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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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There are many wonderful things to say about Unhappy King Charles!, but playing it I felt I was not only enjoying a good game but also a game that modeled history well. Unhappy King Charles! avoids the trap of stacks that blitz across country, like what is seen in many other CDGs. In other words Charles Vasey made the system work for for the history and not vice versa, but also avoided going into simulation hell. This review discusses historical points that impressed me and made me jump for nerdy joy during my first play.

The Primacy of Politics
Civil wars are of course uniquely political in nature, so the use of cards lends not only flavor but an important reality to any game covering a civil war. In this case the deck offers a plethora of political events as well as possible events that did not occur. This counter factual aspect is a leap forward in CDGs, and I'm surprised that I haven't really encountered it until now. Too often CDGS, even the great ones, only offer events that did happen. Besides the cards there are the political control markers. These are the real determining factor between victory and defeat and armies exist mostly to maintain and expand political control, which is what the fighting is all about. Also the power wielded by men like Newcastle, who must command in his region despite his incompetence, is another layer of the politics of the war.

Local Influence
I absolutely love this part of the game partially because I read Revolt in the Provinces. While national politics were important, a lot of allegiances were decided by local politics, and usually a local lord or notable had more influence than the king. Cards of course are a way of simulating this fact, including the infamous clubmen. The strongest way that this is simulated is through the local notables, who exert localized influence and are defeated through siege, which represents a kind prolonged campaign to crush the notables and their followers.

The Nature of Battle
The fact that winners don't lose troops is in keeping with battles of this age. Meat-grinder affairs where both sides take heavy losses, like many American Civil War engagements, were rare in this time period. Mostly one side routed the other off the field and it was in pursuit that an army inflicted heavy losses on the enemy.

Unprofessional Armies
English armies of this age were not professional in the way the armies of Sweden and France were. Simply put the English lacked recent military experience and a long tradition of operating field armies, so the fact that armies are fairly unwieldy in the early game reflects the history. The game imparts this unwieldiness with localized recruiting limitations, lots of militia units, and the fact that large armies need a lot of operations points to move due to the logistical strain of maintaining a large army. Also the armies are constantly suffering from desertion, another facet of this war that I found to be unsatisfactorily simulated in We the People, where Washington's Continental Army can remain intact from year to year.

Limited Maneuvers
Hand sizes are small in the game, and given the importance of political events, seeing your opponent spend card after card on moving armies is uncommon. In fact you'll rarely see enemy armies tramp around the map like panzer divisions. In addition large armies, while powerful, also cannot move nor evade as well as smaller forces. A wonderful historical example of this was Montrose's Scottish Campaign, in which his smaller army consistently out-maneuvered larger forces. Come to think of it we need a game covering Montrose's campaigns...

The New Model Army
I am sort of taking this right out of the the playbook, but I was happy to see that the New Model Army, while improving leadership and siege craft to a great degree, was also a risk due to the penalties that such a centralized war effort can have. For one it takes leaders away and thus makes the Parliamentary forces open to possibly being swept up, especially if Royalist armies are concentrated and under good leadership. The fact that Vasey left the possibility for this to backfire, which was real 1645, is a wonderful aspect of the game and avoids rigid inevitability.

Victory
Victory is very realistic. Of course capturing Charles I is a win for Parliament and holding London for two turns will give Charles I his prerogative. The one I love is the power base victory, which insists that each turn the players must have more political control markers on the board then a set number that increases each turn, simulating the corrosive effects of the war upon society, which made the conflict increasingly unpopular as the years went on. If your power base is insufficient, then it follows that you cannot raise money, troops, and supplies to keep your armies in the field. This is an absolutely wonderful way to simulate this crucial fact of the war.
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Steve Herron
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It seems to be a well dome game, I had not planned to get it since I wasn't interested in the period. Good Review!
 
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Ryan Powers
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Sold! Added to my wishlist. Thanks for the review.
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Tim P.
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Nice review.

After some initial misgivings about how to play the game, because it superficially looks like a standard GMT CDG but it plays so differently. UKC is really turning out to be a game with subtlety and depth. It really does capture the flavour of the period.

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UKC was the game I should have pre-ordered instead of Clash of Monarchs. UKC really shines in the game play and your review touched on all the positives of the game.
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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
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gittes wrote:

...In this case the deck offers a plethora of political events as well as possible events that did not occur. This counter factual aspect is a leap forward in CDGs, and I'm surprised that I haven't really encountered it until now. Too often CDGS, even the great ones, only offer events that did happen....


This is one of the things that really attracted me to the game when I read about it. I love CDGs, but it always seems odd to me that, because you often have to forgo the event to use OPs, a lot of what really did happen does not and is not replaced by anything else. Vasey has also thought about this because somewhere he mentions that if a card is not played as an event one should think that it did happen, but did not have the same impact as it did historically.

Another CDG, by the way, that is very good for counter-factual history is Triumph of Chaos, as it allows such exciting things as a combined Finnish-White offensive against the Bolsheviks and greater British commitment to the White cause.
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Seth Gunar
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I agree with you and it is an excellent game that I will probably play a whole lot.

However, while your criticism of We the People is certainly valid, you have to remember that it was the first CDG and that the game still gives you the ebb and flow of the Revolutionary War. UKC also brings back the possibility that you could have a "dead hand" that exists in We the People. While you can discard for a 1 ops - you still cannot move your armies. (It is also offset somewhat by the core cards.)

It will be interesting to see what Herman does with Washington's War.

Finally, UKC is not the only CDG to make alternate history available. In Paths of Glory, you do not have to start with Guns of August. In Barbarossa to Berlin, the German player also has the chance to use the "Von Paulus Pause" to prevent the winter losses that resulted from the last push on Moscow.
 
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Dave Rubin
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"It may be doubted whether so small a number of men ever employed so short a space of time with greater or more lasting effects upon the history of the world.” — Sir George Otto Trevelyan on the Battles of Trenton and Princeton
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leroy43 wrote:
UKC was the game I should have pre-ordered instead of Clash of Monarchs. UKC really shines in the game play and your review touched on all the positives of the game.


Don't dis CoM!

UKC was the game I was hoping to apply my GMT P500 end-of-year bonus to, but it was not quite eligible. Soon, I think, soon...
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Quote:
However, while your criticism of We the People is certainly valid, you have to remember that it was the first CDG and that the game still gives you the ebb and flow of the Revolutionary War. UKC also brings back the possibility that you could have a "dead hand" that exists in We the People. While you can discard for a 1 ops - you still cannot move your armies. (It is also offset somewhat by the core cards.)

It will be interesting to see what Herman does with Washington's War.


I just have a hard time liking We the People. I think back then my response would have been "great design shoddy history." Washington's War will correct nearly all my problem with We the People so I am excited.

Quote:
Finally, UKC is not the only CDG to make alternate history available. In Paths of Glory, you do not have to start with Guns of August. In Barbarossa to Berlin, the German player also has the chance to use the "Von Paulus Pause" to prevent the winter losses that resulted from the last push on Moscow.


These are about it and in fact I find BtB will see many events never used because of OPS value.
 
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Mike Brian
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Hi Dan,

The Movement Points available for an army depend on its size so an army with fewer brigades, typically three, can move 4 MP. A big army, one with 7 or more brigades, only has 2 MP plus larger armies need a "3 ops" or campaign card to move them (and, of course, these cards are in short supply). Only certain Generals (eg, Charles, Essex, Leven) can carry any more than four brigades. Adding these issues to the desertion rules means big armies tend to be rare and don't tend to last very long!

Actually, I can't seem to get small armies to last very long either............


Mike

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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First, the comment - Here I Stand (a CDG) has plenty of "what-if" events. I just played tonight as the English, and there is a whole system of rules that deals with Henry VIII trying to sire an heir and being replaced by different personages who may or may not have actually ruled England.


A system yes, but I don't recal HIS having many what-if cards if any. However, a lot of the cards were of a more generic quality, which I like in CDGs.

Just because a CDG has mostly specific events doesn't mean I won't like it or rate it a 10. Usually it is a minor quibble, but it can be a problem.

Quote:
Questions - You say that the mechanics of this game make smaller armies more maneuverable than large ones, armies are initially unwieldy, and you don't see huge army stacks tramping around the board. Could you describe in some detail how the mechanics accomplish this? And when you say smaller armies are more maneuverable, is that "on the battlefield" or in more of a strategic sense (they can choose their battles more than a larger army can)?


A large army requires 3 OPS to move and cannot evade very readily (I don't recall the die roll). Large armies have the tactical advantage due to numbers though.

Armies tramping across the map is not forbidden, but you only have so many cards and you have to accomplish more things then just blitzing a stack from Plymouth to Newcastle. The game naturally prevents things like this.

Quote:
Actually, I can't seem to get small armies to last very long either............


Just maintaining armies is half the battle!
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dirubin wrote:
leroy43 wrote:
UKC was the game I should have pre-ordered instead of Clash of Monarchs. UKC really shines in the game play and your review touched on all the positives of the game.


Don't dis CoM!

UKC was the game I was hoping to apply my GMT P500 end-of-year bonus to, but it was not quite eligible. Soon, I think, soon...


I like CoM just fine, but I just liked UKC that much better.
 
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someotherguy wrote:
First, the comment - Here I Stand (a CDG) has plenty of "what-if" events. I just played tonight as the English, and there is a whole system of rules that deals with Henry VIII trying to sire an heir and being replaced by different personages who may or may not have actually ruled England.


But Henry will never have any children other than Edward, Elizabeth, and Mary (all of whom DID rule England). Once Henry has had a sickly son Edward, he is doomed never to have a healthy son.

I believe the point is that most CDG do not have Alt History cards. For instance, if England in HIS could be ruled by Jane Grey or Henry Fitzroy, this would be Alt History.

To return to UKC, I'm very impressed with the degree to which the Alt History cards INCREASE the historical feel of the game. It's a great piece of design that I hope finds its way into other CDG.
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geebob wrote:
someotherguy wrote:
First, the comment - Here I Stand (a CDG) has plenty of "what-if" events. I just played tonight as the English, and there is a whole system of rules that deals with Henry VIII trying to sire an heir and being replaced by different personages who may or may not have actually ruled England.


But Henry will never have any children other than Edward, Elizabeth, and Mary (all of whom DID rule England). Once Henry has had a sickly son Edward, he is doomed never to have a healthy son.

I believe the point is that most CDG do not have Alt History cards. For instance, if England in HIS could be ruled by Jane Grey or Henry Fitzroy, this would be Alt History.

To return to UKC, I'm very impressed with the degree to which the Alt History cards INCREASE the historical feel of the game. It's a great piece of design that I hope finds its way into other CDG.


There's an on-line game on Henry VIII by Garry Stevens PhD, which actually has the alt.hist Tudor children, Henry and Anne. We drew our own cards for the twin princes Mick and Keith.
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Charles Vasey wrote:
There's an on-line game on Henry VIII by Garry Stevens PhD, which actually has the alt.hist Tudor children, Henry and Anne. We drew our own cards for the twin princes Mick and Keith.


Now that sounds like exceptionally good fun!

I was disappointed not to find a alt.hist Redmond Barry of Bally Barry, descendant of the Irish kings, as a British/Prussian/Austrian/Russian general in Clash of Monarchs. Maybe he will appear in an issue of C3i...
 
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Good review by the OP and it is very interesting to read a historical note on the game.

I like the idea of alt. history cards and would love to see them in more games. You will always get the argument from some players that "it didn't happen, so it shouldn't be in the game", but then of course if a game were to strictly follow history, it would not be a game at all...
 
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Charles Vasey
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Tim RTC wrote:
Good review by the OP and it is very interesting to read a historical note on the game.

I like the idea of alt. history cards and would love to see them in more games. You will always get the argument from some players that "it didn't happen, so it shouldn't be in the game", but then of course if a game were to strictly follow history, it would not be a game at all...


And if, as it well might, it annoys you then you simply don't use the deck.
 
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