Last night we plunged into the world of Pericles again for another run. This time, it was a 2-player game with each of us taking on a faction in both city states, in the two turn tournament scenario, the Archidamian War. This is option A under 15.12 in the Playbook. By the luck of the draw, I got the controlling Aristocrats in Athens and the second fiddle Agiads in Sparta. Jan drew the controlling Eurypontids in Sparta, and the Demogogues in Athens.
This was Jan's first play, my third. So basically, we were working on game mechanics and basic strategy. The option A 2-player game is a mind blower, as it is presumably best undertaken by Pericles veterans, but it may very well become my preferred way of playing. The first turn of the scenario, 430-425 (each turn encompasses 6 years), was pretty confused as we grappled with multiple choices for our split Athenian/Spartan loyalties. As the Clouds A Aristophanes card kicks off the scenario, War/Peace issues went up on each controlling factions' debate track, and each city state was dinged 6 Strategoi tokens from stock.
No doubt war was on the menu boys. And thus it went, war it was. But it was pretty much a sitzkrieg off the starting blocks, as it produced a raid and some treachery, but otherwise the city states mostly jockeyed for position via League issues and diplomacy. Those 12 total Strategoi were certainly missed. The controlling Aristocrats and Eurypontids held serve through the first debate cycle. The Eurypontids moved into the lead, while the Agiads sank back to fourth; the Aristocrats followed fairly close behind the leaders. The Demogogues were well behind, but ahead of the Agiads. Overall, a small edge to the Spartans (2 honor).
Ah, the second turn, 424-419, was an entirely different thing indeed. A surprise, Clouds C was drawn, once again putting War/Peace issues on the controlling factions' debate tracks. Peace looming? Too soon? Indeed, after some ineffective debate, both issues survived, pushing the controlling factions +10 apiece on the honor roll. Here is where both humans began to leverage their split loyalties. The trailing factions both moved into controlling positions in their respective city states, and that turned out to be significant.
I decided to boost an Athenian win; eventually, it turned out, Jan was playing it the same way. This may seem odd, given the overall leading faction was Jan's Eurypontids, but he scored resources (Strategoi) and issues for the Demogogues that caused him to reassess his Spartan chances. Also, I surmise, as a newbie he was just playing to learn (and he is a fast learner). The Agiads looked like toast, so I pretty much placed Spartan Rumors in hot spots, and live Spartan issues in places of little or no contention. Both Jan and I (unknowing what the other was doing) placed Athenian League and Military issues in Peloponnesian League theaters, priming Athens to hit Sparta where it hurt, protected by Sparta's geographical isolation due to peace and relatively little on-map Peloponnesian naval power.
So Athens hit Boeotia hard, and inflicted a Major defeat on the sacred little yellow band of brothers. Big payoff for the Aristocrats there, +10 honor. The Spartans under the Eurypontids reacted with a Peloponnesian strike on the Delian forces in Naupactus. Another Spartan loss, mostly because those darned Agiads couldn't come up with any Strategoi to supplement the dwindling Eurypontid stock, and the Athenians enjoyed a superior card draw. Yeah, my Agiads just couldn't help in a pinch. So the Eurypontids just kept sinking into the sunset (the Agiads eventually bottomed out at 0).
Now the Demgogues got into the action, by striking at Syracuse, mostly by reusing the Athenian resources that had earlier won the Boeotian campaign. Another crushing defeat of a Peloponnesian army ensued (where are the Agiad Strategoi?), which could have been amplified by a subsequent naval win had the Athenians committed enough Strategoi to add a blue stick. The Athenians were limited by the Aristocrats running out of Strategoi -- this time I would have helped if I could have, the blues brothers got each others' backs. Sicily being a land theater, all 5 blue Strategoi were used to move land armies. As it was, +8 honor for the Demogogues, +4 for the Aristocrats.
Scenario over, the Athenians--thus, the Aristocrats--were easy winners under the 14.1.07 victory conditions. Looking at the standard victory conditions (11.14), the Athenian factions were very far ahead, but nearly dead even under the enhanced scoring. The Demogogues winning control of the Assembly was nearly a game winning ploy. So much for Aristocratic cockiness.....