Hi There and thanks for the feedback.
Just to clarify one point: the Punic Tricks card I mentioned: yes, I did I receive one on the first turn--that's how I won the first battle (which is kind of what I said in the first place!). The point here is that I didn't receive any more Tricks cards, I just got three consecutive Retreat cards. And so, when the Romans attacked with a massive army, Hannibal was annihilated, whether he fought the battle or retreated to the nearest town.
I'm not a sore loser. If I was, I'd have given up after two or three campaigns and kicked the cat. Instead, I started maybe 30 campaigns (over the course of many weeks) and eventually got worn down to the point where I just couldn't face another game. Also, if I were so precious about my performance, I wouldn't have started this humiliating thread.
I accept that other players are enjoying the game, but I've experienced a lot of frustration. If the AI beat me with some great strategy, then I'd be happy. But it just has consistently better luck. For example, I work hard to garrison towns (you need to capture towns and keep them, in order to generate troops--yes?), the Romans play a Siege card and my garrison disappears. I build up an army and the Romans play a Rebellion or Desertion card and I'm back to square one. I keep Hannibal out of cities and in the field but do not receive Punic Tricks cards and get crushed. I make a dash on Rome and the Romans play Reinforce Rome (twice on the same turn) plus Scratch Legions card, etc., etc., etc.
Now, I understand there is luck in war. And I understand that plans can go wrong. I also understand that the enemy will do everything to try to beat me. I really don't have a problem with any of this. But:
1. You need to keep Hannibal in the field in order to win, because battles are his strength. But unless he gets Punic Tricks cards and/or lots of reinforcements, he'll lose. But in my experience he doesn't get enough of either.
2. You need to capture and hold cities in order to deplete Rome's force pool and boost your own. But doing this is hard: you can't use Hannibal for sieges, so you use other generals. OK, you can take some cities easily, but how can you reinforce them quickly enough to stand a chance of keeping them? There are so many restrictions on Carthage moving units around that it can take two or even three turns to ferry reinforcements around. But in a single turn, by playing a few cards, the Romans can make your forces desert, raise a massive army, and retake all your gains.
3. Even when you capture a province or get Gallic Aid, you only receive a fraction of the troops, per turn, that the Romans do. And the Romans can move their forces around the map at will, while the player has to wait for permission from the Senate or whatever.
4. Some battles/sieges just have weird combat resolutions--I'm OK with this but, when added to the other issues mentioned above, it can be catastrophic.
5. The Romans have more men, more ships, more generals, more options than Hannibal--and this doesn't seem to change, even when a campaign is going well for Hannibal.
6. Even if Hannibal gets some allies, it doesn't seem to make much difference. For example, in one campaign the Macedonians sent an army to aid Hannibal--the Romans sank it en route. In another campaign, Syracuse joined Hannibal but, well, nothing happened: Syracuse didn't attack and Rome didn't send troops to Syracuse. In other words, this event was of no practical use to Hannibal.
And so I got frustrated and started this thread. What added to my frustration/disappointment was the amount I paid for the game, the fact that I really like the concept and art style of the game and had high hopes, and that I was playing on EASY!
I was fully expecting the kind of responses posted above, and I guess I'll just get more of the "sore loser/you suck" stuff in response to this. But I think it's important to express yourself and let gamers/developers know what happened after you parted with your money.
Finally, as it seems I'm the only person on the planet with these issues, I concede that I must be doing something wrong. Maybe, in a few weeks, I'll go back to the game and try again--maybe.