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Subject: Is Maria the game for me? rss

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Greg Lorrimer
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I've been looking around for a streamlined balance of Strategy and tactics that's not so heavy. (There are three of us, but fairly often it'll be just two.)

I bumped in to Maria recently and she' caught my eye, but since I don't have so much exposure to modern boardgames, maybe there are other options I should look in to. And there aren't many reviews of Maria.

I would be particularly interested in knowing what you think are the pros and cons of this game.
 
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Russ Williams
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itsastickup wrote:

I've been looking around for a streamlined balance of Strategy and tactics that's not so heavy. (There are three of us, but fairly often it'll be just two.)

I bumped in to Maria recently and she' caught my eye, but since I don't have so much exposure to modern boardgames, maybe there are other options I should look in to. And there aren't many reviews of Maria.

I see 7 in English:
https://boardgamegeek.com/forum/356579/maria/reviews
Also player's comments in their collections can be helpful.


Quote:
I would be particularly interested in knowing what you think are the pros and cons of this game.

It's a fine game, but it's really a 3-player game. (There is a 2-player option, but many people seem to think it's worse and/or just for learning the game. If I only had 2 players, I would play something else.)

Whether it's good for you is hard to say since you don't say much about what you like. E.g. the game lasts an unpredictable amount of time possibly several hours; I have no idea if that's a problem for you.

The rules are fairly short and clear and downloadable, so you could just read them (and the reviews) to get a better feel of the game.
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LautreSault
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russ wrote:
It's a fine game, but it's really a 3-player game. (There is a 2-player option, but many people seem to think it's worse and/or just for learning the game. If I only had 2 players, I would play something else.)


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Björn von Knorring
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IMHO, Maria is an excellent game and since there aren't many 3-players games around its is worth looking in to.

This video-review might also give you some impression of what the game is like.

http://youtu.be/9-4n3bXvhIE
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Greg Lorrimer
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russ wrote:



Whether it's good for you is hard to say since you don't say much about what you like. E.g. the game lasts an unpredictable amount of time possibly several hours; I have no idea if that's a problem for you.


Game length isn't such a problem.

I don't really want to say too much about my own likes and dislikes since that narrows things too much, except to say that I'm looking for a streamlined balance of strategy/tactics.

I'm really more interested in what you personally think are the pros and cons, and game recommendations that you think fit the 3 criteria (player numbers not so important; I'll even have more than 3 on occasion).
 
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PJ Killian
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I second the suggestion of checking people's comments on the game; a lot of times people will leave useful comments that aren't necessarily reviews per se.

Most of the people who notice this thread are going to be fans of the game, myself included, so you probably want to take this with a grain of salt, but since you asked:

Maria is a very deep and strategically interesting game. The rules are quite simple for a wargame (note that your average historical wargame is quite "heavier" than most strategy games), which leads to a great deal of abstraction of a lot of the stuff that is standard for wargames -- there are no siege rules, no terrain effects, no morale rules, no generals with varying abilities, etc. On the one hand, if you're just starting out with strategy boardgaming, you might find Maria hard to learn. On the other hand, if you have no preconceived notions about what a wargame is, you will have less to unlearn.

Every move you make is analytically interesting on several levels and the decisions you make are hard -- you can move a big army to a location that perfectly protects several key fortresses, but if that big army is in a location associated with a suit of cards you're weak in, it might be a paper tiger. Likewise you can push an army ahead to take a key objective but if you leave it in a position that leaves your supply train subject to capture, you may be worse off. Every player is fighting on two fronts and you need to make strategic decisions as to which front you're going to emphasize.

I think the game is quite beautiful -- the map and cards are lovely and it's nice to be pushing around wooden bits as opposed to counters. Just my opinion, your mileage may vary.

The game has a fair amount of historical detail without adding a lot of rules complexity, and it does a nice job of making the diplomacy aspect of the game more interesting than "two players ganging up on the leader."

Things that may be downsides for some people:

- The game can run long. It's not crazy to imagine the game lasting three or four hours.
- If you're just getting started with boardgaming, it might be more complexity than you can handle.
- It is really only interesting for exactly three players. It's possible to play this game with only two, but if you're just two and you want a game with a similar feel/complexity level that scratches the itch that Maria does, get your hands on a copy of Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan.
- When you first start out, the game feels unbalanced because the person playing as Austria/Maria Theresa has such a tough row to hoe.

My recommendation: download the rules. If they feel like they more or less make sense, and you have two fellow gamers willing and able to explore the game with you, you will have many hours of fun ahead of you.
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Max DuBoff
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PJ covered it very well, but I just want reiterate that it relies a lot on diplomacy. If you're okay with that, it's one of the best games ever made.
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Aaron Yoder
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After my first game, me and the other two players talked about the next game we would play for hours. They're some distance from me, so we've not gotten around to that second play, but if you like games that make you think about them for LONG after you've played it, you should definitely spend time with Maria.
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Greg Lorrimer
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CmdrOverbite wrote:
Most of the people who notice this thread are going to be fans of the game, myself included, so you probably want to take this with a grain of salt, but since you asked:


Thanks for the great write-up.

As fans of the game, it's also of particular interest when you also recommend or mention other games.

Certainly, from what I've read so far it does seem like I'm looking at the right game. But there are a LOT of games out there. And I'm perplexed as to why Maria doesn't seem more prominent on the web.

From what nomoredroids writes, it also sounds like it has lots of scope for post game analysis, which I love. A game with length, like a fine wine.
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itsastickup wrote:
I'm perplexed as to why Maria doesn't seem more prominent on the web.
It might be because it's too abstract for the fans of wargames and historical games while for eurogamers it's too heavy with conflict and diplomacy.

Plus limited marketing and kind of obscure theme.
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Have you looked at The End of the Triumvirate?
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Brian S.
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MD1616 wrote:
...it relies a lot on diplomacy.
Not when I play. I don't have many games under my belt, but there's been very little negotiation in the games I've played. Negotiation tends to happen with factions either stepping on the gas or tapping the brakes based on what's happening on the board.

itsastickup wrote:
And I'm perplexed as to why Maria doesn't seem more prominent on the web.
It is a BGG top 200 game and the 13th highly rated wargame. It's not flying under the radar.
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RTFR - [Roger's Reviews] Maria: A Comprehensive Review

If there's only two of you and you're looking for something interesting with depth and streamlined mechanics, try Polis. [Roger's Reviews] Polis: History Beckons
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PJ Killian
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Quote:
As fans of the game, it's also of particular interest when you also recommend or mention other games.


Given the choice, I'd rather play Maria, but Sekigahara is the game I'd heartily recommend as an alternative to someone who was considering fitting the square Maria peg into a round 2-player-game hole.

Quote:
And I'm perplexed as to why Maria doesn't seem more prominent on the web.


Some combination of:

- Small publisher;
- The fact that it's exclusively a three-player game;
- Long-ish play time by modern standards (plenty of people exclusively want games that clock in at 2 hours or less);
- Obscure subject matter: not a lot of people sit up and take notice when you say "hot new game about the War of the Austrian Succession," and outside of military history buffs or students of 18th century European history, few people have the foggiest idea what that even is;
- Too much "wargame" for the Euro crowd, not enough military nitty-gritty for people who play more conventional wargames.

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Björn von Knorring
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Vrooman wrote:
Not when I play. I don't have many games under my belt, but there's been very little negotiation in the games I've played. Negotiation tends to happen with factions either stepping on the gas or tapping the brakes based on what's happening on the board.


A player who knows how to use diplomacy to his advantage have a huge benefit in the game. I didn't see it first either and thought there wasn't much to talk about but the more I have played the more I realize the importance of diplomacy.
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Armand
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I agree with the above comments that Maria is only good with three, but would hasten to add that it is not only the best area control/wargame for three, it is one of the best games for three, period. A lot of games have kingmaker problems at three, be they euros or what have you. Maria is an absolutely brilliant balance of three forces.
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Max DuBoff
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Vrooman wrote:
MD1616 wrote:
...it relies a lot on diplomacy.
Not when I play. I don't have many games under my belt, but there's been very little negotiation in the games I've played. Negotiation tends to happen with factions either stepping on the gas or tapping the brakes based on what's happening on the board.


You can play Maria without lots of diplomacy, but it makes the game significantly less fun, and players who know how to use diplomacy will trounce military-only players every time. (Trust Bjorn; he's the best Maria player I know.)
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Brian S.
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myth1202 wrote:
Vrooman wrote:
Not when I play. I don't have many games under my belt, but there's been very little negotiation in the games I've played. Negotiation tends to happen with factions either stepping on the gas or tapping the brakes based on what's happening on the board.


A player who knows how to use diplomacy to his advantage have a huge benefit in the game. I didn't see it first either and thought there wasn't much to talk about but the more I have played the more I realize the importance of diplomacy.
Okay, I'm curious. Can you elaborate on the nature of the diplomacy in your games?
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Björn von Knorring
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[q="Vrooman"]
Quote:
Okay, I'm curious. Can you elaborate on the nature of the diplomacy in your games?


I am actually writibg an article on the subject. Here is a part of it (I hope to get the article done eventually):

"Austria’s approach with Prussia should be to get an early agreement about Silesia. Austria needs some time to gather strength and get her armies into position, but also has some powerful bargaining tools. Austria has to make Prussia understand that she will defend Silesia, so that Prussia cannot take it until summer/fall 1742. The only question is how many cards Austria has to play to achieve that goal. And of course, the more cards Austria has to play versus Prussia, the fewer cards she has to help the Pragmatic army against France. Make the Friedrich player understand that if he wants an all-out war, you will withdraw Arenberg from any battles on the Flanders map, and that the cards Austria and Prussia spend battling only benefit France. Offer a long-term solution where:
• Prussia gets Silesia for free in exchange for a peace ending in the summer/fall of 1742.
• You hold back the Hussars if Saxony doesn´t battle.
• Austria gets a decent winter scoring for 1741 (leave two fortresses in Silesia for Prussia to take in 1742, for example)."

The use of the Flandern-map as leverage against The Friedrich player is important and the Austrian player has to remember tha main burden to stop France on the Flandern map belongs to the Pragmatic army. Of course the Friedrich player has an different view on this

If Prussia turns down the deal you can turn on France and see if you can make arrangement with him. You can also use the political cards as leverage. So let's say you have bought a card because you want to move the Italy-track and the card also give you an opportunity to move the Russia-track you can see what you can get in exchange for doing that (or avoid doing that)
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Everyone has added great advice. I will say as well that playing the basic game (Bohemia map only) is definitely worth it. That will make your first play-through with Flanders and Bohemia much more enjoyable.
 
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Greg Lorrimer
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Thanks to everyone for the great advice.

So I purchased the game (£35 inc. p&p from Amazon.de). My game players (a wargamer brother and best friend of ours) are looking forward to a 'chaps saturday' where the dependents are abandoned and the chaps fight it out. Eggs benedict to begin to march on a full stomach (I'm an excellent cook). And ending with the fun of watching Francis Ford Coppola's 'Dracula' although I'll try to talk them in to a war movie.

Or maybe you have a better film recommendation? Foreign films are welcome too, especially German which my brother will hugely enjoy. So long as they are subtitled in English.
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Max DuBoff
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itsastickup wrote:

Thanks to everyone for the great advice.

So I purchased the game (£35 inc. p&p from Amazon.de). My game players (a wargamer brother and best friend of ours) are looking forward to a 'chaps saturday' where the dependents are abandoned and the chaps fight it out. Eggs benedict to begin to march on a full stomach (I'm an excellent cook). And ending with the fun of watching Francis Ford Coppola's 'Dracula' although I'll try to talk them in to a war movie.

Or maybe you have a better film recommendation? Foreign films are welcome too, especially German which my brother will hugely enjoy. So long as they are subtitled in English.


Have fun!
 
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