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Nine Years: The War of the Grand Alliance 1688-1697» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Opening strategy for Bourbon rss

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Wen Han Wu
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Recently I played three games of Nine Years with one of my friend. Since there is no thread in strategy category for this game, I would like to share some of my thoughts, and also want some feedback for my idea.

0. Move first in 1st turn
It's about 75% probability that Bourbon could move first in 1st turn (have 3OPs card, or both Bourbon and Alliance have no 3OPs card). Bourbon should move first before Alliance move his corps for garrison.

1. Move the army in Strasbourg to Namur, siege.
Vauban is 2TR, which has +1DRM for siege roll. There is no garrison in Namur in beginning, whose FDV is only 2 and relative easy to be captured. Bourbon could leave 0.5 corps in Strasbourg, and also moves the army in Lille to Namur. It makes Alliance very difficult to relieve the besieging in Namur. It's about 77% success probability to capture 2FDV Namur in 2 siege attempt.

2. Move the army in Perpignan to San Sebastian, siege.
Noailles is also 2TR with +1DRM siege roll. If capturing San Sebastian, there is a road to Madrid without fortified space. Bourbon could threaten Madrid very soon, and build Catalan corps.

3. Jacobite defenses London, do not avoid battle.
The defensive battle dice roll for Bourbon is 2 (1.5 corps) + 2 (general) = 4. If Alliance activates William III to move the initial army in Amsterdam to attack London, its attack dice roll is 4 (4 corps) + 2 (general) = 6. But wait, Alliance must make 1 more hit to win this battle. If Alliance loses, he could only retreat 2 corps by sea, which is critical damage. If Bourbon loses, it would only take 2 hit for Jacobite, which is not a big deal.

If Alliance couldn't capture London in 1st turn, Bourbon could use sea movement to move 2 corps to London in 2nd turn, which has 6+ defense battle dice roll. Even William III could move 6 corps in 1st and 2nd turn to attack London, it's very high risk to make such attempt if Bourbon has 6+ dice roll in London. If Alliance couldn't capture London, he just loses this game.

4. Move Brest Fleet to Atlantic, later than Alliance moves Atlantic Fleet if possible.
If Alliance fleet controls Atlantic first, Bourbon naval dice roll is +2 (strength 1 + control London) and Alliance naval dice roll is only +1 (controls Atlantic). If Bourbon controls Atlantic first, the naval dice roll is +2 vs +2, no benefits.


Considering above actions, it costs 3OPs for campaign (move army), 3OPs for siege (Namur 2 + San Sebastian 1), 1OPs for Naval, total 7OPs. The average OP of 1 action card is 2, which means Bourbon would have 6OPs in 1st turn in average. If Bourbon has less than 7OPs, siege Namur is top priority.

I would reply my thought when playing Alliance to against this Bourbon opening strategy latter .
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Kris Van Beurden
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Couple of Remarks (from somebody who has lost more games of NY than won)

0. correct. Bourbon has chance to go first.

1. More or less correct. I'm a bit unhappy this is the "best" option (and the "free" capture from successful Philipsburg siege isn't enticing enough), and believe the optimal setup would contain a 1/2 corps at Namur.

2. Correct. I'd advise Alliance to garrison San Sebastian if Bourbon gives you the opportunity.

3. Some remarks. If not written out completely like that, it was at least the designers' intent to have Alliance be able to retreat up to 6 corps by sea after an unsuccessful attempt at Glorious Revolution (as 6 corps arrived by sea thanks to the special rule). But this attack is indeed risky and I prefer to add the Cologne garrison to William III prior to launching this attack.

Secondly, don't forget the "free" Glorious Revolution for control of the Atlantic.

I think you've hit on one of the more "optimal" scenarios. But the Alliance has options. I look forward to your thoughts on the Alliance's response
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Wen Han Wu
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Thanks for reply from Kris. I am still a newbie for this game, I really need some suggestion from other seasoned players.


Briefly speaking, I was totally defeated by above Bourbon strategy.

In my first 3 games, I all played Alliance since we want to have more experience, and sharpen the strategy for one side. In my first game, Bourbon acts following the initial scenario setting : army in Strasbourg sieges Philipsburg, army in Perpignan sieges Gerona then Barcelona. And from 3rd Turn, Bourbon starts to attack Savoy. Since the event "Death of Louvois" happens in 2nd turn, Bourbon suffered from low resource and his action didn't build his position well enough. Alliance gradually gained VP and reached 25VP in 7th turn. Because of time limit, we ended our first game and have some discussion, then came out above Bourbon opening strategy.

However in my 2nd and 3rd game, my Alliance surrendered before 5th turn. That's why I post this thread and I really need some suggestion for Alliance. Following are my thought against Bourbon's strategy.


0. Alliance must hold both London and Madrid, unless he just loses the game.
The initial 15VP, is the level for Bourbon's major victory. At least, Alliance must gain another 10VP to win. If losing Madrid, Bourbon would be very close to immediate victory. If losing London, Bourbon would gain 2VP each turn. It's very hard to recover this VP lost.


1. William III and initial force in Dutch/Empire home space.
If Bourbon move first, and besieging both Namur / San Sebastian, I would move the army in Empire home space to Amsterdam. If Bourbon only move the army in Strasbourg to Namur in his first action, Alliance army in Cologne would also move to Amsterdam. Then Alliance has a chance to use whole army in Amsterdam to attack Namur.

Losing Namur would not lose the entire game, but very hurt to Alliance. It also lets Bourbon has 2 more Wealthy Spaces to attack (Liege/Antwerp), means Alliance must spread more garrison to defend Spanish Netherlands. If Bourbon move both the army in Strasbourg/Lille to Namur, there is not much thing Alliance could do to defend Namur in 1st turn. Alliance could move the corps in Cologne to Liege/Antwerp for garrison in advance. Then William III could attack London for Glorious Revolution.


2. London and Glorious Revolution
If it is possible, I still want to move William III to London. It's precious to have general Waldeck. As above (1), William III could move 6 corps with Lorraine (minor leader side) to attack London, which is 6 + 3 = 9 attacking dice roll.

Try to make Glorious Revolution happen in 1st turn. 2VP lost because of Bourbon controlling London is also hurt. In 2nd Turn, I have tried to use William III to attack Edinburgh, but I found experienced Bourbon player would press Alliance a lot in both Spain and Netherlands. Therefore William usually have to back Europe mainland soon. It's a potential threat for event "Scotland Rises/Pacified"... but Alliance must face the problems already happened first.


3. Spain
I found Alliance almost has no chance to defend Madrid. From 3rd turn, Bourbon could manage 2 armies in Spain, 8 attack dice each. If Alliance has only 4 corps with general Villahermosa in Madrid, Bourbon could use his 2 armies attack continuously. Alliance almost has no chance to defend Madrid by Spanish corps itself. After losing Madrid, Alliance couldn't recover Spanish corps.

I have tried to use minor leader, to Naval move 2 corps to Spain, and transfer William III to defend Spain. However, 6 corps with William III and Villahermosa still not enough to defend Bourbon's 2 armies attack. I have also tried to use William III to move 4 corps to Spain, then Alliance would also have 2 armies with 4 corps each. However, Bourbon could just land move its armies back to France border. Because of stack limit, it's very difficult for Alliance to counterattack France from Spain. It's costly to move William III and his corps to Spain only for defense.

Someone has discussed Spanish issue in previous thread (Madrid - the most important space in the game?). Because of stack limit, Alliance couldn't build Fortified Line in Madrid to defense (I would do so in London if Marlborough is removed very early). Since there is no penalty in Battle for army without LOC, Alliance couldn't cut Bourbon's LOC to gain benefit ,then win a battle in Spain with less corps.

Could Alliance successfully defend Spain? If no, could Alliance win without Spain?


4. If move first in 1st Turn?
I would do this : Move one corps from Madrid to San Sebastian, one corps from Collogne to Namur. Move army in Empire home space to Amsterdam. Recover the corps in Tournai.

Move Atlantic Fleet to Atlantic, move William III to London. (If possible, do both things in 2nd 3OP card). If there are OPs left, move Barcelona Fleet to try to control Mediterranean, and recover corps. (Edited)


5. Actions from 3rd Turn?
There are some assumption here: If Bourbon mainly attack Spain and Alliance thinks it's impossible to defend Madrid, use Naval move to retreat some corps from Spain to Dutch. Create Army A : Dutch / Empire / Subsidy / Spain, with general William III and Lorraine. Create Army B : Austria / Bavaria / Subsidy, with General Eugene and Max Emanuel.

Since Bourbon mainly attack Spain, and Alliance has more resource point / reinforcement in first 2 turns. In East front, Bourbon could only defend 1 Alliance army, but difficult to defeat both armies in same turn. Army A could siege Dunkirk or Bouchain (if Namur didn't lost), and Army B could siege Landau and Strasbourg. In my 1st and 3rd game, this strategy works fine, where Alliance captured Bouchain (1st game) and Strasbourg (3rd game). If eventually Alliance would lose Spain, Alliance should consider immediate victory to capture Paris.

If Alliance has spare OPs, corps in London could siege Edinburgh (if no threat from Naval), and corps in Trent should siege Mirandola. Then some Austrian corps could move to Savoy, capture Verrua to avoid Savoy Neutrality by Bourbon.



...Well, for Alliance, I still think this game is "No Victory Without Spain". The event in beginning benefits Bourbon. In my 2nd game, I lost both Marlborough and Lorraine (Major leader side) in 3rd turn, which is very painful. Although Alliance has more resources, but it only compensate Bourbon's better generals. If Bourbon captures Namur in 1st turn, Alliance even almost have no benefit in resource.

How do you play Alliance? Please share your experience, especially in opening and defending Spain. I enjoy this game a lot therefore play 3 times in 1 month, and really hope there is a balance strategy for Alliance against Bourbon's powerful opening move.

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Kris Van Beurden
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For starters, the initial VP starting at 15 can (in mutual agreement and/or through bidding for sides) be changed. During playtesting it seemed a fine initial VP but to be honest, not every playtesting game had the Bourbon go for Madrid. As far as I'm concerned, holding Madrid is necessary to *win* the game but not to "not lose" the game - depending on how the game plays out, I believe it is possible for an Alliance player to win even after the Bourbon held Madrid for several turns. Your points are all well-thought-out and I must say in the couple of games I played since the release I have lost a few to this strategy myself, although I believe bad luck was also involved. Never forget that in a small sample size such as this "luck" could be a variable not corrected for.

You should indeed try to make Glorious Revolution turn 1 - the 2 VP loss is very damaging indeed. It wouldn't be if initial VP was slightly higher (maybe Sean and I erred on the BB side when setting initial VP).

With regards to Edinburgh, I usually besiege it with Marlborough and some superfluous corps meant to garrison London/England anyway, while taking William III back to the mainland (to be joined by the Empire box troops under Lorraine).

If Bourbon has two armies in Spain (both with serious leadership), then he should be vulnerable elsewhere? There are some good points to be had in Northern Italy, or Lorraine could go for Strasbourg. Moving troops from elsewhere to Spain is an option if Bourbon is pushing only medium (i.e. 4 troops + Noailles) there - otherwise, focus where BB is *not*. The way to defend Spain is to be aggressive elsewhere - but I agree, in the early turns (where the game is lost to BB) this is not very easy advise to follow.

You also mention naval threat to London, but there are not always that many BB troops in ports. Always be on the lookout for BB corps in Dunkirk or Ostend.

An optional rule (I have alas only come up with after the release ...) would be to give the Alliance the option to spend 1 VP to skip the Marlborough roll each turn.

I think I mostly play it the same way - if you think the BB are initially too overpowered, the best solution would be bid for BB player ...
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