Thursday, December 28, 2006

Here We Stood Session Report

We all got to Dragon's Lair Bright and Surly. Our Dramatis Personae:
  • Rick (Ottomans)
  • Jon (Hapsburgs)
  • Rob (England)
  • Al (France)
  • Brian (Papacy)
  • Ted (Protestants)
We started with the 1517 scenario with Luther's Thesis. Ted didn't miss a roll (something that seemed to happen fairly often) and the continental powers skirmished around. In the early game Lutheranism swept through Germany, the Pope crawled through Italy, the Ottomans took a bite out of Hungary, and France built lovely Chateaus. Actually, the Hapsburgs, France and England kept bickering about Calais and Antwerp. A less decadent Pope would have paid attention....

By turn four (the traditional turn when any player can win) the Protestants were driving the game. The Schmalkaldic league kicked in, given Luther Germany (and 12 more VPs). By the middle of the turn Ted was over 25, reaching a high water mark of 28. But Rick had "Michael Servetus," one of two cards that can stop another player from winning and extend the game. In the fifth turn Ted threatened an automatic victory (50 protestant spaces), but the Jesuits (and a Pope not distracted by a campaign against Venice) managed to knock him back to 40. The turn ended with a tie between France, a highly piratical Ottoman Empire and the Protestants. The Hapsburgs were a single point behind, with the Pope and England lagging the pack. At this point, we had to call the game due to time, so Ted won (tiebreaker being the player who led in the previous turn).

Now that we've got a critical mass of people who know this, I think we can probably run through the 1532 scenario on a monday night. (In a few weeks, perhaps). I think we'll be able to finish in 3-4 hours (since anyone can win in the first 2-3 turns) and at most we'll probably finish in 6.



At 7:19 PM, December 28, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

My full review is here.

At 9:53 PM, December 28, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Wow, sorry I missed out on the fun! Between a sick cat and sick automobile, it just wasn't in the cards for me today... Great report though!

At 1:11 AM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

To everyone that tried this out today, thanks! I had a blast. It takes some dedication (and willpower to push aside other enticing newer games like BattleLore) to learn a monster game like this. Thanks to the newcomers for trying it out. Hopefully, like Brian said, we can try some of the later scenarios in the not so distant future, which have even cooler events. I do have to admit....I'm craving euros again.

At 1:23 AM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

"Diplomacy, as well as the cards, dictates the game."

Brian, I couldn't agree more. The game was FREAKING fascinating with the layers of complexity that 6 players can bring to the diplomacy phase. Oh if I had only told the French that I was """"at war""" with them because the Hapsburgs wanted me to, but I didn't want to attack them (at least for the current turn). I wanted to keep that status to be on the Hapsburg's good side. That would have saved my leaders, and resources that I could have used for wives and birthing a heir, and exploration.

The Diplomacy you see in a 3 player game PALES in comparison.

Here I Stand (like most CDGs) oozes theme, and I find the history fascinating. Each power plays differently, and so far each game has played differently.

I do find the history fascinating too, as I've mentioned before, which just multiplies my enjoyment of it. In this second game I was just ENGROSSED in all that was unfolding that we didn't see last time. BTW, what was the video series you mentioned on the Reformation?

I definitively feel great about having picked HIS over SOR for the 50% GMT discount....not that SOR is a bad game.

At 9:01 AM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

My favorite bit of the game: rolling on the preganancy table. How many games have a preg table??

Fun game, though my enjoyment was probably helped by the fact that I nearly won 3 different ways (25 pts, 5 pts ahead of 2nd, instant victory) before settling for a 4th (tie breaker is who had more pts last turn).

Starting at nothing my Protestants were able to avoid notice for a long time. Then I had major luck: rolled 6's like crazy, got some power cards in my hand. Then I was able to encourage the Ottomans to distract the Hapsburghs.

It's really neat that everyone has their own victory conditions, though it can be notoriously difficult to balance. We've seen the Haps, Turks, and Protestants can be contenders. The Papacy and Protestants are almost diametrically opposed, so things could be hard for the Catholics. Wasn't paying attention to the English and French.

At 9:52 AM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

"the Ottomans took a bite out of Hungary"

The Ottomans were hungry?

Heh. Pregnancy table. Those are definitely rare.

At 11:13 AM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

It's really neat that everyone has their own victory conditions, though it can be notoriously difficult to balance. ...

Rob won with France/Turks in our 3 player game, and Al certainly had a shot had the game gone on (or unfolded differently) in ours.

England seems to be the hardest power (judging from comments about the WBC tournament). However, both England and Papacy shine in the late game. I'm actually not sure if England gets the 5 CPs for Edward when he's born (which happened) or takes over as ruler (which didn't). If we made a mistake and it was when he was born, you can add 5 VP to Robs score. He's suddenly a threat.

The Papacy can win militarily (8 keys are required, which is tough without a leader, but if they ally and defend Venice and get Genoa as an ally, and take Florence, then it's 3 keys to victory.

The tough part for the Papacy is that he only gets bonus VPs from burning at debates (rare) or St. Peter's Cathedral (max 5).

If the Schmalkaldic league had hit earlier, that would have helped. As it is, you stalled out in the 40s (granted, with a massive effort on my part and the Hapsburgs), but if you had to go attack 2 electorates (because you didn't get them automatically when the league hit earlier) you would have stalled out on the 30s. That would have given me 3-4 more points, and let me spend a few more CPs on St. Peters, instead of desperately burning books.

So, to a certain extent the balance between the two powers depends on when the critical card shows up. That's a minor flaw that I'm willing to forgive. It would be truely amazing if we were both vying for the win at the same time ... hard to imagine.

At 11:18 AM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Incidentally, some highlights from the T4 setup:

Protestants have 19 spaces (get the 20th at the start of turn 4). Only the German new testament has been completed (!). Can't figure out why that wasn't run up.

Initial VP Count
France: 12
Hapsburg: 18
Papacy: 15
England: 9
Protestant: 13

At 11:41 AM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Rules After Action -- I don't think that Jon (Hapsburgs) had the option to pay to get the Hungarian keys back when he sued for peace for Vienna. [After re-reading the activation rules]. I've posted on BGG.

Rob may have been owed the 5VP when Edward was conceived. Again, I've posted to BGG. I think we caught everything else during play.

At 1:17 PM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Rick N said...

Great game, gentlemen. The only other game that I've played like it is Age of Renaissance. Both are time chewing monsters. AoR is a little more of a brain burner. It's also a more beautiful game and has a great technology tree element. However, I think Here I Stand is probably a better over all game. It seems very bablanced and there are no super duper killer cards. In AoR there are a couple of cards (Civil War and Plague) that can just devastate your position if played against you. This can really be frustrating, especially in an 8-10 hour game. HiS also has more interesting military and religious mechanisms in it.

I look forward to playing again in the new year.

At 2:42 PM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Rick -- I played probably fifteen games of AoR, and eventually dumped it for exactly that reason. You played a long boardgame to figure out when a few key cards would hit. [I tried Manifest Destiny, which is a semi-sequel, and it fixed some things and broke others].

I am worried that the Schmalkaldic League timing determines too much, but I'm willing to give it more games to find out. And the 1532 scenario wouldn't have that problem.

At 3:03 PM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

BTW, what was the video series you mentioned on the Reformation?

I was talking about Will & Ariel Durant's Story of Civilization (which is a book series). One Volume is The Reformation.

However, the Teaching Company does have historical lectures on audio/video. I haven't gotten anything on the reformation (either historical or religious), but their short history on Churchill was excellent.

I see they have a Crusades & History of Christianity in the Reformation era course, and "Renaissance, Reformation, and the Rise of Nations". They are fairly pricey, but the rotate whats on sale, so if you wait 6-12 months, you can usually get what you want for $40-80. [I tried to watch the DVDs and failed; but the audio is good for commutes].

At 3:06 PM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

And I see they have the Age of Henry VIII on sale now. Like I said, check out the sales...

At 7:32 PM, December 29, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

The designer(s) seem to have done a great job creating an interesting and balanced game. The protestants and papacy are so directly opposed I can't imagine them simultaneously doing well. Bonus VP are kinda tough for each to get.

But how cool is this: The pope can greatly help himself by convince the Haps to divert a small force to create a military threat. That will force the protestants to spend some energy on the military, something I virtually ignored. That would prevent the protestant from spending so much energy spreading the reformation.

Too cool.

At 9:13 PM, December 30, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

The Teaching Company is awesome. I always have at least one of their lecture series on my Ipod. I just finished Rufus Fear's Famous Romans and Famous Greeks lectures and found them quite informative and entertaining.

I do have The Teaching Company's Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Rise of Nations #3940 by Andrew C. Fix in case anyone is interested... Just drop the title into Google to check it out.

At 11:11 PM, December 30, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

I've always had one of those Teaching Company brochures close by, but have never ordered.

Like I mentioned before, I've only read A World lit only by fire, which focuses on the Dark Ages, and progression into the Renaissance and Reformation. The book is merely ok, and a bit disorganized. Still it did generate enough interest to make me order the game.

One of the things that really makes this game shine for me is how the different goals each power has affects your diplomatic interests. It is not simply, "if you attack here, I attack there". There are so many things you can request and offer, it can be mind blowing (like telling Al what I should have told him to prevent his juggernaut from destroying me).

Plus the game has a good ebb and flow....or at least it felt like that with the English. Strong military plays by the English are simply not going to lead to victory. They definitively need to work on getting a male heir, and explore the new world (nicely consistent with history). Plus.....languishing with low VP's for the first 2 turns, I was desperate to get the reformation going in England. When Cranmer showed up, I was actually excited and my people rejoiced by publishing a treatise, and then continued spreading the Reformation through Ted's acts of wisdom (thus getting VP's for the spread of Reformation in English soil).

And I agree Ted. Once the Schmakaldic came out, people needed to start putting some military pressure on you to make you divert some of your resources to your militia. That may offset some of Brian's valid concerns.


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