Our group played our second learning game of Pericles Wednesday night, 10 May, and once again it was great fun and another real learning experience! At one point we even learned something that we had already known from the first learning game a week earlier! We were hoping for eight members and two games side by side, but as it worked out, four of us gathered at garrison headquarters and three others gathered at one of our remote outposts.
Once again we embarked on Scenario 14.2, and we played the same factions that we had played in the first learning game to help accelerate the learning curve. As last week we played for several hours, finishing two turns before calling it a night at close to 11pm.
It was a whale of a game! Again! Took me a good long while to finally drift off into slumber land after another really great brain-burning game! And now, since I have the power of the pen, and putting a little spin on it, I would say that we Athenians were playing conservatively for the long game ... although the scenario can end at three turns ... so perhaps we were a shade too conservative …
As Aristocrats I drew a really strong hand the first turn, and my Demagogue compatriot had a couple of must-win issues, with what turned out to be a poorish hand. I played my lowest cards on those Demagogue issues and still won one, gasp, and tied another, double gasp, leaving issues in the center at the end … not good …. As we placed our issues and then played out the Theater action, we had learned our lesson from Learning Game 1, and we stoutly defended our Hellespont granary. We also learned the interesting value of Oracle when our opponents, the fearsome Spartans, knocked off our naval unit in Boeotia, and the Juggernaut of land forces with a couple of Spartans including the 300 rolled in and took control. We felt like we had used the redeployment segment with good effect realigning our forces to defend Hellespont and protect other theaters. Also, the Spartans without a Spartan base in Boeotia returned home leaving it with the Peloponnesians to protect. Overall though, we felt that we were not very successful in that turn, but at least we hadn’t lost the war yet and there was a long way to go. The Spartans foxed me at the beginning, because I was thinking about selecting the Colony issue, but thought they would go to war right away, making Colony just another Rumors, so I didn’t go for it. When they stayed at peace I was dumbfounded and felt like that was a missed opportunity …
Anyway, ever onward. After carefully avoiding the quagmire of Boeotia on the first turn at a cost of a naval unit to the Oracles, and then the land unit and base to the Juggernauts, wouldn’t you know it, the Aristophanes card made Boeotia a Will of the Assembly theater for both Athens and Sparta for Turn 2! Oh no, quagmire here we come!
This time I had a rather poorish hand, and we had many must-win issues. I tried to play to put all the Demagogue must-win onto his track, and in doing that I played some cards against the Stratego bonus value on the card. This put all of our issues into play, but we were really short of Strategos for the big shootout in the Theater action. The Spartans accidentally tied a number of issues and ended with a lot of Strategos but short on issues, but then the thing they had going for them was the FEAR FACTOR, FEAR OF SPARTANS!!!!
Last week I had played the Citizenship issue to gain a toe-hold in Boeotia for the Athenians to keep out the Spartans and this week instead of doing the same thing, I went for Military thinking that issue might have more utility as the Theater action unfolded in a state of war … bad idea! With all of our extra issues we had a chance to really stack the deck so to speak, and I don’t want to brag or anything, but my compatriot and I put a masterful LIFO stack into Boeotia to snag the Will of the Assembly and then “cash in our chips” in the redeployment phase in the face of the inevitable Juggernaut in Turn 3, no sense hanging around in the mud when we could be out sailing on the high seas! But the Spartans again foxed me by not declaring war! What are they thinking, no war, who are these faux Spartans anyway?!
And so here we are at peace with the Spartans but eager to control Boeotia, first move reveal our Oracle issue placed in Sparta and use it to pick off the lone Peloponnesian naval unit in Boeotia, learning from our Spartan friends in Turn 1! Then going to the Boeotia LIFO stack, and a Diplomatic issue on top for three Treachery markers. Now with all this hot and heavy war-like action the idea of peace sort of faded into the back recesses of our minds and we were suddenly struck, struck I say, by FEAR OF SPARTANS!!!! We were paralyzed by fear of Spartans, and forgot a lesson from Learning Game 1 that the first City-State military forces in a theater freezes out the other City-State when at peace, so we could have ravaged Boeotia for a major victory and a Will of the Assembly bonus, but fear, abject, white-knuckle, sweating-bullets FEAR froze us into a conservative play after lining up the LIFO stack in just the right way to win the “Will” bonus. We moved two Athenian naval units in but didn’t follow it up with land units to make the land attack that would have left our winning troops gathered from all over the Athenian domain vulnerable to the Juggernaut, but of course there could be no Juggernaut during peace … yes we played it a shade too conservatively, even for Athenians … A lesson learned, if for some mysterious reasons Sparta has not actually declared war from the first moment, give peace a chance! Perhaps we should make up a big symbolic peace sign to put on the board as a reminder!
And so even with more issues, but way short on Stategos, we weren’t very successful on Turn 2 either. Both Spartan factions were ahead of both Athenian factions on Honor, and there would be war for sure in Turn 3, but at least we had securely protected Hellespont and we hadn’t lost yet! As the curtain came down, there were our sailors strolling along the Boeotian quayside calling out, Hello we’re ambassadors of peace and we're here for a nice relaxing port visit, are there any cafes and bistros here along the quay, we’re dying for a frothy latte and perhaps a spinach quiche accompanied by a delightful white wine!
Another great game! Hoping to go for Learning Game 3 next Wednesday!! We can already tell that Pericles is going to be one of our “Go-To” games whenever four or more of us can gather at garrison headquarters!
Enjoy your games!
As for Thucydides himself, books are so cheap! I went to Amazon this morning to buy "A Savage War of Peace," having just finished "The Centurions" and "The Praetorians," to get spooled up for "Colonial Twilight" on the French-Algerian War coming soon, next month hopefully, and also my own personal copy of "Paris 1919," to start getting ready for "Wilson," the hoped for next Mark Herman game in the Great Statesmen series revolving around the Treaty of Versailles, and the total didn't even come to $25, the free shipping threshold and less than the gift card I had, so naturally I threw in the Landmark Thucydides edition to start reading up on what's actually happening when we’re out there pushing our sticks and cubes around!
Just chiming in to say "Paris 1919" is great.