As mentioned on my blog before, my group has been playing Here I Stand quite a bit. We just finished up a session where the Ottomans won on turn 9, the last possible turn after taking Rome! I've included a graph here to show the VP points from turn 5 (when I started keeping track) to turn 9.
Ottomans - Brian
Hasburgs - Eric
England - Jon
France - Hal
Papacy - Mike
Protestants - Jan
Jan, provided most of the commentary below of the game. It was a nail biter right to the end with everybody having a chance to win on the last turn except the Protestants who were too weak militarily to stop any of the Hapsburg advances. Click for larger image.
Protestant Diary by Jan Hope:
11/30/11Great game!! Turn 1 was played last week when I was absent, and even with the 95 Theses, the Diet of Worms, and the Katherina Bora card (!), I started Turn 2 with only 3 Reformed spaces and not even including Wittenburg, Luther's home space!! So it was Here I Stand, I can do no other in a Bible thumping crusade, with treatises and translations all over the place, fully translating the Bible in German, and making it to the New Testaments in English and French. By mid-Turn 4 I had converted about 30 spaces, taken all of the Electorates, made a significant in road in England, and even a few spaces in France!! On Turn 1, Carlstadt had been debated, lost, and was burned at the stake! The Pope called for a debate that I was able to cancel with a Wurtburg card, he called another debate that I actually won, and converted a couple of spaces although I didn't disgrace the Papal debater, then in a debate in the English zone, the Pope (Mike Johnson) played very strategically, selecting the committed debaters pool, excommunicated Cranmer leaving only Latimer, who had been committed for his Reformation bonus in England, and with his debate value of only 1 I didn't make any hits in defending in the debate, the Papal debater made two hits, so I lost the debate, suffered a couple of counter-reformations, and alas Latimer was burned at the stake! I think I've reached the high water mark of the Protestants and it's going to be downhill from here as the Papal debaters become stronger and the Popes more effective with Paul III about to arrive. We pick it up again next week at mid-Turn 4, and we'll see how it goes ... great fun!!
12/7/11What a game! Continuing the game from last week, we had a couple of impulses to go in Turn 4, and then onward to Turn 5, it was magnificent!! As I mentioned in an email just before we picked it up again:
"Ah, on the one hand perhaps the Hapsburgs will be fully engaged in saving the Papacy from the Mahometans and also protecting Vienna from falling to the Eastern hordes while leaving the League at peace, but on the other hand Pole and Caraffa are arriving on the next turn, and then yikes!, Loyola and Canisius along with the death of Luther are right around the corner ... meanwhile following the advice of Herrick I'll try to "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" ..."
And I did gather a few rosebuds! Nearly getting into 25 VP territory for an outright win! Jon as Henry VIII was actually at 26 VP toward the end, and as Eric said in an email afterward:
"What a wild ride Turn 5 was! Holy smokes! Johnson, your Papacy is intact and you are still at war with the Ottomans. You have lost only one key. The Hapsburgs are now at war with the Ottomans too. Turn 6 will be a doozy! We made a big gaffe on VP tracking for England so that radically changed the outlook of the game in Turn 5. I think at one point the Ottomans, England and Protestants looked like they might win the game!"
To which I added:
"It was so magnificent! And the holy smoke was all those books being burned by the Papacy instead of my debaters for a change! And if only I had had a 2CP to play as my final card instead of only a 1, I could have finished translating the French Bible for a VP and perhaps picked up a couple of reformed locations in France putting Luther in the catbird seat sitting right next to Henry VIII, but then the Papacy's brilliant book burning counter-reformation crusade in England with the last two cards would still have knocked us both down together a couple of pegs below the victory spot! What a game! My hair still hurts!
And now of course the Mahometan is the wolf closest to the sled, so we followers of the true faith need to bend on all sail to keep them from a toe-hold in Europe that will last five centuries or more, even if that means that our religious differences might continue on into future decades, perhaps leaving it to our successor generation to resolve these doctrinal views through scholarly debate and erudite writings in an age later this century when the arts can flourish while the Asian warrior hordes might be well contained in the East."
Yes, Turn 6 will definitely be a doozy!! But alas, I'm on the downhill slope now with all those Papal debaters and Hapsburgs about to lay waste to the League, unless of course they will all focus on keeping the Ottomans at bay and allow me to coast for a turn, and by coasting I mean translate the Bible into French for 1 VP and get 6 Reformation attempts in France at +1 on the dice! I might be hovering around 20 VP or so, then seriously slide away on Turns 7-9, if we get that far ...
In encouraging the others to focus on defeating the Ottomans I also sent an email later saying:
"And as a man of the cloth, I'm completely consumed by my treatises and translations and thoroughly mystified by deployments and other military matters, so I'm eternally grateful for any advice on alliances! Also, Maurice of Saxony, apparently the most proficient among the League's military commanders, at least he has an air of authority perhaps not actually fully justified by his performance on the field, has been explaining the momentum theory to me and it seems to me that among we followers of the true faith, our Spring Deployment should be carrying the momentum in an Eastward direction rather than any of the other points on the compass rose!"
1/11/12(HIS postponed by bouts with the plague and a few weeks of The Napoleonic Wars with less than the full HIS roster able to attend)
What a game! Continuing the game from early December, we picked it up at the beginning of Turn 6. During negotiations, I made a "truce" with the Hapsburgs and played Egypt Revolt to pull off some Ottoman troops off the eastern front to cover the foreign war in exchange for minimal attacks on Electorates. We all went at it hammer and tongs, theological debates, treatises, burned books, Bible translations, battles, sieges, it was magnificent!! At one point I was at 27 Victory Points, but the Papacy whittled me down with debates and burned books, plus the Hapsburgs took one Electorate, leaving me with four for a five card hand on Turn 7, so I ended the turn below the 25 VP needed for automatic victory ... onward to Turn 7, starting with the Conference of Constantinople where all the powers except Hapsburgs and Papacy agreed to form a Grand Alliance against the Hapsburgs who were closest to the win, and we agreed that the Luther dies card held by the French would be played late after Luther had done what he was going to do. We went at it hammer and tongs again, I took back an electorate, translated the English Bible, had epic debates losing one debater burned at the stake, and going for two rounds in another to an inconclusive result. It was back and forth and toward the end Luther died ... We declared a temporary cessation of hostilities as the hour was late and the hands had not all been played out, Ottomans and Hapsburgs still have cards to play, the rest of us are done, and I'm at 25 VP, but the Hapsburgs are closing in to knock off an Electorate and bring me below the automatic victory point to carry the game into Turn 8, probably to be played out in February ... The momentum is shifting to the Papacy with Jesuit universities all over the place, tons of debaters in play, Luther gone, all my major events played out, so it looks like I'll be hanging on as best I can through treatises and debates. What a magnificent game!!! And then we have Virgin Queen coming along in the spring!
1/25/12What a brilliant game! As we resumed after the truce the Hapsburgs did in fact knock off an Electorate and took me off the winning spot, and then we moved on to Turn 8, where without Luther the momentum has definitely shifted to the Papacy, and on top of that I drew a very bad hand, one 3, three 2s, and a 1, very bad! Anyway, ever onward, and after titanic struggles back and forth with such a poor hand, the Hapsburgs captured another Electorate, the Papacy burned more debaters at the stake, and a devastating Council of Trent against four three-value debaters, but with an unlikely win in a defensive debate, and a few treatises, I managed to hang onto enough locations to hold at 20 VP, now lowest in the game. I have no clear path to victory, so now I'm thinking I might throw my lot in with the English to try to help Henry VIII win the power game, and perhaps finish with more locations than the Papacy so that I can at least claim bragging rights over the Pope, and solidify a strong England for what I can call an historic win for the Protestant as the Reformation propels the English to the strongest power position! We were only able to finish Turn 7 and complete Turn 8 before the hour became late, so we dealt the Turn 9 cards and called it a night before the Diplomacy phase. Turn 9 should be wild! I did draw the Book of Common Prayer card that is worth five conversion attempts in England if Cranmer can stay in play uncommitted long enough to get the card down! After that it is all downhill for the Protestants ... And again every card play brings in some new fascinating aspect of the game making it ever more magnificent! It's game on for next Wednesday!
There I was as the Protestants, Hapsburgs to the right of me, Papists to the left of me, into the breach rode the reformers, the onslaught was relentless, reformation followed by counter reformation, throwing down for debate after debate, strategic play to publish a treatise in the French zone within two spaces of Geneva to commit Farel, then a second treatise within two spaces of Paris to commit Cop, leaving Calvin uncommitted to then attack the Papists in a theological debate as the only uncommitted French debater available (Olivetan having previously been burned at the stake while caught out in a debate after doing his duty in translating the Bible into French), but with the relentless assaults by Hapsburgs and Papists and without the leadership of Luther, Calvin was becoming fatigued and in seven dice managed only one hit against one of the lesser Papal debaters, losing the debate ... and so with the momentum now strongly in favor of the Jesuits, Loyola, Canisius, and all the rest, our Protestant fortunes sagged by the year, but wait!, we finished with 22 spaces reformed, the Bible translated in German, English, and French, the Book of Common prayer published, and 17 victory points, and while the lowest, it was a personal best, and a worthy accomplishment nonetheless, especially when the first turn way back in November didn't go very well at all, with the 95 Theses, the Diet of Worms, and even Katherina Bora bringing only three reformed spaces, not even including Luther's home space!, to the Reformation Cause, and when thinking about how high the mountain is to climb, consider the argument about which is the largest mountain, Everest or McKinley (or Denali as the native people call it, well actually Wendy sneezed while riding the bus out to the viewing point, so it's now known as Nali for short), anyway, the summit of Everest is slightly higher in elevation than the summit of McKinley, but then Everest is sitting on top of a 6,000 foot plateau, while the base of McKinley sits virtually at sea level, so the Alaskans will admit that Everest is the highest mountain, but McKinley is the tallest mountain, and so I say that I climbed from zero, yes zero, victory points all the way to 17, while the Papacy eased up from 19 to 24, and the Ottomans climbed from eight to 25, closely matching my +17, but increasing by only 300%, while I increased by, well an infinite percentage!! So it was a moral and spiritual victory for the Protestants whatever the power score turned out to be, and I have to tell you I was aghast, truly shaken to the core and left ashen faced, when the Hapsburgs and Papists, relentlessly attacking me whittling me down from 20 to 17 victory points, after having been at 25 earlier in the game, left the back door open and the Mohametan swept in from the east, wind and rain blowing hard, capturing Rome, yes MOHAMETANS CAPTURING ROME, a Pearl Harbor moment if there ever was one, and putting all those Christians to the torch, as a man of the cloth my heart was wrenched, even though I have to say that they did burn a lot of my debaters at the stake, so those who live by the fire, perish by the fire ... yes it was all magnificent, even in defeat! And yet, the Reformation is firmly established in Germany; Henry VIII, Calvin, and Cranmer still live; so the future looks bright for the advent of an Elizabethan age coming right around the corner!
Note: We have started another game of Here I Stand and we have all switched countries, so this should be quite interesting.