Michael Van Biesbrouck
Players: Michael, Michael, Darrin, Ash, Marcus, Martin
This was a first play for everyone. I had read the rules a couple times, but stumbled a bit in the explanations. I think that by the time that we were playing we may have lost sight of the game objectives and appropriate strategies. (For example, in the first turn Mark and I fought bitterly for Radical control of Paris. I think that I played three and a half cards to win Paris, ending up with 4 victorious Radical factions overall ... which were completely worthless since the Radicals were last in the elections.)
The first turn ended with a Moderate victory for Darrin. (Not a big one, just moderate.) I believe that the vote tallies were on consecutive squares.
The second turn also saw a Moderate victory, but it looked like the Royalists might be left ready to win at the start of the third turn. In actual fact, there were so many ties that the board was nearly emptied, although white faction blocks were in evidence. The Moderates triumphed again. Many of the counter-revolutionary provinces were empty and it seemed that a quick-moving Royalist could still end the game on turn three, but nobody seemed interested in taking this way. During this round I actually had a fair number of Moderate cards, but the round was over before I had played too many of them. Michael and I started our fight over the 2 VP province (not yet worth anything), and I was happy to have him reduce my tied tower of three to two, leaving both of us with power in that province.
For turn three I had collected many good Radical cards and I used them (starting with the twos) to protect the counter-revolutionary provinces. I ignored most of the conflicts and tried to spread red over the board. There were still provinces free (mine, mine!) when Martin took the last Royalist faction and placed it. The Radicals took control with 16 victories -- one short of throwing the game to me. Many of the territories were emptied again, but it wasn't quite as bad as before. Martin wanted to know what happened if his VP counter went off the track and was pushing for an instant victory for himself.
I reduced my hand to just Radicals and drew two more cards, further strengthening my personal hold on the faction. Fortunately, there were other players playing Radicals, too, so I didn't need to do everything myself. By concentrating on uninteresting provinces I managed to cause a landslide victory for the Radicals after placing their last faction block. Many faction blocks were removed from the board, but I had 17 points worth of Radicals and Darrin was next-highest with 9.
Prior to the game I had conjectured (based on session reports), that a landslide victory would be hard to pull off in the third turn and just missing would decimate the Radical strength for the fourth turn. Apparently I was wrong.
The Battle Box was hotly contested, but with only one or two pieces per player. The favoured action was to guillotine the generals. Placing them at the end of a turn makes them a lot more likely to survive. Mark also had his good cards guillotined (one of his was way too powerful and definitely deserved it). Personally, I held back with my good cards so that they wouldn't be killed and tried not to put my faction markers where other people would mind. They weren't worried about the Radical landslide so it worked out, but I could have taken a couple guillotinings without trouble.
Mark complained about getting a lot of one cards. As far as I can surmise, the really good cards are normally decapitated (we did forget to put them in the box) and if you are dealt all ones, you should try to set up a safe power structure for the next turn. OTOH, using a three at the end of a turn to put faction markers where they will be uncontested or left around for the next turn does seem a lot more useful.
The display did end up with all ones, but after the first two turns I don't think that many people were drawing cards.
I don't think that Ash or Michael will play again. Darrin, Mark and myself intend to have a rematch, but Mark was unhappy about what the luck of the draw did to him. I'm not sure about Martin.