I first played Here I Stand back in 2007, where I was the French. That was also the last time I played it until this weekend. James, Al, Parnell, Bob, Matt, and I got together on Sunday at 9 AM to begin another epic venture into the Protestant Reformation.
This time I was the Papacy, and was pitted mostly against Al, who was the Protestants. James was the French, Bob was England, and Parnell was the Hapsburgs. Matt was the heathen Ottomans, scourge of the seas.
One of the first surprises was when a group of soldiers led by Charles V encountered a farmer or two in France, who then proceeded to whomp the hapless Hapsburgs senseless and deliver Charles to the French king for ransoming. (We could almost hear the Spanish soldiers saying, “Ah! This town is guarded only by that one sailor with a can of spinach!”)
As usual, the Papacy and Protestants are almost playing their own separate game, and I started off very well (and lucky), beating down reformation attempts early and often. I was also able to send my Knights of St. John out to convert Ottoman treasures into raw materials for St. Peter’s twice, which Matt wasn’t happy about, especially since his pirate fleet was already having trouble getting underway.
I did very well, in fact, and at the start of turn four I was close to the 25 point victory goal, but there were two problems involved in getting there. First, as you can imagine, the Papacy’s fortunes tend to be the opposite of the Protestants’, and my success was coming at the cost of Al’s troubles. But I could only feed off the lifeblood of the reformers so much, so squeezing those extra few points out was not going to be easy, and my other main ways of getting points — militarily and through building St. Peter’s were either nearly impossible in the former case and slow in the latter. The second problem was that the other players, all thinking that maybe they should win and not me, did what they could to frustrate my strategies.
Al also started to improve his standing, so even when France started to edge closer to victory and took the heat off me, my rating continued to go down. It didn’t help matters that suddenly the dice I was rolling had no numbers on them larger than three. Fives and Sixes hit, and at one point I rolled seven dice to not get anything larger than three on any of them.
We hammered on France a bit and soon the Ottomans seemed poised for victory. In fact, it looked like more or less a done deal, but two big hits against Matt cast him back down. England was getting close as well, with Bob only two key cities away from an auto-win. But by this time the Protestant Juggernaut was more or less unstoppable, and there was nothing anyone could do (including me, who tried THREE debates and failed THREE times, despite superior dice numbers) to stop him. Al won on Turn Five, with the final score being Protestants 25, Ottomans 21, Hapsburgs 20, France 19, Papacy 17, England 17. We finished up around 9pm, but between taking a break for Bob to run an errand and dinner we probably spent only 9 of those 12 hours actually playing.
Playing the Papacy was very different from playing France, of course, since France is almost entirely a military power and the Papacy is not (though in the game I played before, James won by being the War Pope.) I am pleased to say that I did burn the Protestant debater Andreas Carlstadt at the stake, though this is offset by the fact that two of the Vatican’s debaters were disgraced (which, granted, beats being burned at the stake.)
In a sense, I’d like to immediately play again as the Papacy, knowing what I know now, but so much of the fun of Here I Stand is trying out the different roles. I think I want to give England a spin next!