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Here I Stand» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Yet another review rss

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Pedro Pérez
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Initial comments

That's it, after having the game for a lot of time I was able to get a group of 6 people willing to play this game during a ludopathy weekend in a friend's house.

Nobody played HIS before, of course, and only three (and a half) of us are hardcore gamers. This is a little how it went, just half review half session report (I can't think of a game which review is not affected of how a game develops).

Now for the first impression, just what I though when I opened the box the first time...

Components.

The artwork of the game is really impressing, starting from the cards to the counters (wow!, look at that alotof victory point counters). The Power cards and the religious struggle card are very well designed to keep track of everything and the counters cover every as aspect that the game can have, need to know how many VPs you have? Just look at your card and you will know.

The fact that really disappointed me was the paper map. Well, here in Europe the game is valued at a standard price of 90€, which is a lot, even buying it online is 79$ plus shipping to Spain, so more or less 90$ or maybe plus... Just a paper map doesn't do it, I paid almost the half for Arkham Horror and the components are superb.

Rules.

40 Pages of rules plus an Scenario book, that's a lot of reading, and a lot of learning one may think, but the rules are written in a very mechanical way, so instead of being difficult to learn are just a little boring to read. With some coffee you can read them reasonably fast, in fact there are no aspects of the game complicated to understand, but there are a lot of little exceptions and variations (not always referenced in the summary card) to be aware of.

So, what about the game?

Well, we were set for the 1517 scenario and played four full turns until we all died exhausted (in fact we died two times, Friday night and Saturday evening). The major powers were all drafted (none chosen) with a little bad luck so, contrary to the suggestions, the Hapsburgs went to the less experienced player and the Ottomans to the most. But hey, I was playing the Papacy so I could always make some "suggestions" to Charles V to follow the true faith .

So the game begins...

In the first turn, the game is a little driven, there are some events bound to happen so the religious conflict develops in a certain way, which is Protestants expanding until mid-game and then fighting more equal to the Papacy. The Hapsburgs are forced to war against France so was the Papacy. Fortunately for me, France's worries were pointed to the Pyrenees so I didn't have to be afraid of my little army being punished.

Even with the game mechanics being fluid enough, the game was slow, many questions arose, we were learning on the fly and nobody could remember every little detail. As said before, the summary cards are great, but they are used once you know how to do things, so we need to check the rules often to verify what actions can be done and what not. There is also the problem of reading the cards the first time to know what it does and if it's better to use the event or the CP, I think none of us made good use of the events, even the Mandatory ones were misused (bad tempo, not bad interpretation). I think this is a handicap for newest players, doubts about the events "forces" you to made use of the CP instead. That's not a bad thing, but it means that newbies should invest a lot in reading and comprehension of every detail of the rules and the cards.

For the powers involved, as the rules change between them the gameplay also does. Aside from the difficulty to manage one or other, I really think that Papacy is probably the funniest powers to play (man that I love excommunicating and burning those little heretics at the stake ), the religious struggle it's like a game of it's own but I found the military campaign a little boring. There are forced conflicts, but France, for example, can (it doesn't has to, but he can) be free of wars, so the options are building castle and the new World... not as funny as the race for Henry VIII male heir.

The most difficult thing to newbies is probably answer these questions "What can I do?" and "HOW do I do it?". It's hard to measure your possibilities if you not aware of them (example: what is a "fair trade" in a negotiation? What's worth a card from your hand?). I mean, almost all the games need experience, but the game pace made HIS one with a big learning curve (we have seen probably half of the cards in turn 4). It's not always clear the path to be followed due to all the little variations the game can have and the fact that each power is played it's own way, even a single power may change the way of playing during the game so this made the game difficult, even if the rules are not, but this also makes the game very very rich in detail.

Closing comments

This is a great game, I think nobody of us have played so many hours a game and wanted to continue (we had to quit because "external situations"), even with a mixed group of newbies and experienced wargamers all we were very "hooked" to the game, and (with the exception of Protestant player because of the Schmalkaldic league was never played and with the shadow floating that when played he will get A LOT of boost in VP), the game was very tight in the scoring and no one had the feeling of getting behind too much, I think that in a 6 player game that takes so long, not having a chance of winning early really can get you off the game, but that's not the case.

Last word, probably the best game I have bought and played, even with the excessive price, I really can't wait to play it again.
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Philip Thomas
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Nice review. I am currently playing my first PBEM game as France and my ability to avoid military campaigns has not been in evidence so far. I've lost 5 regulars and 2 Mercanaries and a Key in the first turn and my armies haven't even left France (apart from the ones that start in Mil
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Quek Robhuei
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I played this game 6 times. The complains I have are a)it ends too soon! and b) replayability may be an issue.

Let me explain:
a) 5 out of my 6 games ended before Turn 6. Only one lasted until Turn 9. This is not good for England and the Protestant. Their advantage lie in late game. It is very difficult to prolong the game!

b) Although each power has their unique concerns, their choices are restricted. Therefore, you can play each power once of twice then thereafter the game wears thin.

The only proper way to play this game is with 6 players. This is a great game.
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robin goblin
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My take is pretty much the opposite of Robhuei's.

-the Pope wants a long game, the Protestant does well in a shorter game.

-the game plays *very* well with 3 players. It's a very different game, but it works. I've also played with 4 once and it went just fine.

-there is some repetition, but the results and events in play vary enough that I feel that you can play the same position multiple times and have the results be quite different, leading to different strategies and targets.

all the best,
Robin
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Pedro Pérez
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Quote:
5 out of my 6 games ended before Turn 6. Only one lasted until Turn 9. This is not good for England and the Protestant. Their advantage lie in late game. It is very difficult to prolong the game!


I thought, as noddingoff, that it was just the opposite. The good reformation cards are at the beginning, while the Jesuits appear no sooner than turn 5, so the counter-reformation can get a little boost.

Quote:
b) Although each power has their unique concerns, their choices are restricted. Therefore, you can play each power once of twice then thereafter the game wears thin.


That may be a problem, as I said I found the military part a little boring as the big points in the game are not in controlling keys (except for the Master of Italy). The religious struggle it's like a game on it's own, so the players with these objectives may get more fun than others.

Probably our next game will be focused on the 1532 campaign, so whenever that happens I will try to post a session review.
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