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Loving this game, this period of history was always so fascinating to me and I'm glad there is a game out there that can at least a little bit portray the tense political scene in Germany/central Europe. I do however have a few questions about some of the design decisions and why certain things are in the game.
1: Swiss Cantons
My friends and I were confused as to why the Swiss are in this game to the degree that they are. Sure 80 years prior or even 100 years prior the Swiss pikemen were the thing to buy, and they helped win plenty of battles. But as far as I'm aware, they didn't really do much in the 30 years war, and it had been almost proven that the Spanish/Imperial tercio was superior to the Swiss pikemen. they also feel overpowered in some games when a non Spanish/imperial player owns the cantons, as they can ensure that Spain will never be able to build a reasonable power base to threaten Palatine/France.
TL;DR Swiss cantons are a weird choice and feel overpowered.
2. Gustofus Adolfus
Sure, the guy lead Sweden to a lot of victories and conquered a good amount of northern Germany. But why does he have to be superior to literally every other general in the game in every game he is in. The guy was shot during a cavalry charge mid way through the whole conflict, and Sweden kinda just goes away after that. I'm not saying that he needs to be taken out of the game, or that Sweden should not be as powerful as they are, but at least give some of the other states powerful/influential generals as well.
TL;DR Gustofus Adolfus is too strong/unbalanced
3.Moving for free through friendly territories
I feel that this can lead to weird things where an army can move almost across the whole map, attack someone, then move back across the map to a safe zone. We had an issue where a Spanish army from Spanish Netherlands moved all the way to Saxony, attacked that army, defeated it, and then was able to move all the way back to the Spanish Netherlands all the while only expending 1 movement point. I understand an army being able to move that far in roughly 2 years is fine, but me as the Palatine player was not able to move the Dutch army into the Spanish Netherlands while the Spanish army was not event there.
TL;DR Moving through friendly zones should cost movement points.
Thats really it for the issues we currently have with the game. Other than that we have been enjoying it a lot.
Really looking forward to the English civil war supplement, if only to get replacement tiles and an updated rulebook.
I forwarded your post to Mark McLaughlin and follows is his response:
Remember, i did design this over 30 years ago...but thank you for the kind words, and i do hope you keep playing and continue to play.
as i tell anyone who finds something they don't like in one of my designs, go ahead and put in a house rule - if the other players agree of course - and try it. I stand by my design and design decisions, but if you think the game would be more fun and better balanced for your group, go ahead and tweak it....if you 'break' the game, so be it - but if not, and it works for you, go ahead.
Here, however, are the 'why' i did what i did on those three issues
-1. The Swiss
The Swiss did serve as mercenaries for many armies, notably the french. They are expensive, but give the French, Palatine, Bavarian and Habsburg players access to some elite infantry - if they can pay the price.
and as even wikipedia notes (and i can get better sources, but this is just an email)
Swiss soldiers continued to serve as valued mercenaries with a number of European armies from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, in spite of extensive changes in tactics, drill and weapons. The most consistent and largest-scale employer of these troops was the French army, where the Swiss formed an elite part of the infantry. The famed Swiss Guard regiment, the most senior of the twelve Swiss mercenary regiments in French service, was essentially identical to the French Guards in organization and equipment, other than wearing a red uniform as opposed to the blue uniforms of the French corps. The Swiss adopted the musket in increasingly large numbers as the seventeenth century wore on, and abandoned the pike, their ancient trademark, altogether at around the same time as other troops in the French army, circa 1700. They also served in the New World: Samuel De Champlain's map of the Île Sainte-Croix (Saint Croix Island) settlement shows a barracks for the Swiss
This was THE man of the age. Sure, he was only around for a few years, but he was a force of nature politically and strategically, not to mention on the battlefield. Wellington once said that Napoleon's hat was worth 50,000 men -- well, Gustavus's plume was too. Even the acknowledged old master of war, Tilly, had great respect for him. Gus can, of course, die in battle (especially if you use the tactical board) and that can leave the Swedes without anybody decent to lead them. He also doesn't have much impact on the early war (as the Swedes are pretty much distracted by Poland), and in the later scenario, which is where he really did have an impact, he comes in when the imperials are at high tide -- and, like napoleon in 1813, he can not be everywhere at once. For the Imperial side to deal with Gus, it is best to either throw everything at him in waves, or mask him, like you would lebron james, and go after the little guys....
oh, and just because gus died early, that did not mean the swedes 'just went away after that' - they remained the premier protestant power, politically and militarily, right up to the end. although fewer swedes were available to fill the ranks, the high command was still swedish, and the swedish army attracted the best and most eager of the english, scottish and other protestant fighters -- many of the top officers in the english civil war learned their trade in the swedish army of the 30 years war. (the elite swedish infantry in the game is thus not just the original swedes but these vaunted brigades) it was still considered the most professional of the armies, and so demonstrated on many a battlefield (including those in the Battles of the 30 years war expansion)
3. Moving through friendly
the time scale in this game, which covers, literally, 30 years, is such that yes, in two years you could move pretty much anywhere you wanted provided you do so in your own friendly territory. It allows for the rapid switching back and forth of armies from front to front, as gus, wallenstein, tilly and even the french did, and makes the Spanish Road (the provinces that link spain to the netherlands) doubly important.
Again, if you want to modify things to better reflect how your group thinks things should go, then do so - and have fun. That is the nice thing about board games; they are a lot easier to 'mod' than computer games, and even if half way through you find you made a change too much, you can compensate for it in other ways.