Principles for Beating the Hammer
Chad Marlett
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In my gaming group, the Scots have been taking a beating of late. Since I have managed about a 0.500 with the Scots (including losses that were moral victories), here are my principles for playing the Scots. Of course, many of these principles apply to the English.

These guidelines are based on the following optional rules:

Schiltroms: We play with these for historical flavor (forces the English to use the archers instead of knights), and because the Scots seem to need some extra firepower).

Muster: Not used - seems to help the English more than the Scots, and results in large battles with less maneuver.

Hit Allocation: Not used - reduces strategy due to adding luck.

Andrew de Moray: Not used - too much extra firepower for the Scots.

Norse: Used due to the unlikely intervention of the Norse, and the affect on the game (English Sitzkrieg to guard against invasion).

Please feel free to comment or add additional principles.
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1. Board Game: Hammer of the Scots [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:299]
Chad Marlett
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#1 Remember the Victory Conditions.

Keep in mind that the game is won or lost based on the number of nobles you control. Victory in battle is meaningless if your overall noble count does not increase. In the Braveheart scenario, the Scots must increase their noble count by 1 or 2 every turn until parity is achieved. If not, Wallace will be crying "FREEDOM!" to the crowds in London sooner than you might think.
 
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2. Board Game: Winter Pause [Average Rating:5.75 Unranked]
Chad Marlett
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#2 Prepare for Winter.

Properly preparing for winter, and upsetting your opponent's plans for wintering can be more decisive than battle over the long-term. As soon as you review your cards for the upcoming turn, you should have a rough idea of the order in which you intend to play them, so that you know what your last card will be. Based on this last card, you must plan your moves to make sure that you will be able to spread out your forces for winter with the last move. For the Scots, the key areas are the cathedral spaces, while for the English the key consideration is getting infantry into '2' or '3' spots. Spreading out for wintering positions with card 4, followed by a card 5 Truce can be very aggravating to your opponent.

A side note to wintering is planning the capture of a noble when you have his home area. Losing a full-strength infantry to capture a damaged noble is probably not worth it; as the Scots, leave a noble instead. The fact that English nobles bounce before the Scot nobles is a major advantage for the Scots.
 
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3. Board Game: First Down! [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Chad Marlett
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#3 The player with the initiative has the INITIATIVE!

This may sound redundant, but frequently in Hammer, players see having the initiative (i.e. moving first) as a major disadvantage. While moving second does have some advantages, there are three major advantages of moving first that are overlooked at times:

-Moving first means that you are likely able to move more units than your opponent, and you have the first choice of battle spaces. This can be a good psychological advantage, as your opponent is forced into a reactive mode. Of course, you must do something provactive enough for this to work.

-Moving first allows the player with initiative to pin enemy units. Especially for the English (due to typically greater numbers), it can be possible to pin units that could reinforce battles, rendering the Scots move relatively moot.

-Finally, the player with the initiative determines the order of battles. Combined with pinning of enemy units, the initiative player can hunt down a specific unit by pinning them in place and blocking retreat paths via pending battles.

As the Scots, you will rarely be moving first, so you must be aware of the tricks the English will be attempting!
 
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4. Board Game: Scotland the Brave [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:12151]
 
Chad Marlett
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#4 Don't lose Wallace Early.

If Wallace is lost in the first 2 or 3 turns, the Scots will not be able to capture a critical mass of nobles in the North to hold back the English. There are two primary ways to lose Wallace:

-Wallace bounces to Selkirk Forest for winter on the same turn a Feudal Levy is advancing north. If the English get a single '3' card, Wallace will likely die due to being pinned and surrounded. The Selkirk Forest bounce is best left for a turn when Longshanks is already up north.

-Wallace is pinned and surrounded by the English Army. Similar to the above, but in the open field. The best defense for this is to keep the position of Wallace as secret as possible, and a space back from the front lines.

Note: If you lose Wallace on turn 2 or 3, and still have units on the board at the end of the game, call it a moral victory!
 
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5. Board Game: King of the Hill [Average Rating:5.28 Unranked]
 
Chad Marlett
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#5 Don't fight the King (Often).

While getting into a large battle with the King and the cream of the English army makes for good movie scenes, doing this on a regular basis in Hammer (especially more than once in a turn) will soon have a depleted line of smashed Scot units trying to hold on to Mar. Even if the Scots win a battle with the King, the damage they receive will benefit the English far more than it helps the Scots. Assuming the Scots hold most of the spaces north of Fife, the Scots will get about 15 steps of replacements. A full feudal levy for the English can net 20+ steps, plus another 15 or so steps from the south portion of the map. Attrition favors the English!
 
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6. Board Game: Cards of War [Average Rating:5.58 Unranked]
Chad Marlett
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#6 Allright! Victuals!

The Scots must have a good plan for every card that they receive. While Victuals might not sound useful, circumstances can be arranged to use it to your benefit (e.g. reinforce a disadvantaged battle, knowing you can heal the next turn). At least once in every game, a player will receive a 'weak hand' (e.g. Victuals, Sea Move, 1, 1, 1). In this situation, the player has to remain calm and keep in mind that what goes around, comes around. With a 'weak hand', the Scots should use the Fog-of-War elements in Hammer to save the day. While you may know your hand stinks and your units are all weak and out-of-place, your opponent does not (well, not completely!). The time has arrived to bluff, posture, and play shell games. Especially if you have been keeping your opponent off-balance in prior turns, you might be able to keep the psychological initiative through the drought because your opponent thinks you are "up to something". Since you will not be moving much, look for mistakes by your opponent, or creative uses for the event cards (e.g. Pillage a damaged enemy noble that is alone behind the lines). Surviving a weak hand is just as important as playing well with a strong hand.
 
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7. Board Game: B.S.: The Game of Being Sneaky [Average Rating:5.12 Unranked]
Chad Marlett
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#7 Guard (and use) the Forward Retreat!

Being able to retreat a portion of your units into neutral territory is an important tactic in Hammer that is not common to many games. When you are on the losing side of a battle, look at all of your options for retreat; think about how it sets you up for wintering, and whether you can threaten a noble that your opponent thinks is safe. In addition, when you have the superior force, see if it makes sense to 'retreat' a unit into an empty space, especially one that might block your opponents retreat. This is a very useful ability of the English Hobelar. To defend against this, the Scots must defend in depth, and possible leave a unit behind during the reaction move. Also, always think before rolling a unit's dice in combat - is there a place I can 'retreat' to that will damage my opponent?
 
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8. Board Game: Screwball Scramble [Average Rating:5.49 Overall Rank:13044]
Chad Marlett
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#8 Don't Fight to the Death (Usually)

If one of your nobles is attacked by overwhelming force, do not fight to the death. If you think you can get his home area back, retreat immediately, while if it looks bleak, take a few hits and then run. This has two main advantages; one, you get to use the noble for the rest of the turn, not your opponent, two, your opponent has to either chase the noble, or hold the home area, tying down resources and complicating wintering.
 
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9. Board Game: Scotland the Brave II [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Chad Marlett
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#9 Use the Highlands.

The red borders limit movement to two units, which must stop as soon as they cross. When the King is coming, make sure you make your stand where red borders prevent a fair fight (fair for the English!).
 
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10. Board Game: Guerilla [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:4170]
 
A.N. Onymous
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If I may add:

#10: use guerilla tactics to delay the English player

By using your nobles in the south (Galloway and Bruce, mostly) in clever ways you can keep the English levy quite busy. As long as one of the southern nobles is Scottish, the English player can ill afford to leave England empty. You should play hide and seek with them on every occasion, and occupy other nobles' homelands whenever there is opportunity to do so. Remember, English nobles return home before the Scottish nobles do, so the Scots can use nobles to take control over English nobles, but the English cannot.
 
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