Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

A Throne Vacant» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Corporal John Carries the Day rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
J. R. Tracy
United States
New York
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


Scott and I paired off this past Wednesday for Three Crowns' latest look at early 18th century European warfare. This is a block game using the same basic engine powering 3CG's earlier Pax Baltica, now part of GMT's stable. ATV covers the War of Spanish Succession, with Bourbon France taking on the Grand Alliance (England, Austria, and the United Provinces) to determine the fate of the Spanish throne.


Villars anchors the French


Turns are seasonal, with players rolling for initiative. High roll goes first, with higher rolls generally granting more actions. However, a six triggers a random event and grants only a single action. The first player executes all his moves, then the second, before battles and sieges are resolved. The need and desire to go first shifts over the course of the game, depending on whether you want to force the action or counterpunch for a turn or two. If you really need to do one or the other, you can expend a precious victory point to adjust your die roll.

Units are armies and regiments, an army having four steps to a regiment's two. Armies are more expensive to build and costly to feed. Combat is roll to hit, with the A/B/C 1/2/3 rating format familiar from PxB or several of Columbia's offerings. Victory is determined by Succession Points, the bulk of which are scored via the control of 'crown' regions, scattered across the map. To control a region you must first subdue its garrisons via siege; many regions have two or more garrisons of varying strength. Thus the flow of play is driven largely by the preparation for and prosecution of sieges, with relief attempts in key crown regions generating the largest battles.


Action in Flanders and Alsace


The last two major pieces of gameplay are supply and diplomacy. The armies of the period were logistically challenged so players must rely on foraging. Unfortunately few regions can support forces of any significant size, so concentrating for combat often entails accepting some attrition losses if you are unable or unwilling to disperse your force afterwards. This also comes into play if you are conducting several sieges in an area; the forces necessary (usually at least a couple armies or more for large garrisons) are hard to feed and unlike combat, sieges don't grant an opportunity to disperse upon success. As for diplomacy, this is conducted via die roll to see if inactive nations join the fray. Some events and certain player actions can force the entry or exit of nations as well. The surrender of France or Austria ends the game in favor of the opposing side, but other nations merely sit on the sidelines for four years before becoming eligible for re-entry.


Corporal John and his cronies


We decided to try the 1704-1707 Blenheim and Onwards scenario. It offers a short game to test the concepts, and by starting a few years into the conflict, both sides field substantial forces from the outset. The dice gave me the Bourbons. I decided Austria looked a little weak, so I plowed east with a powerful force, rolling into Lower Austria from Bavaria, intent on tossing out the locals and capturing Vienna. In Spain, the upstart Catalans got a slap as well. I succeeded in taking Valencia and all went according to plan in Austria.


Nice roll but I was looking for ones


Unfortunately I didn't pay close enough attention to some of the nation-specific rules, so it came as a small surprise when Scott fell on Bavaria in strength, smacked the local regiment, and knocked Bavaria out of the game! He didn't need to siege any cities - being the sole force in Bavaria was enough to see off my weak-willed allies. That killed several regiments and the Elector himself, who was part of the Austrian adventure and therefore overlooked until later in the game. Little Cologne departed as well (its fate is linked to Bavaria's).


The fugitive Max stands on his head in Croatia


After that harsh lesson, I had better luck dealing with an Alliance incursion in Alsace, and regained Gibraltar after losing it to an intrepid Alliance naval expedition. An Austrian counteroffensive forced me to give up on Vienna, and a lack of retreat paths sent my troops south toward the Adriatic. I was forced back in Flanders and watched helplessly as Marlborough rolled up my garrisons to gain a crown, offsetting my success in Valencia.


Guarding Gib from the Anglo-Dutch menace


At this point the score was even but then Villars died in battle - certain armies are 'mortal' blocks, meaning if eliminated they do not go to the force pool but are out of the game permanently, scoring a Succession Point for the opponent. This edged the Alliance into the lead. However, Scott got a little greedy and sent Eugene against Milan - he was favored going in but my sharp dice won the day and then some, leaving Eugene face down in a ditch to even the score.


Eugene bids for Milan


Scott now set his sights on the double-crown region of New Castile (Madrid). I had to throw overmatched Spanish troops at the English (now British) and Portuguese armies in a desperate attempt to forestall a siege. At the same time I made a play to retake Flanders while Marlborough was adventuring in southern Germany. With two of three Flemish cities subdued, the Malburnian hammer fell. We had an epic fight that saw the Bourbon forces shattered. No matter, as the fall of Madrid guaranteed an Alliance win.


Scourge of the Mediterranean


We found the game very easy to pick up, especially given extensive experience with PxB. I only had a few minor questions; the rulebook reflects the lessons learned creating the earlier game. The pieces look great, as does the map, though the spaces are very cramped in the smaller German regions. As a game, it moved swiftly, with just a few actions per turn. We completed our four years in under three hours. I felt we had a lot of choices, with action on multiple fronts and a couple left unexplored - there are several crowns to be had in Italy and Sardinia but we barely ventured that far south.


The big picture


As history, ATV suffers a bit in comparison to No Peace Without Spain!; the latter is richer with WSS-specific chrome, though that comes at a price in complexity and game length. Even with just a handful (one to four) of actions per season, the activity rate in ATV feels very high, with a few hefty battles a year. Perhaps if you rationalize those big fights as regional mini-campaigns it becomes a better fit for the narrative. That said, ATV accomplishes a lot with a clean, light set of rules, and provides three sub-three-hour scenarios in addition to the full campaign. At first blush, I like it better than PxB (which I like very much), mainly due to the scope and variety of strategic options.

I don't know if 3CG sold out their print run, but if not, this is worth chasing down if you enjoy PxB and/or the subject matter itself. Even if No Peace Without Spain! already scratches your WSS itch, you might appreciate the side by side comparison. The scenarios are good for an evening's play, and I reckon the campaign can be wrapped up in a long day's gaming. Who knows, this title may well find its way to GMT alongside its big brother.


JR
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Putnam
United States
Reisterstown
Maryland
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice write up. I will probably p500 it after GMT picks it up. I liked pax Baltic even if the game was a little frustrating. Have you looked into the 3 player rules? Do the 3 player rules seem reasonable or tacked onto the game?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Göran Björkman
Sweden
flag msg tools
Thanks for a interesting report, JR.


/Göran Björkman.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. R. Tracy
United States
New York
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lulle wrote:
Thanks for a interesting report, JR.


I think we got the rules right for the most part, but I made some major strategic errors. At that point in the war, as the Bourbon I should've been protecting Flanders while trying to win in Italy and Spain. I went for Austria on a whim and paid for it!

JR

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
United States
Astoria
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
KingPut wrote:
Nice write up. I will probably p500 it after GMT picks it up. I liked pax Baltic even if the game was a little frustrating. Have you looked into the 3 player rules? Do the 3 player rules seem reasonable or tacked onto the game?

There are no 3-player rules that I've heard of.

Edit: I note that the game description here lists 2-3 players, I will ask for a correction.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Göran Björkman
Sweden
flag msg tools
JR, as said in the player's aid:

"If the Frenchman is really bold he can try to knock out Austria (which ends the game) or the United Provinces from the war, the latter is a severe blow against the Grand Alliance. Neither of these two alternatives is in any way easy and can easily turn into a disaster for the French arms."

Scott is correct. This is a two player game.

/Göran Björkman.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the great write-up! GMT announced that it will take up he game into P500 today! It seems to be a colorful and have a lot of strategic decisions to make. Can't wait to play my own copy, one of the hundred of Three Crown Games print. I feel elated with the map and all the blocks.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.