Had Patch, Mark, and Jason over for wargaming again yesterday. I was a little surprised when Soldier Kings came up as an idea last time. We’re a bit uncertain on the balance, as it seems too easy for Britain to win the 4-player game.

But, that is what we decided on, and today I was Britain, Mark was France, Patch was Prussia, and Jason had Austria (again). Considering that everyone knew that Britain was the favorite, I wanted to play a bit cautiously; I’ve had trouble with over-extending myself in this game before.

I got lucky on initial draws, I started with two 4-3 navies and a 4-3 army. We’ve found that the 4-3s (the best units in the game) are impressively hard to hurt. If you can get them into an area where there isn’t a lot going on, they’re practically unstoppable as it is very hard to get the three hits needed to damage them on (say) 3-4 dice.

Oh, one thing can stop them: running out of resources to fund attacks, and keep sieges from taking forever. All of us had problems keeping our units properly maintained in the later stages of the game.

The first year of the war was pretty calm, I was more concerned with trying to bait the French fleet into a naval battle and see if I could bottle him up in France than starting overseas adventures. France sailed out, I intercepted, we had one round of combat, he went home. Even better, the French admiral died during that one round of combat, making things much easier for me.

Meanwhile, both Austria and Prussia had been talking of seizing territories from France instead of pursuing a destructive war with each other. This made France unhappy, and I certainly wasn’t going to interfere. However, that didn’t last long, and as Prussia and Austria started fighting each other, and during the first winter turn, I and France started supporting each one respectively. Prussia lost Frederik and Schwerin in quick order, putting him at a decided disadvantage (a pair of good leaders and higher quality armies are the equalizer against Austria’s greater manpower and resources). I could supply him with extra money, but I was short of men myself.

During the second year, my adventures in the New World began in earnest, as I used the power of a 4-3 army and 4-3 navy to sweep up French possessions in the Caribbean. France managed to take Hannover (the only British continental possession) in return, but I then blockaded the French fleet (which I’d been unable to intercept) in the port.

By this time everyone else (and especially France) was spending themselves into ruin, while I was merely a little short on manpower to pay my maintenance. Initial attempts to get Spain (on the French side) and Turkey (on the Prussian side) into the war drained money in bribes from everyone and ultimately got knocked out with “Royal Heir Dies” cards.

By the end of the third year of the war, I was just short of an automatic victory (18 VPs out of 20). The Caribbean was in my hands, the French attempt on Virgina had stalled, and I had just taken Louisiana. I had a growing presence in India to try and take care of the problems there, but it was getting under control.

Then the deck was reshuffled. Five ‘Minor Country Alliance’ cards came up. Thankfully, four of them went to me and Prussia. When it was all over, Russia was in the war with Prussia, I had convinced Turkey to help out, and Portugal was allied to me.

The problem was, Spain was now allied to France. Spain’s forces aren’t all that good, but there’s a lot them, and they quickly pointed up my most severe problem: infantry. Spain was busily taking over everything they could reach, and I couldn’t respond because I only had two armies in the New World with which to bring a land battle and besiege a place. I would have happily redeployed armies to the New World… but I didn’t have any to spare.

We had to call the game at the end of the fourth year, due to time constraints. However, this means we made better time than before, so the game is getting quicker for us. It was agreed that I would have won eventually anyway, but I did manage to have a healthy lead in the end standings anyway: England 10, Prussia 0, Austria -1, France -30.

The hope is that by the next meeting we’ll be playing Successors. If that doesn’t make it in in time, we’ll be playing Conquest of Paradise again.