We planned to repeat the last game's positions, but since we were adding a fifth player, the consensus was to shuffle the players.
Assigned by random:
Reformers - Greg (previously Catholics)
Burghers - Chris (previously Habsburgs)
Nobles - Seth (previously Burghers)
Habsburgs - Pete (first game)
Catholics - Mike (previously Reformers)[/c]
One game previous was a learning game for four of us, where Conservative forces were in the lead. If you want to read that report, it is at: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/131947. As we had one new player, this was still a bit of a learning game.
In turn 0, the support boxes emptied, as players attempted to gain position on the map. The Catholics invested across the board. At the end of the turn, they would hold only one City (Koln), but several provinces (Artois, Trier, Utrecht, & Flanders). Although unimpressively represented on the board, the presence of many Catholic Bishoprics made for a enviable score.
The Habsburgs focused on their two key areas. They reinforced Luxembourg and took decisive control over the cities in Flanders, giving them four cities (Brugge, Gent, Antwerp, & Luxembourg) at the end of the turn.
The Nobles flooded into Leige, and solidified Julich. Reinforcements into Brabant accounted for their third city (Aachen, Liege, & Brussles).
The Burghers, like the Habsburgs focused on their native cities and took all three cities in Holland (Amsterdam, Haarlem, & Leiden).
The Reformers moved into Gelderland to control the province due to its substantial tax base (2), and into the city of Utrecht.
Starting turn one, the Catholics and Reformers bemoaned their low number of cities.
During turn 1, armies were raised, and conflict began.
The Catholics raised one army to protect their one city (Koln), but saved most of their money for influence. Their investments were unable to gain them further footholds on the board.
The Habsburgs struggled to spread their armies around, but maintained their holding.
The Nobles extended their hold on Brabant, Liege, and Julich.
The Burghers surrendered Leiden to the Reformers to stave off conflict and allow the Reformers to establish their university. They built a wall of armies in Zeeland/Generality to limit the movement of their opponents.
The Reformers had their high water mark for this game, as they took the gift of Leiden, and took Brugge by the influence chart. Armies in Friesland allowed for the formation of a Univeristy.
In the end of this turn, it was obvious that the liberal forces were on the march. The Reformers flip of a Flanders city had the Habsburgs scared, and the Habsburgs were having trouble spreading their armies without fighting the Nobles. The Catholics attempted to use influence, but this was resisted largely by the Nobles, as it was noble cities poised to fall.
The scores at the end of turn 1 were:
The situation at the end of turn 1.
The Reformers clear advantage had roused a united front by the conservative forces, and pushed the Nobles to their aid.
The Catholics, after spending a large sum of money on influence with no gain, now found themselves poor and floundering. They put some focus on support boxes to try to break back into the game, but retained only their stronghold in Koln.
The Habsburgs were fighting for Flanders, while struggling to keep the Nobles honest near Luxembourg. Despite heavy spending on troops, the Reformer's armies would win in Flanders this turn. As the owner of the province, the Habsburgs would send what population they could into Flanders.
The Nobles struggled to preserve their holdings, as Habsburg and Brugher armies marched through to get to each other. The nobles (like the Catholics) invested heavily in support boxes for the future.
The Burghers made their move this turn. They sieged Leiden to take their gift back from the Reformers. They also fought in Gelderland and started taking their objectives across the board.
The Reformers invested as heavily as possible in Flanders, but could not overcome the Habsburg provincial control advantage. They found their influence opposed by the two conservative forces, joined by the Nobles. They took Gent by siege, and were able to put a majority in Antwerp, but saw the writing on the wall, in that they could not hold Flanders forever, and lacked an effective base to operate from.
The scores at the end of turn 2 were:
The situation at the end of turn 2.
The Burghers were well into first place, but the Reformers would likely have to turn against them out of desperation.
The Nobles, Catholics, and Reformers were in a three-way tie, but the Catholics were clearly still suffering on the board.
The Habsburgs held their positions, but at great cost. Their armies were removed due to widespread conflict.
Sadly, we had to call the game after about two and a half hours as it was clear that we wouldn't finish the next turn. With setup done beforehand, and all the players experianced, I am betting on a four player game fitting in our roughly three hour slot on a good night. Five players might have to be saved for weekends to get to the end. We'll see.
1. Ward's faction aid is great. I don't know how we would get along without it! (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo.php?fileid=13505)
2. An attempt to "blitz" influence is difficult. Too many people see your money sitting infront of you.
3. The Water Beggar's unwillingness to interfere in Burgher-Reformer conflict is very interesting.
4. Reformer specific - it is hard to break into Flanders, since there is little support there (especially since Huguenots can't be split)
5. Reformer specific - Utrecht is not a great power base, because there are few exits. Exiting to Holland and Gelderland "scares" a Burgher ally.
6. Burgher specific - The Nobles really liked to fill the London merchants since it is their only "convert to cash" support box. This left them unavailable to the Burghers.