After something of a dearth of FtF wargaming lately, Mark made it over this last Saturday, and I finally got a chance to test-drive Crown of Roses. It’s a card-driven block game on the Wars of the Roses that technically started as a Kingmaker rewrite, but is decidedly a bit heavier and longer (pity that).

Neither of us had really had any chance to go through the rules beforehand, and I had for gotten anything I’d read when I first got the rules and stickered the blocks. I went for the second scenario, which is a short two-player one, and had worked out a decent amount of the setup before Mark arrived (but not all).

Mark decided to take Lancaster, who have a somewhat weaker position in the scenario. Mark actually drew Affairs of State, and played it in the second impulse, which blew all my half-formed plans for the turn. One problem with the Yorkist position is that they don’t have a minor heir out at the beginning of the game, and I hadn’t done anything to fix that yet, and lost some popular support.

Moving on to electing the King, we found the weakness of the game in two-player mode (not surprising). I had the influence to win the vote (the scenario starts with a Yorkist lead), and Mark wasn’t able to trick his way into winning any of the big offices, tieing at best, with the King (me) deciding the tie. He ended up with the Admiralty and the Captain of Calais. I also ended up with a couple economic victory points by happenstance (I had a block on Lancastrian land in Wales).

The campaigning season for the next turn got pretty exciting. There was a fairly notable battle in Essex (four blocks, including the King, to two), a minor battle in the North Marches, and a fairly desperate one in West Riding (or thereabouts). I generally got the better of him with the dice, though Mark managed to steal an Ally I had gotten out to generate an extra blue (5) die before I could use it. Edward Lancaster had been part of the three-block force in West Riding, and was cut down to a single step (along with everyone else), and the rest of the turn revolved around my efforts to bring him to a second battle. My forces in the east had ended up in Norfolk, and crossed The Wash (with only one loss) but he evaded me twice to stay out of trouble.

However, the influence situation was even more dire for him this turn, and the short scenarios only have a limit of one side being voted King for two turns to declare a victor, so I won in the later segments of the turn.

The game system worked pretty well, once we’d worked through most of the rules, and being able to have an actual finish was a pleasant surprise. I hope we can introduce it at a group day before we forget everything again.