We played a 4 player game. We drew sides randomly - I was happy to get the Reformers because they seem the most interesting faction to play. The Burghers had already played one game (and won it as the Burghers), all the others were new to the game. Most of the game was played cooperatively by religion: Burghers and Reformers against Catholics and Habsburg.
It took us 5 hours to finish the 6 turns. We liked the game and rated it between 7 and 8 out of 10. We thought that it could be even better with 5 players.
We agreed to play that cities never count for province control. Apart from that we did not encounter any rule problem.
Turn 0: the university of Utrecht
I occupied the cities in Holland and I entered Utrecht with the Calvinist. The Catholics did not reinforce, so I took control of the city and founded the University of Utrecht. The Burghers started building a presence in Friesland to get the commercial center. The Catholics and Habsburg built up their powerbase in the South. There were some conflicts in Flanders with Burghers and Reformed vs Habsburg: the Reformers managed to keep Bruges while the Burghers took Antwerp.
VP order: Catholics, Reformers, Habsburg, Burghers
Turn 1: the Protestants move South
I got huge revenues from the Reformed Dutch cities (Utrecht, Amsterdam, Leiden and Haarlem) and built three armies. My Reformers went south to the Generality alongside the Burghers who took Zeeland. The Burghers also took the commercial center in Gelderland while I founded a university in Groningen. Unfortunately, Habsburg armies started getting the upper hand in Flanders and recaptured Antwerp and Bruges by siege. The Catholics, who had not built any army, used their huge treasury to shift citizen support to Catholicism in most cities. I was only able to keep a strong Reformed spirit in Haarlem. The VP order was unchanged.
Turn 2: civil war in Holland
I used Calvinist supporters (we called them the Calvinist parachutists) to invade Brabant, creating the university of Leuven (my fourth university after Leiden, Groningen and Utrecht). Reformed armies took Brussels. Unfortunately the treacherous Burghers took advantage of moving after me to wrest control of Holland in a surprise move ! The Papists were elated. The Catholics continued to finance papism in the Dutch cities - with all my money needed to pay my armies I could not defend protestantism. The result was that the Burghers were not able to control the Dutch cites, resulting in a big financial loss for the protestant camp.
Turn 3: battle for the Brabant
The Catholics became worried of the situation in Brabant and sent an army which recaptured Brussels. My Reformers kept Brabant and started developing their influence in Hainaut. Having lost Holland to the Burghers, I focused on developing universities in Burghers areas, by sending an Army to Friesland. The Burghers did cooperate in order to remain in good terms with me and so the 5th University was founded. Meanwhile the Habsburg, having finished the pacification of Flanders, were descending the Rhine in strength to invade Protestant Gelderland from the West. Papist money and influence was so strong in Dutch cities that a Catholic token reappeared in Amsterdam ! During the VP phase, for the first time I was in third place. The order was Catholics, Habsburg, Reformers, Burghers. The Papists were gaining ground.
Turn 4: the Habsburg invasion of Holland
On turn 4 the Habsburg marched an Army into Holland ! With Reformed help the Burghers fought if to a stand off but the Hasburg managed to control Delft. I was able to found a 6th University in Gelderland thanks to the Burghers in exchange for my military support in Holland. Despite their apparent success, the Papists could not consolidate their advance. The Merchants of London supported a big Burgher offensive into Flanders which took Antwerp and Ghent while my Reformers retook Brussels and captured Hainaut from the Catholics. At this point VP order was Catholics (12), Reformed (12), Burghers (10.5) and Hasburg (8 ).
Turn 5: night of the long knives
For the final turn everyone turned againt its former ally in order to maximize VP. The Catholics attacked Habsburg-controlled Luxemburg while the Habsburg attacked Catholic Cologne. I figured that if I kept Brabant and recaptured the cities in Holland I would win the game, so I sent 6 Calvinists to Holland. The Burghers responded with 4 London Merchants and 2 Huguenots plus many new units. Most of my Tokens were in Brabant so I could not match his forces, but I kept Haarlem thanks to Reformed influence in the city, and managed to deny him the control of Leiden thanks to Catholic influence. Jesuit plots in Utrecht were foiled by a Reformed Army.
In the South the Habsburg reconquered all of Flanders but the Catholics failed to retake Brabant - I besieged Brussels but narrowly failed to control it at the end of the turn.
Final VP count:
Habsburg 10.52 (Flanders province and cities, Koln city, Luxemburg province, Cleve, Maastricht, Geldern, Venlo, Limburg + 3 military presence)
Burghers 10.95 (Amsterdam, Holland, Gelderland, Overijssel, Drenthe, Zeeland, Friesland + 6 commerce centers [all except Dunkerque])
Catholics 11.5 (Liege province and city, Artois, Aachen, Luxemburg city, Juliers + 5 bishoprics [all except Utrecht])
Reformers 12.9 (Haarlem, Utrecht province and city, Hainaut, Brabant, Namur, Generality, Groningen + 6 universities [all except Cologne])
End of game VP totals were very close, which surprised us because the Catholics started the same with a major lead. I think that my successful invasion of Brabant combined with constructive cooperation with the Burghers gave me the game.