Lutter

Or, more fully, Lutter am Barenberge. This game, which is on the table, is the sixth (and final) battle out of the Saints in Armor box. [See here for my initial quick review of the system.]

Everyone ready?

Everyone ready?

This battle features a couple of potentially cruel special rules. For the Protestant side, the leader Christian IV starts off map (with his lower quality replacement in charge) and may return on game turn two or three. Meanwhile, the Catholic side have a transported flanking force (they arrive on the map, not a map edge, for reasons fully explained in the game) landing anywhere from game turn six to eleven. As you might imagine, there’s a wee bit of tension around these events.

Steady, lads...

Steady, lads…

I found this the most difficult of the battles to play solitaire. From the Protestant perspective, you know there’s an outflanking force out there, and roughly where it will enter. So, is the correct approach to try and win big on the first few turns before it arrives, or do you take the coward’s way out and set up a defensive posture?  You may be unlikely to get much of the historical battle.

To be fair, I solved the gaming dilemma by the well worn method of letting the dice decide. And, I should also mention the optional rules variants which include a free Catholic setup, and more Protestant troops.

Red is the color...

Red is the color…

I played this twice. The first was a disaster for the Protestants, as their hit and run attempt became a hit and stall and crumble, with the enemy flanking force coming in nice and early (for them) to finish things off. By going for a defensive posture, the second run through was a lot closer and ended as a draw.

I think the designers did a good job of putting the players in the shoes of the respective forces. You do lose the surprise element – knowing about the flanking move – but if you fiddle too much with that, you are probably not going to have any of the battle history left. However, it did leave me salivating over the wholly impractical prospect of playing a moderated campaign game where the battles were resolved using this system…

Finale

So, that marks a complete cycle of Saints in Armor. I have not changed my overall view of the game. I need to be in the right mood to play this system – because of the marker mania – but, in the right mood, it delivers lots of good things. Since the historical period is not one of my favorites, maybe that’s another hurdle.

Saints in Armor is a great example of what boardgames can deliver by way of an outstanding value for money combination of history and entertainment. Also, if you play against a live opponent, I reckon these battles will give you a good challenge. And this particular package has the welcome bonus of top quality historical notes and (for me, quite important) a bibliography. That material must have taken a lot of time, care, and attention to put together. (So I can excuse the odd typo.) The designers should be proud of what they have produced here.