What're you looking at!
My wife and I have now played this game six times in the last two months, and are still getting used to what works well for each side.
For this session, I played the French while my wife played the Spanish.
The game pits a larger number of French troops with strict limits on mobility, against a smaller group of much more mobile Spanish. The match takes place on a map of Madrid consisting of 20 areas. The Spanish can be quite difficult to pin down in the beginning, as they begin the game in the center of the map, while the French are mainly on the outskirts, with a number of troops unable to enter until the third round. As the game progresses, the French, through careful placement and movement, not to mention sheer numbers, can eliminate the Spanish and hold the four gates of the city. The Spanish have only to survive the ten rounds of the game to win.
As the French, I chose the Artillery card, allowing me to secure area 10. My initial movements were all directed towards getting my troops into the downtown area of Madrid (areas 14, 15, 16). Normally, the French can only make two movements in a turn, but movement originating from this area do not count towards that total. Occupying those areas helps with French mobility, and, with the Artillery card, block the Spanish from moving bewtween the top and bottom half of the map.
I got the edge on the Spanish through the help of a card forcing the Spanish to discard a random card (she only had one in her hand), and Caballeria, which gave me an extra move to get more troops in the central area.
The Spanish remained in smaller groups or alone, except for a small mass in Plaza Mayor (area 15), the last area of down town that I wanted to capture. I decided to mount an offensive against this area.
The Spanish and French met head to head in the Plaza, equally matched with four toops apiece. Penny played Daoiz and I lost a troop. As the French can only lose four troops. I decided to pour more troop into the Plaza to route the Spanish.
In turn five, the tide turned in favour of the French. Pouring troops into the Plaza ensured the Spanish would lose the two troops they left behind, and assured lots of mobility for my French troops.
The Spansih were down to two groups, one of three and one of two, in areas 8 and 9. They were now trapped in the top half of the board.
I realized though that I had forgotten to leave a man at area 20 to hold the gate. I kept reminding myself to get someone back there before the end of the game (the French must have all gates held and all Spanish eliminated by the tenth and final round).
In the sixth round, I drew the La Turba card and the Spanished were now in areas 5, and 14.
I tried to close in on the larger group of Spanish in area 5, who now moved to area 4, where they recruited and were now a group of four.
In round eight, I threw four troops into area four from area 8, while the French tried to move from four into eight! We had equal numbers, but I had elimated more Spanish than they had French, so the Spanish had to stay put while the French poured in from areas 8 and 2. I had them outnumbered 2 to 1, so the Spanish lost two. I then played Fuego Cerrado which allowed me to repeat the resolution phase and eliminate the Spanish from that area altogether.
The last Spanish group of two moved from area 11 to twelve. I had five troops nearby in area 16 and had committed them to moving into areas 12 and 13. The good thing about the French, in addition to having extra movement originating from these areas, is that you do not have to declare the number of tropps you are moving, so I moved in just enough to eliminate the rest of the Spanish in area 12.
All I then had to do was move a troop from area 17 to 20 to secure that gate and win the game.
We enjoy playing this game as the two roles are quite different. We have found the French are more difficult to play, but not drastically so. The use of central areas and not having to declare numbers are very useful. The cards also add enough uncertainty to make the game tense and unpredictable, but not chaotic. We are looking forward many more sessions of this game.
Nice session report!