A record of my first session playing LoD. A bit of background first.
LoD is my first wargame of any kind. I chose it due to a couple of reasons, most importantly the included solitaire system seemed very detailed (and I will be playing this game solo almost exclusively), and secondly the topic itself was particularly interesting. The excellent artwork and components certainly helped lure my eye, as well.
After reading the Rules of Play (for a Multiplayer Game) and Playbooks, and completing the Playbook's very nice tutorial scenario, I decided to play an abbreviated version of "A People Armed and Numerous", with two campaigns worth of '75-'76 cards and two Winter Quarters. This was due to time constraints and my real aim in seeing how well I grasped the mechanics and general strategic goals before embarking on a full game later. I chose to play both Patriot and French sides, and integrated Non-Player system for British and Indians.
Turn 1, Patriots moved first, and the event card was beneficial so I took it. Next came the Indian faction, and my first attempt to play a Non-Player. The flowchart fairly easily directed me to a Gather Command, with a Trade Special Activity. This seemed so easy to carry out, from the perspective of playing the faction as a Player. But reading the Non-Player flowchart box for completing the Gather Command seemed to be presenting something completely different. I read:
"Place Villages where room and 3+ War Parties..."
Reading this literally, I imagined being instructed to place Villages and three (or even more) War Parties. Quite a bit more powerful than the Gather Command indicates I would place, as a Player! Ok, well the Non-Players will apparently be performing significantly above what I could do as a Player using the Commands alone? Could this be something to balance the Non-Players by giving them an artificial advantage?
No, I had to be doing something wrong. The rules clearly indicated that Non-Players were bound by the main rules outside of a few exceptions.
An hour passed while I re-examined that sentence in light of how to make it fit within the rules. And then it clicked. The flowchart was not directing me to go now and place Villages and at least three War Parties, it must have been written so as to direct my focus of actions within the options the Player's Gather Command allows. Finally I arrive at the point of reading that sentence on the flowchart like this:
"Chose placing Villages where able and 3+ War Parties present..."
And it all fit. Yes I could place a Village in one space, but it did not have three War Parties present. Now having my head oriented correctly, the second bullet point on the Gather flowchart made perfect sense. I place my single War Party as directed and move on to the Special Activity. Indian resources at 0, so Trade. Done.
An educational hour spent there. It was all down to how I was reading things.
Moving forward from that point was quite smooth, and much quicker. Handling my turns was easy, and keeping in mind how to interpret the Non-Player flowchart directions with regard to implementing the Commands and Special Activities, I had no further technical problems.
This gave me room to recognize what was happening between the forces within the larger picture. The Indian Non-Player focused on building their presence within the Territories, but I was surprised how little they encroached on the Colonies. They finished the two campaign years with 4 Villages and perhaps twice that number of War Parties. The Non-Player British Mustered in dramatic form, and then with Garrison they spread their control rapidly to nearly every city.
My Patriots were pushed out of those cities, and I focused on Rally in the Colonies, building a decent strength in Militia plus 4 forts. Only in New Hampshire did I ever gain Continentals, all placed while I played French Agent Mobilization as the French faction.
Both Winter Quarters came up very early in the two campaigns, a bit of a disappointment as I had hoped to accomplish a bit more, if weather allowed. The session ended with Support at 21 and Opposition at 17. Along the way my Patriots played a March Command with a Partisans Special Activity, inflicting the only casualties of the session outside of an Event Card, for a total of 3 CBC. This was perhaps most surprising, that the British had not more actively engaged in combat, but it was early days and their fortification efforts certainly laid more than enough groundwork for future battles, had the game continued.
Something else I didn't realize at the time, I need to get a notebook and keep a log of each turn. That seems like a useful way to review, when considering play strategies.
Overall, I had a great time. My initial troubles with the Non-Players might have been self inflicted, from not reading much on the Non-Player examples before striking out on my own. But once I got my feet under me, it was a nice afternoon and evening worth of engaging play. I'm looking forward to my next session, and hopefully time to complete a full scenario.
Great write-up. Gives me some hope that I might some day get this on my table as I'm at a similar war game experience level...daunting.
Thanks for the nice, quick review. This game does take a little "head banging" to get right...at least for me
This is definitely a game which improves with familiarity. After only one solo game I'm still having to spend almost as much time checking the usual player sheets as I do checking the non-player flow charts. You have to be pretty familiar with what the various commands allow you to do before you can properly interpret the non-player instructions.
But it's worth persevering. The game itself was highly entertaining. I'm just hoping my second game will be a smoother experience and involve less juggling of rule sheets.
I'm unfamiliar with the protocol regarding submitting Session reports, and don't wish to seem to be spamming them. so I'll add my add this report on my first full campaign session as a reply here, rather than submitting it as new.
LoD 1st complete short campaign session "The Southern Campaign"
March 31st - April 1st, 2017
Approximately 10-11 hours total time
Solitaire - Player Patriot and French, Non-Player British and Indian
This is a record of my first complete campaign play in LoD. I chose the short "The Southern Campaign", knowing that my time would run longer than the advertised 180-360 minutes. My total play time spread over four segments was between 10 and 11 hours.
My early play was aimed at increasing Rebel Control and presence, and then building my main objective of increasing Opposition. When playing as the French faction, I played cooperatively toward this goal, but took advantage where possible to inflict British casualties.
The Non-Player British actions looked similar to what I had seen during my prior play-test session, meaning solidifying British presence and locking down control in the cities. Non-Player Indians at first didn't seem to be much of a concern, but I knew they would be in the long run.
During the middle campaign year, I was feeling decently confident. I had a very solid footing in the northern Colonies and cities, had increased Opposition by a nice margin, and my French had chances with two Event cards to take FNI to 3, and tie up the British further with distractions in the West Indies, which held them Ineligible through the next Event Card.
Overall British gains didn't feel worrisome in the second year, and my attention was more on the Indians, who by now were making their presence felt. But this was all about to shift.
The opening of the final campaign year I had hoped to leverage my position to open a wider lead in Opposition, while being careful not to advance the CBC any further. The British had different ideas, however. Their opening Garrison and Naval Pressure was terribly effective against my Patriot efforts in the cities. Patriot Control was reduced and Opposition slipped equal to Support. I had to focus instead on regaining bare minimum lead in Opposition.
Things actually began to look better for the Patriots mid-way into the final year. I had retained a bare lead in Opposition, and had worked my Underground Patriot Militia into the southern Colonies, preparing the groundwork to gain an additional 4 Opposition on the next turn, where my Patriots were up as 1st Eligible, ready to strike with Rabble Rousing. But this time it was the weather that turned my fortunes. The final, game ending Winter Quarters appeared on-deck, and that was it.
I used the Rules Book example of scoring to determine that my French had a single point lead over my Patriots, with the British and Indian trailing by 4 to 5. If only winter had been a card later, the Patriots stood to gain a 3 point lead over the French.
This was a fun play session. I am new and while my grasp of the play is feeling confident, still I am slow (10 hours for the "short" campaign) and I made a few mistakes. A couple of mistakes were clerical, and easily corrected. But more importantly, I missed two early points to make a Non-Player "Brilliant Stroke" play. By the time I realized this, it was too late to correct. I chose instead to play without any "Brilliant Stroke" cards for any faction, to balance this mistake.
I have not had time to consider my strategy fully enough to see what I might change, next time. But I can tell a few points where it's easy to stumble. Firstly, letting the French rack up too many CBC, tempting as it can be. Secondly, the Indians are slow to build up, but quickly start becoming a real threat with Village placement. I really had no good plan to counter these Villages, and was lucky to remove those I did through Event Cards.
The '77-'78 campaign year played through 8 Event Cards.
My Patriot faction saw two Rabble Rousing actions, one Limited in NC, and the second in NY, PA, and NYC with Partisans Special Activity, a single event (12), plus a single Rally and Skirmish.
My French faction played three Muster Commands, one Limited, one with Skirmish, and one with Naval Pressure which Blockades Philadelphia. Additionally my French played two March commands, one with Skirmish in Philadelphia, the other another Naval Pressure to reestablish the Philadelphia blockade.
The Non-Player British played two Garrison Commands, each with Naval Pressure, one Muster plus Skirmish, and an Event Card (38). This quickly established British in Boston, Norfolk, and Charles Town.
The Non-Player Indian played a Gather with Trade, an Event Card (93), and a Raid with Trade.
The first Winter Quarters results:
Support: 17, Opposition: 22, CRC: 13, CBC: 12, Forts: 6, Villages: 7
The first of the '79-'80 campaign years also played through 8 Event Cards.
My Patriots played two Rally with Partisans, a Rabble Rousing with Persuasion, and an Event (17). I gained control in PA and NC, plus increased Opposition by four.
My French played a Roderigue Hortalez et Cie with Skirmish, then Passed once (aiming to take the upcoming Event card), and played two Event Cards (57 and 40).
The Non-Player British played a March plus Common Cause, an Event Card (25), and Passed twice (IIRC their resources were at 0).
The Non-Player Indians played three Raid Commands, two with Trade and one with Plunder. They also played a Gather with Trade
The second Winter Quarters results:
Support: 25, Opposition: 18, CRC: 16, CBC: 18, Forts: 6, Villages 6
The final '79-'80 campaign year played through 7 Event Cards.
My Patriots played two Rabble Rousing, one with Partisans. I also played a March (which gained Rebel Control of Philadelphia and NY), and a Rally with Persuasion (gaining 3 Resources).
My French played two Events (19 and 70), Roderigue Hortalez et Cie with Naval Pressure (adding a Blockade of Charles Town), and a March plus Naval Pressure (adding a Blockade of NYC).
The Non-Player British played two Garrison, each with Naval Pressure (working hard against my Patriot efforts in the cities). They also Passed once.
The Non-Player Indians played a Gather with Trade, a Scout with Skirmish, a March with Trade, and an Event (94).
The final Winter Quarters results:
Support: 21, Opposition: 24, CRC: 17, CBC: 19, Forts 6, Villages: 8
- Last edited Mon Apr 3, 2017 3:10 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Sun Apr 2, 2017 10:26 pm