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Richard Young
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Old Ways Are Best!
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Re:User Review
upfront2000 (#64859),
I've played this game several times and while I also like the period and wanted to like this game, I am finding it tougher and tougher to remain enthusiastic about it. You were too kind with your remarks about the rules...a lot more care should have been taken with them.

I'm particularly confused by the rules regarding alliances with minor powers. The technique of using the phrase "as above" is abused here when it comes to a major power attempting to lay siege to a minor neutral. The usual method of contesting for minor neutral allegiance is invoked but makes no sense.

In the case of a player having the opportunity to make an ally of a minor power through play of a card, he uses adjacent forces to influence the result as well as expending resources to also sweeten the die roll and adds or subtracts the drm on the diplomacy matrix. All the other players can attempt to thwart that player by spending resources of their own to nullify his expenditures. The final drm is applied to the dice roll to see if the minor becomes allied...there is a test number that must be matched or exceeded or the attempt fails. So far, so good.

In the case of a player attacking a minor neutral, it will try to ally with one of the other players but exactly how is a mystery. The rules simply say apply the techniques above, despite the situation being totally different. All the other players have the opportunity to try to ally with the attacked minor as though they had all played a card to allow an ally attempt? They presumeably would apply any drms from the chart, as well as drms from the presence of forces or through expending resources; but, what about the expenditure of resources to counter the others? Which others? Any? All? Some, or none? The only player known to be out of the auction is the original attacker who precipitated this silliness. So you have the prospect of all elegible players trying to decide how much resources to apply to their own bid and how much to apply those of the others? Insane, if that's how it's supposed to work...

After everyone has recorded their bribes in favor of themselves and against whomever else (?) they all presumably roll the dice and see what? Who matches the test number? What if everyone succeeds or several do? More dice to break ties? What if they all fail the attempt? No-one gets it? Or, does whoever rolls the highest number (failure or not) get the ally?

An arguement against simply seeing who rolls the highest is found in a final statement in the para which states that in the "unlikely" event that no-one wants to ally with the attacked minor power, everyone elegible must roll the dice and the winner is the player who rolls the highest result. What then was all the stuff beforehand about the case where people do want to ally with the attacked minor?

All this section tells me is that no-one in their right mind would "want" to ally with an attacked minor since the result is going to be based on everyone rolling two dice in the end anyways and you could be out a ton of resources. It seems intuitive to at least apply the drms from the matrix to this as well but it would seem from the reading that you don't. Really, really bad!

Further, as I play this game and see how the victory conditions work, I don't know why you would ever want to play any power but England or France. They are the only powers realistically able to establish oversees possessions where all the victory points are. I played a game as the British and whacked the French fleet into staying out of my way in the new World...France decided to concentrate on India through some event cards that helped with that (with some half-hearted moves against the British on the continent which even if successful have virtually zero impact on the end result, VP-wise) and I proceeded to roll up North America, the Carribean and Africa. Meanwhile, Prussia with its vaunted military, spent the whole game trying to subdue Poland (only partially successfully) and got a measly two VPs for his pains. The Austrians mumbled about in southern Europe and accomplished not much more. Need I say that the final result was not even worth adding was a run away. Practically speaking only the French have the naval power to compete with the British for all the marbles in the colonies while the land-locked European powers have only each other to beat up and scarce VPs whichever way that goes in any event.

The bottom line for me is that the game suffers from some pretty serious balance problems unless there is something we are doing wrong (which is actually quite likely considering the sorry state of the rules).
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Don Lynch
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Had huge hopes for this 'Soldier Kings' (NOT the GDW title 'Soldier King', which also sucked for differnet reasons), mostly since it had all those secondary theatres available for the 7 years war thing. And I really liked the maps. However this game proved to be unplayable from jump street. The area map does not define which bodies of water are adjacent to a given area, and the port placement is not helpful. If I remember there was a reference to England somewhere, but was not helpful because every area needed clarification. Canal-less Denmark anyone?

And the rules are a rotten onion to decipher. Played (at least attempted to play) this quite a few times as 5 player game. Had too many 'what the xxxx' moments' to have much fun. Soldiered through a few times until we all had enough. Every time you pealed a layer of rules away with some house interpretations, there were other rules that somehow jumped in your way, just like another rotten onion inside the first. Also the cards ranged from wildly powerful to next to useless, or even less than useless because some are only useful for one nation.

So map and counters are graphically exceptional, the cards cheap and badly designed, and the incomplete rules required such a massive overhaul that I was unwilling to essentially design/develop a game around the components and rules sketch I had in front of me.

Worst of all was that Avalanche designed a Napoleonic game around this system. I figured 'cool, a multiplayer game system which would allow us to easily play a different war'. Well that certainly didn't happen after trying this fiasco. This game was tossed out of the virtual gaming vehicle and left so far back it's not even in the infinitely telescopic rear-view mirror.

Seem to recall different box art for this title.

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