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Subject: Levee en Masse rss

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Robert Flood
United Kingdom
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Levee en Masse - I was involved in playtesting the game and this was my first attempt to be a hero of the revolution!

Turn 1: Tennis Court Oath - up with the Republic and down with the Monarchy! Both allowed actions were successful in raising the political level of the republic (the +1 DRM certainly helped). Republic now at 2, Monarchy 3.
Turn 2: Declaration of Pillnetz. Although the Vendee and Prussians advance, the rotation of the Prussian army could be an advantage. The Political Reaction means that the Monarchy drops to 2 and Despotism goes up. Here is an opportunity. The first of the three actions raises the level of the Republic (with a roll of 6). As it is now the highest, military actions have more chance. The second action is an attack on the Vendee (with a +1 DRM). A roll of 5 sees this easily successful, with the Vendee pushed back to Toulon. The final action is an attempt to raise the Republic again, but a roll of 2 means failure.
Turn 3: Duke of Brunswick Declaration. Despotism increasing at home. Vendee and Prussians advance (Prussians can still move as they are not yet in France). The first of the four actions sees the Monarchy level reduced again (on a roll of 4). The second is used to remove the Disorder in Paris (automatic due to the Republic political level). Now is a good time to attack the Prussians. The card gives +1 militarily, as does the political support for republicanism. A roll of 5 sees the Prussians pushed back to Cologne. The final action is trying to strengthen the support for the Republic. A roll of 4 sees the political level of the Republic reach its maximum level.
Turn 4: Girondis and Jacobins. Disorder in Paris again! Vendee advance. Monarchy down, Despotism up. As there is such a large political DRM, the focus will be elsewhere. The Disorder marker is removed (automatic as Republicanism is so high). The second action sees the Vendee pushed back to Bordeaux on a roll of 3 (the +1 DRM making the difference). The final action sees an attempt to push the Vendee back to Toulon, but a roll of 1 means failure.
Turn 5: Royal family arrested. British and Vendee advance (notice how the counter-revolutionaries at home are the biggest pain at the moment – the good news is their forces are not very powerful). As the card gives a +1DRM (together with the +1 for the support for the republic) this is a good time for military action. The first of three actions sees the Vendee pushed back to Bordeaux again (roll of 2, +2 DRM making 4). Vendee attacked again as a second action – roll of 4 sees them pushed back to Toulon. As the British are at sea (and so the military DRM’s will not apply) the Prussians are attacked as the third action. A roll of 6 (modified to 8) sees them decisively defeated and driven back to Berlin.
Turn 6: Massacre at the Tuileries. Piedmont, Prussia and Vendee advance. Despotism up (to 3), Republicanism down (to 3). Disorder in Paris again – don’t the Parisians have anything else to do? Five actions. The first is to remove Disorder in Paris (automatic). The second sees an attempt to raise Republicanism again, but a roll of 2 means failure. The same is tried with the third action and the roll of 4 means this is successful. This means the French army gets the +1 DRM back again. The Vendee is attacked as action four. The die roll of 3 (+1) means the Vendee are pushed back. The final action is an attack against the Piedmont forces, but a roll of 1 means failure.
Turn 7: Let them eat cake. Monarchy and Despotism up again. Vendee advance. Disorder in Paris!!! First action is to remove Disorder (automatic). The second is to try and reduce Despotism, but a roll of 2 means failure.
Turn 8: War with Austria and Prussia. Republicanism is at its maximum, so no change there. Five actions are available, but the -1 military DRM is a problem. There is a need to reduce Despotism, currently at 4. The first attempt fails (roll of 2) as does the second (roll of 4). The third attempt succeeds with a roll of 6. The -1 DRM from the card is now balanced by the +1 from Republic support. The fourth action sees an attack on the Vendee fail, with a roll of 3. The final action sees the Vendee pushed back to Bordeaux on a roll of 5.
Turn 9: Rights of Man. Monarchy and Despotism down. Republicanism already at 4. As the card gives +1 to political die rolls, this will be the focus. The first action is to reduce Despotism, which succeeds on a roll of 4. The second sees Despotism reduced again on a roll of 2 (the DRM not needed). Despotism is now down to ).
Turn 10: Battle of Jemappes. Austrians and Prussians advance. The Prussians are now in France (at Metz). Despotism increases and Paris is again in Disorder. The first of the four actions is to Remove the Disorder in Paris (automatic). All military actions will have a 0 DRM (the effects of the card balanced by support for Republicanism). The second action sees the Vendee driven back to Toulon, with a roll of 4. The third action is an attack on Piedmont that fails on a roll of 1. The last is a failed attack on Prussia (on a roll of 4). I really should have attacked the Prussians twice at least!

Quick progress report. The first ten turns have moved along rapidly. The plan was to consolidate support for the Republic and take the opportunities that arose to keep the counter-revolutionaries at bay and to reduce support for other factions. The game has provided a good feel for the period. Paris is in a state of semi disorder and the real threat comes from home. Fortunately, the forces of the Vendee are relatively weak, especially if support for the Republic remains strong. The rules are well written and there is enough information on the map to ensure that there is no need to make constant reference back to them. The information on the cards certainly helps to give the ‘story’ behind the game.

On to Turn 11......
Before I move on, time to reflect on the game so far (and do some mathematics!). Certain key points stand out. Military success is closely linked to the popularity of Republicanism. Keeping it at the top of the political tables gives a 17% improvement in military activities (33% chance of success to 50% chance to 67% chance ) against your enemies . It also ensures that Disorder in Paris does not get out of hand. Always take the opportunity to give the Despots and Monarchists a good beating when they are down (83% chance when their political value is 1 or below – becoming increasingly difficult as it moves up). Whenever you can manage a +2 on the military DRM (due to Republicanism and a helpful card) have a go at the Austrians and Prussians as a priority.

Having grasped the rules more clearly, the next nine turns move more quickly. Starting with the Storming of the Bastille, the fortunes of the Republic are mixed. Disorder in Paris remains an ongoing issue and it appears the overseas enemies are taking a greater interest in events in France. By the time Louis goes to the block, Republicanism is strong (level 4), Despotism is coming more to the fore (level 1), but the Monarchists are having a difficult time (level -1). Paris is in order and there is one Liberation chit available. The Prussians are poised at the border (Coblenz), the Austrians are at Worms, the British at Dunkirk, the Piedmontese in Piedmont and the Vendee at Bordeaux.

On to the next phase (white cards).
Things start so well. Turns 20 to 24 see support for the Republic remaining strong and the first Liberation marker placed in Brussels (now for the rest of Europe!). Although the enemies of freedom make some advances, the situation is far from desperate. The Liberation rule is clever. Even if the Austrians defeat the would be rebels, you are given the chance to support revolution abroad before the end of the turn (are you prepared to support those inspired by events in France or leave them to the mercy of the Austrian imperialists?). In this case they are supported and the Austrians driven back (an extra ‘cushion’ for the Republic).

On Turn 25 - Levee en Masse - things start to go horribly wrong. Even with the +1 DRM for military actions, only one out of five actions are successful (three rolls of 1 on the die – I need to change it quickly for another!).
Turn 26 – The Treaty of Basel. Another Liberation marker is available, but there is now nowhere to put it. Another bad turn. The Piedmontese are pushed back, but the Austrians are not (and are at Arras).
Turn 27 – Madame Guillotine. Disaster! Not only are the Austrians in Paris, but the political Reaction means that Republicanism is reduced to the same level as Despotism and the military +1 DRM goes. It seems that every card drawn at the moment moved the Austrians forward! At least there are six actions available. Mixed fortunes. The Austrians are eventually driven back (the To the Barricades fails and it takes three additional military actions). The Piedmontese are driven back (should I have had another pop at the Austrians?). Disorder is removed from Paris. But the attempt to move Republicanism up again fails (should I have tried that more than once – did I say six actions were available – I needed ten!).
Turn 28 – Robespierre executed (well, he probably deserved it). Again, not a good card. Republicanism is down to level 2 and there is disorder in Paris. Once again, the Austrians are on the move. Only 3 actions. To the Barricades fails again (these Parisians are good for demonstrating but not much use when needed to drive out a foreign occupier!). The Austrians are driven out on the second military action. Order is restored in Paris.
Turn 29 – Whiff of Grapeshot. The end!! The British and Austrians are in Paris, Despotism is now at 3 and Republicanism 1 as a result of the political changes on the card. To the Barricades fails against the British and the Austrians. There are only three actions. The British are driven out easily, but the Austrians resist two attempts to remove them (you wont see me in Vienna on holiday again!!). The game is over.

It all seemed to be going so well for 24 turns. A combination of Austrian determination (card draws), poor die rolling and, dare I say, questionable decision making by those in charge (i.e. me) led to defeat. I did achieve 3 victory points for finishing with Republicanism at level 1. However, -12 points for Despotism (level 3); -5 points for Monarchism (level 1); -12 points as all red cards remained; -5 points for the five foreign armies; -3 points as the British were in Rouen and -1 point for the Piedmontese in Dijon gave a net result 0f -35 points. I don’t think my name will go down well in history.

I wonder if the Scarlet Pimpernel would help me out of Paris before the Austrians arrive at the door?

I really enjoyed the game (despite the substantive defeat) and will be looking to rekindle the revolution again soon. It plays very well and the cards give a truly excellent feel for the era. The rules are clear and easy to understand. I haven’t come across any real areas that have left me reading and re-reading the rules and being unclear about what they say and mean. Decision making is never easy and you can be lulled into a false sense of security when events seem to run in your favour. It is a constant juggling act – you never quite have enough actions to do everything you want to. As I found out in this game, the tide can turn quickly. Certainly the emphasis in the blue cards is on ‘getting it right’ at home. The white cards certainly see greater pressure from foreign enemies (what turned out to be a persistent Austrian juggernaut in my case).
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John Welch
United States
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I hope my fellow gamers enjoy these AAR's as much as I do. There is such a great narrative and they are written in a very witty way.
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Brad Heath
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Nicely written AAR Robert. I just completed VP Games The Lost Cause on the weekend (Confederate victory!). I think I know what game I'll be buying from them next.
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