Last Sunday, we got the gang together again for a learning session of Here I Stand. I’ve been eager to try this out since I got my copy of the second printing, so I was certainly eager.

We had a full six, and after some hemming and hawing drew randomly for who got to be what, ending up with Mark as the Ottomans, Jason as the Hapsburgs, me as England, Zjonni as France, Dave as the Papacy, and Patch as the Protestants.

The setup is a bit more intricate than I’d like (just for the on-board elements, I’ve got the deck separated out right), so that ran late. I’m going to have to find a way to speed that up a little.

At any rate, considering the amount of explanations needed, and the fact that the two ‘experienced’ ones (me and Mark) weren’t that knowledgeable, it went very smoothly overall. With a fair amount of rushing right at the end, we got through the end of turn three, which is more than I had expected.

The first real action of the game was with the war between France and the Hapsburgs (already in progress). Jason moved across the pass from Spain to southern France, where there was an army waiting. The battle had heavy losses on both sides, but the Hapsburg army ended up retreating back over the pass.

Since this was a learning game, I decided to be a bit aggressive with England. After beefing up the armed forces a bit, I used The Six Wives of Henry VIII to declare war on Scotland, hoping that France was too involved with the existing wars to want to intervene.

If I had thought about the fact that France was being played by Zjonni, I would have realized that hope was folly.

I also mistimed things, and didn’t have a chance to prosecute the war with Scotland before running out of cards.

For the second turn Zjonni got a peace deal with Jason (white peace), and he turned his attention north. I was generally one step behind, and not thinking things through, as well as keeping up my aggressive behavior. He besieged Calais, but did not take it in the first assault. I got the navy into the North Sea, and moved my main army, under Henry VIII to relive the key.

I should have thought about that longer. I will say that I thought there was a much bigger difference in our army sizes than there was.

So, I attacked his army, and naturally lost. This being a naval invasion, I lost the entire force, with Henry VIII being captured. The rest of the turn was downhill from there, losing more troops against the Scots, and forgetting that the Scots had a navy too, so when I moved to make sure the French navy was bottled up, they came out and provided transport across the North Sea for the French army. The only thing I could do about London would be to lose more troops trying to relive it, so I had to leave it to its fate.

Meanwhile, the Ottomans and the Hapsburgs were clashing in the Mediterranean, with two large naval battles. Jason was trying to transfer troops into range, but was having trouble arranging the logistics and CPs. Patch had finished translating the New Testament into German, and Protestantism got into full swing.

For the third turn, I sued for peace (naturally), taking London back, and ransoming King Henry for a total of two VPs and a card (I decided to leave him Calais rather than give him another permanent VP). With only two cards (including the home card), it was a turn of quiet rebuilding, and not a heck of a lot of that.

Zjonni however, was close to winning on Keys, and only had one war to worry about. He took full advantage of this, taking Milan and Ravenna without there being anything able to stop his armies. Between that, Calais, and his alliance with Scotland, all that was needed was to take Metz for auto-victory, right as we were going past our time limit.

It seemed like everyone had a good time with the game, so I expect we’ll get a second try at it soon. I definitely handed France the game with the ill-advised move to relieve Calais. Really, I shouldn’t have even declared war on Scotland at that point. Seems like something to reserve for when France is actually in trouble. But it was a valuable learning experience, and other than the Keys and VP problems, I think I could have kept going pretty well. Troops aren’t that hard to get, and the British navy was intact, so the only thing was to make sure the Scots couldn’t get too uppity.