Our boardgame group continues to play the games we got from the Essen Spiel 2022 – the haul was so large that there is still couple of titles untouched 🙂 But we are making good progress and last weekend we brought to the table very interesting combination of Eurogames and Wargames with dice tower as a nice twist. I am talking about Wallenstein!

The Game

So Wallenstein (Second Edition) is the 2012 reprint of the original game from 2002. It tweaks some areas but also adds two expansions. The setting and game play of the both games are mostly the same. In 1625, the Thirty Years’ War is underway, and military leaders like Albrecht von Wallenstein and Gottfried Heinrich are roaming the country, fighting for land, and trying to establish the best of everything for themselves.

The game lasts two “years,” with players taking actions in the spring, summer, and fall, then possibly suffering from grain shortage and revolts in the winter before scoring points for the year. After two years, the player with the most points – with points being scored for land and buildings under one’s control – wins.

In each of the “action” seasons, ten action cards are shuffled, then laid out, with five face-up and the rest face-down – really cool mechanic for planning purposes! The five bonus tiles (which provide extra money, grain, or armies) are also laid out. Each player then secretly assigns one of his county cards (or a blank card) to each of the ten actions on his individual player board, in addition to bidding for player order and choice of bonus tile.

Combat and revolts are handled via a dice tower in which players drop army units and peasants (colored wooden cubes) into the top of the tower and see which ones emerge in the bottom tray (representing the fighting forces for that combat) and which get stuck in the tower’s baffles to possibly emerge in the future.

The Big Box includes the base game and 4 expansions:

  1. Emperor’s Court
  2. Landsknechte
  3. Military Leaders
  4. Office

All in all, we have here pretty replayable product with nice amalgamation of mechanics. Many of which are taken from its predecessor, Shogun.

The Session

For our initial game we managed to gather group of 4 players. We decided that we shall not use all the expansions and were content with first two: Emperor’s Court (which can give some instant bonuses at the start of the round based on number of your petitioners on the court) and Landsknechte (possibility to get mercenaries if you control provinces in at least 4 regions).

Below I invite you to a picture-rich session report. A lot of things were happening and there is no way to mention everything. Still, critical actions are clearly called out. Enjoy!

PS. You can always click on the image to enlarge it in the new window.

Initial set-up of the game. We went with the recommended distribution of provinces, which created interesting patchwork of areas – everybody had some main group plus small island, far away from the main forces. Could be very confrontational set-up 🙂
First Year of the Game: it was time of forces build up, investments into important building and couple of raids – no ground-breaking events. In the north my black units were fighting continuously with Kuba. In turn, he clashed with Lukasz on the Eastern side. Btw, Filip was completely wiped out from his far away island next to Lukasz. I also managed to raid south and get close to Filip forces, taking Burgundy. Scores: Michal 28, Kuba 27, Lukasz 20, Filip 18.
Second Year of the Game: it was much more exciting! You would not believe, but I still fought with Kuba in the North. But things started to complicate for him when I counter-attacked in center (blue region) and Lukasz did a pincer move on Bayern (pink region). Filip was developing his units but was completely thwarted last round when I took event which prevented attacking me.
Final situation on the map and results; with the latest developments I managed to build large army and secure large swaths of terrain – important buildings including. Lukasz in last moment succeeded in grabbing second place (tie-breaker on money with Kuba). Filip never got chance to fully show his best and had to content with fourth place.

The Impressions and summary

Wow, what a crazy session it was! For most of it the race with VPs was very close – as you can see during first winter the difference between 1st and 2nd player was just 1 VP. The mechanic of hidden actions, where you really do not know where your opponents will attack and where will be peaceful, makes this game very suspenseful and intriguing. The wargaming and euro elements are nicely intertwined, the expansions for sure add flavor.

We will definitely be coming back to this title as it provides great experience in reasonable of time; on top, you can play up to 5 players! Highly recommended!