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Subject: A mini review of Cruel Necessity rss

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Gav Baker
United Kingdom
Morecambe
Lancashire
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I started writing an AAR, but it turned into a mini review or at least a flavour of the game for people who have played other SoS games--

I like VPG's states of siege series games a lot, and they are very popular. They are small and light and fast and fun and full of flavour.

Cruel Necessity is the latest states of siege game and it's big and heavy and long.

The Royalist armies of the north and west are pushing towards London. You have a few fortresses helping hold them back but they will be besieged and destroyed if ignored. If London falls, you lose.

The Royalist Scottish army push the army of the North on towards London faster if they get to Northumberland.

The Royalist supporters in Ireland cause all sorts of political trouble if they get past Ulster.

The political, religious and foreign policy of your parliamentary force are a big focus. You'll want to raise them all to get some positive benefits for your side and also to gain more VP. If they fall to their lowest point your royalists foes receive bonuses. If 4 of the 6 political markers fall to their F grade, you lose.

Each turn, you turn over an event card which includes military, religious and political consequences. The event may also signal a battle which you resolve with a mini game and it's own set of battle cards. A decisive battle victory gives you an immediate reward, a draw or loss gives you a penalty.

After this turns events have been resolved you spend your zeal (action points) to: infuse zeal, purchase achievements, campaign against enemies (or Deviltries), besiege fortresses (or revolts), fortify your own fortresses, engage in politics, or declare desperate times. That's it, 7 options for each point of your zeal. You might have an average of 6 zeal per turn, and if you survive long enough, 60 turns. 360 decisions.

Each decision you make may be based on a chain of thought something like this: “if I can suppress the Catholics a few more steps I'll have more zeal each turn. Then I'll push back the West Army and take back and fortify Bristol, giving me back the extra zeal it provides. I'll be full of zeal. But I only need to push Parliament back up to C and I'll be eligible to purchase the Licensing Orders achievement for 2 zeal which will give me 1VP and a free Infuse Zeal action this turn and next that I can use for its +1DRM to help drive out the Catholics. But the Scots are in Northumberland and Dublin is almost finished and the North Army are in York and the fortress of Hull only has 1 step remaining, that reminds me, I really need to fortify Oxford, and I need to support Ireland lest they fall to their F grade and get +1 strength making Irish Troubles more likely but Scotland is -1 strength this turn from the "Cromwell invades Scotland" event, I really should take advantage of that, but there's only 5 cards left in this war and I only have 3 zeal! 3? Can't be! Only 3?. Oh yeah, London and Oxford and a Drawn battle. ”

So you get to make a lot of tough decisions. Tougher than in Levée en Masse or Ottoman Sunset. And of course you never have enough zeal to do everything. This comes at a cost in play time. It's 3-4 hours of tough decisions, although after the first few games, when you will likely just read the event title rather than all the card text, I guess that could half. The quick battle resolution would reduce it a bit too, but I like the mini game. I pull units from cups and roll; a battle takes only a minute or two and it's fun.

CN is tense and stressful and engrossing. It would feel less tense and less threatening if it was Cthulhu-Zombie-Ninjas coming to get you, rather than 17th century royalists. It's also another game in the SoS series that provides accidental learning; It's hard not to become interested in the subject after reading the event card text.

The English civil wars are a darkly fascinating subject that John Welch and the SoS engine and VPG have brought together into an entertaining whole that feels like more than the sum of its parts.

I scored 2 VP on my first game, but I know what I'll do differently next time.

Gav
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Brad Heath
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Nice review Gav. I can't wait to get stuck into this. The game is set up on my table and I'm reading through the rules. Battle awaits!
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Dave Daffin
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Great review, Gav. thumbsup thumbsup

I'm also a big fan now of the VPG SoS series. Your mini review really distils down what is going to make this a great game - the tense, nail-biting decisions and ever-present threats, with just not enough Zeal to deal with everything. This game seems to take SoS to a new level.

I have been busy with travel and work this weekend, and will be busy working away all week, so I am having a cruel wait for my first game, which should be next weekend. I had a few minutes last night when I sat down and read a little bit about he ECW on Wikipedia. It really has set off a desire to find out more about that period of history. :-)

While it's great fun trying to quell a zombie invasion, or deal with revolting peasants during the French Revolution, fighting for the future of England is the ultimate for me!
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John Welch
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Thanks for posting this great review Gav! I will confess that the campaign game plays much longer than I thought it would when I designed it. Fortunately, the developer and play test team did a great job helping me to create three shorter scenarios for players - it helped that the three decks in the game correspond to the three English Civil Wars (although the first deck actually begins with the Bishop's War). As you rightly guessed after multiple plays, playtesters reported being able to play the campaign game in only 2+ hours.
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Gav Baker
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Morecambe
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Thanks for all the thumbs! Makes me wish I would have been more thorough.

professorwelch wrote:
Thanks for posting this great review Gav! I will confess that the campaign game plays much longer than I thought it would when I designed it. Fortunately, the developer and play test team did a great job helping me to create three shorter scenarios for players - it helped that the three decks in the game correspond to the three English Civil Wars (although the first deck actually begins with the Bishop's War). As you rightly guessed after multiple plays, playtesters reported being able to play the campaign game in only 2+ hours.


Hi John, great game!

I like that it's a bigger, meatier game than its siblings and I hope that this is the first of many “States Of Siege:Epics” games. (Epic SoS, SoEpicS they all sound good!)

I think people who enjoy the shorter games in the series looking for a more involved experience will love it.

If you do decide to give Levée the same Epic treatment it will be an instant buy for me, but I do hope this wouldn't mean the original game goes away. A gold banner epic version where the epic features are optional would be wonderful. It could scratch itches big and small.

I will try the shorter scenarios but I think I'll prefer the full campaign. There isn't so much we need to record to be able to pack up mid game and resume it later in the event of a game table emergency. I think a printable record sheet may be useful in this situation, where we can tick and circle boxes quickly, knowing we haven't missed anything. Something along the lines of this:




With the inclusion of VP's on the sheet it could double as a score sheet too; a visual record of how you ended up with -10 points the last time you played.

Regards,
Gav

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Chris B
Canada
Victoria
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Good review, thanks!
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Dave Daffin
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Congratulations Gav, your review has been referenced on VPG's Cruel Necessity page!
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Gav Baker
United Kingdom
Morecambe
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I'm honored
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John Welch
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Gav - I like the CN snapshot sheet you came up with and congrats on making the VPG front page.
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Gav Baker
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Thanks John. I'll finish the sheet off tomorrow and upload it.

(Edit) uploaded and waiting for approval.
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Eric Tolentino
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Thank you. I too am interested in learning more about the ECW than the cursory overview from my high school European History class. Cruel Necessity is on my purchase list and I am looking for a copy now.
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