Eric
Canada
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I really like playing Spain, but I sometimes have a hard time figuring out how to win with them. After playing several games, I've become convinced that Spain's path to victory is through France, not the Protestants.

Spain is a classic late-game power. They're usually not in a winning position until Turn 5 or so. Spain spends the first couple of turns losing keys and trying to stablize and has to wait until later in the game for its large income and strong late-game cards and artists to start turning the game around. Even if Spain is in last place, a longer game increases the odds of drawing Edward Stafford and other cards that could help Spain secure a Gunpowder Plot win - so Spain can win no matter how bad its board position is.

This means that Spain generally plays a "balance of powers" role. Spain can use its large army and ability to strike anywhere on the board to rein in the leader, ensuring that the game goes long enough for Spain's advantages to start kicking in.

France is in the opposite role. France has a small income, a small army, and is sandwiched between England, Spain, and the HRE. They also have a natural enemy in the Huguenots. Their job is to hold on and soak up the bonus points. France tends to win a lot of games with newer players because people underestimate the extent to which you have to beat on France. This leads to my two game aphorisms:

1. If France isn't getting beaten up, it's winning.

2. Never, under any circumstances, feel sorry for France.

As far as aphorism 2 goes, I've seen France get to 24 vps while only retaining control of Calais, Lyon and Marseille. France has been designed to lose keys. You shouldn't feel bad about taking them.

France is not Spain's friend. If France is peaceful, it will win long before Spain can get back into the game. A peaceful France will more than likely send pirates into the Spanish Main, looting treasures that Spain rightfully stole from the New World's former inhabitants. They might also compete with Spain for control of the Papacy or Venice.

In addition, Lyon, Marseille, and Metz are all right beside Spanish territory and lightly defended. Spain needs keys, and France has got them. Those French keys are usually only protected by a single unit and a tiny French army.

For this reason, I think Spain should always plan to take keys from France. One of the best ways to to do this is to work with the Protestants to trigger the Catholic League (CL). We didn't trigger the CL at all in our first several games - now, we trigger it more often than not. The CL gives Spain a free declaration of war, a massive new army, and a significantly weaker French enemy. In addition, France will probably choose to sacrifice its units in Lyon, Marseille and Metz to protect its core territories from the Protestants.

You don't want to help the Protestants too much, but a CL is in both of your interests. You both want France weaker and you both want to pick up some more keys in French territory. France is a bigger enemy of Spain than the Protestants. Just accept that you're probably going to lose Amsterdam in the early game and will likely lose Antwerp at some point later on. You can recoup your losses in the Netherlands on the backs of a crippled French empire. I am strongly of the opinion that it's worth giving the Prots a treasure to buy peace in the Netherlands and help them trigger the League.

Fighting France helps the game go longer and puts Spain in a position to win it all. It may be galling to deal with those Protestant heathens, but put aside your differences and make sure that France falls.
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David Lesouef
France
Ermont
Unspecified
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Daravon wrote:
This means that Spain generally plays a "balance of powers" role.
Yes, and that is why you don't have to fight France if it is not a threat.
Do not attack France, in the early rounds.
Protestant is obliged to do it (that's his job).
If France is out of the game, it will not fight the Protestant, England or even the HRE. And it will be very difficult for Spain to manage everyone.
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Eric
Canada
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judograal wrote:
Daravon wrote:
This means that Spain generally plays a "balance of powers" role.
Yes, and that is why you don't have to fight France if it is not a threat.

In my experience, France is almost always a threat. They rarely end a game lower than third place, even in games where the CL forms. If they are doing poorly, though, it certainly makes sense to attack other players.
 
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Steven
United States
Spokane
Washington
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"The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience"
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I think this is an interesting strategy, but beware the possibility of a Protestant military auto-victory. All he needs are five keys outside of the Netherlands!

If you assist the Protestants in causing the Catholic League they may only be a key or two away from winning. What's worse is that you've now stolen military units from the power who you need to slow the Protestants down.
 
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Zack S.
United States
Honolulu
Hawaii
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SW_Cygnus wrote:
I think this is an interesting strategy, but beware the possibility of a Protestant military auto-victory. All he needs are five keys outside of the Netherlands!

If you assist the Protestants in causing the Catholic League they may only be a key or two away from winning. What's worse is that you've now stolen military units from the power who you need to slow the Protestants down.
Easy, just take the French keys to keep them safe from the rampant Protestantism spreading throughout the realm.
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Albin Menant
France
PARIS
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Well I think France is very dangerous because most of his points come from non military stuf.

I think as Spain, you have to buy peace in netherlands in order to make the prot attack France. But going there yourself when you have the Ottoman and the English at you... a lot of CP for maybe a key, if the prot doesn't go to France.
 
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