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Subject: The War to End No Wars rss

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Michael Akinde
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We played a 5-player Struggle of Empires game, featuring Austria (me), Great Brittain, United Provinces, France, and Spain. Spain and GB were new to the game.

Austria was strong (2 tokens) in Germany and East Indies, with a presence in the Carribean.
Great Brittain (GB) was spread all over the board; including India, Carribean, and North America.
United Provinces (UP) was strong (2 tokens) in Germany and East Indies, with a presence in South America.
France was present in the Carribean (2 tokens) with a token influence in the East Indies and Germany.
Spain had a strong influence in Italy (2 tokens) and was otherwise spread over the board.

The first round of wars had Great Brittain and United Provinces face off against the others. Notable features of the board included the presence of only 1 influence tile in each of Central Europe and Ottoman Empire, and none in the Baltic. Instead, there was a bunch of Colonies and Slaves up for grabs.

Austria tried to co-exist with UP in South America by picking up a colony, but the latter immediately responded by attacking and eliminating the Austrian presence (becoming sole occupant in S.A.). For the rest of the game, 2 UP infantry in the region would ensure that no other players bothered to touch the province. Instead, I spent the turn building up, picking up Mercenaries, Banking, Army Training, War Office, and Logistics and expanding into Italy.

GB showed a willingness to play with the dice, and quickly went on an offensive rampage, picking up Army Training early to start the arms race (and ending up with 2 against all the other players 1), and making many attacks at low +1 odds. Good luck, however, meant that the attacks usually went well and as a result, Great Brittain expanded into the Ottoman Empire, Central Europe, and kicked the French out of India.

United Provinces grabbed Africa and a presence in North America, while France and Spain achieved little.

North America, Carribean, East Indies and Germany were regions containing many players (3+), where alliances co-existed uneasily.

The war ended with GB taking a clear lead on 28 points, with UP following on 24 and Austria at 20. France and Spain languished behind.

The Second War saw the Baltic come into play, with India, Germany, Central Europe all receiving more influence. The Alliances had Spain and France on the short side.

This was a great turn for Austria, where I managed to seize a single influence in North America (creating a 4-way tie), India, Central Europa and the Ottoman Empire. Spain seized a single influence in Germany, creating a three way tie for first (France, UP, Austria), with Spain in second there and also took the Baltic. UP pretty much held on to their lands without disturbance, while GB was the target of some limited attacking from France.

At the end of the turn, GB was still in the lead, but Austria was only a few points behind, with UP dropped to third spot. Spain and France were still behind, but not impossibly so. GB had built up a huge pile of unrest. Only Spain had almost none (1-2 points), having avoided most conflict.

I knew Austria would have a big bullseye on its back in the last round, as I had by far the most point scoring markers (30+ VPs), a relatively small army, and I was the owner of the game.

The final alliances saw France and Austria facing the others. I had a heated bidding war with Spain before ending up in fourth; I finally allowed him to buy the last alliance (placing me in 4th position) at 9 gold thinking it was better to let him have the unrest and save myself from it.

The final war saw plenty of action. Spain and UP cooperated to attack Austria me, causing me to strategically withdraw from among other places, the Ottoman Empire (thus allowing Spain to take the marker without giving me any unrest) in order to better protect other threatened regions from the UP. GB lost their dominance in India when one of their risky attacks caused the elimination of their infantry (allowing France to take sweet revenge). On the whole, however, Great Brittain did well even on the final round also. Mainly because their Army Training advantage made most attacks against them very risky.

Spain lost a fairly numerous number of troops in combat, but was saved by the presence of allies from losing any provinces. Action was slowed down by the need for Government Reforms, which were picked by all players except Spain. Austria primarily did a strategic withdrawal from exposed positions (losing a number), picked up government reforms and even an Industrialization marker (+3VP, +2 Unrest).

The East Indies - with its three way tie between France, UP, and Austria - remained a haven of peace even in this turn (no one had actions to send troops there). In Germany, the presence of 4 nations; France and Austria on one side and Spain and UP on the other kept everyone involved honest (despite a lot of saber-rattling).

The last round was a bit rushed because of time, which caused several of us to make missteps (for my part, I wasted a move that I should have used instead to play something like Pirates or Slave Revolt on one of my rivals). A final round attack by Spain on Austria's North American colony failed.

As the points were counted up all eyes turned to the scoreboard. Despite a serious reform movement at the end, Great Brittain took most unrest for -7 VP. Spain however, due to the bidding war and combat losses, had accumulated 10 unrest points, beating Austria (9 unrest) to accumulating the -4 VP.

France was unable to make up the deficit in points in the final round. Spain had gained a lot ended but the setback by unrest meant that there was still a gap to the front trio. When the final count was tallied, Austria, the United Provinces and Great Brittain ended up on a shared first place, with an equal number of points.

A worthy finish to a tense and exciting game.
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