Monthly Archives: March 2012

No Peace Without Spain 25/03/2012 (Nick)

Another boardgame – where have all the figures gone? Well, the lead mountain (both painted and unpainted) is currently barricaded in the spare room by the (non-wargame) stuff accumulated over 10 years by my son while we decorate his bedroom. Attempts to march troops over these obstacles have resulted in twisted ankles and much swearing, so let’s stick to the convenience of boardgaming for the minute.

This was our second play of this excellent game, with Nick taking the Alliance this time. The action was fairly evenly spread over the Low Countries, Spain and Italy this time, so I will cover the game in each theatre in turn.

The Low Countries at the start

The conflict in the Low Countries opened with Marlborough attacking Liege, but the unnamed French leader in Antwerp rolled a 6 to intercept and evened up the odds somewhat. In the ensuing battle, Marlborough rolled appallingly and lost the battle, retreating disordered back to Nijmegen where he spent the rest of the year licking his wounds. Avoiding Liege (now a level 2 fortress) in 1703, Marlborough went to siege Tournais, but not to be outdone Vendome attacked the small force Marlborough had left behind at Antwerp. Marlborough succeeded in intercepting, and in a great field battle Vendame narrowly lost and fell back on Namur. On the next card, Marlborough followed up the disordered retreating French, but failed to negotiate the fortified lines. Bravely the Allies pressed on, but the disordered French managed to roundly beat them off and the Allies had to retreat back to whence they came. By 1707 Marlborough was before Lille, but rather than force a field battle, the French relied on the level 3 Lille fortress to stand and contented themselves on garrisoning the adjacent fortresses. Even if Lille had fallen, Marlborough’s supply line back to Amsterdam was very exposed, and I was fairly confident the French could disrupt this easily.

The Low Countries at the end

The Spanish campaign kicked off with an allied landing at Cadiz in 1702 and managed to take it by the end of the turn despite rolling a 1 for the voyage and taking a step loss. At the start of the 1703 turn, the French replacements at Bayonne (ready to go to the relief of the Spanish after the fall of Cadiz) had to march to the relief of Toulon, as the Allies had landed there on the first card of the turn – an attempt to scupper the French fleet. The French managed to narrowly win the battle at Toulon, and the Allied forces were lost as they had no friendly port in the Med to retreat to. The allies also began the epic siege of Gibraltar on this turn, which was to last 3 years with breaks for winter back in Cadiz – timely spoiling attacks by Berwick at the head of a French army added to the Allies siege woes. This brave stand allowed the Spanish to fully man the border forts and the French army under Berwick then used these forts as a springboard for an invasion of Portugal in 1707 – he had reached Elvas adjacent to Lisbon, but the eventual fall of Gibraltar meant he would probably have to fall back to cover Madrid with its 10 victory points in 1708.

Spain at the finish

The Italian campaign started well for the French – they took back Mantua back from Eugene, but then got bogged down in besieging Trent and Innsbrook.  Eugene marched on Munich while the French were bogged down, and rolled magnificently to take the Bavarian capital from under the nose of the Elector.

Munich still in Allied hands at the end

We had to end the game at the end of the 1707 turn, but it looked like another Bourbon victory with the victory points stuck at 10, where they had started the game. As expected, our strategies were much better this game though neither of us were particularly lucky. I suppose me getting the 6 needed for interception early in the game and winning the subsequent battle slowed the Allies down, while Nick as Marlborough rolled some really bad dice (three ones in a row for sea crossings and lots of no effect rolls while besieging Gibraltar over 3 years).

108 Brigade, 36th "Ulster" Division

Also this weekend, “Breakthrough:Cambrai” was delivered from Infinity Games – I don’t know what the problem was with MMP distribution, but it seemed to be available in the U.S. 6 months before the U.K. (unless you pre-ordered of course, but who can afford the customs charges these days?). I only mention this because it’s the first game I’ve bought which has a counter for my granda’s brigade and it’s rated as elite – he would have been dead pleased.

No Peace Without Spain 04/03/2012 (Nick)

This game managed to get under my radar and I only picked it up recently after a friend in Northern Ireland started raving about it. I did have trouble finding a copy in the UK, but got one eventually and I’m glad I did.

Although the rules seem quite straight forward, the strategies are less than obvious! There are some first turn only rules which make the opening moves fairly scripted (Marlborough at Liege, Bavarian at Ulm, the Alliance assault on Cadiz or Gibralter etc), but after that, who knows. The clue may be in the name, as there are a lot of VPs in Spain though little scope for large armies because of the terrain. Through BGG I’ve also got talking to another compatriot, Sgt Steiner, about the game and he’s been playing through a game solo on his excellent blog at http://sgtsteiner.blogspot.com/

Spain - the name of the game

In our game today I got off to a great start as the Alliance, scoring a Famous victory led by Marlborough at Liege on the first card, then besieging Liege and taking it quickly. Cadiz also fell on the last impulse of turn 1, but things went downhill from then on. Eugene took Mantua on turn 2, then got knobbled with the “Eugene appointed head of the War Council” event and the Bourbon took it back next turn. Eugene re-captured Mantua when he re-appeared, but took a whole turn and reduced all his corps to half-strength in doing it.

I went for Madrid, but got forced back into Cadiz and ended up overstacked – having to reduce 2 corps was an expensive lesson! By the time I actually got into Madrid in 1706, the Bourbon only had to roll 3+ to kick me out again, so off I went. The Spanish track is an interesting mechanic and I’ve not figured out the optimum approach to take in Spain for the Alliance  because of it.

Also in 1706, in an attempt to get back some VPs Marlborough tried to manoeuvre around the defences at Namur but failed and withdrew. He tried the same move again next card and succeeded, however the French stood their ground and in the resulting battle losses were even so Marlborough had to withdraw back to Liege. We had to call it a day there (another sporting battle in Paris was kicking off). With the VPs at 10 where they started, pretty much a stalemate in the Low Countries, Eugene having burned himself out in the South and Spain looking to be a long hard slog for the Alliance , I think the Bourbons had it in the bag.

Marlborough hiding under the "demoralised" marker

In the next game I have to pay more attention to the leader re-location mechanic and try to come up with a strategy for accumulating VPs for the Alliance – if the Bourbon can maintain the VPs at around the starting level, then the Alliance is going to lose. However, I don’t think the Bourbon can be complacent, as if the Spanish revolt kicks off and Madrid falls, the 10 victory point swing could put the game beyond him. I’m really looking forward to next time to try out a few different strategies – unfortunately, it’s going to be two weeks or so….