I have deep sentiment for Falling Sky as it was my first – and let us be honest – favorite COIN series game. Since it was published I had a lot of possibilities to play Base Game – live and via Vassal. When Ariovistus expansion was announced I immediately signed for this. Unfortunately, due to pandemic restrictions there was no possibility to organize face-to-face session. So when Brent contacted me with proposal for a VASSAL game, I immediately accepted.

Our first PBEM (Play be Email) game of Ariovistus ended very quickly – see the details here. Simply, the Gallic and German factions were fighting each other so much, that Romans – without leaving Provincia and Gallia Cisalpina – won the game after first winter! We felt it was too short and decided for immediate re-match.

The Ariovistus expansion

Before jumping into the session report, let me first elaborate a little what that add-on brings to the Base Game. Ariovistus expands Falling Sky to take 1-4 players back to Caesar’s first entry into Gaul, with a Helvetian migration challenging the Aedui and Germanic Tribes pressing close behind. What we get:

  • new playable faction – Germans – and their fierce leader Ariovistus; that also means new pieces for Germanic warbands, settlements and leader
  • Arvernin becoming a non-playable faction but a very dynamic bot, being activated many more times than Germans in Base Game
  • new Scenarios – Ariovistus one (short and longer versions possible) plus super long one, connecting expansion and base game
  • improved player mats – thick, sturdy ones
  • upgraded Non-player rules booklet
  • tons of fun and new experiences with fierce Germans, unpredictable Arverni and Caesar limited to eight legions

So, without further delay, let us jump to the session report!


The Ariovistus scenario set-up (click to enlarge)

Our group assigned factions in following order:

  • Rome – Brent
  • Belgae – Bart
  • Aedui – Mark
  • Germans – Michal (me)

First season – 58 BC

Rome starts from usual strategy of divide and conquer, working closely with Aedui while seizing and dispersing selected tribes.
The Aedui themselves develop nicely in Mandubii region. However, the Arverni threat is also growing there, which will be nuisance almost for the whole game.
Belage are pretty weak at the beginning of the scenario, but are successful in Rallying the whole Belgica by the end of the season.
One of critical developments of the first season was investment of Belgae and Germans in capabilities; those were one of the most powerful ones and will have a long lasting effect on the gameplay.
First winter – pretty balanced situation on map, Rome grow its strength (new legions and auxilia), Germans focused on Treverii, Belgae rallied and Aedui spread its influence.

Second season – 57 BC

Ready for a very exciting second season? I hope you are as after initial built-up of the forces, all factions will clash with each other!

Sequani in our first game was a source of constant trouble – of course, thanks to Arverni. Rome decided to solve that problem – once and for all…
But the most ground-breaking event of the turn – and I would say, of the game – was death of Ambroix. Belgae were approaching victory threshold by the end of the season two and something has to be done. Germans marched into Atrebates and thanks to lucky sequence of the events, inflicted 16 hits, completely vaporizing the Belgae capital region and its leader.
While atrocities were committed in Belgae, Rome colonized and secured Gallia Togata.
At the time when Belgae faction was neutralized, Aedui was preparing for a sneak victory grab. A timely Scout+Battle by the Romans prevented it.
Second winter – situation is very dynamic, a lot of action in Belgica, Rome dispersing tribes and building forts while Aedui slowly spreading its influence. What would bring next year?

Third season – 56 BC

The last and final year. No more alliances, no more favors – everybody prepares for the final struggle. Who would be victorious?

Aedui move West, taking over Pictones region. Again, as it is Arverni home region, they will need to struggle with constantly harassing and raiding barbarians.
At the same time the Romano-Aedui alliance is suddenly dissolved by Caesar attacking Mandubi and literally vaporizing all Gauls there.
Being hard-pressed in it homeland, Belgae also decide to migrate West. They fight for control with Arverni for Veneti region, in the end being victorious but at a heavy cost.
Crazy things start to happen; feeling that the Winter is close, Caesar decides to gamble and disperse his forces…
…only to use Battle + Besiege action and special, obliterating half of Gaul, Germans in the first place! But they pay a heavy price for this, losing most of the legions in the process. Another great sequence of cards which enabled it.
The Winter is NOT coming, which allows Germans – in their last move of the game – to Rally+Settle the lands behind Rhenus. This becomes the winning move of the game for them.
Third winter – this was a year of very bold actions by all players and resulted in pretty surprising Germans victory! (first which I have seen)

The final results:

  1. Germans – Michal (me) (-1 VP)
  2. Rome – Brent (-5 VP)
  3. Aedui – Mark (-6 VP)
  4. Belgae – Bart (-8 VP)


Falling Sky is always a fun to play – the longer scenario the better, as there is time for the capabilities to pay off. The Ariovistus expansion brings a lot of novelty – not only new cards and faction, but we have significantly changed strategic situation on the map. What is more, I dare to say that Germans are much more dangerous opponent then Arverni – although their victory conditions are comparatively harder to achieve.

During our game we also concluded that for the Ariovistus host to have chance for victory they have to fight with their brethren – Belgae. It is made easier by the great German capability – Intimidate – and its prevention of Rally. It also allows to remove Allies immediately, resulting in scorched earth policy where only barbarians from behind the Rhenus can settle. Still, the victory conditions are very hard for that faction and rarely ever possible to achieve.

Thank you!