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Subject: The Tragedy of King Philip's War rss

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Bill Morgal
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Today was our weekly game day for Capt Yid (Gordon Stewart) and myself. it was spent inaugurating my latest game acquisition, King Philip's War, a game about the war fought between Native American Indians and New England colonists that lasted from 1675 through 1676. After spinning the fickle metal finger of fate it was determined that I would control the confederation of indian tribes and Gordon would control the colonial settlers.

Neither Gordon nor myself know anything at all about the actual war. The game mechanics are also rather unique, so neither one of us really knew the best strategy to use. Points are awarded for eliminating infantry counters (either company or warband), razing settlements or villages, and eliminating leaders.

The confederacy of tribes are limited in that once a warband is eliminated, it will never return to the game. Not so the colonial settlers. When they run out of counters for reinforcements, they can begin reusing counters that were previously eliminated. This makes a war of attrition something that King Phillip must try to avoid.

At the beginning of the game, the colonial settlers are limited in their movement and attacks. It remains this way until they obtain their main leader. We used the option of having a fixed turn 3 entry for he leader in our game instead of the random entry occurring sometime from turn 1 to 6.

The indian confederation starts with three allied tribes. Other tribes will join the confederation based on the number of villages that are razed by the settlers.

After setting up our starting forces, we began. King Philip's War is a chaotic and bloody affair. Players who demand complete control over their forces should stay away from it. Planned attacks sometimes will be stopped in their tracks through chance. Gordon experienced this quite often during the game, and I did too but to a lesser extent.

The indian confederacy got off to a quick lead during the first three turns, managing to raze several settlements and to kill one of the two key English leaders. Gordon was snakebit, having some of his attacks fail due to them not occurring.

My strategy was to try to avoid pitched battles with the colonists and to raze as many undefended settlements as I could. It looked far too difficult to eliminate an entire colony from the game by razing all the colony's settlements, but I am sure that is a viable strategy. I preferred trying to stay away from fights and strike where the enemy wasn't.

Gordon's strategy, I think, was inspired. He decided not to raze villages right away. Instead, he concentrated on attacking warbands wherever he could. He knew if he eliminated enough of them, he would soon overwhelm me with his unlimited reinforcements. He would attack even if he was outnumbered. Every strength point I lost was one strength point less that he would never have to worry about again. As for me, I could (and often did because of lucky dice rolls) put a major hurt on some of his companies. It usually did not matter, on the next turn Gordon would just use his reinforcement to build it back.

Because of Gordon 's strategy, I found myself a little penned in. I could not move through the neutral tribes and because I often could not take out a settlement in one turn, King Philip was almost trapped on a couple of occasions.

Once I received all my reinforcements, I no longer bothered to stay round my home settlements and broke out towards the outer settlements. One of the tribes did not make it out and after several turns was eliminated near Martha's Vineyard.

When the game's one winter phase marking the end of the mid game came around, I had around an 8 point vp lead. I had a substantial lead in raised settlements versus raised villages, but Gordon was really winning the attrition war. He was near or at full strength for the remainder of the game, and his strategy of limiting the number of razed villages had greatly reduced my force because I was unable to get additional tribes to join the alliance. I twice got tribes to join, only to have them submit on the next turn because of Gordon's rising vps.

By the last turn, we could tell it was going to be close. I was down to a lone stack of warbands with King Philip. It was pretty clear I would not be doing much in the last turn. Gordon needed 3 points to tie, 4 points to win, and there were already two raided villages on he board. Do to some unlucky rolls, Gordon only got 3 points, leaving us both with 19 points. The tie breaker kicked in, and technically I won because I had 2 more razed settlements than he did razed villages. But was it a win really? Most of the starting indian villages were razed. Two of he starting three tribes were totally wiped out of warbands. King Philip's force was down to three single strength warbands. Coupled with the destroyed settlements, it seems to me that no one really won this. The result was more tragedy than victory.

As I usually do after first playing a game, I re-read the rules after playing. We did a couple of minor things wrong. One, we allowed three stack companies and warbands when no leader was present. That was a no-no. Two, if there was no eligible warband to receive muskets, we just removed the muskets when they became available. We should have shifted them to the next turn.

There are two things I am not sure we did correctly. When attacking a settlement or village that was raided but undefended, we rolled the three battle dice as we normally would but just did not a apply an attack result to the force that had 0 strength. The raided village or settlement would only become razed when forced to suffer 1 more loss.

Also, Gordon attacked a subdued tribe on the last turn. There was a raided village there that he wanted to finish off. He figured why not, it was the last turn, who cares if the tribe activates again? The rules say that the tribe immediately activates at this point. Is that when the battle marker is placed or after the battle occurs? If it is before, then warbands could have been placed into the raided village for defense. We were not sure if that was the case, so we did not do it.

It was an enjoyable and tense game and one that I look forward to playing again.


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Gordon Stewart
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Great game and FANTASTIC session report! (and quick)

For a game that has a propensity for rule misinterpretation,
I think ours was mostly correct and incredibly close.
It reminded me of that great Wash-Dallas match up this
last turkey-day; if only each game had been a little longer,
the "Redskins"/native Americans would have lost.

Now we need to think of an appropriate Christmas game....

Also, we did the recommended third turn Church arrival
and the option allowing colonists to cross borders and
stay there.
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John Poniske
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When attacking a subdued tribe, Bill, the battle marker is placed as the rules state, IMMEDIATELY, which means the deactivated warriors are placed in defense of the village BEFORE the battle. Tragedy is right. That was my goal in the game to help people realize the chaotic nature of the war and the tragic end results. Glad you guys enjoyed the game.
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Wendell
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Myrdin T Sasnak wrote:


Because of Gordon 's strategy, I found myself a little penned in. I could not move through the neutral tribes and because I often could not take out a settlement in one turn, King Philip was almost trapped on a couple of occasions.


Bill, did you use Philip to go out and recruit new allies? I find that he is often out west somewhere scaring up some reinforcements, not stuck on a stack of warriors duking it out with the English...
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Bill Morgal
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Sure did, Wendell. Every chance I got, I used King Philip's awesome 'teleportation' ability to travel to an eligible tribe for recruitment into the alliance. The problem was, Gordon's strategy. He waited until he just about had the needed vp total to subdue a tribe before razing enough villages for me to qualify to recruit the tribe. We were well into the game, I think turn 6 or so, before he razed his second village! Each time I got a tribe to join, the next turn they would be subdued and forced off-board. Meanwhile, my starting force of warbands was shrinking.... shrinking.... shrinking. If he had not had some bad luck on the last turn, the game would not have gone to a tie-breaker....
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Scott Pizio
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Myrdin T Sasnak wrote:
Sure did, Wendell. Every chance I got, I used King Philip's awesome 'teleportation' ability to travel to an eligible tribe for recruitment into the alliance. The problem was, Gordon's strategy. He waited until he just about had the needed vp total to subdue a tribe before razing enough villages for me to qualify to recruit the tribe. We were well into the game, I think turn 6 or so, before he razed his second village! Each time I got a tribe to join, the next turn they would be subdued and forced off-board. Meanwhile, my starting force of warbands was shrinking.... shrinking.... shrinking. If he had not had some bad luck on the last turn, the game would not have gone to a tie-breaker....


Well this confirms the feeling I had reading the initial session report. You actually have this backwards. Indians receptiveness to alliance is not based on the number of Indian villages razed by the English. It is the other way around. The more English villages that Philip can raise the more likely that other tribes are to join him in his fight.
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Bill Morgal
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Oh no! Epic failure! I thought we had things pretty close to right on our first play. We had it bass ackwards! I was thinking that things seemed rather hard for the tribes with Gordon's strategy. Now I know why. Looks like we will just have to play it again and get it right this time!
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Gordon Stewart
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It's funny how it turned out so close!

Besides, you were giving me too much
credit for my "strategy"; it was the result
of MANY failed raids by rolling doubles.
You did VERY well playing w/one hand
tied behind your back.

Now about that confusing RED die....
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