I felt like I should commemorate my first win at my favourite game with my very first session report. My memory is not exact, but I will write down what I remember. Next time, I’ll enhance with photos, I promise.
I played as the United Provinces. There were six of us, and the others were: Prussia, Russia, Austria, France, and Spain. Spain was seated to my right and Prussia to my left.
The initial layout saw a slave and pop in the Caribbean, a single Ottoman token with a veep and a difficulty of 5, a pop in East Indies, a pair of tokens (2 and 4) in the German States, and a few in South America and the Med. The original layout saw Spain with 3 tokens in the Med, while Russia had three in the German States. I had one in the Med, two in the German States, one in North America (by itself), and one in India.
The most widely contested areas were by far the Med and South America. Prussia and Spain had a major military buildup in the latter, and Spain had opted not to defend his tokens in the Med. This turned out to be a fatal mistake, as it left me, Austria and Russia with lots of easy pickings there.
After initial troop placement, the setup looked more or less like this:
East Indies: empty except for a navy, I think Austria’s or Prussia’s, but quite a few tokens, both claimed and unclaimed
India: an Austrian troop
Africa: empty land, but everyone had a navy there except Russia
South America: Prussia and Spain had dumped a whopping three armies in here each; one of Prussia’s was a fort
Caribbean: no military buildup, but three French tokens, a couple assorted others, and a few there to be won
North America: I had the only token, as well as a fort.
German States: two Russian forts, two of my armies.
Med: heavily Austrian; Russia and I each had an army here to defend our interests
Baltic: no one, just a few tribes about to be steamrolled
Ottoman: a single Austrian token
Central Europe: (IIRC) no one but unclaimed tokens
In the first war, I bid heavily to go against Russia. While his two forts were imposing, I felt certain that I could take at least one of them as well as a German tribe, then ally with him in the second war in order to secure my holdings. It would at least be difficult for him to fight back.
By the end of the first war, the situation was thus:
-I had bought Banking and Army Training, dumped a fort in the Med, and fought Russia to a draw in the German States, so we each got 8 veeps. I had also popped East Indies, where I saw an opportunity with no one to fight for the token.
-Russia had militarized the Med and gone after a few unclaimed tokens there. He’d bought Logistics, War Office, and Militia, taken first in the Baltics and Central Europe, but he was flat broke.
-Spain and Prussia had beaten each other to a pulp over the unlucrative South America. It was Prussia’s first time playing the game and I feel certain he would’ve done something differently had he been paying more attention to the veep value. Spain tried to move a navy over, but lost it on the way, then picked up Navigation once it was already too late. A less than efficient couple of plays by both sides, especially as Spain bled tokens in the Med.
-France, curiously, had built a formidable economic engine, allowing other people to destroy his armies in places where he wouldn’t lose too many victory points by doing so. He bought Diplomatic Office, which came in handy for defending his holdings. He pointed out that he had not aggressed against a single other player by the end of the war, and having let the original alliances go without so much as a single copper spent, he was loaded.
-Austria had taken first in the Med, held onto Ottoman, contested Central Europe, and taken first in India. He bought Banking early on. Given that it was Austria’s first time playing, he was a formidable and canny opponent.
Russia was way out ahead, followed by Austria, myself, then France, Prussia, and Spain.
I bid heavily to ally with Russia. I went into this round with seven to spend, one or two unrest, and a fair amount to defend. This time it was Russia, the Dutch and Prussia against all comers.
By the end of the war, here was the scenario, yo:
-I had taken an additional unsecured token to outweigh my erstwhile allies’ German tokens. I’d spent valuable tile buys on Militia, temporary alliances in the Med, and Government Reform to keep my unrest nice and low. The only piece I lost was my fort in the Med, though it was clear that given the preponderance of Russian and Austrian strength there, I wasn’t going to win. I moved the troop I had there at the same time to Central Europe and later attacked Austria to gain six veeps at little cost. Meanwhile, I also invaded the completely undefended Caribbean with a single naval unit and an army and picked off Spain, who had difficulty retaliating because of his need to keep South America militarized. I promised France I wouldn’t attack her, and waited until the last round of the war to do so, ensuring that I was tied for first in the region.
-France continued to concentrate on pops and slaves, but hadn’t managed to hang onto the Caribbean… but he did have a lot of money going into the next round, since he had almost no armies and plenty of tokens spread evenly around the board.
-Prussia and Spain continued to kill each other, though at the end of the turn, Spain also went after an unsecured token in North America. I was fine to let him have it, as it didn’t cost me anything, and he didn’t really feel like taking on my fort.
-Prussia increased his holdings by (finally) taking Africa. I guess it rains down… Other than that, he was getting slaughtered.
-Austria had beaten back both myself and Russia in the Med, grabbed a share of India via pop while no one was looking, and taken Army Training.
The veep situation was the same at the end of this round, with Russia at 55, Austria at 48, me at 44, France right behind me at 39, followed by Prussia and Spain. I noticed that due to tile purchases and quite a bit of warmongering, my Russian ally had quite a handful of unrest tokens.
I kept bidding to be allied with Russia in order to throw Austria off and make him spend money. I knew he would see another Russian-Dutch alliance as an immediate loss, and I was right – he spent 6 coins to put me up against Russia, which was what I really wanted anyway. So it was me, Austria and France against the major military power of Russia and his much weaker allies.
At the end of the third war, the situation was this:
-I had taken a couple Government reforms, and had taken (and then lost to Spain) the Baltic. But I urged everyone to act aggressively against Russia because he was ahead, and people listened, for the most part, though Spain didn’t take the opportunity to take a free token and ding Russia for control of a few territories. For myself, I moved my troops out of Germany and the Med and took over the Ottoman Empire. Austria and I were competing for very little of the same territory, and he and Russia fought over the Med while I solidified first in Central Europe and the German States. I bought another Government Reform or two and waited until the last turn to hit Austria with Pirates in Africa, which he’d taken. It didn’t work, unfortunately, though he did have to spend a round beating them back.
-France finally got her military going and took over four out of the (by then) eleven in Germany, thus depriving Russia of a lot of veeps, with my help, of course.
-Russia was in such a deep unrest hole, with over 20 in his hand due to expenditures, that he kept taking Gov’t Reform and trying to defend the rest of his territories. This worked in part – we never did kick him out of the Baltic completely – but after he lost his only tokens in Central Europe and the Ottoman Empire, as well as a second token in the German States to France without having an army around to take it back, it was clear he was in trouble.
-Spain kicked me out of the Baltics but made few other gains besides a bunch of Reform tiles.
-France popped a few tokens in India and East Indies.
-Prussia tried to kick me out of the Caribbean with one army and an even fight, but lost. I fought her for naval superiority (hoping to lose my navy and ensure that I had enough cash to cover my 12+ tokens), but this didn’t happen.
In the end, Russia had 19 unrest, by far the most. Austria had 11; Spain and Prussia had around 7 each. France had 6. I had 5 – Banking helped with this, but also, I only lost three units the entire game and had taken Government Reform twice when I didn’t have much else going on.
I don’t remember the final score, but I do remember how far behind most people were. I was in the lead, Austria was 3 points behind me, Russia was 6 points behind, France was 8 points behind, and Prussia and Spain were over 15 points behind each.
And if you never have, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.
Great job. Truly a tough game to win with 6 or 7.
Thanks. I've played the game 8 or 9 times and never placed better than 3rd, so I was pretty happy... although since I singlemindedly hunted down Russia's every token with nearly every action in the third war, he seemed a little annoyed.
There's a bit of kingmaking in this game that makes me less comfortable the more I play it. It's still my favorite by a lot, and the only game I've rated a 10, but even with the information as incomplete as it is, Spain and France couldn't win but could destroy any one of of the three potential winners in the last war, and knew it.