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Subject: Protestant Diplomacy: A sweet spot for tolerance rss

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Jon G
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In a game last night, I stumbled into a very agreeable strategy for the Protestants. The basic idea is that the Prots want to get their capitals on the board, to get their free regulars and fifth card. Beyond that, though, the Prots (well, Calvinist Zeal) is scary enough that both the French and Spanish are inclined to fight back hard- and you can't beat both of them at once, you can just collectively spend a lot of CP's balancing each other out. And if they're scared of a unmanageable revolt, they very well may set patronage and piracy aside and fight back hard.

So I asked the Spanish and French to tolerate my control of one key each. You have some leverage here, as the pitch to both sides is "Look, if you give me a little space, I'll take the rest of the reformation somewhere else." To my surprise, they each agreed to tolerate me converting and rebelling the area around one key and one fortress each. The obvious choices here are La Rochelle and Amsterdam.

In return, I agreed to press conversions and revolts no further. That does mean you may not have a use for Calvinist Zeal by Turn 3, and you are freeing the French and Haps to attack other people, but there's a lot of benefits for the Prots:
The prots now have spare CP's to sponsor artists & scientists, of whom they have a ton, and rarely enough CP's to maximize their use.
Spare CP's to claim a good colony site and pirate cheerfully.
Better diplomatic relations to avoid screw cards and marry off royals
Collect your best events and save them for when it's time to push for more keys. The French and Spanish could too, but they have a lot more enemies than you do.
Fly under the radar with a VP total in the teens

Some dangers:
You may give the French and Spanish too free of a hand. But by saving Calvinist Zeal till late in the turn, you preserve your options.
If your artists, pirates, etc roll poorly, you may have too far to go pull off the win
If they roll too well, you may get a target on your back while your territory is small
France and Spain may defend Paris, Antwerp, and Brussels too strongly before you can push for more land.

One benefit of a "Tolerance" approach is that it offers lots of flexibility in crafting the deals. You have the land you fundamentally need, so if you have to give up cards, you can probably afford it. You could offer to spare the Spanish from pirates in favor of the Portuguese (but since they're mostly handing out VP's, you may not need to). You can loan boats as you see fit. You may be able to sell an event for control of the key you want.

As the game moves into the later turns, the position can still work for you. The French & Spanish will realize that you're going to break the truce with one of them, but you can play them off each other and probably maintain a truce with the other. They're unlikely to team up on you, because you only hold one key each, they're packed with your regulars, and there should be much easier ways for either to get one VP.

In light of recent discussions about breaking your word, go ahead and agree that this will be a polite, well-armed truce, renewable on a turn by turn basis. All three powers should see the benefit of avoiding religious trench warfare and pursuing more profitable returns, and you have the French and Spanish in a prisoner's dilemma besides.



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Steven
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I like where you head is at, but I feel there is one major weakness to this strategy: the French home card, Gouvernante de France.

A late turn Catholic conversion attempt followed up by play of their home card, could completely wipe out your entire position in France. If your Huguenot capital is already Catholic, you may have to return it to French political control, which removes your capital to the turn track.

Will France be willing to tolerate you having 8+ spaces under Prot political and religious control to protect you?

That being said, I think the Protestant player should try to persue tolerance with one power and then hit the other one hard, especially once they get a key in both the Netherlands and France religious zones.
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Jon G
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The way I addressed that was to hold a strong Protestant event over each turn. I also kept my capital and its neighbors Protestant as part of the deal. If France wanted to suppress heresy, I could almost certainly undo the damage before the end of the turn.

I ended up with about 8 Protestant spaces in each area (basically, starting spaces plus Calvinist Zeal for 7+7 dice, plus an additional sermon in the Netherlands), which did feel a bit thin, and certainly vulnerable to a bad roll for Gouvernante. But any compromise is going leave each side feeling a bit vulnerable.
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Jon G
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In the Netherlands, this is a risk. A smart Spanish player will garrison Antwerp & Brussels, and you may never get a sixth card draw. But in France, Paris isn't *that* special. Yes, it has bonus points, but you also get a vendetta with the French. Rouen & Lyon are both good areas to expand when the time comes. So, the question is, do you need a sixth card draw enough to justify an ugly war with the strongest player at the table?

As for patronage & piracy, they seem really strong for the price. The Dutch have pirates who roll 3-4 dice, likely converting 3cp's into 1vp. If you're too busy fighting religious wars to pirate when the Spanish are vulnerable, it'll be much harder to do it later. Likewise with patronage, which can turn 3-4cp's into 1-2vp's... if you postpone now, you won't have enough turns to do it later, since you can only patronize one per turn.

In contrast, getting one more key (2vp) via revolt requires 4-6cp's (sermon + revolt) even if the opponent doesn't fight back. You're also taking it off another player, who is more likely to fight back than the patronage table.
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Bob Miller
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Great ideas Jon. Thanks for posting.

Related question: Am I correct in thinking that all spaces in the Netherlands are Protestant Home spaces except Luxemburg and Liege. They all have the White Flag or the Yellow/Orange split making them Prot Home spaces. Thus all but these two spaces will get the +1 die during Revolts.
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Steven
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dreadnaught wrote:
Great ideas Jon. Thanks for posting.

Related question: Am I correct in thinking that all spaces in the Netherlands are Protestant Home spaces except Luxemburg and Liege. They all have the White Flag or the Yellow/Orange split making them Prot Home spaces. Thus all but these two spaces will get the +1 die during Revolts.


Yes this that is true at the beginning of the game. The event Union of Arras, entering turn four, causes the split Yellow/Orange spaces to be treated as Spanish home spaces the rest of the game. There are other effects too: all mercs are removed from the Netherlands, no more rebellions this turn, 5 orange/yellow spaces return to catholic religion or Spanish control, and up to 4 Walloons are added (a Spanish reg is displaced for each Walloon placed).

That is certainly a card the Protestants do not want to see played!
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Jon G
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SW_Cygnus wrote:
I like where you head is at, but I feel there is one major weakness to this strategy: the French home card, Gouvernante de France.

A late turn Catholic conversion attempt followed up by play of their home card, could completely wipe out your entire position in France. If your Huguenot capital is already Catholic, you may have to return it to French political control, which removes your capital to the turn track.

Will France be willing to tolerate you having 8+ spaces under Prot political and religious control to protect you?

That being said, I think the Protestant player should try to persue tolerance with one power and then hit the other one hard, especially once they get a key in both the Netherlands and France religious zones.


Another thought here: The Prots may be able to persuade the French to let you have the entire southwest of France. The Prots are largely protected against being screwed by La Gouvernante, which the French get a buffer state against Spanish invasion. This is probably more applicable when you have good diplomacy with France and open warfare with Spain, else the French may fear a spring deployment through Prot lands to Orleans!
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Steven
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dr.mrow wrote:
Another thought here: The Prots may be able to persuade the French to let you have the entire southwest of France. The Prots are largely protected against being screwed by La Gouvernante, which the French get a buffer state against Spanish invasion. This is probably more applicable when you have good diplomacy with France and open warfare with Spain, else the French may fear a spring deployment through Prot lands to Orleans!


Good point. Here's the problem though: Where's the "sweet spot" where you feel comfortable and France is guaranteed the Catholic League is not formed?

The France wants the Prot to have less than 3 keys and less than five total spaces (including keys) under Protestant political control so there is no risk of the Catholic League forming.

The Protestant wants to have more than 8 spaces under Protestant religion and probably 5+ spaces under Prot political control.

Going to be difficult keeping some sort of permanent alliance going when both sides want very different things. So this is a good temporary deal if France wants a breather and you want to focus Spain, but I do not see this thing working more than 2 turns at a time.
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