Well, after far too long without any FtF gaming, we finally got the gang back together yesterday for a game of Here I Stand. Things were a little slow getting started. Half the group ran a bit late, and not only have we only played it once before, but that was a while ago, so we took a while to get up to speed.

I started us off with a random draw for powers, with the stipulation that no one would repeat last game’s position (which didn’t even come up as it happened). So, we ended up with Zjonni as the Ottomans, Dave as the Hapsburgs, Mark as England, Patch as France, Jason as the Pope, and me as the Protestants.

My initial play of 95 Theses went well, I think I only missed one Reformation attempt. I estimated that the max I was going to see oppose me at the Diet of Worms was 9 CP, and spent a 3 CP card in the hope that there wasn’t actually that much commitment from the Pope and Hapsburgs. Sadly, they did spend 9 CP, and I lost two spaces.

For the most part, the first couple of turns had a lot of motion, without a lot of result. Dave (Haps) played Cloth Prices Fluctuate something like three times in four turns, much to the delight of him and Mark. Zjonni got Barbary Pirates on the first turn, and managed Julia Gonzaga on the second turn. In fact, the Ottoman navy (and corsairs) were a big concern for everyone else. Dave got alliances with the Pope and England on turn 3 so that he could borrow ships from them to prosecute a war with the Ottomans. This ended up with a gigantic naval clash (roughly 20 dice per side) in the port of Algiers. Dave rolled very well, and traded a naval squadron for about three naval squadrons and a corsair. After that, he went in for a second round and knocked out the rest of the Turkish fleet for no losses.

Sadly for Dave, after all the effort to get everything there, and do the combat, he didn’t really have the ability to do much else on the board. He was very active in the New World every turn, and generally got very good rolls every time. (His first explorer was Magellan, who found the Pacific Straight, and just missed a successful circumnavigation, being speared by natives.)

Meanwhile, Zjonni had been active on land. He took Belgrade and Buda by easy stages, and then appeared in Vienna at the start of turn 4 with 18 troops. Vienna quickly fell, and he split off a force to take Prauge as well. Of course part of the reason he had such a large army was that he had successfully put down an Egyptian Revolt (his second) and a Persian Revolt the turn before.After that, he found he didn’t have a lot of good options. The Holy Roman Empire (/Protestant home area, though Schmalkaldic League had not yet been played) was a lot of trouble for no return, and Italy was out of reach without a navy (which was being rebuilt). Dave meanwhile had taken Algiers, and was trying to figure out a next move.

During all of this, I was mostly publishing treatises and fending of Papal debaters (I generally lost the debates by one or two points). By turn 3-4, the Pope was getting more involved in the situation in Italy, which allowed me to breathe a little easier, and I started flipping more Debaters for their special powers. I completed the German translation of the New Testament on turn 3, and the English translation on turn 4, as well as the full German translation at the very end of turn 4. I had converted a fair amount of Germany, including all but one of the Electorates, and had converted Scotland (but have been stalled at just Norwich in England proper—quite a switch!).

The various European powers complained of not being able to get anywhere in various wars thanks to fears of uncovering vital areas in any attempt at an offensive. However, England did manage to wipe out Scotland on turn 4 when he declared war and France did not have a 2CP card to give up (and presumably did not want to blow a bigger card on the Alliance).

We were able to have a very extended session, thanks to Jason not having his normal ‘must catch the bus’ time, which allowed us to get through the end of turn 4. Considering that just turn 1 took nearly two hours we were making some very good time by the end of the session. I think we could easily hit the same spot in a more normal session if we can do it before we all forget the rules again. I’m figuring next time we’ll probably play the 1532 scenario next time, and have a decent chance of finishing it. (Getting from turn 4 through turn 9 is probably a bit much, but the odds of a victory before then should be good.)

As it was, the scoring at the time we broke up had the Zjonni’s Ottomans in the lead at 19 VP. Dave (Hapsburg) was right behind at 18 (powered by a lot of New World points), France (Patch) had 16, the Pope (Jason) at 15, England (Mark) at 11, and my Protestants at 7 (and the bulk of those had come in on turn 4; the religious fight was just getting going).