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Subject: Francis I: Good at Vacations, Chateaux, and Losing Wars rss

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Robert Woodham
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Phoenix
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I recently taught and played a 1532 scenario game as France, easily one of the hardest factions in the game, especially in the '32 scenario.



France is all about the gradual win. They struggle to get quick VPs, but have a very strong ability to secure a steady income. Their map position is extremely vulnerable, but also presents a huge number of opportunities and easy access to the peace suit rules. If luck isn't always on the Valois' side, a successful French player needs to know when to lose so they can win.
Fortunately, I had strictly average hands the entire game. Let's see what I managed to do with them.



Turn 4:
My hand included Andrea Doria and Printing Press, plus a few one and two-op cards. The turn was all about DoWing Genoa and taking Milan, as well as bolstering my Mediterranean naval presence and Grande Armee.
England’s hand was very poor, and he didn’t even attempt to take Scotland after buying a divorce for 2 cards. His turn was all about building his army, exploring twice (Cabot), and using his home card for a second pregnancy roll, which gave him a healthy Edward.
The Hapsburgs spent their turn taking Metz, building up an army in Vienna, and going all in on the New World.
The Ottomans played a European defense, spending all their ops on building a navy, and shipping Jannissaries across the mediterranean to take Malta and Tunis.



The Papacy made the corrupt bargain with the Hapsburgs, and fought over Switzerland’s religious allegiance with the Protestants following a Calvin excommunication, while building St. Peter’s.
The Protestants dumpster dived Printing Press, and used A Mighty Fortress to secure Germany religiously while they built up regulars and bible translations.

England and the Hapsburgs did well in the New World, with Coronado conquering the Incas, and Cabot and Willoughby taking 3 vps combined. Double sadly, Cartier stayed home and France’s 0 explorer managed to not die at sea.
The Hapsburgs ended the turn within striking range of a domination and normal victory, placing them at the top of everyone’s menu for turn 5.



Turn 5:

France’s turn was all about taking Metz, which completely failed. Francis was unable to kill more than half the Hapsburg garrison, despite siege mining and in spite of a small number of deserting mercenaries.




Fortunately, French culture and exploration compensated for military ineptitude; Cartier finally came out and clinched the last new world VP, while Francis built more chateaux to commemorate his military failures.



England decided to play whack-a-leader and took the Netherlands from a highly distracted Hapsburg player. Meanwhile, his army was getting very, very big, despite the ops being diverted to religion, his vp total veering close to 25.
The Hapsburgs spent the turn suffering from early peak syndrome (EPS), losing Antwerp to the English: they only got a costly stalemate against the French at Metz, lost their last electorate to the Protestants and Vienna to the Ottomans, the latter being in part due to an unfriendly Pope unwilling to send reinforcements. Only after losing Vienna and facing a potential Protestant victory were the Hapsburgs allowed to take a Protestant electorate with no Ottoman interference.
The Ottomans not only crushed Vienna with Roxelana, but also pirated the heck out of the unformed Hapsburg navy, pulling themselves to 23 points by the end of the turn.
The Papacy hit a snag as their Papal Bull aimed at Cranmer bounced off the Wartburg, and the Protestants dumpster dived a Printing Press.




Calvin proved a hero, subbing in as a round 2 debater to score an impressive win in France. The Protestants also started getting close to 25 VPs, as their 6th electorate, stolen from the Hapsburgs, started adding up. They converted southeastern England by the end of the turn, and created a French protective shell around their western electorates.
In the new world phase, the Hapsburgs had nothing, having been exhausted by numerous defeats in Europe. To add insult to injury, they lost a second colony. Only the aforementioned Cartier had much luck.



Turn 6:
Nobody was clearly about to win, but the Ottomans were the worst threat. To this end, France concluded their fruitless war with the Hapburgs and became fast friends, preparing to head off England while the Hapsburg navy practiced being meatshields before Ottoman piracy.
In the north, France decided to hide behind the walls and try to take Genoa, sending Francis to Nice with 5 troops and leaving Montmorency and two strong garrisons in charge of the northern keys. The English built up a bit before charging Paris. While Francis was landing in Genoa, Treachery allowed the English to capture Paris in one fell swoop, blindsiding French plans to reinforce from Rouen.



Fortunately, Francis managed to narrowly avoid losing a humiliatingly close siege, losing most of his army in the process of taking Genoa. Having no capital to return to in the winter, he decided to do what Valois do best- build chateaux and take the day off.
Meanwhile, the Reformation heated up in England, as the Protestants finished the English new testament. The Papacy was barely able to beat back the reformation far enough to prevent England from winning, pushing them off of 25 points thanks to an unenthusiastic Protestant.
The Papacy excommunicated Henry VIII before revealing Edward VI at the end of the turn, using the unrest to drain England’s cards away from religion.



Meanwhile, the Papacy proved slightly successful at conversion, burning Olivetan. Most importantly, they got Copernicus.
The Hapsburgs likewise kept the Protestants busy, stopping a siege of Wittenberg. But most importantly, they teamed up with the Papacy in filling the Mediterranean with sacrificial ships aimed at slowing down Ottoman piracy VPs.
The Ottomans managed to pirate the entire mediterranean, getting only 1 vp for their troubles.
At the end of the turn, England and the Ottomans stood at 24 vps, with the Hapsburgs, Protestants and Papacy in the middle, and France tagging slightly behind at 20.



Turn 7:
The Ottomans and Hapsburgs concocted an interesting deal that basically amounted to the Hapsburgs selling out the Papacy. The Ottomans would give the Hapsburgs a card draw in return for Trieste, the land route to Venice, and no DoW in the diplomacy phase and declared war on the Papacy.
The Ottomans opened with a simultaneous sieging of Venice and naval assault from their fleet, which shattered the back of the Venetian navy. The Papacy fought back with an unsanitary camp, pulling pressure off Venice, but to small avail. The Ottomans continued to campaign into Italy, spending their next card to siege a poorly defended Ravenna and pirate. The Ottomans looked primed for victory as Ravenna fell, only to find themselves at the mercy of a Hapsburg Machievelli fronting a dense hand.



The Ottomans were completely unprepared, having left Buda wide open and Belgrade little better defended. To make matters worse, their entire army was trapped in central Italy. Desperate to make up the incoming VP losses, they began to desperately pirate, stealing a few cards and VPs from the Hapsburgs, but to little avail as Buda and Belgrade both quickly fell to Charles and a massive Spanish army.
While the Hapsburgs were busy boring a hole deep into unprotected Ottoman territory, they also sent Ferdinand to take Brandenburg.
While all this drama was busy unfolding in the east, the west was no less active.
France loaned out one of its fleets to the Hapsburgs, and sued England for Paris and Montmorency, giving them 3 vps. Certain that England would be toothless thanks to a 3-total card hand, The French simply focused on consolidating Paris. While Francis vacationed in Italy, Montmorency built the last chateaux, and used foul weather to win a decisive victory over the English continental army.



Meanwhile, England (finally) declared war on Scotland, and France activated. However, the low-card English hand prevented them from being able to make much progress, leaving France with yet another key.
It being his first full game, the Papacy made a few card management errors, squandering many of his 4 op cards on St. Peters and Italian mercenaries, so that he had only 1 op cards that he did not fully understand how to use, such as Swiss mercenaries, to fight the Reformation.
As a result, this left him open to a 7-card Protestant who finished THREE full bibles in one turn, jumping him 4 victory point to 25. While Anglican heresy was stymied by Jesuits in England and the low countries, all of Germany flipped Protestant and half of France followed in its wake.



It came down to the Hapsburgs, who were simultaneously sieging Brandenburg and Edirne, to stop the Protestant heathens. While Charles managed to take Edirne,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Ferdinand could not pull it out in Brandenburg, and the Protestants were easily able to thwart the Pope’s last offensive and pop themselves back up to 25 just in time.

Final VP’s and placing
1) Protestants: 25
2) England: 24
3) Hapsburgs: 24
4) France: 23
5) Ottomans: 20
6) Papacy: 20


Pictures of the very end of the game.






It was a sad day for Catholicism, but a good day for France, because we beat the English (in a battle). Tais-toi, Angleterre!

Most importantly, we finished before midnight, and an inexperienced table learned a lot and had a good time. Expect a sequel.
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Robert Woodham
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Some changes with the pictures didn't save. Things should be cleaner now, plus more pictures!
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Piero
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Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
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What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
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Nice AAR! How long did the game last in the end?
 
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Robert Woodham
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8.5 hours for the game itself. We also took a lunch break, and we took 2 hours to explain rules and play the first turn of 1517 to familiarize the newer players with the game; it's good practice for the 1532 scenario, especially for the English.
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