Here I Stand--the wargame that multiplayer conflict ATers have no idea they would love

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I was thinking while playing this great wargame, Here I Stand by GMT games, that I think more people need to know about this game. Especially ATers, who love multiplayer conflict games. So I'm going to post an AAR here on the Fortress w/pics from this PBEM game. I'll assume the reader hasn't played many wargames, but I will refer to Twilight Struggle/1960 because it shares basic mechanics with it and is an easy reference and many players here have played that (an insidious wargame introduction!). I wanted to post this in the AT trash talk forum but I guess it just wouldn't be right... I just think it would get more eyes there from the people I wanted to show the game to.  So head into the trash talk forum to see the content of this AAR, but for the front page I wanted to say a few words about why a lot of Dune lovers may enjoy this game. 

The basics: Here I Stand is a historical multiplayer conflict CDG. I'll break those down in this context.

Historical: each of 6 players plays one of the 6 powers of the time: Ottomans, Hapsburgs, England, France, Protestants and the Pope. The cards are all historical events. All players have different powers, sometimes unique to their power.

Multiplayer Conflict: There are large amounts of negotiation, a la Diplomacy, but there are limits on that negotiation--there is a diplomacy phase where agreements are enforced. Nevertheless, most agreements have a portion of enforced agreements (where you can't get so screwed and both have to agree) but a ton of unenforced parts where massive screwage could potentially happen. The goal of the game is to reach 25 victory points, and whoever gets there at the end of the turn is the winner. So all players need to prevent anyone else from winning while trying to win themselves. All players have different ways to earn VPs

CDG: Here I refer to Twilight Struggle. Much like that game, each player has a hand of cards each turn that can either be used as the event on the card or as the number in the corner. The number in the corner allows players to move and create armies and do all their other actions. So players play cards in turn and decide whether to use the event or the points to battle, assault, spread religion, start a debate, etc.

What makes HIS (Here I Stand) different? Well, a CDG creates massive amounts of opportunity for negotiation. Since different players will be drawing cards from the same pool (much like Twilight Struggle) they can be holding cards that other players want but they have little use for besides ops. So, as an example, the Ottoman Empire could be holding the Printing Press card. It has a lot of ops, but it is especially useful for the Protestants. In fact it is probably their best card. So the Protestants need to negotiate with the Ottomans to get the Ottomans to play that card--perhaps playing an event the Ottomans want, give them a card, etc. So it is not just board position, alliances (i.e. let's both attack England) and deals (like Diplomacy) that one can negotiate, but also card plays and event exchanges between players. Things become very hairy and intricate.

The other huge difference is that it is a masterfully crafted game in terms of player powers. It makes me chuckle slightly that people laud TI:3 or Starcraft and their players powers--from what I understand they pale in comparison to the depth and integration of players powers in this game. In HIS, each player has different goals and even different actions they can take. The Protestants and Pope, for example, compete largely in religious influence. As a result they can spend their operations points (the wargamey equivalent of influence points in Twilight Struggle) to call debates between their debaters (think Martin Luther vs. Loyola the Jesuit) and attempt to spread religious influence--their VP is largely based on how far Protestantism has spread in Europe. Most of the other powers can't use their CP to do this sort of thing. Other powers have interests in this competition, but not as significant as those two powers--the English, for example, get victory points for Protestantism in England while the Hapsburgs get VPs for military conquests of Protestant strongholds. The point being that most powers have a natural enemy that they share zero sum goals with--France vs. England, Protestants vs. Pope, Hapsburgs vs. Ottomans, while nearly every power has some small potential VP or strategic interest in how those struggles are going. Nevertheless, all powers do control armies and fight battles of conquest, so there is a common currency between nearly all of the powers--war and control of "key cities."

That is just a very, very brief introduction to what the game is for newcomers.  I think this could really be a bit of a crossover if the multiplayer conflict guys got into it. It is very complicated, but it has a lot of things to recommend it to those types of players who would never think of playing a game about the Protestant Reformation!  It's not even close to as boring as you think it would be; its actually tense, probably slightly overcomplex, but overall a hugely fun negotiation/card wargame.  The better you are at the game, the more of a diplomacy like game it really is.  Finally, the game is quite expensive--it is a huge game.  But it is worth it!

Anyway, for the AAR I'm going to be writing hit "Trash Talk" and head into the wargaming forum, from my (Protestant player) perspective.  I'm putting a picture heavy AAR in that folder.  It may come out slowly because the game is ongoing, and hopefully none of my opponents are reading F:A.  Part 1 is already up. 

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Steve is an academic in Arizona and Texas that spends his off-time playing board games and hiking. He cut his teeth on wargames and ameritrash before later also developing an odd love of worker placement and heavier economic games. You can also find him on instagram at steve_boardgamesfeed.

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