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.

Stadtlohn

slohn1

On the table is Stadtlohn, the fifth battle out of the Saints in Armor box. [See here for my initial quick review of the system.]

"Steady, lads. Steady!"

“Steady, lads. Steady!”

This is the quirkiest battle so far. It starts with the Protestant army trying to get its loot away from the enemy who are yet to appear on the map. However, the front line heavy infantry are not steady. So the first action is to decide if these guys – already with poor morale – flee or not. Historically they did, though the suggestion is it was a rearward move that lost cohesion and went downhill from there. As the Protestant player, you can recreate the flight, or gamble and have them hold steady. In the latter case, they may hold steady and be slaughtered. But, hey, it’s your game!

The winner will be the player who achieves his goal so far as the precious wagon train is concerned. So, the Protestant side can lose their army and win the game so long as they save the wagons. The Catholic forces need to get the wagons, probably, no matter what. As usual with the battles in the box, the historical notes are excellent and do a top notch job of creating a proper backdrop and rationale for what is going on. It definitely adds to the enjoyment.

I played this three times with the Protestants claiming one decisive and one marginal victory. The other game was a marginal Catholic victory. The Protestant decisive victory was the first attempt and I really screwed up things for the enemy to let that happen. And then savaged them with awful die rolling. Great fun.

"Are we ready?"

“Are we ready?”

Fleurus

fl1

On the table is Fleurus, the fourth battle out of the Saints in Armor box. [See here for my initial quick review.]

fl3

This is the best battle so far, in terms of straight army v army action. It’s balanced, quite quick, and accessible. I’ve managed a couple of plays so far with a marginal win for each side, and that gives me a warm glow. (Irrational, but there you go.)

fl2

Hochst

hochst1

On the table is Hochst, the next battle out of the Saints in Armor box. [See here for my initial quick review.]

So far, all I have done is set the battle up. I need to commit the scenario special rules to memory and give this one some play. The previous battles in the box have been great examples of fine gaming challenges, flush with a ton of historical flavor. So, I am looking forward to this one, because it’s an unusual delaying action with some tough decision making ahead.

hochst2

Wimpfen

wimpfen1

On the table is Wimpfen, the next battle out of the Saints in Armor box. [See here for my initial quick review.] It’s another battle which the Protestant forces lost, probably as much due to bad luck as anything else, as some wagons decided to blow up and knock the stuffing out of what was left of the army’s resolve.

So far, all I have done is set the battle up and run through a couple of opening activations, to try and understand the tactical situation better.

wimpfen2

The Protestant army, though backed up against a river, crossed by a single bridge, and rather reliant on their defensive position, did manage to collect a right wing strike force of cavalry without the Catholic army realizing what was going on. So, the game recreates the surprise by starting the opposing wing as all being formation shaken. (Not a good thing… though it could be worse!)

The challenge for the Protestant player is deciding when to activate that wing. Should he wait his turn (as it were) so allowing the possibility, subject to a die roll, of multiple activations? Or, should he try and preempt (jump the queue) to get at the opposing wing before they activate, but risk failing and losing the opportunity and the multiple activations? Intriguing.