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Subject: First Play rss

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David Stoffey
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So my friends and I had a grand time playing Here I Stand today. We played two games and after nuking our brains for ten hours we realized we loved it. We enjoy games like Paths of Glory and Diplomacy so we were used to a lot of intense rules, but man we were finished after our second game. Anyway, there were a few items we never used and were wondering what people used them for.

1. Excommunication. We excommunicated one ruler during the course of both games. The player surrendered a card and moved on. Why excommunicate a reformer? He'll just be back next turn.

2. Second off, once the Protestants take England and Germany we felt like religious reformation stopped. The Catholics had a hard time really taking anything back, and the protestants had a hard time pushing forward. So both sides just turned into military powers.

3. Why use theological debates without the leipzig debate card? Debates just didn't seem to do enough for such an unpredictable result. Debaters are random how do you know you'll get a decent one? Just didn't seem worth it.

4. Except for a few mercenary cards in the deck, why would anyone buy standard units? We maybe saw one or two mercenary cards used as events so pretty much all mercenary armies were as good as standard armies. Were we playing anything wrong? Do mercenaries have a disadvantage in comparison to standard units other than events?

5. Mary I. How does she become ruler of England? We would always have Elizabeth or Edward by turn 4 or 5 and the papal player couldn't figure out how to get Mary into command first. So how do you get Mary into the game before the other two rulers?

6. In our first game, the Hapsburgs were able to sneak a military win in on turn 5, and in our second game the English won with victory points. France in both games got annihilated. It would sue for peace, have a chance to breathe but would give up a ton of cards, and next turn, England, the Hapsburgs, and the Papacy would kill them again. In both games the Ottomans were one key away from a military win when the Hapsburgs, the Papacy, and England (who always ended up in the mediterranean), would obliterate them and move on with Europe's timeline. Is this normal?

7. Also, what can we do to stop each turn from taking an hour? Or is that standard? Even by the end of our second game when we all thought we had the rules down, the game turns took about an hour.

Anyway, more questions as I think of them, but I love the game. My group of friends also love the game. Once all six of us are free again on a weekend well enjoy another round of six player Paths of Glory and Here I stand again. Thanks!
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Petri P
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1. Excommunicating a ruler costs the victim two cards if he gets rid of it by paying a card. One card less in the draw phase, and one random card donation to the Pope to cancel the excommunication. Meanwhile the Pope gets a random card, so excommunicating a ruler does not really cost a card in that case for the Pope.

If the victim does not get rid of excommunication, he will lose a card draw every turn!

Excommunicating a reformer gets him out of the debater pool (except Luther with Protestant Home Card use can still intervene in the German zone).

Excommunicate Calvin to allow safer debates in the French zone, for Example.

Also, Cranmer can be excommunicated to take him off the map, so that the English player can not publish treatises in that turn.

2. The pope can really hit the protestant victory points hard by converting electorates back. Each catholic (Protestant political control) electorate is -2 points for the Protestant. Whenever the protestants are threatening a victory, the other powers might well help the pope indirectly here.

Also the English, if allowed to do "reasonable" things like getting Edinburgh, Edward, a little exploration, Antwerp or Rouen.. can threaten immediate victory which the Pope is best equipped to stop.

So, there should be fighting over German and English spaces. Otherwise the Protestant or England could steal the game. As preventing their victory benefits the other players, the others should help the pope when necessary to maintain the game state. Maybe by playing events - or leaving the Pope alone so he can focus on the religious struggle - or whatever can be arranged.

Even a small Hapsburg army in Germany (contesting electorate political control) gives nice modifiers for the pope's efforts.

When Jesuit Universities come online, the Pope can make religious fight very tough on the protestants.

Also, often the debates are the best way of converting large areas back to Catholicism, and burning heretics is a necessary way to get much needed points for the Pope.

Also remember that after the first two bad Popes die, the rest win ties on conversion attacks - as low as a 3 dice on attack gives a reasonable chance of success even against loads of defending dice. (~43% chance of automatic victory by rolling a 6 on attack in three dice).

3. Thelogical debates without the Leipzig card might be necessary for victory purposes, and the Pope can arrange situations where the worst Papal debaters still have better dice than the best Protestant targets.

The Pope can select both the language zone, and the target group (committed / uncommitted) for the random Protestant debater.

E.g. if there is just one committed weak Protestant Debater for a given language, the Pope would be favoured even with Tetzel ("1" value committed Protestant = 2 dice, "1" value Papal Tetzel debater attacking = 4 dice). And of course, Tetzel should have sold some indulgences during a book burning to get out of the uncommitted pool.. hopefully leaving a "2" or better debater there to be randomly selected).

4. There are only four anti-mercenary cards, but you can be pretty sure that someone is holding one of them.. maybe over several turns, just to hit you when it becomes necessary. Getting your mercenaries removed at a critical moment is extremely inconvenient - and if you have a huge number of mercenaries among your armies, someone might well play the card which sends them all home unless you discard a card to pay for (some of) them. Of course, he would play that card when you hold no cards in your hand, just to be difficult.

The mercenaries are in my opinion very nicely balanced. They are as good as regulars in combat, at half price, and the chance of them suddenly vanishing is smallish. So there is temptation to build lots of them... and once you have a large mercenary army, it might suddenly disappear just at the moment you really need it.

Personally I will buy mercenaries to shore up my armies before combat, expecting to take the losses from them. And I am willing to park a mercenary or two together with regular troops in the same space. Or even to take the risk and recruit an emergency army of mostly mercenaries where it is needed.

Remember that the mercenaries betray you only when some other player greatly benefits from their betrayal and feels the need to play the card to make it so. Playing a card to remove 1 or 2 mercenaries from one of your armies is unlikely... playing the card to remove 10 mercenaries from your army which defends your capital or advances towards an enemy key, now that is a different thing.

5. If there is just Elizabeth born, or if there is neither Elizabeth nor Edward born at turn 6, Mary will be added to the deck, and when played, becomes Queen.

That is a catastrophic failure for the English player and, if I calculated this correctly, would in the 1532 scenario require both extreme bad luck (worst possible rolls, Mary dealt already on turn 6 to either Ottomans or Hapsburgs) and hostility from the other players (Pope does not grant divorce, Ottoman or Hapsburg play Mary on the first round of turn 6 before the English can attempt to marry again on that turn).

In the 1517 scenario it should be impossible to get stuck with Mary, even in the worst case you get one turn of Edward before Mary, and a chance of Elizabeth later.

But - the normal result for English is a healthy Edward and no Mary at all. The idea behind Mary seems to be to force the English player to play the baby-game until he is safe or falls into the historical path.

If the English player decides to use his Home Card for continuous backstabbing of his neighbours instead of marrying as often as needed, he will get Mary. To his detriment.

6. No, this is not normal. It sounds like in the first game the Hapsburg player obviously won because "England, Hapsburgs and Papacy" concentrated on killing France (to the benefit of the Hapsburg player, most obviously). Guilty ones: England, who should have allied with France against Hapsburgs, and Papacy who should not have been messing with mundane politics to that degree.

In the second game, it looks like England won, because "England, Hapsburgs and Papacy" concentrated on killing France (to the benefit of the English player, of course).
Guilty ones: Hapsburgs who should have allied with France against England, and Pope who did not do his job against the English.

The English should not be able to get to the Mediterranean, unless they capture Gibraltar, or receive it as a gift from the Hapsburgs. (You cannot sail through your ally's port - so there is no path to the Mediterranean for the English unless they own Gibraltar).

The Ottoman is one of the players which might be able to threaten a military victory, but that just means the Hapsburgs have not been doing their job.

The game has an underlying diplomatic framework, which arises from the victory conditions and the asymmetric powers. It sets up certain trends, which, if respected, should allow the powers to prevent sudden victory of some other power. If the players work against the framework, as they certainly can, then there is a big risk that one of them will pull an unstoppable victory... which is really the fault of those who agreed to do things which they should not have agreed to.

Hostile relationships:

a) Hapsburg and Ottomans should be hostile towards each other.

The other powers should try to maintain the balance between those two - if one is doing too well, then events or other things should be arranged to restore the balance. Hapsburg is the one player who can prevent an Ottoman victory, and Ottoman is the one player needed to prevent a Hapsburg victory. If neither tries to prevent their natural enemy winning, then there is a high risk that the one which is in better position, or more devious, will actually win. If you are one of them, and your natural enemy proposes an alliance, you should ask yourself: "Ok, he wants me out of way for this turn - how is he intending to win when I can't interfere?". And then refuse, of course, because if you don't see his plan, it means he is more devious and will win by tricking you..

b) Pope should be the mortal enemy of Protestant, and an enemy of the English. This is clear because without the Pope battling those two, one of them will win. (Giving divorce to the English, btw, should be priced at least at two random cards... it is a huge deal, and anything less is giving bonus to your enemy, a bonus which will likely allow him to win).

Ambivalent relationships:

c) If we assume that most of Hapsburg strength is committed against Ottomans (like it should be), then the Hapsburg/English/France are in a kind of love/hate triangle in the Western Europe.

Two of those should be able to win against the third one -- so they should shift the alliances as needed to prevent the victory of the others.

d) France and Pope. Often an arrangement over the Northern Italy can be reached between the French and the Pope. The war often does not benefit the Pope (who is likely to lose it), and it is often inconvenient to the French (who have other, more serious matters with England and Hapsburg). Meanwhile a peace would benefit them both.

On the other hand, war between them might occur if one of them needs to be prevented from winning... or if one of them tries to pull out a victory for himself on that turn.

By default friendly relationships:

e) Ottoman and France. They have almost no conflicting interests, but both of them would benefit if the other one acted as a counterbalance and distraction against the Hapsburgs.

f) Hapsburgs and Pope. They have common interests and common enemies, but no conflicting interests because Pope fights mostly on the religious front.

g) Protestants and English. Both benefit from English Reformation, and they have no conflicting interests at all (except the proportion of reformation success in England - it could decide the English victory).

Strangely, Protestants and France have almost nothing to do with each other, and there is little reason for them to be hostile or friendly, they play a totally different game from each other.

Also, the protestant has little to offer the Ottomans, even if both are enemies of the Hapsburgs.

In your two games, the continuous three player alliance (Hapsburg/Papacy/England) against France upset the framework of balance. The alliance between England and Papacy was strange (Pope should have been stealing victory points from his enemy, England, instead of hitting France), and the failure of England/Hapsburg to switch to the French side allowed Hapsburg/England to win.

This game is at its best when the players actively try to prevent the others from winning (to pull out a surprise victory for themselves at some point). This means the players need to see the big picture, and avoid helping their allies too much. It might even be necessary to help their enemies. With the event cards, almost anybody will have a possibility to help or hinder almost any one.
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David Dixon
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petrip wrote:
1. Excommunicating a ruler costs the victim two cards if he gets rid of it by paying a card. One card less in the draw phase, and one random card donation to the Pope to cancel the excommunication. Meanwhile the Pope gets a random card, so excommunicating a ruler does not really cost a card in that case for the Pope.

If the victim does not get rid of excommunication, he will lose a card draw every turn!

Excommunicating a reformer gets him out of the debater pool (except Luther with Protestant Home Card use can still intervene in the German zone).

Excommunicate Calvin to allow safer debates in the French zone, for Example.

Also, Cranmer can be excommunicated to take him off the map, so that the English player can not publish treatises in that turn.

2. The pope can really hit the protestant victory points hard by converting electorates back. Each catholic (Protestant political control) electorate is -2 points for the Protestant. Whenever the protestants are threatening a victory, the other powers might well help the pope indirectly here.

Also the English, if allowed to do "reasonable" things like getting Edinburgh, Edward, a little exploration, Antwerp or Rouen.. can threaten immediate victory which the Pope is best equipped to stop.

So, there should be fighting over German and English spaces. Otherwise the Protestant or England could steal the game. As preventing their victory benefits the other players, the others should help the pope when necessary to maintain the game state. Maybe by playing events - or leaving the Pope alone so he can focus on the religious struggle - or whatever can be arranged.

Even a small Hapsburg army in Germany (contesting electorate political control) gives nice modifiers for the pope's efforts.

When Jesuit Universities come online, the Pope can make religious fight very tough on the protestants.

Also, often the debates are the best way of converting large areas back to Catholicism, and burning heretics is a necessary way to get much needed points for the Pope.

Also remember that after the first two bad Popes die, the rest win ties on conversion attacks - as low as a 3 dice on attack gives a reasonable chance of success even against loads of defending dice. (~43% chance of automatic victory by rolling a 6 on attack in three dice).

3. Thelogical debates without the Leipzig card might be necessary for victory purposes, and the Pope can arrange situations where the worst Papal debaters still have better dice than the best Protestant targets.

The Pope can select both the language zone, and the target group (committed / uncommitted) for the random Protestant debater.

E.g. if there is just one committed weak Protestant Debater for a given language, the Pope would be favoured even with Tetzel ("1" value committed Protestant = 2 dice, "1" value Papal Tetzel debater attacking = 4 dice). And of course, Tetzel should have sold some indulgences during a book burning to get out of the uncommitted pool.. hopefully leaving a "2" or better debater there to be randomly selected).

4. There are only four anti-mercenary cards, but you can be pretty sure that someone is holding one of them.. maybe over several turns, just to hit you when it becomes necessary. Getting your mercenaries removed at a critical moment is extremely inconvenient - and if you have a huge number of mercenaries among your armies, someone might well play the card which sends them all home unless you discard a card to pay for (some of) them. Of course, he would play that card when you hold no cards in your hand, just to be difficult.

The mercenaries are in my opinion very nicely balanced. They are as good as regulars in combat, at half price, and the chance of them suddenly vanishing is smallish. So there is temptation to build lots of them... and once you have a large mercenary army, it might suddenly disappear just at the moment you really need it.

Personally I will buy mercenaries to shore up my armies before combat, expecting to take the losses from them. And I am willing to park a mercenary or two together with regular troops in the same space. Or even to take the risk and recruit an emergency army of mostly mercenaries where it is needed.

Remember that the mercenaries betray you only when some other player greatly benefits from their betrayal and feels the need to play the card to make it so. Playing a card to remove 1 or 2 mercenaries from one of your armies is unlikely... playing the card to remove 10 mercenaries from your army which defends your capital or advances towards an enemy key, now that is a different thing.

5. If there is just Elizabeth born, or if there is neither Elizabeth nor Edward born at turn 6, Mary will be added to the deck, and when played, becomes Queen.

That is a catastrophic failure for the English player and, if I calculated this correctly, would in the 1532 scenario require both extreme bad luck (worst possible rolls, Mary dealt already on turn 6 to either Ottomans or Hapsburgs) and hostility from the other players (Pope does not grant divorce, Ottoman or Hapsburg play Mary on the first round of turn 6 before the English can attempt to marry again on that turn).

In the 1517 scenario it should be impossible to get stuck with Mary, even in the worst case you get one turn of Edward before Mary, and a chance of Elizabeth later.

But - the normal result for English is a healthy Edward and no Mary at all. The idea behind Mary seems to be to force the English player to play the baby-game until he is safe or falls into the historical path.

If the English player decides to use his Home Card for continuous backstabbing of his neighbours instead of marrying as often as needed, he will get Mary. To his detriment.

6. No, this is not normal. It sounds like in the first game the Hapsburg player obviously won because "England, Hapsburgs and Papacy" concentrated on killing France (to the benefit of the Hapsburg player, most obviously). Guilty ones: England, who should have allied with France against Hapsburgs, and Papacy who should not have been messing with mundane politics to that degree.

In the second game, it looks like England won, because "England, Hapsburgs and Papacy" concentrated on killing France (to the benefit of the English player, of course).
Guilty ones: Hapsburgs who should have allied with France against England, and Pope who did not do his job against the English.

The English should not be able to get to the Mediterranean, unless they capture Gibraltar, or receive it as a gift from the Hapsburgs. (You cannot sail through your ally's port - so there is no path to the Mediterranean for the English unless they own Gibraltar).

The Ottoman is one of the players which might be able to threaten a military victory, but that just means the Hapsburgs have not been doing their job.

The game has an underlying diplomatic framework, which arises from the victory conditions and the asymmetric powers. It sets up certain trends, which, if respected, should allow the powers to prevent sudden victory of some other power. If the players work against the framework, as they certainly can, then there is a big risk that one of them will pull an unstoppable victory... which is really the fault of those who agreed to do things which they should not have agreed to.

Hostile relationships:

a) Hapsburg and Ottomans should be hostile towards each other.

The other powers should try to maintain the balance between those two - if one is doing too well, then events or other things should be arranged to restore the balance. Hapsburg is the one player who can prevent an Ottoman victory, and Ottoman is the one player needed to prevent a Hapsburg victory. If neither tries to prevent their natural enemy winning, then there is a high risk that the one which is in better position, or more devious, will actually win. If you are one of them, and your natural enemy proposes an alliance, you should ask yourself: "Ok, he wants me out of way for this turn - how is he intending to win when I can't interfere?". And then refuse, of course, because if you don't see his plan, it means he is more devious and will win by tricking you..

b) Pope should be the mortal enemy of Protestant, and an enemy of the English. This is clear because without the Pope battling those two, one of them will win. (Giving divorce to the English, btw, should be priced at least at two random cards... it is a huge deal, and anything less is giving bonus to your enemy, a bonus which will likely allow him to win).

Ambivalent relationships:

c) If we assume that most of Hapsburg strength is committed against Ottomans (like it should be), then the Hapsburg/English/France are in a kind of love/hate triangle in the Western Europe.

Two of those should be able to win against the third one -- so they should shift the alliances as needed to prevent the victory of the others.

d) France and Pope. Often an arrangement over the Northern Italy can be reached between the French and the Pope. The war often does not benefit the Pope (who is likely to lose it), and it is often inconvenient to the French (who have other, more serious matters with England and Hapsburg). Meanwhile a peace would benefit them both.

On the other hand, war between them might occur if one of them needs to be prevented from winning... or if one of them tries to pull out a victory for himself on that turn.

By default friendly relationships:

e) Ottoman and France. They have almost no conflicting interests, but both of them would benefit if the other one acted as a counterbalance and distraction against the Hapsburgs.

f) Hapsburgs and Pope. They have common interests and common enemies, but no conflicting interests because Pope fights mostly on the religious front.

g) Protestants and English. Both benefit from English Reformation, and they have no conflicting interests at all (except the proportion of reformation success in England - it could decide the English victory).

Strangely, Protestants and France have almost nothing to do with each other, and there is little reason for them to be hostile or friendly, they play a totally different game from each other.

Also, the protestant has little to offer the Ottomans, even if both are enemies of the Hapsburgs.

In your two games, the continuous three player alliance (Hapsburg/Papacy/England) against France upset the framework of balance. The alliance between England and Papacy was strange (Pope should have been stealing victory points from his enemy, England, instead of hitting France), and the failure of England/Hapsburg to switch to the French side allowed Hapsburg/England to win.

This game is at its best when the players actively try to prevent the others from winning (to pull out a surprise victory for themselves at some point). This means the players need to see the big picture, and avoid helping their allies too much. It might even be necessary to help their enemies. With the event cards, almost anybody will have a possibility to help or hinder almost any one.


Man, I want to play this game so badly...

Diis
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Diis wrote:
Man, I want to play this game so badly...

Diis


Yes. Yes, you do... It's THAT good.
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