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Subject: [Roger's Reviews] Maria: A Comprehensive Review rss

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Board Game: Maria


Introduction

Friedrich came out in 2004 and featured a really interesting new way of resolving battles: the use of playing cards. Richard Sivel's second design, Maria, builds on the innovative systems in Friedrich and in doing so creates a very dynamic game about Maria Theresa's ascension to the Austrian throne. I'd played Friedrich before and keenly awaited this release as soon as I heard about it. I was lucky enough to play it at BGG.Con 2009 and my own copy arrived from Simmons Games in late November.

Maria is Richard Sivel's second design.

It is a 3 player game (although playable with 2), and is listed as taking 2-5 hours to play a full game.

This review will assume the full complement of three players and also focus on the advanced game, which I think will be more interesting to most players.

Theme

Maria is a game based on the War of the Austrian Succession. Austria was attacked by Prussia, France, Bavaria and Saxony, while Great Britain, Hanover and the Netherlands helped Austria with the so-called Pragmatic Army.

Components

Board Game: Maria
Board Game: Maria


The game comes in a nice square box that's the same size as the Friedrich box (incidentally the same form factor used by Ticket to Ride and Espana 1936).

Board Game: Maria


The game features a gorgeous mounted map which is split into two areas - Flanders and Bohemia. This beautiful map would not look out of place framed and hung on a wall. The colour choices are very good too; as much as I liked Friedrich, the blue for Prussia and Hanover make me think of large bodies of water. The map is not quite to scale, and the reason it's split is that there is a large segment in central Europe that was removed as it did not feature in the war. The two maps are connected at the bottom, and only Austria and France may cross over.

Board Game: Maria
Board Game: Maria
Board Game: Maria
Board Game: Maria


In addition to the map, there are nice round wooden tokens representing the generals commanding armies, two new half thick round tokens for Hussars, an event summary card, an event deck and four decks of playing cards.

Similar to Friedrich, the playing cards are sorted by conventional suits. There are also counters for each faction and other information markers. The counters are made of good standard wargame quality cardboard. The event summary card is quite small, and difficult to read; however, one can easily see the iconography of the cards, and so it's suitable for the purpose. Nevertheless, I would have liked to see the summary on a full sheet.

The decks of cards are in four suits (clubs, hearts, spades, diamonds) and go from 2-10 with two reserve cards per deck that can be used for any suit and can be used for any value from 1-8.

The rule book is clear and concise and has extensive designer notes in the back. It is available for download from the Histogame site.

Rules and Game Play

If you have played Friedrich before, you need to be aware that Maria has some key differences in game play; I've attemped to note them all in the text below.

Maria is played over 12 turns representing the four years of the Wars of Austrian Succession (1741-1744). There are three turns per year plus a winter phase.

The powers represented on the map are: Austria, the Pragmatic Army, the Prussians, the Saxons, the French, and the Bavarians. The Saxons begin the game allied with Prussia, but may become neutral or allied with Austria. The Bavarians begin the game as a cooperating power with France. Unlike Friedrich, where only generals of the same country could stack together, in Maria, cooperating powers can stack together. Thus, France and Bavaria can stack, Prussia and Saxony can stack, and Austria and the Pragmatic Army can stack (in Flanders only). Also unlike Friedrich, the stacking limit for friendly generals is 2.

Cooperating powers conquer and place VP tokens for their main army. So Bavaria would place (and protect) French markers on the board.

Winning

There are two versions of Maria - the introductory game, and the advanced game.

The introductory game is played out over three years (9 turns) and does not use the Flanders part of the map. Therefore, only Prussia, France, and Austria (and their respective allies/cooperating powers) are in play. Victory is determined as follows:

France controls 9 Austrian fortresses;
Prussia controls 12 fortresses in Austria and/or Silesia (note that Prussia starts with 2 Silesian fortresses);
Austria survives to the end of turn 9 without either of the other powers meeting their victory condition.

The introductory game is very Friedrich-like.

The advanced game adds a political phase and is played out over the full four years.

Each faction has a certain number of victory point markers in their nation's pool. The first player to place their final VP marker on the board wins immediately.

You can place markers for:
1. conquering an enemy fortress
2. winning battles decisively
3. satisfying certain political conditions

If there is no outright winner, then after the 12th and final turn, a political victory is determined. During each winter phase, the number of victory counters in each major power's pool is counted, and whoever has the lowest cumulative total at the end of the game is then the winner.

Ok, now that I know the victory conditions, how do I play the advanced game?

Once players agree on which powers they will play, they draw a starting hand of cards. One of the idiosyncrasies of Maria is that one player will be both an ally and enemy of Austria while simultaneously being the enemy and ally of France. That player controls the Prussians and the Pragmatic Army. The Pragmatic army is only in play on the Flanders map and is allied with the Austrians against France; the Prussians are only on the Bohemia map and allied with France against Austria. While this arrangement sounds odd, it actually works rather well, especially as only Austria and France can cross from one map board to the other. The Prussia/Pragmatic player thus has a careful balancing act to do. They can press France hard with the Pragmatic Army, but this might well allow the Austrians to easily overwhelm the French on the Bohemia map. This delicious tension is one of the most fun parts of the game.

Each turn follows this sequence:

Political phase (advanced game only)
Austria places Hussars
Action phases for the various powers in order
- France and Bavaria
- Prussia and Saxony
- Austria and the Pragmatic Army

The Political Phase
The political phase is one of the most interesting aspects of this game. In Friedrich, there was a "deck of fate", and events simply happened at the end of each turn (beginning in turn 6). In Maria, there are six events associated with each year, and each turn 2 of them are turned up. There is also a special election of the Holy Roman Emperor event which is part of the 1742 event deck, but it is dealt with separately (more on this below); if it is drawn, it is temporarily set aside and another political card turned up.

Board Game: Maria


As you can see, there are three tracks, representing Saxony, Russia, and Italy. At the start of the game, there is a marker token placed on the * on each track. Events mainly affect the political chart, but can also do things like give armies or cards to a player.

During the political phase, the first order of business is to determine which suit is trump. Trump is decided by the player controlling the last victor in battle; of course, in the opening turn there have been no combats yet, so the trump is determined by turning up the top card of the TC deck. Trump is determined randomly this way until a combat is resolved.

Once trump has been determined, each power then selects a card to play and places it in their power's spot on the political chart. Players may elect to bluff by playing a non-trump suit. All cards are revealed simultaneously and any non-trump cards are returned to their respective power's hand. Reserve cards can be used, and they are worth double, that is to say, 16 points. After the cards are revealed, the powers go in order of high to low card; ties are resolved from right to left, with Austria winning all ties and the Prussians losing all ties. Powers have the following choices:
- spend their political influence and select an event. The TC goes in the discard pile, and the player may either trigger the event, or simply discard it
- leave the card on the political display, thus banking their political capital for the next political phase

Events can only be selected if the power's crest is on it. If none of the events have your crest on it, you must leave the card on the display. However, there are events which can impact you negatively, so selecting and then discarding them might well be in your interest.

Opting to keep the card on the display can be a powerful tool as well, as the card counts toward your total the next turn. Note that political capital left on the display does not have to match the suit of the current political phase, so there's no risk involved in leaving a card behind.

Once the second event is selected, anyone who had yet to go gets their cards back from the display. For instance, if the player order from high to low was Austria, Pragmatic Army, France, Prussia and Austria went first and elected to keep their card in the pool, the Pragmatic Army went second and chose an event, France third and they took the second event, Prussia would then get their card back.

What does the political phase do for you? Well, simply stated, it shifts priorities for the various players. The Saxony track can move the Saxons out of being Prussian allies and make them neutral or even becoming Austrian allies; in this latter case, the effects are immediate and the potential effect on Prussian supply is not pretty I can assure you.

The Russian track covers the progress of Prussia's conflict with Russia. At the start of the game, one of the Prussian generals is committed to the eastern front and unavailable for the Austrian campaign. If the Prussian player can move the chart sufficiently to the left, they can liberate that general. If the other powers can push it to the right, they can not only keep that army committed, they can cost Prussia cards in the draw phase.

The Italy track is similarly fraught for France and Austria. Too far to the left and Austria suffers. Too far to the right and France does. If moved far enough in either direction, it can also allow France or Austria to place a VP marker on the Italy box of the VP track.

The Imperial Election: The Imperial election is a special event that happens outside of the political phase. As the political cards are shuffled randomly, it's possible that the election can happen as soon as turn 4 (the first of 1742) or as late as turn 7 (the first turn of 1743). At the end of the turn the Imperial Election card is drawn, the election of the new Emperor occurs. There are nine electoral fortresses on the board, and a vote is taken. Each power gets 1 vote for every electoral fortress it controls. If Francis Stephen of Lorraine becomes emperor, Austria places a VP marker in the "Emperor" box; if Charles Albert of Bavaria is elected, then France places one of their VP markers instead.

Hussar Placement
Being out of supply, unlike Friedrich, has immediate consequences (see below). The Austrian player has two Hussar units that can be placed anywhere within 4 towns of an Austrian general. In the image below, the Hussars have cut off supply for both French generals with their Hussar units.

Hussars have no other effect and are automatically eliminated if any unit enters their space. However, since supply is checked before movement, one can see that they can be quite effective. Fortunately, they can be "bought off" in the supply phase.

Board Game: Maria

Hussars harass French supply

The Action Phase
The action phase is the heart of the game. Each power during the action phase follows the following steps:
- draw tactical cards (TC) from the current draw deck
- check the supply of all active generals
- move any number of active generals
- resolve any combats
- check for retroactive conquests (described below)

 
Board Game: Maria


Draw cards: Tactical cards are the core resource that will serve you in this game. You need them for the political phase, and also for combat. The map is divided into square regions, and in order to fight effectively from those regions, you'll need cards of the correct suit. In the image above, you can see that the Hussar unit is in diamonds, and that the zone just north is clubs.

Check supply: After you have drawn cards, you need to check the supply status of your generals. Unlike Friedrich, supply checks have an immediate and nasty effect. Any general out of supply loses 1 army and is flipped face down. Furthermore, any out of supply general cannot conquer fortresses for as long as they are out of supply!

In order to be in supply, you must be within 6 towns (following any path of connected towns) of your supply train. Hussars cut those supply lines, but they can be bought off using TCs. Each point of distance between your general and the supply train (including the space the supply train is in) costs 1 point of TC. So in the Hussar photo above, the French player would need to spend 4 points of TC to prevent his generals from being out of supply. Being too far from your supply train, however, is just bad. If you're out of supply on subsequent turns, affected generals lose 2 armies!

Move active generals: Maria, like Friedrich, is a game of maneouvre. You want to conquer enemy fortresses, and in order to do so, you need to move through them and have the enemy generals more than three towns away. Just like Friedrich, in order to conquer a fortress, you must pass through it - ending up on a fortress does not conquer it, conquest is determined upon leaving it.

Just as in Friedrich, retroactive conquest is possible. If you move through a fortress that is within 3 of an enemy general, you place a question mark on the fortress. If that general is forced to retreat during a combat and ends up more than 3 away from the affected town, then the fortress becomes conquered. Otherwise, the question mark is removed and the fortress retains its unconquered status.

Of interest for the Pragmatic Army player is that any Austrian fortresses conquered by the French on the Flanders map, if recaptured by the Pragmatic Army, the French victory markers are simply removed.

Generals can move 3 spaces, and supply trains 2. Both can move one additional space if their entire movement is along a major road. In addition, in Maria there's a special move called a forced march. A general that begins on a major road can move up to 8 spaces along it, provided that they do not pass any adjacent enemy units. Furthermore, with a forced march you may neither conquer nor pass through enemy fortresses.

Combat: Combat occurs when any two generals end up adjacent to one another and is simple and elegant. Powers use their TCs in the suit their general is in to resolve their fight.

The two players reveal their total strength (generals stacked together combine their armies). Say the Prussian general (in spades) has 5 armies and the Austrian (in hearts) has 4. The Austrian general begins with a -1 deficit, and would be the first player to play a card. The Austrian may choose to take the hit - at -1 they would lose 1 army and the Prussian player would retreat the army 1 town. More likely, they will play a card, and would need to play hearts. The Prussian may then counter. The battle continues in this way until someone concedes or cannot play any more cards. Let's say the Prussians end up with a +3, and the Austrians have no more cards they can (or want to) play. The Austrian general would note on their sheet that their general is reduced from 4 to 1 army, and the Prussian player would retreat the Austrian general three towns.

In addition, because the Prussians won by 3 or more armies, they place a VP marker on the VP chart on the top left of the map (see below).

Retroactive Conquests: After combat is resolved, the player checks for retroactive conquest. In the abbreviated combat example above, the Austrian was retreated 3 spaces, which would allow for a fortress with a ? on it to be conquered (assuming there were no other generals within 3 of it, of course).

Winter Turns:
After the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th turns, a special winter turn takes place. During the winter turn, powers may do the following:
- recruit new troops. Unlike Friedrich, where recruitment is always possible during any movement phase, recruitment can only happen in winter. Troops cost 4 TC each. Also unlike Friedrich, powers may exceed their starting total in armies, so it's possible to grow your forces over the course of the game, subject to the maximum of 8 armies per general. Eliminated generals can enter in any friendly major fortress, provided its friendly controlled. An enemy supply train cannot prevent re-entry - it is in fact, eliminated if an enemy general is re-entered during the supply phase.
- VP count (advanced game only). In the winter turn, in the advanced game only, the number of VP counters remaining in each power's pool is recorded. These numbers are kept "secret" until the end of the game.

Winning the advanced game

As mentioned earlier, there are two ways of winning the advanced game: either you win by placing your last VP marker on the board, or you win a political victory after turn 12.

Board Game: Maria
Board Game: Maria


VP markers are placed in two ways. The first and obvious way is to conquer fortresses. At the start of the game, Austria has 5 of their 8 VP markers already on the map in Silesia (as shown in the photo, above left). The other is to move markers to the VP track on the top left corner of the map (above right). An important note: it is possible that you can win when it is not your turn, if your final VP marker is placed on the board (for instance, Austria takes a third electoral fortress and the Pragmatic Army places their last token on the VP chart).

The boxes with crossed swords represent decisive military victories - when you defeat an army, you place one VP marker for every 3 armies (e.g. if you cause a general to lose 6 armies, you'd place 2 markers). Any power can only have a maximum of 2 VP markers for battles. Similarly, if you lose 3 or more armies in a battle, you remove your battle VP markers! Fame on the battlefield is fickle. Also, eliminating any general, no matter how many armies are lost, also results in a VP marker being awarded.

The other boxes, from the top right down represent:
- Silesia: Once Prussia annexes Silesia, they place a VP marker in this box, and also receive their second supply train (which begins the game in this box!)
- The Three Electors: Mainz, Trier, Köln, and Mannheim are electoral fortresses. The game begins with 2 controlled by the Pragmatic Army, and 2 by France. As soon as either power takes control of 3 of these fortresses, a corresponding VP marker is placed here. Note that Austria can take one of these fortresses, but it is taken on behalf of the Pragmatic Army. If the total is ever reduced below 3, then the VP marker is returned to the pool.
- Italy: when the Italy political track calls for it, either France or Austria place a VP marker in this box.
- Emperor: once the emperor is elected, either Austria or France places a VP marker here. This happens as a result of the Imperial Election and is permanent.

Each power can potentially place 2 VP tokens for military victories up on the board, up to two more for the special boxes, and then the rest must perforce be placed on fortresses to obtain an immediate win.

A political win occurs if nobody has won by the end of turn 12. In each winter phase the number of VP tokens left in each power's pool is tallied and marked on a sheet. After a final tally in the turn 12 winter phase, the numbers are summed up and the lowest total wins - a lower number is better because it means they were on the board. Maria Theresa wins all ties, France loses all ties. It is well worth noting that Austria starts with 5 VP marker on the board with only 3 in the pool, so if they can hold off Prussia early and only get 3-4 counted against them in the first winter turn, this gives them a huge incentive to go for a political win.

Political Changes:
Politics are a large part of the advanced game. There are four key political changes that can occur in the game (aside from the political event track).
-Prussia annexes Silesia: Once Prussia takes control of all fortresses in Silesia, Prussia may offer a temporary peace to Austria. If Austria accepts, a long list of conditions take effect.
- France reduces military objectives: If France withdraws wholly from Austria, they may declare a reduction in their military objectives by removing all their VP markers from Austrian fortresses on the Bohemia map. Only half, round up, go back to the pool. The rest are set aside. If France ever re-enters Austria, these set aside markers are put back into the French pool
- Saxony defects: Saxony can become neutral by the Prussian losing battles to the Austrians. Any time a VP would be awarded to the Austrians, they may choose to shift the Saxony track one to the right on the political chart. Saxony becoming neutral causes them to become played by the Austrian player.
- Neutrality: Prussia and Saxony can declare neutrality, ending all hostilities between them and Austria on the Bohemia map.

Negotiations
Something new in Maria is the option to enter into formal deals with fellow players. In the advanced game powers may negotiate deals. Any deals made are binding and cannot be broken. In general, anything goes, except that you cannot give/exchange tactical cards, you can't violate any of the core rules, and you cannot change the alliance/enemy status of any of the powers (e.g. Prussia and Austria can't declare they're now allied against France).

Some of the things you can do include giving another power a TC "subsidy" for a certain number of turns. For instance, Prussia could agree to give France a 1TC subsidy for 2 turns in exchange for moving away from Silesia.

Exploring Further

References
If you're interested in this period, there are many books available, but you can always begin with Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Theresa_of_Austria

Games
If you like Maria, you'll very likely enjoy Friedrich.

If you like this period, there are numerous wargames covering the era.

Conclusions

Positive Things
Maria takes most of the core ideas from Friedrich and has refined them. The shortened decks, being from 2-10 rather than 2-13, makes battles slightly more controlled and predictable. I particularly liked too that cooperating forces could stack together. There are clear and rational reasons for this not to be the case in Friedrich, but here it works really well. The tension of the Prussian/Pragmatic player having to split their allegiance is also a stroke of genius; this is what makes Maria a three player game rather than a four player one, where the practical consideration of how to deal with France would be moot. Individually, neither Prussia nor the Pragmatic Army care what happens to France. Practically, being played the same player, they do.

My favorite element of Maria is the political phase. I like the dynamic that's created by having to invest one's limited card supply into the political arena, deciding whether to bluff or not, and then the agony of either leaving one's political capital in, or dumping an unpleasant event. Another thing I like is the possibility of getting a deal negotiated in exchange for (not) playing an event.

Negative Things
Every major power begins the game with a fairly decent card draw except France, who only get 2 cards. I feel this puts the French at a somewhat unfair disadvantage in the early political rounds in terms of card availability, and also makes them somewhat vulnerable on the board. They have a nice strong starting position, but until a few turns in may not have the cards to back it up. This observation is based on a limited number of games however, and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Maria vs. Friedrich?
One of the key differences between Maria and Friedrich is that it's not all against one - it can be quite daunting to play Prussia in Friedrich and have to defend against everybody, not to mention survive until the end of the game with all the events in the deck of fate. The basic Maria game pits Austria against France and Prussia and can give the same experience, but the advanced game is quite delicately balanced and places equal pressure on everyone.

The advanced game is what makes Maria special. It adds a depth and richness that makes it a much more subtle and nuanced game than Friedrich. In Friedrich, there is the deck of fate that can simply take powers out of the game; that's something you'll either be just fine with or dislike intensely. I like Friedrich's deck of fate, and if I wanted to play a straight up military campaign with events, Friedrich would be my choice. If I want a game with negotiation and politics in addition to my military campaigns, I'd choose Maria.

Conclusion
Maria is a rich and deep game. If you like complex games where politics and negotiations are present in the background of what is essentially a military campaign of conquest, then I can confidently say that you'll enjoy this game. Unlike card driven games where political events can happen at any time from the use of cards as events, the politics in this game are tightly constrained in a specific phase allowing you to focus on your strategy and tactics without having to worry about a surprise event foiling your plans. The innovative use of cards of a particular suit to fight your battles on the map is still fresh and works particularly well here.

Richard has created a dynamic tense game with immense replay value. I highly recommend it.
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
I am hoping to get this soon, so thanks for the informative review. Have you had a chance to try the two player variant?
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Superb review. I've been meaning to play Friedrich for a couple of years but so far no luck. With Maria receiving consistently good responses, I'll have to push to get both to the table in 2010.
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Great review. Well done!
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
leroy43 wrote:
Unlike Friedrich, in order to conquer a fortress, you must pass through it - ending up on a fortress does not conquer it, conquest is determined upon leaving it.
(I believe that's the rule in Friedrich as well.)
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Riptcord wrote:
I am hoping to get this soon, so thanks for the informative review. Have you had a chance to try the two player variant?
Not yet, if only by virtue of having a long list of 2-player wargames on my shelf that have not been played yet...
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Nice review Roger thanks.

Damn shame you didn't really like the game, really thats too bad.

I'd be willing to trade for a copy no problem, either the current Math Trade or hmmm let me send you a Geekmail!


LOL yeah right...Damn Damn Damn I need this game!!!!
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
verandi wrote:
Excellent review. A couple minor details you may want to fix-

* You say Prussia starts with an army off the board- it is actually a general.

* When force marching, not only may you not conquer enemy fortresses, you may also not pass through them.



Maria has quickly become not only my favorite game of the year, but one of my favorite games of all time. I loved the ideas in Friedrich but found some aspects of the game problematic. Maria improves dramatically on Friedrich much the same way Napoleon's Triumph did with Bonaparte at Marengo.

I cannot recommend this game enough.




So is getting screwed by the Fate deck completely gone now?

How is the luck level in general?


I so have to play this and soon damn it!
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
jayjonbeach wrote:

So is getting screwed by the Fate deck completely gone now?

How is the luck level in general?
Yes, getting screwed by the Fate deck is completely gone. As explained above, events now occur via the politics phase. Firstly, there are no events in Maria that are as dramatic as for example Russia being knocked out of the game in Friedrich. Secondly, there is much more control and predictability. This occurs in two ways:

* The same 6 events will come up each year. Since the year is split into three turns, the uncertainty is what order they will show up.

* Events don't just happen. Players bid, and then the winning player may choose an event card and either activate it OR discard it. Alternatively, a player may save his current bid for the next round. So if there is an important event coming up soon I can save up (you can only add 1 card to your bid each turn) to make sure I win it.

The luck of the tactical cards is still present, but significantly reduced, as now the values range from 2-10 rather than 2-13. This makes a significant difference. That being said, sometimes you just don't get a suit you want, and have to maneuver around that area. This is an intended part of the game though.

Another big difference between Friedrich and Maria is pacing and game length issues. In Friedrich, it is awesome to play Prussia, but not as much the other powers, who don't have as exciting a position and have to wait longer between turns. In Maria all three players are constantly involved and have the chance to be on both offense and defense and different points in the game.

In general, Maria has a more interesting narrative arc. Friedrich is basically a prolonged retreat by the Prussian player. In Maria the dynamic changes as certain minor powers change hands, temporary peace treaties are made, etc. In the span of a few turns the feel of the game can change drastically, which is what I most enjoy about Maria. Not like Friedrich where the motif is the same throughout the whole game- Prussia trying to hold on.
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
verandi wrote:
jayjonbeach wrote:

So is getting screwed by the Fate deck completely gone now?

How is the luck level in general?
Yes, getting screwed by the Fate deck is completely gone. As explained above, events now occur via the politics phase. Firstly, there are no events in Maria that are as dramatic as for example Russia being knocked out of the game in Friedrich. Secondly, there is much more control and predictability. This occurs in two ways:

* The same 6 events will come up each year. Since the year is split into three turns, the uncertainty is what order they will show up.

* Events don't just happen. Players bid, and then the winning player may choose an event card and either activate it OR discard it. Alternatively, a player may save his current bid for the next round. So if there is an important event coming up soon I can save up (you can only add 1 card to your bid each turn) to make sure I win it.

The luck of the tactical cards is still present, but significantly reduced, as now the values range from 2-10 rather than 2-13. This makes a significant difference. That being said, sometimes you just don't get a suit you want, and have to maneuver around that area. This is an intended part of the game though.

Another big difference between Friedrich and Maria is pacing and game length issues. In Friedrich, it is awesome to play Prussia, but not as much the other powers, who don't have as exciting a position and have to wait longer between turns. In Maria all three players are constantly involved and have the chance to be on both offense and defense and different points in the game.

In general, Maria has a more interesting narrative arc. Friedrich is basically a prolonged retreat by the Prussian player. In Maria the dynamic changes as certain minor powers change hands, temporary peace treaties are made, etc. In the span of a few turns the feel of the game can change drastically, which is what I most enjoy about Maria. Not like Friedrich where the motif is the same throughout the whole game- Prussia trying to hold on.

Thanks John. Damn thats a shame that you too dont seem to like the game so much.

I'd be happy to trade of course, sounds even better than Fredyboy to me....

Hey look, 183 people owning, zero trading. You could be first!


HAHAHAHA Oh shit I HAVE to have this game now fo sur!
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Nice review, thanks.
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Great review!
One question: how long is this game? As Friedrich is a wonderful game, but goes on forever.
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
leroy43 wrote:
Some of the things you can do include giving another power a TC "subsidy" for a certain number of turns. For instance, Prussia could agree to give Austria a 1TC subsidy for 2 turns in exchange for moving away from Silesia.
Actually this is wrong. The rules state:

"Subsidies are TC-payments to allied powers. Only major
powers may give subsidies, and they can give subsidies only
to allied powers (minor or major)."

Thus, Prussia could not give a subsidy to Austria, as they are enemies.

EDIT: This has been corrected in the review.
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Mark Delano
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
verandi wrote:
Actually this is wrong. The rules state:

"Subsidies are TC-payments to allied powers. Only major
powers may give subsidies, and they can give subsidies only
to allied powers (minor or major)."

Thus, Prussia could not give a subsidy to Austria, as they are enemies.
That's true, although they can come to other deals that don't involve subsidies.
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Marc Mistiaen
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Thank you for the review. I'm interested in the game now. Although they are different games, I expect to find in this one some of the things I like in Britannia.
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Gorgoneion wrote:
Great review!
One question: how long is this game? As Friedrich is a wonderful game, but goes on forever.
On the box it says 2-5 hours.

My first game, at BGG.Con, which was a learning game for all three of us, took over 4 hours. My most recent game took a little over 2, with the Pragmatic Army winning on turn 9.
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
leroy43 wrote:
Gorgoneion wrote:
Great review!
One question: how long is this game? As Friedrich is a wonderful game, but goes on forever.
On the box it says 2-5 hours.

My first game, at BGG.Con, which was a learning game for all three of us, took over 4 hours. My most recent game took a little over 2, with the Pragmatic Army winning on turn 9.
I've never played Friedrich and have played the introductory game of Maria once (last month). This weekend I played my first Advanced game of Maria (I was Prussia / Pragmatic Army). Austria was played by a player with a little more experience than myself (a couple more introductory games) and France was played by an experienced Maria player (7 games last month!). We finished in about 4 1/2 hours. A considerable amount of time was spent training the two newer players on all aspects of the advanced game, so I would think 3 experienced players could finish in under 3 hours. 2 hours or less would probably only happen with a relatively quick win.



Great review. The game is truly a work of art. From components to mechanics, it strikes me as a game that could earn a lot of 10's. That said, I think it particularly stands out as a 3-player wargame. I would imagine that a lot of the tension of the game would be lost in the 2 player version, besides the fact that there are several million 2 player wargames. Where I think it would fit perfectly is for a player who loves two player games like Twilight Struggle, but would like to have a genuine 3 player game in their collection.
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Am I the only one that gets to thinking about West Side Story every time this game gets mentioned?

"Maria! I just played a game called Maria!"
whistle

By the way, great review!
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
We're usually singing from "The Sound of Music:" "How do you solve a problem like Maria!..."
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Nice review!
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
All Friedrich/Maria fans are indebted to you for this review. Thanks for your time.
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Re: Maria: A Comprehensive Review
Roger, thank you very much for your wonderful review!

There is one rules mistake, though:

Quote:
Of interest for the Pragmatic Army player is that any Austrian fortresses conquered by the French on the Flanders map, if recaptured by the Pragmatic Army get a Pragmatic Army victory point marker placed on it. Thus, the French can actually help the Pragmatic Army in a small sense by conquering Austrian fortresses and then losing them to the Pragmatic Army rather than the Austrians.
This is not correct. These "re-conquests" are not awarded with a pragmatic victory marker. The French marker is simply removed. See rules section 10.3, second last spades. See also 10.3, the last example.


Quote:
The boxes with crossed swords represent decisive military victories - if you defeat an army by 3 or more, you place one VP marker for every 3 points (e.g. if you defeat a general by 6, you'd place 2 markers).
This is might be just a little sloppy wording... You get a VP marker for each 3 eliminated troops. So, if you win a battle by +8 but kill only 3 troops, it is still only 1 VP marker.
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Can you play without negotiation?

Would this change hamper the gameplay anyhow?

For me, negotiation just slows down gameplay, adds kingmaking capabilities and such.
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Kingmaking? You mean choosing who you lose to? Honestly, if someone's kingmaking in Maria, you should stop playing any game with them.
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The negotiation in Maria is relatively constrained - you can't change fundamental premises of the game. For instance, France and Austria can't suddenly decide they're allies. And enemies can't give you a card subsidy, for instance.
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