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Subject: When the walls came tumbling down rss

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The Mountain
United States
Castle Rock
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A blinding light the sun had died
A new moon took its place
- Def Leppard

Monday night, Denver Board Wargamers sit down to try out Stronghold at the Whittier community center. Surrounded by others playing games wherein the fates and fortunes of a stronghold does not hang in the balance. With 3 first time players the 4 player version takes an extended time to explain, each ability explained in careful detail, until those others, obviously jealous they were not in a contest of life and death, began exclaiming "are you still explaining the rules over there?"

Peasants, they serve only to make the sword arm strong as those with power strike them down.

Steve the Great Manslayer and James the Merciless prepared their armies to assault the keep of Lincoln the Brave (He was not afraid to die, O brave Sir Lincoln!) and Nate the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Lincoln. Forges were fired up and the workshop air filled with sawdust as Marksmen and soldiers began their training in preparation for the armies massing in the distance

More menacing, you must be more menacing, try scowling a bit more.

On the first day of the first month in some distant year
The whole sky froze golden
- Def Leppard
The invaders discussed their plans and opted for sending a few trolls to the Great Manslayer's side of the invasion for a quick attempt at glory while developing a battering ram and siege engines to tear at the castle's structure. A catapult came up on the right side and a ballista on the left. The first piece of the battering ram appeared in the barbican.

Without a direct threat to the walls the defenders began placing traps to limit those trolls while blessing their marksmen that they might send their arrows towards their foe, who being naughty in their sight, shall snuff it in greater numbers. A troll falls and the goblins are cleared from the battering ram.

Invaders learn placing a couple of goblins on the ram does not guarantee a breach.

All warfare is based on deception. Therefore, when capable, feign incapacity; - Sun Tzu
Another hasty invader conference. "Don't rush the attack", "Build the support elements first", "More green power to the ram". The invaders plan was two fold:
1. Have the war council to make the defenders think there was a plan
2. Have it away from the table so they would not see confusion on the face of the invaders

As to a plan for the field of battle, it was pretty much the old standby "Wing and a Prayer". But, following the wisdom of Old Sunny Tzu, the invaders would pretend being capable while incapable.

The invaders built another ballista (2 now on the left) a cover for the three remaining trolls to hide behind while they waited for new arrivals to achieve their glory and built more ram. They committed trolls to the ram with backup this time. Still no significant movement towards the walls.

The defenders spent their time building a cannon to continue the troll killing streak, prepped some cauldrons, laid more traps, sang martial songs and farted in the invaders general direction. Their blessed marksmen fired in concert at our ram but the gates shook as a single point of damage was done to the great door.

You could see the fear along the walls

The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters - Chinggis Khan
The invaders, knowing the value of sticking with a plan, held a conference. "Abandon ram?", "Get greenies in the field?", "Hope lavish lifestyles among the defenders causes an epidemic of myocardial infarctions?"

So for the next 3 turns it was ram, catapult, flood ram with quality troops, sacrifice some gobbos towards future glory and move some extras onto the field of battle. The 2 ballistas on the left never missed, the 2 catapults on the right never hit. The cannons were thinning the trolls as they napped behind their cover. More greenies entered to threaten the walls, but glory was slowly slipping towards the defenders.

The defenders continued blessing their marksmen and pouring fire into the battering ram but on turn 4 the first gate fell, the ram advanced, glory was achieved while the defenders put more marksmen on the walls.

The castle, while still looking mighty, was beginning to weaken.

Alas, regardless of their doom, the little victims play! No sense have they of ills to come, nor care beyond today.

Fifth turn, ram is size 5, but the second gate is strength 6. The invaders do some quick calculations, though rounding issues leave some confusion, they realize that gate will probably not fall this turn. But they have learned that they can move single orcs up to the walls and neutralize marksmen in that section. Now there are troops available to man the ramparts and imagine what it would be like to actually assault one of those sections. The ballistas (shuffled by Lincoln the Brave) never miss. The catapults, shuffled by Steve the Great Manslayer never hit. The situation calls for bold action and the new conference, discussed at the table to show invader confidence, decides "Let the defenders shuffle the catapult cards as well as the magic ballistas!" Ah, the smell of victory is in the air as the second gate falls on the 6th turn. At the same time 2 orcs blow themselves up to reduce a wall section, with an eye for glory and 8 trolls now crouch behind cover ready to rush to (with drover ability if needed) to one of 4 wall sections on the left. The 2 catapults fire at the same wall section and, with the new "defender shuffles" plan in place, both hit, reducing that wall section and achieving glory.

The defenders man their wall in preparation for the long awaited assaults. Cauldrons and poles appear. Those "blessed" marksmen begin to pour fire into the ramparts as it is unlikely shooting at a 5 section ram with backups will alter the outcome at the gate. The honor guard still stands and the defender achieves glory on the 6th turn. But tensions rise and Sir Lincoln adopts his doom and gloom strategy "the defenders never had a chance", "there was nothing they could do about it", "the game is probably broken in 4 player mode". The strain of the siege begins to show among the defenders.

Undaunted Lincoln the Brave prepares his final stand

The city's heart no longer beats no pity have I left to lend - Def Leppard
Turn 7. The defenders stand with 11 glory. The invaders have but 8. But a 6 strength battering ram stands before the final gate with backups so only a full movement of marksmen to the walls might, just might, stop the breach there. But 8 trolls and half a dozen orcs stand ready to assault one of four wall sections on the left, preventing a flood of marksmen to those walls thereby weakening their melee strength against the impending troll assault. Even without a breach through melee invader troops at any wall section would neutralize the marksmen against the ram. Only the marksmen in the towers can shoot unhindered. They won't be enough.

With the troll movement to the walls and at least a 3 point breach (possibly 2 breaches even) the game will end this turn. With at least 4 points going to the invaders (and possibly 5 if a second breach by the trolls occurs) Sir Lincoln the Brave decided to run away and Sir Nate the Not-so-Brave-as-Sir-Lincoln soiled his armor. The game is over. The final score, ending on the 7th turn, was Invaders 12, defenders 11. The castle has fallen and glory is showered upon the Great Mankiller and the Merciless. The two side began cleanup of the battlefield.

In future years the site became a romantic picnic spot for senior orc commanders and their wives.

Now a quick poll. Lincoln and Nate suspect (yes, after only one play) that the game seriously favors the invaders when the battering ram strategy is used with more than 1 Invader. There just isn't enough marksmen to stop them when, between the two invaders, there are 20 reinforcements (and in later turns 24) available to ensure quality manning of the ram. When a single Invader takes the field only 14 reinforcements are available.

Does the invader have an increased advantage when using the battering ram strategy in a multiplayer game of Stronghold?
Yes, the invader's advantage is huge, battering rams should not be used in a multiplayer
Yes, but it is a small advantage and not game breaking
No, the increased troops at the ram can be offset easily
Maybe, I haven't played a multiplayer but like answering polls
I refuse to take part in this poll but am choosing this answer to screw with you
      20 answers
Poll created by Jimmy the Warmonger
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Andy Piefer
United States
New York
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Great session report! I really enjoyed your blow-by-blow account of the battle interspersed with humor, timely quotes, and pictures. Stronghold is a great game that has a STEEP learning curve, but rewards those that learn in it with some nice strategy choices.

I don't know if I agree with your assessment on the battering ram strategy in a 4 player game. It's usually not dominant in my plays. You kept referring to backups for your ram. Do you mean invaders that are in the barbican area that are not assigned directly to a ram position? If so, check the rules - you can't do that. Only invaders that are assigned to a ram slot can be placed in the barbican - no backups allowed. That alone really handicaps the ram since you will lose attack strength each turn when the defenders invariably kill one or more of your battering ram crew.
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