I would like today to come back to one of the most epic boardgame sessions I have possibility to experience. This was a full, six-player play of Here I Stand (HIS). Yes, we decided to re-enact struggle in the Europe during the time of Reformation.
This was our second play of HIS – I need to report the first encounter still, but as this was a training play, that was much less exciting than what follows below. I and two of my colleagues for whom it was 2nd session took lead of more difficult nationalities – I was in command of Hapsburg Empire, Kuba managed France while Konrad struggled with Papacy. At the same time three new players were assigned less demanding factions: Ottomans to Jarek, England to Jacek and Protestants to Lukasz. We managed to play 3 turns and then run out of time. However, we were pretty close to the final…
The reformation attempts (“95 thesis” card) were pretty positive for Protestant – 4 out of 5 attempts successful. The negotiation phase however resulted in quite surprising solution – England paid 2 card draws to France for the latter not to intervene in Anglo-Scottish war.
What happened during the turn?
- Ottomans assaulted and conquered Belgrade, played “Barbary Pirates”, built up troops.
- Hapsburg attacked and conquered Metz. I was not intending to attack France, neither France intended to attack me – so although we had formal war no atrocities were seen on French-Hapsburg border.
- However, in the meantime Hapsburg built up forces, sent Magellan into Circumvention request, conquered – using Pizarro – Inca Empire and saved 2 cards for next turn (which occurred to be crucial move in the game).
- France, as mentioned above, did not attacked me (Hapsburg) but conquered Florence, used Chateaux, built colony.
- England declared War against Scotland but having only 2 cards did not managed to get Edinburgh that turn.
- Protestants and Papacy struggled in Germany, but the “disease” was spreading too fast and 6 electorates were protestant by the end of the turn.
All in all, this was pretty calm turn. But the storm was coming…
The negotiation phase resulted in Protestants paying France 1 card for playing Schmalkeldic League. The peace talks between France and Hapsburg did not conclude positively and war goes one…
What happened that turn?
- Ottomans moved on Budapest and conquered the city. Well, they will soon start to threaten central Europe. So…
- …war between Hapsburg and Ottomans started. Ferdinand with 5 regular who was anticipating this in Gibraltar immediately attacked Tunis, but lost naval battle prevented capture of that key.
- However, most important event took place in France. After couple of impulses used for colonies/exploration/conquest France attacked on Metz. Faced with such disrespectful behavior – and fully expecting it, preparing forces in advance – Hapsburg used home card and moved Charles in such a way that managed to encircle Francis I in Metz and completely destroy the army, capturing both Montmercy and Francis.
- That was one of turning points in the game – after successful battle Hapsburg moved on France, conquered Paris and Lyon.
- In the meantime England finally conquered Scotland. Protestants proclaimed their country and started German Bible translation. Multiple debates initiated by the Papacy did not brought and conclusive solutions (= nobody was burned :)).
- At the end of the turn Magellan circumnavigated the globe and Corrado conquered Mayas. Another two positive pieces of info for my Hapsburg empire.
What would happen next? We shall see!
Situation was very interesting at the beginning of Turn3. Hapsburg was 2 keys from automatic victory but Turks amassed huge army in Buda and I might expect everybody to attack me – usual “beat the leader” approach.
The negotiations were long, instead of 10 minutes (as per rules) took 40 minutes! But it was worth it… Anti-Hapsburg coalition was not able to agree the common approach and mutual concession. Thus I planned to play the negotiations my way. England decided to ally with Hapsburg and attack France , for Antwerp and one card from my hand. Was it good move? Both Hapsburg and England had now 3 keys to victory and were evenly located for it (more or less). For me it was crucial not to be at war with France (even crushed), England (fresh and strong), Ottomans (very strong), lurking Protestants and maybe not directly in opposition but quite unfriendly Papacy. What is important, France from the start refused to make a peace with me or sue for peace – as it would bring me to 24 points.
The turn was interesting. Very.
- England seized Rouen but terribly lost the naval battle with France (lost 3 squadrons while France none) and was not able to move on Bordeaux and Marseille. Good.
- Having stable situation on the West of the Empire, I was able to focus on the situation to the East. Mainly, to focus on Ottomans. And there was a lot happening there! They attacked with the whole force, won battle over Vienna and captured Vienna. It was pretty difficult situation but Hapsburg home card as always was well played – I managed to crush Ottoman army, imprison Suleiman and Ibrahim, re-capture Vienna and Buda. It was nice to see French and Ottoman allies both in my prison:) But it was a close call to total disaster…
- And then the most suspenseful moment of the game came. It was last impulse – I was besieging Belgrade with 7 mercenaries, Charles and 1 regular. Only 1 Ottoman regular was defending it. I just needed to conquer that city and that will be it – auto-victory! And then England betrayed me – played card which removed all my mercenaries from one space, which stopped my besiege and as I have not enough cards to rebuild, I finished turn with one key to auto victory…
- What was happening elsewhere? The religious war was at its peak, with Papacy mainly investing into St. Peter Basilica and taking Florence from France . Protestant were finishing German Bible translation which allowed him to convert whole German-speaking zone but for one space. That was really well reflected in points (which you can see below). Additionally, thanks to won debate London was also converted.
It was really exciting and interesting game. Situation changed multiple times, and who knows what would happen in turn 4? Definitely, we would love to play again HIS – which is a fantastic games – especially as it is really about politics/negotiations where army is only mean to success. And we can’t wait to see how situation will develop in later turns, with new cards, counter-reformation, etc. But that is for the future… for now we stay at home!
The final standings at the end of turn 3:
- 21 points: Hapsburgs/me & Protestants/Lukasz
- 16 points: Papcy/Konrad
- 14 points: Ottomans/Jarek
- 13 points: England/Jacek
- 7 points: France/Kuba
More reports about HIS will come!
Michael, I am glad to see how much you like this game. Me too and its sister Virgin Queen. Your report makes me sad to be far from my gaming group in Brussels.
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Yes, both games are great. Problem is always to get a group willing to play but this is effort worth spending!
We used to take a full Saturday or Sunday occasionally. Sometimes finished, sometimes didn’t. My favourite game was when I won Virgin Queen as the Hapsburgs with the Gunpowder Plot. In general, though, I would be the Turks if I had a choice.
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