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Virgin Queen
A game for 2-6 players designed by Ed Beach


"God has given such brave soldiers to this Crown that, if they do not frighten our neighbours, at least they prevent us from being frightened by them."
-- Elizabeth I


Introduction

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Roger's Reviews. I've been playing board games since I was a wee lad and wargames for over thirty years.

Virgin Queen is the sequel to Ed Beach's wildly successful Here I Stand, which I consider to be one of the best multi-player games I've ever had the pleasure to play.

Virgin Queen presents us with the opportunity to play in a slice of history covering the last four decades of the 16th century.

The Reformation, begun under Luther runs into the Council of Trent and the Counterreformation. Elizabeth I is a year into her reign and has to manage the religious peace at home. Spain has colonized the new world and is reaping its riches, but despite this declares bankruptcy in 1560, 1575 and 1596. The Holy Roman Empire was in a relatively peaceful phase of its existence, remaining pragmatically neutral in the wars of religion until the Thirty Years War in the next century. The Ottoman empire was still a threat to the east, but weak leadership kept their expansion from becoming a serious problem. The Dutch revolt spread. The Hugenots caused trouble in France. Arts and science flourished. Diplomatic marriages were the order of the day.

With this backdrop, we enter into the game itself.

Components

Virgin Queen comes in the GMT 3" deep box, and it needs all that space to contain all the bits. The mounted map is beautiful, the counters are the same thick style ones we saw in the deluxe edition of Here I Stand and there are a lot of them.

Image courtesy of Ed Beach.

The map presents a somewhat distorted view of Europe, but clearly delineates where everything is, and this somewhat squashed view allows for the rest of the world to be represented on the fringes, as the colonies of the new world are made available for exploitation by the powers in the game.

Rules & Game Play

The objective in Virgin Queen is to win through victory points, gained through piracy, conquest, diplomatic marriage, sponsorship of the arts and science, colonization, and religious conversion.

Our powers, in initiative order, are:

The Ottomans: a dangerous military power, with the opportunity to cash in on the new world by building the Suez Canal. They can either venture into Hungary or through the Mediterranean. No matter which direction they go, they'll be dangerous.

Spain: taking on the mantle of protector of the Catholic faith, directly opposed to the Protestant player, has to keep the world as Catholic as possible while fending off the hungry pirates of the Ottoman corsair fleet.

England: led by the indomitable Elizabeth I, this is a power with many options. In the early going, England has the luxury of waiting and seeing how the board develops before coming to the continent and helping themselves to what they like.

France: France may be the most challenging power to play. Relatively weak, threatened on all sides, and prone to Huguenot rebellions, they do have many diplomatic options and with a little finesse can prosper.

The Holy Roman Empire: the chameleons of Europe pick a favorite in the wars of religion at the beginning of the game and then can spend much of it patronizing the arts, watching the powers in the west fight amongst themselves, and persuade the Ottomans that the Mediterranean and piracy against Spain is the best option.

The Protestants: unlike Here I Stand, the Protestants in Virgin Queen are both a spiritual and military threat. With their ability to foment rebellion in Holland and France, they can form pockets of military power to challenge all comers, who will need to march long and hard to get to them. If they can keep France and Spain distracted from helping one another, they'll do well.

Relegated to observer status are the Papacy, Venice, Scotland, Ireland, and Portugal. These minor powers are all in play though, as Virgin Queen incorporates diplomatic influence as an important part of game play.

Virgin Queen is a card driven game, with the cards serving multiple purposes. Each card has a command point (CP) value in the top left corner which can be spent variety of of tasks available to your power, and an event which can be used in lieu of the CP. Cards labelled combat can be used in a fight, and cards labelled response can generally be used at any time (conditions may apply). Each power also has two home cards and will have to decide each turn which one they want to keep; some second home cards aren't available until later turns however.

Card Draws
Every turn you will get cards dealt to you based on the number of keys you control, bonuses (if any) based on your leader, and there's also the possibility of earning extra cards thanks to diplomatic marriages.

Play goes around the table in initiative order until everyone passes in turn; you may pass once you have used your home card and the number of cards left in your hand is allowed by your leader's administrative rating.

Once you have your cards, and the Spanish collect their treasure (more on that later), the diplomacy phase begins.

Diplomacy
Ah, negotiation and diplomacy. This game requires finesse and care with respect to diplomacy, as it can have some profound impacts on the flow of play. Anything and everything is up for grabs during the diplomacy phase, and players can promise one another the moon in all its cheesy goodness with a side serving of grapes and crackers, but only deals that alter the game state and are ratified publicly by both sides are enforced.

Players can announce marriages, exchange of keys, card pulls (always random!), and alliances. Declarations start with the Ottomans and are confirmed or denied by each player in turn. Thus, the Protestants will always be in a position to confirm or deny any declarations but never to make them on their own.

Once all declarations are made and confirmed, any map adjustments required are made and cards given or taken as required. Marriages are resolved at the end of the turn, and it's possible that betrothals are cancelled due to an untimely death or other events.

Also, promises made on the side, such as the Ottomans promising no piracy against Spain this turn, are not enforceable. Players will have to exact their own revenge.

Declarations of War
Again in initiative order, powers may declare war, either against another power, or against one of the minor powers. Wars, unlike alliances, remain in effect until peace is negotiated.

Spring Deployment
Ah spring, when a young leader's thoughts turn to dreams of conquest and armies are sent to the field for a summer of battle, a fall of regret, and a winter of recuperation.

Each power may move one group into position for attack, defense, or at least a potential bluff.

The Action Phase
Your troops are ready. You know who you're at war with and who you're allied with. You have a handful of cards and a lot of things you want to do. What can you do?

Below is a screen shot of the options for each power. In this image, the game is about to enter turn 4. The Spanish have just selected their home card for the turn with the English next. The Protestants have just received their second home card to choose from. Some of the powers have earned scientific bonuses and art patronage bonuses (latter not shown).

Click on the image to get a larger view.

Actions are colour coded for your convenience!

Brown actions are straightforward - build or move land units.

Light blue actions likewise - build or move naval units, send out expeditions, or initiate piracy!

New to Virgin Queen is that everyone can engage in piracy, and there are even two kinds of piracy.

If you're engaging in Piracy in Europe, you need to be at war with the power you're saying "aarrr me bucko, me salty salty tar!" to, or be the Ottomans using corsairs.

If you're out in the colonies, you're engaging in piracy against Spain (yellow) or Portugal (red). No need to be at war. What happens in international waters stays in international waters.

Piracy can get you all kinds of goodies, with the victim choosing between giving you +1 VP, giving you a random card, destroying a naval unit in the area, or if you're Spain, handing over treasure.

Treasure tokens have goodies on them. Mostly they'll have a value of 1-5CP, but there are also "draw card", +1VP, and "science bonus" treasures. Treasure allows you to extend your turn; once you've resolved your action card, you can say "and I'm going to use this treasure!" If you use a CP treasure, you can do more actions, but you're not allowed to do an action of the same color as one you've already done this impulse. In plainer English, if you've done something brown, like build a mercenary, you are barred from doing another brown action with treasure. The Spanish start with 4 treasures each turn, and the Portuguese 3, and when the Spanish are the targets of Piracy, they can peek at which treasure they give (assuming they're willing to give treasure).

Grey actions let you build fortresses, which help against piracy.

Blue actions let you buy diplomatic influence.

Diplomatic influence table.

The minor powers generally come into play via card events, and to resolve who they ally with a d6 is rolled and any influence previously bought is added to the roll. Having a minor power on your side is great, because you get to place your markers on their keys and take control of their armies and fleets. Handy! And they remain your ally until the next time that power gets resolved, so it pays to stay in their good graces by investing CP even once they're "yours".

Green actions let you patronize artists and scientists. Why would you want to do this I hear you ask? Victory Points. You can spend 2-4CP to sponsor an artist or a scientist. 2CP gets them sponsored, 3CP confers a +1, and 4CP a +2. Artists and scientists range in value from 1-4, and during the winter phase, 2d6 are rolled and added to the value of the artist/scientist and any bonuses from the CP, and then you earn VP based on the result. You need at least a 10 to get anything. Artists confer 1-3VP, and scientists confer 1-2VP and/or an achievement. For instance, you could take the observatory to get +2 on all future science rolls.

Purple actions let you preach sermons (if you're Protestant or Spanish) or suppress heresy (if you're English, Spanish, or French). Yes, Spain can go either way. The religious wars in Here I Stand were relatively involved. Here, it's been rather simplified. You roll 5d6. You "hit" on a 4-6 and flip spaces. Any quantity of 1s means one space goes into unrest. A 2-3 "misses". A 6 is special in that it allows you to convert an occupied space or ignore the unrest result.

Yellow actions are only in effect in turn 3 and later, and these ones are really interesting. You can attempt to gain intelligence (such as peeking at your opponent's hand), plant an operative (gives some bonus dice for gaining intelligence), or even attempt to assassinate a leader (shades of the old Machiavelli game here). The Spanish also earn the option of fomenting a Catholic rebellion in England. Nice work if you can get it!

The Spanish can also choose to place a Jesuit instead of an operative, which helps with the religious struggle.

Holy cow! And we're not even done yet.

Once all the action cards have been played and everyone passes, we get into the winter phase.

In winter, there are 12 steps to follow. The highly abridged version is that all unused treasures are discarded, all naval units return to port, armies and leaders go home (nearest fortified space), alliances are dissolved, everyone gets a regular in their capital, and all the markers are reset.

As if that weren't enough, then we resolve the royal weddings. Everyone except the Ottomans get to play in the wedding game. All weddings that were announced and agreed upon in the diplomacy phase are resolved (in impulse order just to keep life easy for everyone), and 2d6 are rolled, the respective values of each royal spouse is added, and if you get 12 or more, good things happen in the form of VP and/or bonus cards. Beware though, for a roll of 8 or below means bad things happen, from a loss of a card drawn or even death of the betrothed. Every noble has their own special note too. For example, Henry IV of Navarre earns the Protestants +1 card if he manages to marry a French Royal.

Then there's Elizabeth. She has her very own "Jilted by Elizabeth" table. As long as she remains single, nice things happen to England.

Has someone won by VP? Has someone won by dominance? Has anyone earned an auto-win? No? Let's move the turn track forward and do it all over again.

Conclusions

Wow.

Virgin Queen has a lot of moving parts. The nuances and layers present here feel whelming, and just like Here I Stand, it will take some time and experience from many plays to learn and distill the strengths and weaknesses of the various powers.

Which brings us to my fundamental question: given my premise that Here I Stand is a brilliant game, how does Virgin Queen match up?

Let's begin with the player count. I feel quite strongly that Here I Stand needs six players to be good. With Virgin Queen, I don't feel the same way. I've only played it with six players, but my sense is that it would be every bit as good with five (which takes out the Holy Roman Empire as a player power) or even four (which takes out the Ottomans too). This is great news if you're looking to get a game together and don't have six people.

As I mentioned in the introduction, I consider Here I Stand to be one of the best six player games ever designed, and everything in that game is tightly integrated. I've never felt there were any loose ends in HIS as pushing hard on one end of the map here means there'll be repercussions over there. There's the whole game within a game with the Pope and Luther fighting a religious war while the greater military conflict swirls around them, but nobody is an idle spectator.

In that respect, I don't sense that same tight integration in Virgin Queen. I feel that this game makes it too easy to get permanent victory points. From a game perspective, permanent victory points create a comparably cheap purchase versus trying to conquer keys. Of course, conquering keys will gain you more cards, but there is a definite trade off that will need to be calculated by each player.

Nevertheless, I feel that your precious CP are better spent at piracy, diplomacy, and patronage than in a military build up for missions of conquest. Make no mistake, you will need to take some keys from someone to win, but there's not the same rush to do so.

Virgin Queen has also seen some streamlining of the processes we saw in Here I Stand, the biggest one being the simplified religious conversion process. In his design notes, Ed mentions that the big goals he was trying to achieve were:
1. Player turns should be quick to resolve (and I'll admit up front that the debates in Here I Stand could be a while).
2. Easier negotiations in the early game.
3. Better scaling so the game would be good with fewer players.
4. A more interactive world map.

I say that Ed succeeded on all these fronts.

In answer to my question, Virgin Queen measures up very well indeed. It's a solid game with a lot of interesting choices and dynamics.

Were I forced to choose which of Here I Stand and Virgin Queen I thought was better, I'd actually give the nod to Here I Stand, but if I were asked are they both great games, then my answer is a resounding yes. Virgin Queen is to Here I Stand as Aliens is to Alien - proof positive that sequels can be both different and great at the same time.


Thank you for reading this latest installment of Roger's Reviews. I've been an avid board gamer all my life and a wargamer for over thirty years. I have a strong preference for well designed games that allow players to focus on trying to make good decisions.

Among my favorites I include Twilight Struggle, the Combat Commander Series, the Musket & Pike Battle Series, Julius Caesar, Maria, EastFront, Here I Stand, Napoleon's Triumph and Unhappy King Charles!

You can subscribe to my reviews at this geeklist: [Roger's Reviews] The Complete Collection and I also encourage you to purchase this very stylish microbadge: mb
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Brian Morris
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I was going to write my own review but our views pretty much coincide here. This game is an amazing achievement in game design. It has the greatest historical depth I think I have ever seen with a game.

On the flip side this game isn't for the weak of heart. The game mechanics aren't hard but there are so many of them. Our group has a rules lawyer. He's an actual attorney who specializes in contract law and even he found the rules a challenge.

Overall this is an amazing game but I think it's also an investment in time and effort. This isn't a game you can read the rules the night before and expect to throw it down on the table the next day and dive in. I think it's going to take about 3 plays to get this game down before you can stop dealing with rules and start enjoying the game strategy. I think in the end though it's worth it.
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Jim Henderson
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Excellent review of an excellent game. One minor correction, however. You state that Spain can choose which treasure to award for Piracy. Actually, treasures are chosen randomly when given as a piracy reward, except for one potential treasure that can be witheld if Spain has a fortress in the pirated ocean zone. See page 25 of the rules, World Map Piracy Procedure, paragraph 5 b.
"b. If Spain is the target, allow the active power to draw at random one of the Spanish treasures. If Spain rolled at least one die for the presence of a fortress connected to this ocean zone, the Spanish player chooses one treasure to withhold from the pool available to this random draw."
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I think the map is an outstanding example of how to emphasize what's important for the game, rather than stick to a strictly proportional geographic depiction. Roger you call it "squashed" but of course the Netherlands (and to a lesser extent England/Ireland) are "stretched". Makes sense for game play - a lot of action there. The kind of thing you couldn't do easily with a hex-based map.

Good review Roger!
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wifwendell wrote:
... a strictly proportional geographic depiction.


Careful with that can of worms, there.
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Having never played either game, the thing the attracts me more to Virgin Queen is the listed 180 minute play time vs the 360 minutes advertised for HIS. Is this accurate? And what accounts for the difference if so?
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Great review!

casualgod wrote:
Having never played either game, the thing the attracts me more to Virgin Queen is the listed 180 minute play time vs the 360 minutes advertised for HIS. Is this accurate? And what accounts for the difference if so?


I suspect the 180 minute play time may be due to the tutorial scenario (Spain vs. Ottomans). Not 100% sure.
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I think go and allowing permanent VPs adds to the tension of the game. It forces to check on all your opponents move and act on it, as in Here I Stand, that level of interaction is a little more absent, there are more subgames than in Virgin Queen. Plus the marriage negociations add a lot of possible deals to the mix.

 
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My (limited) experience suggests that Virgin Queen actually takes a bit longer then Here I Stand. Both of them are full day games, at least when you play the campaign game.
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knoel wrote:
My (limited) experience suggests that Virgin Queen actually takes a bit longer then Here I Stand. Both of them are full day games, at least when you play the campaign game.


And my interest just evaporated (sadly).
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wifwendell wrote:
I think the map is an outstanding example of how to emphasize what's important for the game, rather than stick to a strictly proportional geographic depiction. Roger you call it "squashed" but of course the Netherlands (and to a lesser extent England/Ireland) are "stretched". Makes sense for game play - a lot of action there. The kind of thing you couldn't do easily with a hex-based map.

Good review Roger!


Was the map distorted for gamespace reasons or did they use a period map?
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Gamespace reasons. The original draft had a bunch of different regions in different scales with transit lines between them.

The final map is described as "The world inside Philip II's head".
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tssfulk wrote:
Was the map distorted for gamespace reasons or did they use a period map?


Distorted for game-space reasons. If I remember correctly, there was a designer's notes where Mr. Beach talked about how he attempted to cram everything onto one board (without distortions) and ran into issues: either loads of the map would be wasted space, or there wouldn't be enough room for interesting sections.

... several Google searches later ...

Ah, here it is: http://mapologist.blogspot.com/2009/08/elizabethan-cartogram...

EDIT: Mr. Lowry beat me to it. Note that this linked article is by Mark Mahaffey, the map artist.
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Having played several times with 5 and 6 players, our games have averaged 8 hours usually ending at the end of turn 5.
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casualgod wrote:
knoel wrote:
My (limited) experience suggests that Virgin Queen actually takes a bit longer then Here I Stand. Both of them are full day games, at least when you play the campaign game.


And my interest just evaporated (sadly).

As Brian points out, neither HIS nor VQ are for the faint of heart.
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This is an event game. This is a game you schedule 2 weeks in advance, get people to read the rules and expect to spend a full day playing. If nobody has played before don't expect to finish the game first time. There simply is that much here. It even took me 2 hours to punch and sort the counters on this thing.

Think of wargaming as mountain climbing. In that case Virgin Queen is Mount Everest. It's a game for advanced wargamers. I'd compare the game to The Republic of Rome. Another game that takes several plays for people to truly get a grapple on the rules. What you have to ask yourself is do you want to invest that time and can you get 4 or 5 other people to make that same sort of commitment. If you can get the same 4 or 5 people together on a Saturday say once a month to play this then in the end you're going to be rewarded with an amazing game experience.


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mrbeankc wrote:
This is an event game. This is a game you schedule 2 weeks in advance, get people to read the rules and expect to spend a full day playing. If nobody has played before don't expect to finish the game first time. There simply is that much here. It even took me 2 hours to punch and sort the counters on this thing.

Think of wargaming as mountain climbing. In that case Virgin Queen is Mount Everest. It's a game for advanced wargamers. I'd compare the game to The Republic of Rome. Another game that takes several plays for people to truly get a grapple on the rules. What you have to ask yourself is do you want to invest that time and can you get 4 or 5 other people to make that same sort of commitment. If you can get the same 4 or 5 people together on a Saturday say once a month to play this then in the end you're going to be rewarded with an amazing game experience.




All this is very true, but with online play you can make it work quite easily- only one or two moves a day needed from each player, just let it proceed at its own pace...admittedly this does lead to 3-month long games (or longer) but it can work.
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I found VQ more enjoyable then HIS mainly because of the religious resolution system. VQ's is streamlined and keeps the game moving better. We have found that VQ ends around turn four or five. We have never gone longer then that,therefor VQ plays quicker then HIS in our experience.
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Philip Thomas wrote:
mrbeankc wrote:
This is an event game. This is a game you schedule 2 weeks in advance, get people to read the rules and expect to spend a full day playing. If nobody has played before don't expect to finish the game first time. There simply is that much here. It even took me 2 hours to punch and sort the counters on this thing.

Think of wargaming as mountain climbing. In that case Virgin Queen is Mount Everest. It's a game for advanced wargamers. I'd compare the game to The Republic of Rome. Another game that takes several plays for people to truly get a grapple on the rules. What you have to ask yourself is do you want to invest that time and can you get 4 or 5 other people to make that same sort of commitment. If you can get the same 4 or 5 people together on a Saturday say once a month to play this then in the end you're going to be rewarded with an amazing game experience.




All this is very true, but with online play you can make it work quite easily- only one or two moves a day needed from each player, just let it proceed at its own pace...admittedly this does lead to 3-month long games (or longer) but it can work.


I haven't gotten into online gaming much yet although I'd love to. I think Virgin Queen would lend itself very well to this kind of thing. I think it would also benefit because you can truly dig into the negotiations.
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leroy43 wrote:
casualgod wrote:
knoel wrote:
My (limited) experience suggests that Virgin Queen actually takes a bit longer then Here I Stand. Both of them are full day games, at least when you play the campaign game.


And my interest just evaporated (sadly).

As Brian points out, neither HIS nor VQ are for the faint of heart.


Both only play "quickly" with "very experienced" players, and it will probably still be around 6 hours in length at that.

As a point of reference, we played HIS at BGG last year over the course of two 4-hour sessions, but actually finished the game early, in about 7.5 hours. This included tearing down and setting up the game twice and recording the board position at the end of the first session. It worked out really well - I get game-fatigue after about 5 or 6 straight hours.

In previous years, the same group has steadily reduced the game time; from a marathon session of 12 hours the first year down to this - probably 6 hours or so of actual gaming including a very liberal negotiation period (no time limit).

After playing several turns in three VQ games, I have no illusions that VQ will be similar - longer games early on, faster with more experienced players.

Not for the faint of heart indeed.
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As someone who has played HIS a lot and VQ once, I'd have to say the major problem with VQ is that there are way too many options available.

Yes, HIS is a complex game, but it's mitigated by how each power is not actively involved in all kinds of actions.

For instance - the Ottomans, the French, and the Hapsburgs (if played competently) don't care about the religious struggle. Only the Ottomans can pirate. And neither the Protestants or the Papacy will be doing much military actions. It's a 6 player game, but not everyone is competing against everyone else in the same arena directly.

In VQ... almost everything can be done by everyone. Which has this unfortunate effect of diffusing a player's focus and leading them down a path that they shouldn't take. The Hapsburgs in VQ for instance are a very poor piracy power (they only have one Captain), but because they can do it I've seen our Haps player go for piracy and get almost nothing out of it. The Spanish player may end up getting blinded by the VPs of artist patronage while the Ottomans run amok in the Med. The French player could focus so much on espionage that he ignores a Spanish invasion. The list goes on and on.

Moreover, the removal of the "Sue for peace" mechanic makes the game much less forgiving. My group tends to play a very cutthroat game of HIS, wherein powers very readily sue for peace (and get back their keys) fully expecting that war would resume next turn. Yes, it gives some permanent War Winner VP to the other guy, but the one turn breathing room plus the return of the card draw tends to make Suing for Peace better in the long run than letting an enemy keep your keys.

This option is gone in VQ. Victors are no longer required to give up keys in exchange for VPs. So when a nation ends up smashed and crippled after a war, it will stay smashed and crippled, which could prove to be very unfun for that player if they have to play for 6 more hours knowing they have no chance of winning the game.

VQ needs more streamlining, and wars need to be less punishing. As it stands it proves one of the old adages of design - a design is perfect not when you have run out of things to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
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Alex H.
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Quote:
In VQ... almost everything can be done by everyone. Which has this unfortunate effect of diffusing a player's focus and leading them down a path that they shouldn't take. The Hapsburgs in VQ for instance are a very poor piracy power (they only have one Captain), but because they can do it I've seen our Haps player go for piracy and get almost nothing out of it. The Spanish player may end up getting blinded by the VPs of artist patronage while the Ottomans run amok in the Med. The French player could focus so much on espionage that he ignores a Spanish invasion. The list goes on and on.


I don't think that's a valid complaint after just one game. These problems are similarly there for HIS first-timers and will go away with experience.
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TS S. Fulk
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alex352 wrote:
Quote:
In VQ... almost everything can be done by everyone. Which has this unfortunate effect of diffusing a player's focus and leading them down a path that they shouldn't take. The Hapsburgs in VQ for instance are a very poor piracy power (they only have one Captain), but because they can do it I've seen our Haps player go for piracy and get almost nothing out of it. The Spanish player may end up getting blinded by the VPs of artist patronage while the Ottomans run amok in the Med. The French player could focus so much on espionage that he ignores a Spanish invasion. The list goes on and on.


I don't think that's a valid complaint after just one game. These problems are similarly there for HIS first-timers and will go away with experience.


My thoughts exactly.
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Sam Carroll
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Zinegata wrote:
In VQ... almost everything can be done by everyone. Which has this unfortunate effect of diffusing a player's focus and leading them down a path that they shouldn't take. The Hapsburgs in VQ for instance are a very poor piracy power (they only have one Captain), but because they can do it I've seen our Haps player go for piracy and get almost nothing out of it. The Spanish player may end up getting blinded by the VPs of artist patronage while the Ottomans run amok in the Med. The French player could focus so much on espionage that he ignores a Spanish invasion. The list goes on and on.


I think all of this is mitigated by the "if played competently" clause.
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alex352 wrote:
Quote:
In VQ... almost everything can be done by everyone. Which has this unfortunate effect of diffusing a player's focus and leading them down a path that they shouldn't take. The Hapsburgs in VQ for instance are a very poor piracy power (they only have one Captain), but because they can do it I've seen our Haps player go for piracy and get almost nothing out of it. The Spanish player may end up getting blinded by the VPs of artist patronage while the Ottomans run amok in the Med. The French player could focus so much on espionage that he ignores a Spanish invasion. The list goes on and on.


I don't think that's a valid complaint after just one game. These problems are similarly there for HIS first-timers and will go away with experience.


I don't think you can use the "You only played it once!" defense on someone who can, in fact, count and see that Virgin Queen adds a lot of options - many ending up superflous.
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