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2 de Mayo» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First Play: Remember to Hold the Gates! rss

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Tom Decker
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I sat down with my 8-year-old son last night to play a game of 2 de Mayo. He’s made a great leap this last year in grasping strategies on games such as Power Grid and Caylus, so I felt he could handle this. He doesn’t like games with a lot of text, though, so I was a little concerned about the small-print text on the cards. But this was mainly a learning game for me to play through and really learn the rules anyway.

I figured the Spanish would probably be easier for him to play, so he took the red cubes and set them up and I took the blue ones.

My first choice as the French was to choose between the Artillery card and the Murat card. We hadn’t read through all the cards beforehand, nor had I read through the sample play included in the rules, so it seemed at that moment that the Artillery was a much better opening card because it went into effect immediately, while Murat couldn’t be played until Turn 3 anyway (see later). NOTE: I would suggest to anyone else on their first play of this to read and understand all the text on the cards before playing and to read through the sample playthrough in the rules. This is not one of those games where "keeping cards unread for fun surprises later" holds true. Understanding what cards are available is really critical for your strategy while playing the game.

In any case, my son chose NOT to play the "Molina y Soriano" card to save his unit in Zone 10 as is done in the sample playthrough. After reading the sample, I would guess that if the French player DOES select Artillery as his opening, the standard Spanish response is to save that unit. But in any case, it helped my son later in the game.

He had the "Las Manolas" card so he kept a unit in Zone 20 to keep me out for a turn (from Turn 3 on) and pretty much brought the rest of his units together. I wasn’t sure that would be a good strategy, but after reading the sample playthrough, it seems valid. With one big mob, he was able to move around and because of my limited movement and trying to get all my forces onto the board, he swarmed over 2 of my units and took both out. With only 10 turns, I realized I was going to need to bring a large group down on him quickly and hit that big mob. But first I had to get all my units into the city and then squeeze him into the middle. I finally caught him with a smaller group, just to hold him and keep him from escaping, but it was around Turn 7, and he had 5 units left in his mob, so I was going to have to work fast.

By turn 9, I had finally gotten most of my forces into the center of the city and was able to hold him down. I had 11 units there and he still had his 5, so I would only take out two units. However, I had my "Fuego Cerrado" card and by repeating the resolution phase in that Zone, at 11 to 3, I would wipe out the rest of his forces. I thought I had won.

But then, going into turn 10, I realized I had only one of the gates covered! I didn’t have any units in Zones 14, 15, or 16 either. The "Murat" card had never come out, though, so my only hope was to draw it on Turn 10, and then be able to move 5 units, which I could do to cover the gates. But with a 50/50 chance to draw it, it did not come up and so I couldn’t move enough units back to the gates and my son won the game! So it was a good learning game, and I made a bad rookie mistake!

Things I learned or that we played wrong in the first game:

1. In turn one, even though the rules are VERY clear about this, we took our "free" cards and then proceeded to draw again in Turn 1, which was wrong. After I realized this, we skipped a later turn of drawing cards, but this obviously threw off the balance a little.

2. I now understand the power of keeping "Murat" to begin with as the French. Being able to bring all your reinforcements into the game on Turn 3 at once is really nice and it may not come up later if you don't take it right away!

3. We made some mistakes in some of the cards that clearly say "up to" a certain number of units, the "Molina y Soriano" one being key. My son used this card to escape all of his mob at one point from my trap and I only later discovered that this was an invalid move. I didn't find the cards fiddly or too difficult, but it is important to read and understand them well.

4. The rule concerning keeping your opponent from drawing cards if you have 3 or more fewer seemed odd at first reading. But now I understand it a bit better. Generally, there are stronger cards for the Spanish, and there are some cards that help the Spanish in the French deck. So it’s not a bad strategy for the French player, perhaps, to elect to NOT draw cards in order to keep the Spanish player from getting cards, too. It will be fun in more plays to test this out.


First Impressions:

We played the game, even with all the learning and mistakes, in about 45 minutes. No doubt this game can and will go MUCH quicker on future plays. My son kind of liked it. I think he’ll play it again. We definitely both understand it much better now after this first play. As for me, I really liked it and can’t wait to play it again. So many different subtle strategies! It’s an odd mix of history, euro-gaming with cubes, and a tiny bit of wargaming. It might be thematically odd for some, but you can pretty much take all history out of it if you like. As for me, I love the history and really enjoyed learning about something totally new. I guess I never really knew that Napoleon was in Spain at all! So I appreciated learning something new and all the history that is on the cards and in the manual.
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Russ Williams
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TheRook wrote:
NOTE: I would suggest to anyone else on their first play of this to read and understand all the text on the cards before playing and to read through the sample playthrough in the rules. This is not one of those games where "keeping cards unread for fun surprises later" holds true. Understanding what cards are available is really critical for your strategy while playing the game.

While I agree that understanding the cards is critical for strategy, I still enjoy playing a game like this with the sense of uncertainty and discovery the first time, with no knowledge of what sorts of cards could come up. Of course one plays the first game pretty incompetently this way, but I enjoy that quasi-virginal state of ignorant bliss in the first game, a state you can never return to again! You'll get to play as many games as you like with full knowledge of the cards, but the chance to play without any knowledge only comes once...
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Tom Decker
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russ wrote:
TheRook wrote:
NOTE: I would suggest to anyone else on their first play of this to read and understand all the text on the cards before playing and to read through the sample playthrough in the rules. This is not one of those games where "keeping cards unread for fun surprises later" holds true. Understanding what cards are available is really critical for your strategy while playing the game.

While I agree that understanding the cards is critical for strategy, I still enjoy playing a game like this with the sense of uncertainty and discovery the first time, with no knowledge of what sorts of cards could come up. Of course one plays the first game pretty incompetently this way, but I enjoy that quasi-virginal state of ignorant bliss in the first game, a state you can never return to again! You'll get to play as many games as you like with full knowledge of the cards, but the chance to play without any knowledge only comes once...



Right. Probably my favorite gaming moment came in a game of Star Wars: Epic Duels when a weakened Darth Vader successfully played "All Too Easy" vs. Obi-Wan and defeated him in one shot. After that, we all played vs. Darth a little differently. I could see where there could be some of that discovery here, too. But for me, the cards were all too inter-dependent...dependent on other cards being out or what turn it was and stuff like that. It actually made for a neat gaming moment in my game to know that I had a card out there with a 50/50 draw that would allow me to win.

But I guess the similar "surprise" moment to my Epic Duels game here would be suprising a dominating French player who has lost 3 units in the late game with the Ruiz/Torrejon combo. Something like that could only happen once. So I see your point.
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Will Layman
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can't the spanish player disengage from combat as a rule, whereas the french are stuck in combat? i've only played my friends copy once, but i seem to remember this rule. this would have allowed your son to disengage with his mob if he saw fit, no?
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Tom Decker
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cmdr layman wrote:
can't the spanish player disengage from combat as a rule, whereas the french are stuck in combat? i've only played my friends copy once, but i seem to remember this rule. this would have allowed your son to disengage with his mob if he saw fit, no?


Normally, the Spanish player must leave half (rounded up) his troops behind if he disengages. My son chose not to do this because he had cards to keep those troops alive...at least until Turn 9, facing my Fuego Cerrado.
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Daniel Val
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Congratulations! Very nice session report, and I'm glad someone posted a typical rookie mistake. You won't forget that next time, I guess.

TheRook wrote:
I I really liked it and can’t wait to play it again. So many different subtle strategies! It’s an odd mix of history, euro-gaming with cubes, and a tiny bit of wargaming. It might be thematically odd for some, but you can pretty much take all history out of it if you like.


Thank you for your kind words. I'm really glad you liked the game.

TheRook wrote:
As for me, I love the history and really enjoyed learning about something totally new. I guess I never really knew that Napoleon was in Spain at all! So I appreciated learning something new and all the history that is on the cards and in the manual.


As a Spaniard I’m glad that the game brought (a little more) atention to an important episode of Spanish History. Thank you for taking your time to read about it!
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Tony Chen
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I don't think there's any reason to not choose Artillery as the opening card. As to the Spanish response, I am not sure it's worth it to use Molina y Soriano to save the unit in zone 10. Might want to save it for when it counts. But then again, Afrancesados makes saving good Spanish cards come at a cost.

Quote:
1. In turn one, even though the rules are VERY clear about this, we took our "free" cards and then proceeded to draw again in Turn 1, which was wrong. After I realized this, we skipped a later turn of drawing cards, but this obviously threw off the balance a little.

While that is a mistake, I am thinking about changing the rule on that to shift the balance a bit more towards the Spanish. I find it very hard for a decent French side who knows what he's doing to lose. Drawing one extra card on turn one helps the Spanish side a bit because they have so many cards that are cannot use after turn 3, turn 7, etc. Okay technically the hold the gate at zone 20 can be used any turn but it's only useful if you draw it before turn 3. With poor luck on the card draws it can become practically impossible for the Spanish to win.

 
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