The latest FtF gaming day was plagued with uncertainty as to who would be attending, with possibilities ranging from three to five (which implies fairly different sets of games). Eventually, we ended up with four this Sunday, and we went for our first game of Virgin Queen in quite a while (I actually like Here I Stand a bit more overall, but it really wants six, which we very rarely have; I really like the ‘active major powers’ rules in VQ).

Random draws gave Jason the Ottomans, me the English (and initial control of the Ottomans), Mark got France, and Dave had the Protestants. Since it had been quite a while, things were slow, and we only got through two turns.

Jason neglected to spend influence on a marriage with Anna of Saxony (he and Mark did stick with Phillip II and Elizabeth de Valois’ nuptuals), so I spent my influence to marry her to the Earl of Leicester, while Elizabeth I was betrothed to William of Orange in exchange for a promise to play Tilbury Speech on my behalf and a possible later minor favor.

My main activity on the board was to besiege Edinburgh (after playing John Knox to give me a proper religious mandate), only to lose one unit while doing no hits, even with the extra rolls from Dave. I think I need a new speech writer. The Ottoman fleet went out and looked menacing, but I didn’t have the cards to back it up. Jason confronted it twice, and blew his rolls both times to let me sink much Spanish shipbuilding when I couldn’t do it myself.

We all sent an expedition to the New World, and founded colonies, but never managed to spend the CPs for piracy. My captain got distracted by the Northwest Passage, and the Treasure Fleet sailed with no one in position for it (Jason had the card). Late in the turn, German Intervention came up, and France got control of the HRE (I noted that I need to pay attention when Mark starts putting influence on a power), and then they launched the Irish Rebellion, but were unable to take Dublin (looks like we missed some of the effects of the card while going through the notes on Irish activation in the rules).

Dave mostly contented himself to positioning for the future by holding on to two cards after spreading Protestant religious influence in Holland and France though his home card and Tridentine Catechism.

Late in the turn, Elizabeth I decided against marriage, but gave William enough gifts to be worth two cards (highest result!). Philip and Elizabeth did well, gaining a VP and card for each power (and an extra Valois VP for France); the second-highest result. Sadly, Leicester and Anna produced no children (no effect).

End of Turn 1

Not caring for extra wars, I negotiated peace with the HRE and a mercenary in return for promising Elizabeth’s hand to Charles II (Mark didn’t realize at first this restored peace to Ireland with me still in control of Dublin, but he came out of it well with an extra card draw). Mary Queen of Scots was promised to William of Orange, but we didn’t get to the wedding phase, so we don’t know how that turned out.

The Ottomans had some unrest blocking routes out of Istanbul, but moved 5 units down to Athens in the Spring. They then managed a two-impulse offensive that put the troops ashore in Italy and took Messina (the new Spanish fleet was building in Cartagena, and had taken a loss from piracy after the Sultan’s Harem got involved in politics) and successfully besieged Naples. A naval battle drove off the Ottoman fleet, but with losses to both sides. The Ottomans were done for the turn, and then The Sublime Porte put them inactive, and at peace, still holding part of southern Italy, giving me 1 VP for my efforts. Jason had the card, and wanted to do something about the situation first, but didn’t have any good options. (Selim II came early in the turn, having been given to the Ottomans as a bonus card—I don’t think I’ve ever seen it get naturally dealt out.)

While it was a shame I wasn’t going to get a crack at Rome on turn 3, there’d been quite a build up on the HRE border, and I didn’t really have the attention to spare for a war there too.

Meanwhile, as England, I’d played Jeanne of Navarre on the Huguenot’s behalf (not that I said anything to Dave), getting them established in La Rochelle. Dave decided to go all out, playing Calvinist Zeal to start a rebellion in Antwerp. Neither rebellion saw much action, but were going to be a problem for France and Spain to deal with.

One of the last things to come up was Papal Bull, which was used to convert spaces in France back to Catholicism, but if play was going to continue, there was serious talk of excommunicating Elizabeth.

End of day/Turn 2

Things were shaping up pretty nicely at the end of the day; the Protestants were up to 9 VP, and likely to go further. France had 10, but had to worry that he’d taken over the HRE while they were sitting in the 4 VP ‘sweet spot’ of balanced tolerance, and he could end up letting them go after they lost VPs if many more spaces went Protestant. I had gotten up to 12, but was going to have trouble keeping both Edinburgh and Dublin, so I’d be fighting that slide while slowly getting Virgin Queen VP. Spain was down to 14 (and had just gotten a New World treasure VP), but probably couldn’t go down any further.

We really need to get this to the table a lot more if we’re going to do better than two turns, but Dave isn’t really a fan of the game, and since he’s one of the more likely people to be available, that limits options a bit.