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/
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.
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….