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Subject: First play - hitting the Wall. rss

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Paul Mackie
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With elements of Risk and El Grande, and that truly unique combat resolution device, the formula was there for an interesting first-playing of this for all participants.
And it certainly proved to be. The tensions and agony of choice are throughout, with the balancing acts of grain harvesting and feeding (slightly reminiscent of La Citta), income generation, and the assignment of civil unrest markers to your most lucrative regions. Then you have to balance invasion (ie., victory point) targets with your own defences of those regions that are the likely targets of your opponents.
And with the first five actions of each turn revealed, managing which area takes on each action can be dead obvious, or excruciatingly difficult. I enjoyed all of these challenges in the game, and I don’t believe I made any blunders with my action choices - all were pretty sound decisions, I think, including the combat actions I initiaited against Al in the last turn. Furthermore, for once I won’t even complain about combat probabilities unfairly going against me! Results with a random component were either dealt fairly or in my favour overall.

And yet, the results demonstrate that by the end I wasn’t in the hunt. Certainly Richard did extremely well by establishing a growing base in the southeast corner of the map which neither Al nor I could reasonably reach. Furthermore, although Al was positioned over the middle section of the map, most of the conflict was between him and me rather than with Richard.

Since there is no obvious game play that I did wrong during the game, I think the answer may well come back to the setup. As the starting provinces were revealed many were clustered in the northern (red) part of Germany, and I couldn’t resist concentrating my forces there. I’m still not certain, but perhaps this was to my detriment, since I was usually selecting spots that were clustered with others owned, rather than for their attributes (wheat and income). Then, in the first round I lost to Alex the region that was my income producer before I could collect the cash, and I’m pretty sure this denied me a few building opportunites that probably would have scored in both ‘years’.

So overall, although I did enjoy this game, it certainly wasn’t the most satisfying that I’ve played of this ilk since the degree of control seems more limited than other games, and 160 minutes for three of us seems a bit much. On the next playing I might probably put more thought into the choice of regions and the allocation of defending cubes. If my performance improves as a result, so will my rating of Wallenstein!
~30 minutes rules; 160 mins playing time.
Results: Yr 1 basic, bonus, Yr 2 basic, bonus, total:
Richard: 15, 8, 25, 13, 61.
Alex: 16, 6, 20, 10, 52.
Paul: 15, 5, 17, 8, 45.

(Originally posted on www.themineshaftgap.com.)
 
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Darrell Hanning
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Paul, something that might lend perspective to your experience is some reading on the Thirty Years' War. As much as a lot of BGGers accuse Wallenstein as not being a "wargame" (bit of a moving target, that), it does faithfully represent the chaos and futility of going through only two years of that conflict. At best for any faction involved, the conflict was very much a matter of "three steps forward, two steps back" one year, and vice-versa the next.

What I do think Dirk Henn possibly realized during testing was that most games actually were decided after only eight seasons of play. My guess is that the original game went on much longer (much too long for most players) - perhaps as much as five years - but that most games had already been largely decided after the first two years. This is, at least, the impression I get. If that's the case, then the game proves even more deterministic and less chaotic than the actual conflict. (An odd notion, considering how many comments are made about conquest in the game not being sufficiently rapid or easy to achieve.)

As an alternative to the suggested setup found in the rules, or to random assignment of provinces, you might try taking turns selecting provinces, at the beginning of the game. This should at least offer the possibility for each player to find some good locations for grain and cash.
 
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Daniel Kearns
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I always draft on the basis of resources. You must get a good grain producer and gold is nice but of secondary importance. Also, I've found that concentrating in one area can be a bad strategic idea as it roots you to one spot, strangles your ability to influence the game, and makes your attacks very obvious. Try and pick up two adjacent territories as an island and mess with people from there.
 
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Nomadic Gamer
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I find a grain income far less important then money.
I lost my income province (bad) & went broke year 2 (really bad) . My empire was so small wheat did not matter. I will now ALWAYS start with a 6 or 7 gold, even if I lose it I can horde a few bucks....
Even if you are short grain, large garrisons should suffice.
This ties into the time limit comment. I was so screwed we debated if I could be wiped off the map. Nope, not enough time....meeple

 
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Daniel Kearns
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Interesting thought on the importance of money. However, I would argue that while you CAN win without lots of money (just spend it wisely), you CANNOT win without lots of grain (because you will need to support a large number of provinces to be in the running).

Winning aside, you can cause a lot more trouble for other people if you've got money...
 
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Nick Case
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dkearns wrote:
you CANNOT win without lots of grain (because you will need to support a large number of provinces to be in the running).



Unless of course you luck out in the grain revolts or odds them by ensuring all your key territories have bundles of armies. I've seen this pay off as a tactic several times
 
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Nomadic Gamer
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A small empire could win if crammed with 3 building areas.
Lotsa luck avoiding attention; but still it's possible.
I had a game where 1 player only had 5 well garrisoned regions and laughed at the heavy grain loss winter event; he almost won, IIRC........meeple
 
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