Today I am presetting another material form our mini-convention held around the New Year. A tradition which goes back to as far as 2009 and is repeated since almost every year. As one of my colleagues rightfully said, there is a particular boardgame type which you can call “convention games” – special atmosphere makes some titles more suitable to play on such occasions and you really cannot explain logically why 🙂

In this group we definitely have (and hopefully will have) Wallenstein – a predecessor to even more known Shogun. Area control, rebellions, dice tower, actions bidding – these are only few hallmarks of this great game. When played in full, 5-player set-up, it is a true blast!

The Game

First things first; 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 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 – that is probably one of my favorite mechanics. 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: Emperor’s Court, Landsknechts, Military Leaders & 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 Sessions

First Attempt

For our initial game we managed to gather group of 5 players. We played with most of expansions as it definitely adds flavor to the game. For Kuba K and Dorota – who arrived at our convention just before the game – it was a debut with Wallenstein. Let us see how it went for them and other players!

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

The set-up of first game – it was done in standard way, as per instruction – to balance the fact we have two new players to the title.
I very much like those tiny mechanics in this game, which add up to overall experience. Above priority track – connected with special abilities for the turn.
One of the highlights is of course dice-tower – this is incredibly clever way of randomly resolving the battles and rebellions 🙂
The map and components are very nice; when the forces build up, you are likely to get more and more conflicts – like in gold-rich Burgundy between Dorota and Kuba G 🙂
But there were even larger battles still in front of us, like the one which Kuba G and Lukasz presented us with.
Killing 11 units on each side was a true carnage. Not that the spectators protested – one of key mechanics in Wallenstein is to incite your neighbors so they mutually rip their throats apart 🙂
In the end, Dorota and Kuba K had a really great debut, Lukasz was usually lacking funds to do anything, Kuba G had pretty decent rolls and I – well, I reconciled everyone 🙂

That was a blast, great debut for two new players, tons of suspense – especially in later turn, where sequence of actions had critical importance. A time well spent!

Second Attempt

That was completely different game than the previous one; first of all – it was pretty spontaneous, as there were already plans for that afternoon – in the end, we were concluding slowly our convention already. Fortunately, we managed to scramble quickly the team – same as in initial session – and find some time for quick play. As everybody knew the rules, it went pretty smoothly even though we had to do couple of breaks in the meantime.

The speed of play and not-so-perfect conditions means I have pretty abbreviated photo report, which anyhow still conveys all the important events!

The set-up of our second game; we used the advanced provinces distribution rule where you draw a couple and choose one. The breakdown was pretty balanced, without places which can be easily defended or where the player can “turtle up”.
Short report this time. Dorota’s forces were mercilessly mauled in this session; Kuba G. had a lot of forces but was not able to get the points he needed. Me, Lukasz and Kuba K were struggling for victory till the last moment; each of us built a strong position on the map. 1-point differences were pretty close and exciting – congrats to the winner!


I can say for sure one thing after those two sessions – this is definitely not the last time when Wallenstein hits the table of our boardgame group. This title achieved great sweet-spot of being a very replayable, interactive, interesting (the tower!) and relatively quick position. We had so much fun with all the twists and turns of fate, especially when you resolve actions in the sequence which impacts what can be done and where!

The negative interaction was just enough, there was a lot of building of the forces but there was no turtling which allowed for intense experience. The first game was a little more one sided (haha!) but the second was close as never. We shall return to the Thirty Years’ War!