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Subject: English first card is Sea Move. How to reply as the Scots? rss

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Iain McFadyen
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Let me start by saying that I love Hammer of the Scots. It's my favorite war game, and I've played it more than 50 times. I strongly believe it's well balanced, and offers the chance from a come back from almost any position.

However, there is a situation that comes up from time to time in the first scenario (Braveheart?) that I cannot figure out. It goes like this:
First year, opening turn of the game.
The English opening hand includes the Sea Move card, and the English levy contains at least 2 strong combat units (of 4 total) - the King, Hobelars, Knights, Archers, etc.

Year 1, turn 1 - the English Sea Move their 2 best units to Angus.

Now Wallace and the Scottish infantry in Fife are in a really bad situation before they've even moved.

They cannot attack into Angus (a common first turn play), because the reinforced defense could well shred the attackers. Especially if the King is there - which you don't know.

They could attack into Mentieth, but the English just take some hits and retreat. Next round they play a 3 card and bring multiple groups in to surround Wallace and destroy Wallace before he can move again.

They could attack into Atholl in an attempt to escape over the highlands, but they would have to leave one of the 4-strength infantry behind to die. And then the king/knights/archers chase Wallace across Scotland for the rest of the year.

Clearly the last of these three options is the least appalling, but even that one means the Scots spend their first year on the run, probably losing blocks and territory (what little they started with). Given that we all know how important it is for the Scots to gain territory in the first year (Angus, Buchan, Atholl, etc), I don't see how the Scots come back from this.

And yes, this has happened in our games a handful of times, and I've been on both ends of the conundrum. I think the record is to last 4 years after this particular starting sequence.

The guy I play with has even suggested that the English should redraw their hand if they draw Sea Move in the first year. Are we missing something obvious?

Thanks
Iain
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Jim Krohn
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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You are right that its a tough spot.

If the Scots can control the center of the board it is very appealing and the Sea Move does give away the center. Have you ever tried Wallace and friends into Mentieth while Moray and Fraser go into Atholl? Now that Fraser is a C3, it is a decent chance of success. If you do win, you can always reorg a block in Fife if Atholl does not retreat there first. If he is smart enough to execute the Atholl battle first and retreat him in the first round, it is still a risky strategy because he can then hit Wallace with a 3 stack and a 2 stack, while pinning one of the blocks in Atholl. You could reinforce with the other one, but that will still be 5 against 4 in the second round. Unless you get lucky, Wallace will at least be very chewed up.

Alternatively, you could attack Atholl with Moray and Fraser while you also attack Atholl with Wallace and his C3 friend. It leaves a C2 block in Fife, but then gives you a stack in the center of the board that does not have to run. Atholl is hard to attack if there is a good sized force there. That force can then foray out from Atholl and attempt to convert nobles. There would be a lot of ground for the English to protect. I would think you would have some success.

I haven't tried these strategies yet. I'm just thinking out loud.
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Jeff Johnson
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The Scots don't have to gain territory every year, though it's certainly nice! What they do have to do is avoid being crippled.

I think attacking Atholl and Mentieth and fighting two close battles on the first round gives the dice too much of a chance to totally hose you. Fighting close battles is sometimes necessary, but doing so early in the year is very risky. I'd take Wallace and the C3 into Atholl and abandon the C2 in Fife. If the English then go after Fife, you can try to take out Argylle (with Moray/Fraser perhaps helping). Try to get any 2 of Argylle, Atholl, Mar, and Comyn while avoiding battles except ones where Wallace can pick on lone nobles.

Even if you only pick up 1 noble, you end up basically even for the year, which is okay when the English start with a Sea Move. Depending on how the cards are, you may have enough extra group moves to also be able to threaten Lennox with Bruce and Galloway while the English mess about in the highlands.

And if you're stuck responding to a Sea Move, in a way, I'd hope that the English did have Edward - long term, I think it'd be more dangerous if they moved two infantry to Angus. Edward and a knight or archer would be even better. Just try not to fight them!

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Justin
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Tournament rules could delay Edward's entry into the draw pool, or you could enforce a mandatory delay for N years.
 
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Peter White
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Speaking humbly as a far from strong player of this game, that Sea Move is good but not great.

The downside from the English POV if I have delayed playing that 3-card and getting real strength out of England into Scotland under an efficient unified fist that can be used for devastating attacks in the second half of the year.

If it so happens I have a couple of 3-cards in my hand, it will probably work out. But if I had that strong a hand, I could have seized Fife at my leisure mid-year, instead of getting distracted by Angus. Pros and Cons.

Also, what happens if the Scots play an event out of the gate as well? If England had a good hand, that sucks. I suppose if England had a bad hand, not a bad thing at all -- but then Wallace was not really in danger anyway.

IME Jeff's answer is correct. Wallace is relatively safe if he seizes retreat avenues north of Fife. Delaying English reinforcement of Mentieth early weakens the long arm of England for the rest of the year.
 
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Forest Green Hobbit
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ijmcf wrote:
They could attack into Atholl in an attempt to escape over the highlands, but they would have to leave one of the 4-strength infantry behind to die. And then the king/knights/archers chase Wallace across Scotland for the rest of the year.


I think that is the safe move. Yes 4C2 Barclay infantry will probably die. Only if you had all three of the 3 cards (thus assuring iniative on the next turn) would it be safe to consider an attack on Mentieith.

However, since england now only has 2 blocks left in England, Bruce and Galloway are probably going to be safe. See what opportunities may arise for them. Maybe a late year attack on Lanark, or even a border raid if some Enlish leave for Lothlian.
 
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Robert Woodham
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In response to a sea move, I recommend going through Atholl and then hiding in the west. Your worst starter block in Fife will have to bite it all alone, but hey, that's cards for you.

If you're super paranoid, you can always retreat into Comyn's empty home space with Wallace at the start of Atholl combat, and then follow up with the infantry block after soaking up a few hits. However, it's worth a swing for sure even if it traps you, as Wallace is gonna get to roll lots of dice before any English swing back by fighting in Atholl, plus it keeps the infantry block left back in Fife close by.
 
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