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Subject: The Lion in... Coca-cola? rss

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Merric Blackman
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One of my newest purchases is Warriors of God, a low-complexity wargame from MMP dealing with the wars between England and France in the late middle ages. Two scenarios are included in the game; the first is "The Hundred Years War", but for our first game, Randy and I decided to play "The King in Winter", which has such wonderful personages as Richard the Lionheart, Eleanor of Aquitane and John Lackland wandering the land with their armies.

I'm told that experienced players of Warriors of God can have a game in about two hours. Our first game lasted a little over four hours, so I guess we're not experienced yet. I can see this game playing quicker than we achieved, and would guess about 2-3 hours will be the length of a typical game.

The game is not complex to play, but it has a few very interesting mechanics in it. The one I found most entertaining was that which dealt with the aging and death of leaders. The game runs for 12 turns, each turn is about 10 years in length. Each player gets three leaders in each of those turns, but must roll a die for each of their older leaders. A young leader dies on a 1, a old (6 turn) leader dies on a 1-6. As a result, there's always a turn-over in leaders, and you can never be quite sure when your great warleader will come down with the plague and desert you in your hour of need.

Combat is also quite simple: you roll a lot of dice. You roll one die for each troop in the battle, with a 6 indicating a hit (and the corresponding loss of a troop on the opposing side). Combat continues until one side is destroyed or retreats.

It is complicated by the ability of your leaders: your maximum dice is equal to the leader's "Battle" rating (which may be from 2 to 8), and if your leader has a higher "Bravery" rating than your opponent, then you get to add the difference to each of your rolls! If a Bravery 3 leader attacks a Bravery 1 leader, then the former will be hitting on a roll of 4-6 rather than just 6. This is normally balanced by a lower Battle rating, although there are a few completely hopeless leaders with a Bravery of 1 and Battle of 3. Why are those the ones that survive to a great age?

The final complication is that when there are more than one leader in the same region, it isn't the best leader who leads the combined army: no, it's the leader with the best rank. Leaders are ranked with one to three stars, with the 3 stars being royal princes and kings. A 1/3 king is a horrible person to have around... but they are the best at gaining territory, just not if there is anyone opposing them.

The set-up for "The Lion in Winter" has the French in control of both England and Ile de France, and those who would be English sitting around in Aquitaine and the other coastal provinces of France. For this game, I would play the French and Randy would play the "English". Heck, they're all French!

The game is mostly about the control of territory: England and Ile de France are worth the most (3 points), then there are a few 2-point provinces, and a lot of 1-point provinces. If a leader is in their home province at the end of the turn, they'll (almost) automatically gain control of it, otherwise the need to roll a die equal or less than their rank.

A turn progresses by first there being a lot of manuevering, then the combat, and finally control of provinces is resolved (and leaders then die and are replaced). I think Randy picked up the subtleties of manuevering before I did, and soon he'd invaded England and overwhelmed my small force of troops there. I wandered up and down the coast, fulminating against my inability to take England back! However, I still owned slightly more valuable provinces and so had a small lead. (If the score ever reached 30 VPs in one player's favour, they'd win).

Randy was doing a lot better in the initial battles than I was, but he wasn't quite able to kill my leaders. By the end of the game, he still wasn't able to, and it was frustrating him. However, he was able to capture them... and that was more important. Captured leaders would rot in his prison (and give him VPs) until a prisoner exchange happened, or I ransomed them back by giving up control of provinces...

The game began to swing further in Randy's favour when he captured Ile de France with an overwhelming force. I have a feeling I retreated into a siege situation there, requiring him to roll a 6 on one die to be successful. Guess what?

At this point, Randy decided to upset the HUGE GLASS OF COCA-COLA I'd just poured for me over the upper part of the board. I sat there in shock for some time afterwards. Eventually, Randy persuaded me that he could dry out the board, that he'd buy me a new copy of the game, and that we should continue.

As the game continued (and I began to regain my balance and, eventually, my sense of fun), I was slowly forced from the coast altogether and moved to inland Europe (along the right-hand border of the map) from Normandy southwards. Randy came level with me in the point scoring, and then ahead of me. I needed something special to come back.

Two things happened: I managed to gain more provinces than Randy owned, and Randy lost most of his leaders to untimely deaths. Meanwhile, I was rolling 6s most of the time I checked for my leaders, so I gained a great advantage there. Randy also misplayed a battle: he went in with two leaders, one of whom was Robin Hood, a very brave and great leader. Unfortunately, the King was also present, and he countermanded all of Robin Hood's orders and thus caused the battle to fail. The Hood returned to England, where shortly thereafter he was slain by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

At the start of the last turn, I'd brought the score back to level, and Randy had lost all but four of his leaders - all of them weak. Against that, I had 10 leaders (and the fifth of Randy's in my prison). I never regained Ile de France - all my siege attempts were wildly unsuccessful - but the other provinces I held were enough to secure me victory by about 7 points.

I found the game extremely entertaining, with the rules for the leaders proving very interesting. "Abandoned" Troops could be taken up by the other player, and this happened to both to us. I really recommend this game - it's relatively inexpensive, and provided me with a memorable experience. I am eager to play it again, although I hope the next time won't have an external disaster befalling it again!
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Wei Jen Seah
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This is freaky...I just received an order from Wargamedepot...with Warriors of God as one of the games

Sure makes me wish I was down in Oz to play with you guys!
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Wendell
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Good report, Merric! Yep, the game will be quicker when you've played it a couple of times.

Couple of little things. Battle ratings range from 1 to 8, not 2-8. (The leaders with a '1' rating are usually truly awful - but then there's Robin Hood, with a 4 bravery to go with it...)

Also, not clear from your report but although areas are rated 1, 2, and 3, the 1 & 2 areas are worth 1 victory point each, and the 3-value areas are worth 2.

Oh and next time, leave the Coke on the floor!
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Merric Blackman
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wifwendell wrote:
Good report, Merric! Yep, the game will be quicker when you've played it a couple of times.

Couple of little things. Battle ratings range from 1 to 8, not 2-8. (The leaders with a '1' rating are usually truly awful - but then there's Robin Hood, with a 4 bravery to go with it...)


And an asterisk, just because.

Quote:
Also, not clear from your report but although areas are rated 1, 2, and 3, the 1 & 2 areas are worth 1 victory point each, and the 3-value areas are worth 2.


Indeed... and you get an extra point for occupying your opponent's capital (so a 3 point area). We got that right, though my expanation isn't the clearest.

Cheers,
Merric
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Steve Herron
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I think the Coke thing happed to my Risk or Kingmaker board back in the 70s. I can't see any damage now. I am on the last (40th) turn of Red Star Rising and I am going to try WoG next. Liked your report
 
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Dean Thomas
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Sounds like an interesting game, I'm just starting to get a little deeper into wargaming, I might have to have a look at this one.

It always sucks to hear about damage to games.
 
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William Gaskill
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More Freakyness-I just got WofG & we
have started our first game last weekend-
The Lion in Winter for the same reasons the orginal poster did.

Schedules being what they are we usually play out a
turn at a setting,so we're just starting turn 3.
England has 13 VP & King Louis is in the Tower(David I & Stephan
died there-food must be terrible)Maltilda of Normandy
can roll 6's!!!

It is a really interesting set in an era that isn't the
most popular with gamers.We have banished all beverages
from the game table .

OD
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Wade Broadhead
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Good report. I'm still not sure if I'm going to like this with all the good 2 player wargames floating around.

Horrible Coke incident man. I did the same to my friends copy of Age of Steam, and he loves that game dearly. I felt horrible the whole night. Luckily the tiles dry quickly and I don't think there was much damage. Because of this I when I host game night drinks go in thick, low coffee cups: period!

Never had an accident yet!
 
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I'm happy to report that the map dried very well and there is no noticable stain on it. The Coke incident was all part of my macabrre sub-conscious plan to acquire Warriors of God without waiting for the order to arrive. devil

Like Wade above, I felt horrible all night. cry I think we'll be keeping drinks on the floor or side tables for a while...

It was a very good game though, and, to me, felt quite a bit like Hammer of the Scots, which I will need to introduce Merric to in the near future.
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Mika R.
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The lesson of the story: Don't have long drinks while playing. Short drinks, on the other hand, are fine. ninja
 
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Adam Slape
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This thing reads like a horror story. "You weren't there," "it wasn't your game"...I keep telling myself these things but I still feel sick to my stomach.

I'm very glad to hear your game somehow survived, but I can't believe you kept playing.
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Kris Verbeeck
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Ciaran wrote:
This thing reads like a horror story. "You weren't there," "it wasn't your game"...I keep telling myself these things but I still feel sick to my stomach.

I'm very glad to hear your game somehow survived, but I can't believe you kept playing.


It must have been a good game to continue playing after a tsunami of coke.
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Michael Barlow
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Thanks for a fun review!

One thing I noticed:
MerricB wrote:
The set-up for "The Lion in Winter" has the French in control of both England and Ile de France

The scenario set-up has no control markers on the map, thus the French do not control England (unless errata has corrected this).


 
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