae later in the same year.
In 256 BC the Romans won another naval battle at Cape Ecnomus and followed up by
invading Africa, defeating the Carthaginians at the Battle of Adys. The Carthaginians sued for peace but Roman terms were too harsh, leading the proud Carthaginians to reject them. Instead, the Spartan Xanthippus was recruited to command a new army, which he rebuilt with the Punic civic militia. He proved a good choice, crushing the Romans at the battle of Tunes in 255 BC. Shortly thereafter the Roman fleet was caught in a storm and destroyed, taking with it the ill-fated survivors of the African expedition
After these successes, Carthage took the offensive in 254 BC, retaking Agrigentum and besieging other Roman controlled towns in Sicily. The Romans quickly struck back, taking the city of Panormus in the north of the island. In 251 BC Carthage attacked Panormus and were badly beaten prompting them to sue for peace again, which this time the Romans declined.
In 249 BC the Carthaginian fleet defeated a Roman fleet that was blockading Lilybaeum. The survivors of the Roman fleet were caught in a storm and destroyed. The Romans took this as a sign that the gods didn't favor them fighting at sea and they stopped doing so for a few years.
In 247 BC the Carthaginians appointed Hamilcar Barca (Hannibal's father) as their new commander in Sicily. He beat off all Roman attacks and launched raids into southern Italy. Things changed however when the Romans returned to their ships in 242BC, taking the cities of Drepanum and Lilybaeum by combined attacks from land and sea.
In 241 BC Carthage attempted to strike back but her fleet was decisively defeated at the battle of the Aegadian Isles (Aegates). Carthage once again sued for peace. Rome demanded that Carthage relinquish her possessions in Sicily and pay a war indemnity, which Carthage had no choice but to do.
3 Player Scenario by Stephen Montague
This three player campaign focuses on the conflict between Rome and Carthage with Sicily (Syracuse) in the middle.
The following is a stylised campaign map (PDF format) for the 1st Punic War.
Messana: At the start of the game Messana is not owned by any of the players. If Rome or Carthage move their army into it they take it as part of their territory. However if Syracuse moves into it they have to besiege it. Note if both Rome and Cathage move into Messana during the first turn both roll a dice, the highest has grabbed control and it becomes part of their territory.
Naval Rules: If you are using the naval rules then Carthage has
a maximum naval factor of three and starts at maximum strength. Rome has a maximum of three but starts with no naval factors. Syracuse has a maximum of one factor and starts the game at full strength.
Two Player Variant: This campaign can be played with two players by leaving out Syracuse. If you do so I would like to suggest the following changes be made. Both players can move through and draw supply lines through Syracuse territory except for Syracuse itself. If you want to take over a city however you have to besiege it as usual.
6 Player Scenario by Martin Schmidt
This six player variant puts the 1st Punic War in a broader, western Mediterranean perspective by including the Gauls, Spanish and Numidians.
The following are the "official" DBA armies for this campaign:
The following is a stylised campaign map (PDF format) for the First Punic War.
Magna Graecia is a DBM campaign setting for the Wars for Sicily (398-211 BC), which encompasses the 1st Punic War.
The De Bellis Bookstore features the following titles related to the 1st Punic War:
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Last Updated: April 22, 2000
Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome. Sent input to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.