We finally got around to a 3-player game of Here I Stand and it was well worth the wait. Nick was English/Protestant, Kevin was Papal/Hapsburg and I was France/Ottoman. As Nick and myself had played 2-player we were OK on the religious struggle, but not so hot on combat (no wars came up in our 2-player game) and not at all on New World stuff (not part of the 2-player game), so there was a bit of a learning curve. We started on turn 4 (1532) and agreed to play for 5 hours and finish the turn we were on then.
On turn 1 the Pope surpisingly gave Henry VIII a divorce for only 1 card, but Henry was repused by Anne Boleyn. Luckily later in the turn Nick was able to play his home card to marry Jane Seymour and rolled a 6 to get a healthy Edward and 5 VPs – not such a bad start after all! The Ottoman (me) went straight for Vienna, and rolled really well to eliminate the Hapsburg defenders and capture their leader Ferdinand (he was never ransomed and rotted in an Ottoman prison for the rest of the game). The Ottoman was slowed down by the English giving them a foreign war in Egypt to surpress (which I didn’t manage until halfway through the next turn). The French built a Chateau and being at war with no-one, set off for the New World and recruited with their cards. The Pope and Protestants were embroiled in a religious struggle which gave me a window to make some lunch for everyone and get a VP for Piracy (the only one in the entire game). The turn ended with the Ottomans on 19, only 2 points ahead of the Hapsburgs, but making them an obvious target for the other powers on the next turn.
And so it came to pass in Ottoman Vienna – a play of Unsanitary Conditions reduced the mighty army then a surprise attack card caught them outside the walls, wiped them out before they could defend themselves and captured Suleiman. The response was pretty feeble – I set up a Pirate Haven in Tripoli with some Corsairs in the hope of gaining more VPs through piracy, but I hoped in vain. England had declared war on Scotland at the beginning of the turn hoping for an easy key in Edinburgh, but I as the French played the Auld Alliance card to send reinforcements to Edinburgh – this enabled the Scots to repulse 4 separate assaults over the next 2 turns and hold on to the key for France. Although I would much rather have fought the Hapsburgs, Nick gave me no choice as the loss of Edinburgh would have cost me 2 VPS, so we spent CPs fighting each other and achieving little. The Hapsburgs finished turn 5 on 21 VPs, 4 ahead of France, Ottomans and the Protestants on 17, with the Pope on 16 and the English on 14.
This made the Hapsburg the man to chase, so France declared war on them, hoping to take Antwerp off of them. Kevin (as Charles) took the opportunity to invade France from the south, and I spent the turn fighting him off at Marseilles, with the aid of the Lansknechts card and a relief force from Lyon – I never did get to attack Antwerp, but at least I captured the Duke of Alba. My Ottomans recaptured Vienna along with Charles while the Hapsburgs were distracted in France, though Kevin had a Ransom card to play next impulse to get him back (Kevin’s Hapsburgs had cards coming out of their ears this turn, having won 2 cards from New World resources!). At some point in this turn, the religious struggle really took off with Nick having to play the Council of Trent mandatory card, and the Papal and Protestant lined up to do battle. Out of 10 dice, the Pope scored 9 hits whereas the Protestants could only manage 1 hit (were they at the communion wine or something?), so 8 (EIGHT!) spaces switched back to Catholicism – the Pope shot up to 24 VPs, and more St Peter’s building put him to 26 at one point, but some more reformation attempts by the Protestants and English pulled him back to 22 by the game end, though it was still enough to win as we were out of time. Final scores were Papacy 22, Hapsburg 20, Ottoman 19, British & French 17 and Protestant 15.
It took us from just over 5 hours to play 3 turns, so this sort of thing isn’t going to be happening too often, and I don’t have anywhere to leave games set up over sessions. It was exciting right up to the last card plays with both Nick and myself trying frantically to peg back the Pope after the Council of Trent debacle. A good sign is that plans are now afoot to get a 6-player Vassal game together by roping in some other friends from around the country – report to follow in about 2-3 years….