Sunday, May 1, 2011

AAR: Here I Stand

Here I Stand
Full 9 Turn Secenario 1517-1555
France: Michael R
England, Hapsburg, Ottoman, Pope, Protestant: Rich, Tim, Dean, Bob, John

This weekend I was finally able to try out Here I Stand in all its 6 player diplomatic glory.  This game duplicates the tumultuous period of early 16th Century Europe where players take on the roll of the various heads of state and religious leaders in order to guide their faction through a myriad of challenges.  As a CDG (card driven game) design, the game does a wonderful job of showcasing all the colorful events of the period.  Players must contend with: pirates, burning heretics, theological debates, exploring the New World, and Henry VIII's wives, just to name a few.  This period of history is woefully underrepresented in historical game design, and this simulation goes a long way toward correcting that imbalance. 

Europe: 1524
The was the first large multi-player diplomacy game I have played in a number of years.  When I first learned that Ed Beach had designed this game I was extremely interested.  Ed had continued the development of  the Great Campaigns of the Civil War series, one of my favorite systems, and I was certain an original game of his own design would also be a winner.  As a former Empires In Arms player, it was a joy to see how far these new designs have come in terms of efficiency and steamlining.  Rules for diplomacy, alliances, declarations of war, and peace treaties are all handled in such a way as to facilitate speed of play.  Our game on Saturday went about 8 hours and some of the players remarked that it should have gone quicker.  I was amused by these comments, thinking back to the days of Empires in Arms where 8 hours would have been one turn at best!
Diplomacy Phase: Secret Meetings in Dark Places
A quick overview of the game (from the French perspective):

The French and English started the game in a proxy war over Scotland.  This would eventually turn into a larger conflict the consumed most of our four turn game. The French launched a failed invasion of Portsmouth but managed to control the English Channel with the loan of the Spanish Fleet.  This allowed for the eventual seige and assault of Calais which finally fell in 1535. 
The English and French Prepare For War
This played out against the backdrop of Hasburg and Papal efforts to stem the growth of the Protestants in Germany.  The Ottomans pressed their war on Hungary and expanded in the Eastern Mediterranean, but were checked by the Hapsburgs and the Pope.  Near the end of turn 4, the Hapsburg and Papal successes where putting them close to the automatic victory point conditions, though it was unlikely either of them would win during the final phase of the turn.  Turn 5 would have seen a major redrawing of the diplomatic map of Europe in an effort to suppress their leads.  However, there was one chance that the Hapsburgs could pull off a victory by sending Narvaez, the worst navigator of the lot, on a cruise to circumnavigate the world.  In an incredible show of luck and daring, the Hapsburg managed to roll the needed eleven and twelve in rapid succession which gave him the neccessary victory points and an early end to the game!  

The final standings were: Hapsburg, Pope, France, Ottoman, England and Protestant.

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