Monday, April 16, 2012

Here I Stand AAR Report

Local bard, Jan Hope, wrote this splendid AAR report for our recent HIS game. I'm going to have to start taking photos of the game if he is going to continue to write these amazing AAR reports. This is an extremely long report, but well worth it if you play the game.

Players (five)
Ottoman = Eric
Hapsburg = Brian
England = Hal
France = Jan (bard)
Papacy = Mike
Protestants = Hal

VP Graphs

Click for larger image




The History

21 March 2012

Another great game!  Played out differently this time in the opening turns with more drama to follow as the game progresses.  The choices came down to France or Hapsburgs for me and as I'm way underwater on the power game I selected France again, and as before learned a lot more through making mistakes, many mistakes!

Highlights of the first 14 years, 1517-1531:

On the eastern front, the Hungarians defended a siege against Belgrade with one solitary unit against the Ottoman hordes, 10 dice for Ottomans (Suleiman, siege works, and troops, 10 or so units, not to mention cavalry, an army of nearly 100,000 Mohametans, and the Hungarians held!!  What are the odds, what are the odds?  (Well, a little less than two in a hundred to put a fine point on it, so we should be able to get through the next 50 games or so before the Ottoman has to shriek around the room with his hair on fire, absolutely on fire, dice justice of a sort for the player who launched the usually inept Willoughby on the ultimate total victory circumnavigation in the previous game ...) So, one troop lost for the Ottomans, and on to the next round where the infuriated and still smoldering Ottomans attacked with a fierceness not seen in Europe since the Gauls sacked Rome, alas the Hungarians died to a man, while the eastern hordes plundered all.

The Protestants launched the Reformation with great zeal, gaining a foothold even though the Pope fomented unrest across Germany, and in the early years disgraced two papal debaters, while Carlstadt was burned at the stake.  Publication of the Bible into German brought the masses over the Reformed faith, six regions in all immediately converting.  The printing press has been played by others for points and eluded the grasp of Luther as he has had more immediate priorities for his home card when the printing press was laid down.

The Papacy has been valiantly trying to contain the Reformation through counter-reformation at long odds and debates to hold down the electorates in anticipation that the Schmalkaldic league will come into effect without the full 12 VP to Protestants, this is a real nail biting contest with debate after debate, including one going to the second round and ending inconclusively.  Leo succumbed early, with much feigned grief around the Vatican, Clement carried on with the Counter-Reformation and for a supposed man of the cloth, showed his satanic side when he orchestrated a bowstring demise of Ibrahim!  Relatively soon afterward, Clement was found dead in his chambers, there were rumors of poisoning, the Mohametan usually brags openly of such intrigue, but nothing was heard that would confirm or deny the circumstances of Clements death, his tongue was frightfully black though when his mouth was closed for the last time, and as before, there was much rejoicing at the Vatican when the new Pope ascended to the Holy See, Paul bringing an air of expectancy for the Counter-Reformation.

The Ottomans, after the initial resistance at Belgrade moved on to Buda and conquered Hungary, but somewhat hamstrung by the loss of Ibrahim turned to piracy, harassing the Hapsburgs and amassing victory point upon victory point through the ruthlessness of their corsairs.

Naval squadrons were built, but other than corsairs, no naval actions took place for more than a decade as the fleets stayed in port waiting for the right opportunity, with the English fleet coming out in support of the Scottish campaign as the only naval action through the end of turn 3 (1531).

The Hapsburgs are always blessed with a wealth of challenges vastly exceeding the resources to meet them all, and early on Charles appeared near the Netherlands holdings and promptly conquered Metz, then moved onward to Geneva with an army of mercenaries to threaten France.  Francis in an uncharacteristically aggressive mood, boldly moved against Charles and even maneuvered into position for a field battle!  Charles, anticipating victory over the usually militarily inept Francis, accepted battle.  Francis had brought his treasury with him though and bribed the mercenaries to come over to the French side and about half of them abandoned Charles for the prospect of gold!  Francis and his army bolstered with new mercenaries now mounting overwhelming force still only just narrowly defeated the diminished Hapsburgs, but did actually eliminate the whole force of those few that remained, and captured Charles standing alone on the field!

Charles proved to be an amiable guest at the Chateaux, and we enjoyed many fine days in falconry and hunting wild boar while engaged in conversation on a more peaceful future for our two countries, but the somewhat stricter version of Spanish Catholicism apparently hinders Charles in the, shall we say, full enjoyment of the French court, and in the end I was a little sad to see him go, but among my virtually destitute resources, the ransom was the only way that I could finance a colony, alas the cold winter in Montreal was too harsh for the first band of settlers and the colony failed, so in the end, the only result of the field victory in Geneva was a pleasant interlude and the cessation of immediate hostilities leading later to an alliance and the opportunity to use my meager resources to launch voyages of exploration, successfully discovering several huge inland lakes that I have name the Great Lakes and also a magnificent broad river from these lakes to a large gulf and then the sea that I have named in honor of Saint-Laurent!  A few years later I tried to establish another colony at Montreal, but that too failed, colonies are proving to be expensive and unproductive ventures, but I do have another explorer to send out in the future.  And of course as a true patron of the arts I built two of the most magnificent Chateaux ever seen in Europe!  And while idling away many delightful afternoons, I often thought that I might have used the opportunity of the Geneva victory to turn my attention to a virtually defenseless Metz engaging in further conquests of the martial sort, and in retrospect I thought it necessary in the courtly French manner of the day to return the captive if a ransom were offered rather than retaining him as my guest for the longer term and forcing a suit for peace, but alas the afternoons are so harsh when on campaign while the many pleasures of the chateaux are, well let's just say more suited to my taste ...

My other military venture, the Scottish affair, proved to be more of an annoyance to Henry than a real campaign, as I firstly dallied in allying with my natural allies the Scots, although I'm not so sure how we are that natural, as those fierce warrior clans are polar opposites of we French, I mean they actually run around outdoors in all that east wind, rain wearing skirts, well ok they may not be the complete opposites, but still, there they are tossing cabers around like they were elegant walking sticks and eating sheep stomachs while pretending to like it.  And then with all that red hair, the Scots must be angels from God, unlike we French with our darker side ...  Plus, as that most amusing court jester Robin the Wil' Liams explained to me, they invented this truly awful game they call golf where they try to hit a tiny ball into a gopher hole with a bent stick, thrashing away in the tall grass until they have a stroke, hey that's why they call each shot a stroke because when they miss they feel like they're going to die!  Well anyway, I much prefer the game I invented that I think I'll call Croquet, played on a genteel, flat, closely groomed lawn where we stroke our mallets for hours on end, driving our balls relentlessly in penetrating those exquisitely tight wickets, and having conquered all the wickets from the front we then go around again taking them all from behind until fully a dozen have been scored, yes a truly fine French game, most elegant in its shall we say, conception, and played in the warm sun while sipping nectar much to the enjoyment of the ladies!  And as for Robin, his harsh and brusque Scottish dialect leaves him often outside the innermost circle in spite of his jest, whereas the ladies of court find the dulcet tones of the French tongue much more to their liking when affectionately whispering sweet nothings in their, well let's just say, ear ...

Anyway back to the dreary Scottish affair, Henry moved on Edinburgh, and while I had dallied in allying, I finally came to the aid of my northern friends, especially as it cost me almost nothing out of my typically scant treasury.  Henry prepared to siege but was suddenly struck by gout, meanwhile some outlying clans came to bolster the defense of Edinburgh against the evil foe, I of course tried to entreat them to act against their historic nature and abandon the place, I mean it is Edinburgh not Marseilles!  I even offered them comfortable quarters in the south of France and perhaps a chance to fight the Genoese at some point, but they are nothing but loyal to their cold, wet, rainy, damp, moldy homeland, bereft of any natural resource save grass for sheep and sand traps for golfers, and they refused to leave.  Henry recovered from his bout of gout, laid siege, then assaulted but could not overcome the reinforced garrison, and so he assaulted again finally conquering the place as the Scots fought courageously to the last man, and their fleet that might have served me well in the Mediterranean was scuttled to the eternal deep to keep Henry from using it against others.

Meanwhile, Henry was granted a divorce, far too easily to the French mind what with Francis having professed to being a devout Catholic and all, well somewhat devout, well ok at least not Protestant, anyway as it all quickly came to a head the divine Miss Anne proved to be a bold adventuress and became somewhat detached of hers, Henry with passing fancy moved on the even more divine Miss Jane who bore him a son, Edward the Weak as he is known around court while being very careful not to call him that out loud near Henry.  Yes Edward is a sickly child, but perhaps a miraculous cure may be found in due course or perhaps even in the fullness of time.  And while Anne's tenure was brief, she was instrumental in fomenting the seeds of reformation, with the Protestant faith seeming more to the English taste than Mary's strict and unwavering Spanish Catholicism instilled in her by Henry's first Queen, Catherine of Aragon, who is of course the aunt of the Emperor Charles, my recent guest.

As for the future, it appears that the somewhat peaceful interregnum among the Catholic powers may be coming to an end.  Charles in a masterful diplomatic maneuver, suggested that England was a dire threat to us both, hinted about an offensive against the English on his part leaving Calais as a possible target to me, in exchange for an alliance, then he negotiated with the English telling them who knows what, but the English were most surprised when Charles announced an alliance with the French after having announced an alliance with the English!  I was not so surprised having entertained Charles at some length as my guest, but at least the lack of Hapsburgs assaults against the English and me did allow my few meager resources to be used to finish building my fleets and make a few modest explorations and colonial attempts.

With a weak heir, the Reformation about to unfold vigorously in England, and the Scottish affair settled, Henry seems bent on solidifying his position with the Protestants and perhaps mounting a new wife, a Flanders mare might suit his interests this time around, and with forces and resources he could be looking toward continental campaigns launched from Calais.  Hopefully he will be looking more toward Antwerp and perhaps Metz, and might be interested in an alliance with me, although I'm sure Charles has resources and opportunities to turn Henry against me, even though I treated him royally when he was my guest.  Meanwhile I have events that could be helpful against the Ottoman that I might play in exchange for an alliance with the Hapsburgs that could postpone a Hapsburg invasion of France for a few years and also help position the Hapsburgs for a foray into Germany from Vienna against the Schmalkaldic league if it forms in a way that does not end this whole magnificent adventure in favor of the Protestants.  An alliance with the Hapsburgs would be a good thing for the near term, and also with England if Henry is amenable, so that I can build land forces, make one more exploration, and of course build another chateaux!  For the longer term, I might make a foray against Genoa if I can find the ships or perhaps the land-locked Florence, but that seems way down the road many years away ... and then there are the inevitable assaults from my guest ...

Lesson Learned, even if the Scots insist on defending their homeland, make them leave anyway to reinforce their "natural" allies in Europe rather than dying to a man in the rain on sodden field.

28 March 2012
Another hair hurting session, in other words, brilliant!!!

1532-1539:

The year 1532 opened for Francis with the Ottoman suggesting an alliance in exchange for no piracy against the French with the French offering to retain John Zapolya as a guest rather than unleashing his zealous revolutionaries on behalf of the Hapsburgs and also not fomenting revolt in Egypt, seemingly a reasonable exchange in the heat of the moment, but in the fullness of time it would have been far better to have played Z on behalf of the Hapsburgs ... With Charles still remembering his enjoyment as my guest, the Hapsburgs offered an alliance so that their many other challenges could be pursued and I accepted without mentioning the Z agreement with the Ottoman, the English also suggested an alliance now the Scottish annoyance is behind us, so that the religious conflict over the true faith could take hold in England, and with harmony among all the Catholic powers, it seemed wise to also ally with the Papacy for a few years to explore, colonize, and build, in the spirit of the French way!

And so it was, a discovery by my famed explorer Verrazano of the Mississippi River, and I must say that this native word is truly hard pronounce in the French with all those silent s's.  Then finally a successful colony at Charlesbourg-Royale that by 1539 actually produced resources for the always scant French Treasury.  And of course more chateaux!  Oh and then with a few spare resources, more troops were enlisted, and then a few years later, I continued our alliance with the Ottoman who suggested that I declare war on the always beleaguered Hapsburgs to aid him while offering Treachery on my behalf against the Duke of Alva.  It's not for nothing that the other rulers call me Francis the Naive behind my back, and sometimes Stupid to my face!  Anyway, emboldened by a rare surplus in my treasury including many great bags of gold all in large piles, I declared war, promptly marched along with my amiable companion Montmorency on lightly defended Metz, laid siege, and then assaulted, failing the first attempt even though I had almost 100,000 troops, but finally reducing the garrison and capturing the place!   A  military victory for France in the first war Francis ever declared!  With the Protestants gaining strength year by year, I induced Zwingli to don armor and he immediately attacked Papacy troops that for reasons known only to the Pope were in Germany intent on mounting a military attack!  Zwingli fought bravely defeating one of the troops but perished on the field, and over the longer term, his rash action blunted some of the force of Reformation, especially in the Zurich region.  Also among this rare circumstance of a large and usefully flexible treasury, I was also able to launch a voyage of conquest accompanied by smallpox to aid my adventure.  Alas a conquistador of such little consequence that I cannot even recall his name sallied forth, and even with the signal advantage of spreading heinous disease, still managed to have himself killed by the native people in the dry desert region south of the Mississippi basin.  I have much admiration for the native people in the northern territories and we are more like compatible friends and allies with many common interests in the natural world, hunting, fishing, enjoying the bounty of the earth, although their more primitive way of approaching these pleasures is beyond my endurance as I am fully attuned to the chateaux life and all its many and diverse pleasures.  These people of the southern region though are altogether different from the northern people, and in contemplating the recent studies by Copernicus, as I sip nectar at the chateaux, it seems that these people might not even be of this earth!  I know that may sound radical, but still, one has to think of something while reclining on a chaise lounge, and that seems to be an interesting hypothesis that these southern people come from beyond the stars ... And while the world truly revolves around the French in spite of the theories of these scientists, there were other momentous events in play this decade that bear recounting.  Oh, and when it came time for the Ottoman to fulfill his side of our diplomatic agreement by using his treacherous nature against the Duke of Alva, he declined and played his resources for his own gain.  A lesson learned on dealings with the easterners ...

The Protestant and the Papacy continued their arguments with each other and even among themselves over their finely honed and virtually impenetrable doctrines, such as whether the bread is a symbol or a living body, publishing treatises upon treatises on the meaning of it all, burning books in return, waging debate upon debate, with Eck brilliantly catching Cop in an untenable and weak argument and having him burned at the stake, following Tyndale to the pyre who had been burned earlier!  The Reformation ebbed and the Counter-Reformation flowed, Cranmer came to the forefront of the Reformation in England bringing many over to the new faith and translation of the New Testament into English brought in a surge of new believers.  The Pope struggled against all odds in England and always targeted German electorates in an attempt to keep the Protestants in check.  The Protestants under the threat of military attack finally formed the Schmalkaldic League as a military alliance, and the Pope was successful in holding enough electorates to keep the League from gaining an immediately overwhelming and unassailable victory.  Being French, I of course attribute my own action in the Zwingli affair as having undermined the Reformation attempt to expand from Zurich into France, while weakening their debating prowess and blunting their conversion momentum overall, and of course my brilliant military expedition in capturing and occupying Metz have all been instrumental, and perhaps even pivotal, in preventing the League from gaining an early victory, but of course the Pope is the Pope and I must kiss his ring and hail his greatness, although I am still mystified as to those Papal troops showing up in Germany, rather than strengthening against any foray by the Ottomans from the south, especially since as allies, he need not worry about any attacks by the French who it is true do have a covetous eye on Florence and its artistic grandeur that would find a welcome reception from the aficionado from the chateaux if our two countenances were joined.



The English meanwhile used the peaceful interregnum and a natural affinity for the Protestants to select from a bevy of marriage candidates, the sister of the Duke of Cleves, her only apparent virtue as being, well reportedly and probably actually, a maiden, unlike most of the other choices, and I take strong exception to the aspersions cast upon the French ladies, I know from personal knowledge that most of them were not maidens, well actually I think not any were, but still, calling them all by ill found names is simply impolite in royal society.  In any event, Henry found Anne of Cleves much to his, shall we say, taste, and as a jouster of the first water and well used to the saddle, he mounted the Flanders Mare relentlessly and energetically, producing much harmony in the court, young Edward was even infused with the enthusiasm of it all and recovered his full health, and Edward is now expected to reign long after the demise of Henry, no doubt to be hastened along by the exertions at the dining table followed by the demands of bedchamber, not to mention campaigning in the field.  In between all the dining and dallying with the Mare (and as I understand it no one mentions her nickname within earshot of Henry), Henry, in taking advantage of the Ottoman intrigues against Charles and my own brilliant field campaign against Metz, harried the Hapsburgs into the fortifications at Antwerp, successfully laid siege, and after several dilatory assaults, finally reduced the fortification, routed the garrison into total surrender, and conquered the place, gaining a twin city for Calais, and a feeling of victory on the scale of personal success.

Turning now to the eastern front, and the theater of ultimate decision, the Ottomans, hamstrung by the demise of Ibrahim, were pushed back initially from Buda, but continued an aggressive piracy campaign, forcing the Hapsburgs to cede many plundered victory points to the Ottoman success at sea.  The Ottomans had gained territory along the Mediterranean coast of Africa, and gaining strength from the Hapsburgs' many distractions, plus making a small inroad using the modest treasure from the treachery that had been promised me, mounted a long siege of Buda.  The siege went on and on for well more than a year, as the Hapsburgs widely dispersed treasury divided up in penny packets rather than large bags of gold, inched away on minor successes here and there, trying to roll all the string up into some sort of small ball ... The Hapsburgs were almost to the last thin grasp of their treasury, and the Ottoman was finally compelled to assault, Buda fell and with it the Ottoman was suddenly flush with the scent of overwhelming and unassailable victory in the year 1539.  Charles in Vienna did not have the resources to successfully siege and then assault Buda, and in one last desperate attempt to rein in the Ottoman, Charles sent troops from Hapsburgs holdings on the northern Mediterranean coast across to the siege of the small Ottoman garrison in Algiers.  One assault, one chance to wipe out the garrison, the two dice went down, and there it was, victory for the Hapsburgs!  The Ottoman on the threshold of total victory, now thwarted and dropping down a notch, leaving the Papacy and the Ottomans in leading positions, with the English, Protestant, and even the French following along close behind, with the Hapsburgs lagging in victory points, but with colonies producing many resources for the treasury, and the unlimited cunning and guile of Charles about to make 1540 and the coming decade an era for the ages.

So now what of the future ... the Papacy gains many new resources including new and stronger debaters, along with the prospect for Jesuits and Jesuit universities in blunting the Reformation and strengthening the Counter-Reformation, the Hapsburgs have many resources and if these are more along the lines of big bags of gold instead of penny packets, Charles might push back on the Ottomans at Buda, and perhaps keep the Papacy from an outright victory by declaring war and attacking Papal territory.  The Protestants have likely reached their high water mark under the onslaught of the new Papal powers, and the English, with no other real territorial target than me, are likely to wage war on the French, who would ideally like to build more chateaux and perhaps send another colony to the New World.  After some good fortune in the late 1530s, my treasury has returned to its normal state of paucity and with the newly minted resources, I cannot even mount a voyage of conquest with my last so-called "conquistador."  And while Florence beckons, I have experienced in the past several map exercises with my generals on the need for spring deployments of large troop formations across the Alps, a large treasury with large hordes of gold to provide the flexibility needed for an aggressive strategy against the Papacy that would lead to an attempt on Florence.  I have enticed the Italian Machiavelli, a princely fellow for a civil servant, to my camp though, so in a campaign of deceit I might feign non-aggression without actually allying with the English and then with Machiavelli declare war on Henry and use my meager resources to perhaps unseat him from Antwerp.  If successful there, and perhaps with another colony, I might draw a future treasury that would provide for an expedition into Italy, but that is some years off, and for now, I would be happy to build another chateaux, recruit more troops, try another colony, and perhaps take Antwerp from Henry.  Of course Henry might have other plans for me in a deceit of his own with an impromptu declaration of war, and Charles, if he can contain the Ottomans and prevent a Papal grand victory consuming only a portion of his treasury, might find targets of opportunity in France beyond my ability to counter.  I feel the French have sort of reached a high water mark with limited opportunities ahead, only one "conquistador" that might be launched at a cost rarely seen in the French treasury, nearly all of the chateaux now built, all explorers successfully completing their expeditions, and limited and difficult military targets within small resources.  A few more victory points might accrue to my ledger, but overall the momentum is with others, and at whatever cost, the Ottoman must be contained, even if the Papacy or the Hapsburgs are propelled to victory as a consequence!

And so it goes, another brilliant nail-biting session of Here I Stand, a magnificent game whether winning or losing, the issue always in doubt to the bitter end!

For some more on the lessons learned front, with both the Ottomans and the Hapsburgs capable of scoring a decisive win at almost any time, it is hard to know in 1532 which one will be in a potentially winning position in 1539, as were the Ottomans this time around.  Had I been clairvoyant in 1532, I would have definitely played the John Z card on behalf of the Hapsburgs giving them four regular troops in Buda at that time and most likely avoiding the drama as it unfolded in 1539, as exciting as it was it was too close a call toward Ottoman victory from an unabashed historical perspective that would prefer a Catholic power, or more especially the Papacy, to reign supreme at the end rather than the Mohametan.  The "historical" progress of Europe, and even of France, would likely be superior under Hapsburg leadership than Ottoman.  I probably avoided piracy by allying with the Ottomans and playing the John Z card for points, but from a broader perspective, aiding the Hapsburgs who were also my allies at that point would likely have been a superior strategy ... although both the Ottoman and the Hapsburgs seem fairly casual in following through on what is spoken during the negotiation sessions.

So here are a couple of more lessons learned from Francis the Naive:

Generally lean toward the Hapsburgs rather than the Ottoman in making alliances and aiding with events, although neither power seems particularly trustworthy, especially when the weaker power tends toward the "kingmaker" role in guiding the "historical" perspective along a reasonable course for that weaker nation ... of course when Virgin Queen arrives and the powers, superior and inferior alike, carry on for a few more decades, different lessons may pertain!  And then if Virgin Queen is followed in the fullness of time by the Thirty Years War to bring the Wars of Reformation all the way to their natural conclusion with the Peace of Westphalia, well we'll have the whole ball of string in front of us, and a betrayal of an agreement in 1532 might not loom all that large in the outcome at it plays out toward 1648!

Additionally, making agreements on card play is like building castles in sand, unless the other player plays his side of the agreement first, it seems problematical that the agreement will be fulfilled on my behalf, hence the lesson, play your own hand as it is, and if someone offers help in exchange for something make sure that it isn't a show stopper if it doesn't come true.  So far a surviving Duke of Alva hasn't proved a show stopper for the French, but there he is grinning like the Cheshire cat peering intently across the Pyrenees, and of course it was only a 50-50 chance anyway that he would have been terminated with prejudice, so even if the agreement had been fulfilled and the die roll gone against my long term interests, the Duke would be back by now anyway, but still, remember these are castles in the sand ...

11 April 2012
Another grueling session, that is to say fantastic!!

1540-1543

So here we are, the Papacy in ascendency, the hot breath of the Ottoman singeing the hair on the back of the Pope's neck, England and the Protestants allying together and vying for ultimate success, even the French are within striking distance although with the typically scant treasury the limited opportunities are well beyond the high water mark of Francis the Naive, sometimes charitably called Francis the Kingmaker, and the Hapsburgs are trailing behind but with many treasures in hand, well many bags in hand, how much actual treasure is spread around among them is yet a mystery.

There is little diplomacy to announce, I remain at war with the Hapsburgs and hold the sinister Machiavelli to spring on someone at just the right moment, the English and the Protestants remain solid allies and are hopeful of knocking the Pope out of the leading role in Europe, the Pope is ready to strike with Loyola and the other newly arrived debaters.  Charles peers furtively over the map looking for likely victims ... and the spring deployments begin.  I move to Metz with Montmorency where I can threaten the English at Antwerp, or if need be use Machiavelli instead to attack the Protestants to undermine an electorate for no gain for myself but to keep Luther from ultimate success.  Europe is poised for action, the Ottomans move, the Hapsburgs respond, the English send out an explorer, the French build and wait, the Pope brings in Loyola to debate a hapless Scottish preacher ... Wishart is burned at the stake, the Papacy is now reaching above the point of ultimate success, targets Protestant electorates for counter-reformation to bring down the Protestants, and is solidly in the lead.  The Protestants respond reforming an electorate, but the momentum is clearly against them now.  The Ottomans and Hapsburgs continue to face off, and the Ottoman piracy campaign begins to flag compared to earlier successes.  The English consolidate their position and publish treatises to undermine the Papacy in England.  It now seems clear that I have picked the wrong enemy in a failed strategy, and with the Protestants now fading, I should have perhaps deployed to the south of France to threaten the Papacy, although that would strengthen the English, and what could be better for France than the Papacy to reign supreme at the end over a Catholic Europe, but continuing with the failed strategy I play Machiavelli to declare war on England.  The Papacy debates again and the Protestants respond strongly pulling the Papacy back from ultimate victory.

The Ottomans stymied by Ibrahim's premature demise and fading prospects from piracy are unable to advance their position, the Hapsburgs are cunningly playing the waiting game, while the English prepare for battle against the French.  Francis and Montmorency march on Antwerp, Henry succeeds in intercepting from Calais, and an epic field battle begins, well epic by French standards anyway.  The French charge inflict nearly 30,000 casualties, the English respond with a countercharge and inflict almost as many, and then in one last brilliant commitment of the reserve, Henry's forces match the losses of the valiant French.  With these losses, the French attack is thwarted and Francis retreats to Liege, wishing all the while to be playing croquet at the chateaux, campaigning is such drudgery and then there is the mud ... The Papacy engages in brilliant counter-reformation actions and accedes back to the victory point, the Protestants fall short in reformation attempts to pull the Papacy back.

The Ottomans continue to hold onto their position but with limited resources are unable to advance, while the cunning Charles takes advantage of the French blunder in the north to send Alva, who should have perished earlier, across the Pyrenees to Avignon to threaten Marseilles!  The English are unable to reign in the Papacy even though between the English and the Protestants they have cornered the entire treasury of large concentrated resources!  The English later also launching a voyage of conquest.

Francis the Naive throws in his home treasury planned for one more chateaux into a march from Liege through Metz and Lyon to Avignon to threaten field battle with Alva.  Alva wisely and successfully evades retiring to Barcelona, or "Barthelona" as Miss Cacciapaglia, my Spanish III teacher used to say in her elegant Castilian accent while perched on the corner of my desk, right there, so close, yet so far, and when the bell rang, it was linger for a while and then carefully arrange the books for a concealed exit to the next class ... the girls all highly amused at my predicament ... anyway back to the war ...

The Papacy and the Protestants went at it bitterly throwing down for debate, burning books, publishing the most arcane theoretical treatises, but the Pope remained unassailably strong.

Charles now having moved me to the south of France took advantage of a weakened garrison at Metz and attacked fiercely, laying in a siege and then assaulting the beleaguered garrison before Francis could react again.  There were casualties on both sides but the garrison held initially, but then the Hapsburg forces rolled out siege artillery and wiped out the garrison.  Metz fell and the earlier French victory changed hands back to the Hapsburgs favor.

With limited resources remaining and unassailable military targets, Francis thwarted Henry ambitions of conquest with the Search for Cibola, saving the Aztecs for a possible French conquest if a rarely seen high treasury draw might permit it if the war continued into 1544.  And if only that English treasury that launched the voyage of conquest could have been used instead to pull down the Papacy ... The Hapsburgs had resources remaining, but as it turned out only in penny packets, so the French foray against the English and the counter moves of the Hapsburgs against the French sapped our strengths in bringing down the Papacy from the seat of power.

And so in the end, exhausted by war in 1543, the Ottomans, English, Protestants, French, and Hapsburgs all resigned themselves to applauding a magnificent victory by the Pope!

Looking back on it all, I could have threatened the Papacy instead of the English with a deployment to Grenoble rather than Metz.  The reinforced garrison at Metz might have held, Alva might have remained contained in Spain and I might have built another chateaux to come out at 22 victory points, and perhaps with a minor foray into Italy I might have undermined the Papacy by spending resources against me rather than against the Reformation.  I had been down that road before and with a hand of two 3s and the rest 2s mounting an invasion of Italy is really not in the cards.  But then the English might have embarked on further adventurism and perhaps prevailed over the Papacy, and in the end what could be better than a Papal religious victory, and among the Catholic power-powers at least finishing ahead of the Hapsburgs, for a personal best, and retiring to the chateaux for games of Croquet with the ladies of the court, while Europe with the Ottomans at bay move onto a new era with the Catholic powers in ascendency!  No wait, who is that new Queen of England!!

We have started another game of HIS already!
Eric

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