Rushing the game isn't a necessity, but your "turtle" temperament might be a problem.
I think the way to win in this game isn't to advance along a frontline and slowly grind your ennemy to defeat ; as you've pointed out, the recruitement capacity of the romans is too important for that to work. The way to win is to move all around Italy to recruit, and deny recruitment to the ennemy (and destroy ennemy forces along the way). Don't think of the cities in Italy as "yours", but rather as temporary centers of recruitement ; once you've recruited all you can, you should move on and not worry if the romans take the cities back. This is also true of Cisalpine Gaul. Anarchyintheuk is right : stay in the province for a few additional turns, but once it is depleted, move on. Yes, the romans will, at some point, try to retake the province ; but it's not really a problem, especially if you have already brought over the troops you had in Spain. Even if they control Cisalpine Gaul, and things don't go as well as planned later on, you can still have enough victory points to win.
I tend to follow pretty much the same strategy as the one anarchyintheuk described. Some additionnal tips :
- I use my recruitement capacity in Carthage first and foremost to recruit naval units (and the same with option cards). You need a strong navy, first to move units from Africa to other theaters (without it, any units recruited in Carthage will be stuck there), and if possible, to challenge the naval superiority of the romans. I rely on Italy and Spain to recruit land units (incidently, if one of your leaders in Spain is in the field rather than in a city, you can recruit 2 units per turn, if there are no ennemy present, in case you didn't know).
- In the first turn, don't bother attacking minor cities in Cisalpine Gaul, as these have a chance to change sides after a battle. This is true for the rest of the game in fact : don't bother attacking cities you won't need, or that you might win over without risking your units (that also means that a siege is usually the way to go for any city with more than 2 militia units), or bypass with an option card. This also means that the province of Eturia (wich contains Pisa) can be ignored, depending on the circumstances. The recruitement capacity of that province is not very good, as you've mentioned, so moving on directly south can be an option ; you can still try to take the city to use any relevant option card you have, or to force the romans to dispatch some units there after you've moved on, but this province really shouldn't be a high priority.
- After the first turn, if there is an ennemy army in Spain, you can reinforce that theater with land units from Carthage, but also with naval units, to "trap" the roman leader there. This way you get a chance to destroy some ennemy units, and win an additional option card (and a promotion for you leader present).
- Again, don't worry about losing control of CisG : concentrate on building your forces and trying to siege Rome as soon as possible. Even if the siege has to be abandonned at some point (before coming back to it later on), as long as the city is under siege you deny the ennemy its biggest source of recruits. Careful though : even under siege Rome can be reinforced through naval movement, and that's where having a strong naval force can be useful. If you can force the ennemy to confront you in the field around Rome, it will makes things a lot easier than having to fight a city battle.
That's all I can think of at the moment.
edit : A very good province for recruitement is Bruttium : you get one unit per city under your control (even the minor city), plus an another one if Hannibal is present there. Having him in the province for a few turns can be a very significant boost to recruitement.
< Message edited by Raidhaennor -- 11/12/2010 3:35:42 PM >