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Subject: Henry Wants a French Bride rss

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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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Originally, I wanted to play this game on October 31 to commemorate the anniversary of the 95 Theses. That didn't happen, but I was able to put together a full game. The Papacy and Protestants were both first-time players, which made for an interesting dynamic. As the most experienced player, I took the faction nobody else wanted (Ottomans). The second most experienced player took the Hapsburgs, which was super intriguing because this guy is something of a wild card. France (my wife) and England were moderately experienced.

Asking what to expect as France, I told my wife England will probably want to negotiate for Scotland instead of fighting for it. I recommended she fight unless she got a great deal. None of us knew exactly what the Haps were going to do. I think my strategy as the Ottomans was fairly straightforward: Take out Belgrade early, then build up a navy and army for the coming piracy and Buda push.

95 Theses

Luther gets off to a roaring start, committing Bucer and succeeding on 4/5 rolls, making attempts both north and south.

Turn 1

No declarations were made by England during the diplomacy phase. Surprising no one, the Ottomans match on Prague. Surprising everyone, the Haps spring deploy to Barcelona and on its first impulse play Charles Bourbon and take control of Avignon, then play Trace Italienne to fortify the space. Rather than work out a deal for Scotland, he played Diplomatic Marriage to circumvent the whole thing. Big early advantage for Henry and leave France surprised, as apparently there were some talks about Scotland.

So now France, expecting to have to worry about Scotland, beating the Hapsburgs to Metz, and a Papal threat to Milan, now have the Hapsburgs on their doorstep at Marseilles and the door to Scotland is closed. Planning to reinforce Milan with Foreign Recruits, she instead recruits to Marseilles to buttress against the Haps. However, the Hapsburg maneuvering in Avignon leaves Metz for the taking, and Francis marches east to take the key... and fails.

After Suleiman dispatches Prague, Ibrahim captures Malta in order to disband the Knights of St. John.

England, seeing Charles galavanting in the south, declares war on the Hapsburgs and captures Antwerp with minimal resistance.

Meanwhile, Luther is steamrolling through Germany with Leo unable to stop it. Leo sends Eck to engage in a theological debate and the Protestant player blows on an air horn to declare it is on. The debates could not have gone much worse; the Papacy could not do any better than a stalemate in any of them. Using the home card to get A Mighty Fortress, they get into the double digits without much trouble.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Hapsburgs discover the Pacific Strait (opting not to circumnavigate), establish the colony of Cuba, and subjugate the Inca. France discovers the Great Lakes.

Turn 2

In negotiations, France and the Hapsburgs agree to end their war (with the understanding the Haps get Metz). The Ottomans get a pair of card draws (with the understanding the Ottomans would play a couple cards for them). The Haps sue for peace and give England a card for Antwerp.

The Ottomans play Dem Fuggers to get another card. Suleiman marches on Buda but only manages to force the Hungarians into a siege, failing to end the war via attrition. They do eventually force a surrender, bringing the Hapsburgs into the war and Buda under their control. They reinforce Buda and build up more troops and ships the rest of the turn.

The Haps take Metz and send more expeditions across the Atlantic. France played Schmalkaldic League, giving Charles some new targets. By the time the League formed, a new Pope (Clement VII) did little to stem the rising Protestant tide. The League forms with 5/6 electorates under Protestant control (and 18 reformed spaces already) after finishing the German New Testament, making Luther an immediate threat to run away with the game. Tetzel is disgraced to add insult to injury.

England, meanwhile, gets really interested in the New World, sending Sebastian Cabot to explore, establishes a colony, and attempts a conquest. Unfortunately, Henry grows tired of Catherine of Aragon and petitions Clement for a divorce.

Not much to report for France- mostly failed New World ventures.

The Papacy, getting run over by Luther, at least captures Florence.

In the New World, England discovers the Mississippi, founds Jamestown, and conquers the Maya.

(I later learned the Hapsburgs had pressured the Papacy to use John Zapolya against me, but the Pope got distracted by the Protestant onslaught and I won the Hungarian war before he got to playing it.)

Turn 3

If turn 2 felt like a lot of setting up, turn 3 was when dominoes started to fall. In negotiation, I approached the Hapsburgs about possibly ending the war. He wasn't interested. England gets his divorce from the Pope (with no public payoff going with it). Anne Boleyn bears Henry a girl- Elizabeth.

In the war declaration phase, England declares war on France! Talking with France during negotiations, I knew of her intentions to declare war on Genoa. Rattled by England's declaration, she chose not to go after Genoa. They do, however, employ a Venetian Informant to gather information on Henry.

Down a card because of Dem Fuggers, the Ottomans chose to lay low and hope Barbary Pirates comes out during the round. They spring deployed to Buda in order to discourage the Hapsburgs from attacking. They get hit with War in Persia.

The Hapsburgs send out another colony, explorer, and conquest. They capture a couple electorates to take the starch out of the Protestants. They play Barbary Pirates late in the round- too late for me to take advantage. But it does allow me to deploy my one held card, Pirate Haven.

England, on the other hand, is feeling frisky. They use Diplomatic Overture to give a card to the Pope (payoff for the divorce) and draw a new card- one France won't be able to see. Having built up an impressive army in Calais, they march on Paris. Outnumbered, France is feeling desperate. I offer France a deal: I'll play Swiss Mercenaries to improve her defense in exchange for a card draw next turn. She accepts. In the combat phase, England reveals their new card: Mercenaries Bribed. Ouch. With the Paris, Francis, and Montmorency captured, the French army was decimated, leaving Rouen ripe for the picking. The French navy puts up token resistance, but another key falls to the English. Unhappy with his baby girl, Henry divorces Anne. Jane Seymour, however, can't produce an heir.

In Rome, Paul III rises to power and fortunes start to turn in the Reformation. Carlstadt is burned at the stake. The Reformation stalls at the French border, with some German cities reconsidering their beliefs. They activate Venice with Diplomatic Marriage. The Protestants, for their part, use the home card to get Marburg Colloquy (though they have to wait for next turn to play it).

In the New World, the Hapsburgs found Hispaniola, find the St. Lawrence, and conquer the Aztecs.

Turn 4

Having worked well with the Protestants previously, I try to extract a card draw in exchange for a card play from them. They're not interested. But the Papacy is interested in me not playing those cards for the event. Not telling him the Protestants aren't interested, I get a card draw from him in exchange for not playing those cards. With France, I tell her we'll be even if she plays Julia Gonzaga for me. I engage the Hapsburgs and offer him a no strings attached peace. I point out England's position and how close they are to winning (they're in second, I'm in fifth) and that he really needs to help keep France from getting completely conquered by England. He agrees before changing his mind. Nevertheless, I offer it in the declarations phase. He does not accept. The Hapsburgs and France ally.

France sues for peace and, not being willing to give a precious card draw, gives England an additional 3 VP for Paris, Rouen, and Francis. I declare war on the Papacy, which was not part of our deal.

England, having received France's peace suit, immediately declares war on France again and sweeps back in to take Paris and Rouen. The Hapsburgs were either too slow or unwilling to respond with land forces, making it really easy for Henry to take the keys. England is now at 24 VP and, with Cranmer showing up in London, on the edge of the win. A War in Ireland doesn't do much to deter them.

The Haps, for their part, are willing to slowly sail ships into the Atlantic to help defend Rouen (they would be too late). He's still thinking the Ottomans are the bigger threat. Basically all the other players have to convince him the power 1 VP away from winning is the main concern. I point out I offered him a free peace and that if I wanted to strike at Vienna, I would have and chose not to. I spring deployed to the south and attempted a sea landing at Ancona, but the Venetian navy warded me off, forcing me to land at Taranto. And, again, I have to tell the Haps if I wanted Naples, I would have taken it instead of declaring war on the Pope and marching to Rome.

Finally convinced, he used Machiavelli to declare war on England. This ended up not meaning much, as he could not extricate the English from either French key.

Piracy was going well: With the Hapsburg fleet abandoning the Mediterranean region, I was free to terrorize the seas. While my attempt in the Tyrrhennian failed (wasting Julia Gonzaga), I was able to extract a couple cards and VPs in other zones. The Pope was unable to keep me out of Rome and Ravenna.

Interesting, it was the Pope who saved the game. Using Diplomatic Overture, he gives Auld Alliance to the French, deactivating Scotland (and depriving Henry of some troops and a ship). The big English push was over. He also managed to burn Olivetan, but was at serious risk of an Eck disgrace when he took on Luther and nearly whiffed on the roll. He also had Indulgence Vendor and used it to pull Copernicus, giving St. Peter's a big boost. The Protestants did disgrace Cajetan and finish the French New Testament to strike into the heart of France with the Reformation. They were also to get back Copernicus from the discard pile and play it, putting them in striking range of 25 VP. With 30+ Protestant spaces, he was in great shape.

Turn 5

Allyships abound: France with the Ottomans and Hapsburgs, Hapsburgs with the French and English. That's right, the Hapsburgs and English enter into some mysterious alliance. I get a card draw from the Protestants in exchange for a promise to play A Mighty Fortress.

France does not sue for peace (evidently having learned a hard lesson), but the Papacy does, giving the Ottomans 2 more VP instead of card draws (citing a very Ottoman-friendly hand).

It was time for me to make the Hapsburgs pay for not accepting peace earlier. Playing Society of Jesus for 2 CP (the Papacy put Jesuits in Brunswick and Hamburg), I march on Vienna and drive them into the city. Then, I use Halley's Comet (card I drew from the Protestants) to prevent them from doing anything on their impulse. With only two troops in Vienna (plus Charles and the Duke) and rolling 7 dice, the odds are on my side. But with the change to cripple the Hapsburgs, I take no chances, employing Treachery! to capture Vienna and put myself at 24 VP. Gout prevents Ferdinand from relief efforts.

England goes for a male heir again... and fails. They did declare war on Scotland, and France, seeing an opportunity to annoy England, intervene. Drawing from troops in the South built up in the last turn, they attempt to re-take Paris, forcing the English into a siege. Brandon's relief attempt from Rouen fails miserably, leading to his capture. The French are able to liberate their capital! Turning his attention north, Henry amasses a big force and assaults Edinburgh. The tough Scots, however, do not yield, and England eventually runs out of cards.

The Protestans take back Trier (which had been captured earlier) and use Charles Bourbon to try and get Wittenberg, where John Frederick had been taken prisoner. The English New Testament is rushed through as England starts to fall to the Reformation.

The Papacy excommunicates Luther (freeing me from the obligation to play A Might Fortress) and has some success in debates. Paul III chose to focus on Germany for the Counter Reformation.

The big swing was in piracy. Realizing the mistake in abandoning the south seas, the Hapsburgs send their fleet south... but mine is bigger. I don't really want to engage him, avoiding battle where I can. He finally pins me in the North African Coast, where I inflict serious damage on his ships. Piracy is largely successful (the best part is when I pulled Cloth Prices Fluctuate from the Haps, depriving a card from him and England), and players are giving me cards when they can, but they're running out. The Pope did not have many, so he was a prime target to get VPs. At one point, the Hapsburg fleet moved into the Barbary Coast, and I intercepted. The English player moaned, "You gave him a free move." And it was appreciated! By the end of the turn, I conducted piracy in every zone east of the Atlantic, giving me enough VPs to push me to 26.

For fun, the Hapsburgs send over one last exploration. Naturally, he pulled Magellan and succeeded in circumnavigation.

Final VP:

Ottomans - 26
Protestants - 24
England - 22
Papacy - 21
Hapsburgs - 20
France - 18

Thoughts:

- The Hapsburgs should have taken my earlier peace offers; this would have made Vienna a lot safer when he was taking on England and make piracy much harder for me. Parking a ship in sea zones makes my life a lot harder when I can't just blow them up. Plus, he could have taken back more electorates. And sending his fleet into the Atlantic was ill-advised. I feel like, when you have a lot of things to worry about, if you can (even temporarily) put one of those worries away, you do it. If nothing else, you force me to play a card to declare war again. And he really should have helped France against the English threat.

- I kind of liked the Papacy's chances had the game kept going with the Counter Reformation gaining steam. And his luck had to turn. He was losing debates despite being up in dice. It was really bad.

- I think the Protestants were kind of at their high water mark. They weren't going to keep holding five electorates and aside from England, I don't think they were going to flip too many more spaces. But they could have won in a theoretical Turn 6.

- If the Haps and England both squeeze France, there's really not much they can do. Failing at Metz didn't help. Still, they should have gone for Genoa anyway; they could have taken it and it would have mitigated the losses from the English war somewhat. I am curious to see how the 500th Anniversary changes help them. Seems like a good update.

- The Pope gave stuff up way too easy, especially that divorce. And he never threatened Milan. But he still did decently in the face of great Protestant luck.

- England was at serious risk with Mary in the deck and the Protestants ahead in VP. You can't blame him for going for the win when he could, but that was a hit-or-miss proposition.

- I was rather CP rich, which of course helps a lot. Still, I think I did a pretty good job avoiding mistakes and didn't get put over a barrel in negotiation. Sometimes, that's the winning formula.
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Joseph Dooley
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A great alternate history! Exactly what HIS was created to do.

Good job on the report.
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Rob Davidson
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After Suleiman dispatches Prague, Ibrahim captures Malta in order to disband the Knights of St. John.
==========================
Is this a misprint? Knights are in Cyprus as I recall in the Campaign game.

the Hapsburgs discover the Pacific Strait (opting not to circumnavigate),
=============================
And they should have picked up the Amazon instead on a turn 1 refusal to circumnavigate for the extra VP it provides over the PacStrait. I seem to note that the Amazon was apparently un-discovered thru the game end.



You mention the 500 edition; other than the cards, the upgunned French homecard event does improve their in-between situation a bit as good rolls can improve their card in hand situation as well as the VP gain.
(Edit to add) And Ottoman piracy is limited to 4 per turn; thus quelling somewhat the 'piracy rush' end game that can occur at times; and lessening somewhat the fear of card rewards 'feeding the monster' as can sometimes be seen.
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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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tabpub wrote:
After Suleiman dispatches Prague, Ibrahim captures Malta in order to disband the Knights of St. John.
==========================
Is this a misprint? Knights are in Cyprus as I recall in the Campaign game.


Probably, yeah. Wherever they were. I guess I just defaulted to Malta.

Oh, and someone got the Amazon; unintentional omission on my part.
 
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