Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Next Game Coming Up: Here I Stand

The next game we will take a look at is Here I Stand:Wars of the Reformation designed by Ed Beach and published by GMT Games.  Commonly called by just the first three words: Here I Stand and is often abbreviated HIS.

Box Art
HIS is a wonderful game which captures the sweep and grandeur of the history of the 1500's.  It covers the complex political, religious, and fundamental changes going on at this time.  It is by no means a simple game, but it is one which leaves you with a better understanding of what happened and why.

When I saw this game sitting on the shelf, I read the title and said to myself, "Wars of the Reformation? Now that sounds unexciting".  Months later, seeing the game laid out on the table with all of the counters and cards, it hearkened back to the hex-and-counter games of old.  I passed it up as an "Advance Squad Leader" style in the 1500s.  ASL was a game I enjoyed when a teenager, but it quickly became a "game of mathematics" as opposed to a "game of fun".

A buddy of mine continued to promote Here I Stand as a great game and so I agreed, having forgotten what it was.  He spoke of asymmetrical objectives, multiple win conditions, and to that I agreed.  Seeing the game laid out did not entice me too much, but after my first two turns I was hooked!


Europe: a hotbed of Intrigue, double cross, and deception
The appeal of HIS involves the interactions of the various players and sides.  Each side is attempting to gain victory points, but they do so in different ways.  Protestants want to spread their reforms, while the Papacy is trying to keep things the same.  The Hapsburgs are a superpower controlling almost all of Europe, with the exception of France and England.  Their size is both their strength and their weakness.   France is fighting a war to regain the city of Naples and finds itself at war with a weakly unified Italy.  England just wants an heir to his throne.  Meanwhile, the Ottoman empire has risen to power in the East and threatens to consume all of Europe.  And then there was the discovery of the New World and with it came the possibilities of untold wealth and glory.

It is on this tapestry the players find themselves controlling their nation, vying to maintain a balance between their various enemies while seeking an edge.  Each player must use everything in their bag of tricks to win.  Diplomacy, deception, and military might all play their part, as does the very geography of the country.

In short, HIS will take all day to play.  But after a single play I left with a hunger not only to play it again, but to learn more about the characters, events and history behind this incredibly mesmerizing and involved game.
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