Monday, 15 May 2017

Kingmaker (and other games)

Just had a really nice long weekend at Barmouth. The plan was to get out in the mornings and play boardgames in the afternoon and we succeeded in that pretty well. We played Agricola  (I didn't lose!), Mysterium (a Cluedo/Codenames hybrid that is a bit too complex for its own good), and The Dwarves (excellent enemy AI that I'm trying to work into miniature gaming on a hexon layout). The main game as far as I was concerned was Kingmaker, which I last played almost 30 years ago, and finally rebought on eBay last year.

Jo and I both started with fairly week hands, her in the North and me in Wales and SE. Tom had a cracking hand and sat in the middle of the country so it looked like he'd win hands down. I nabbed a minor royal from undefended Cardigan, and since I had the Cinque ports started to head SE to go across to Calais. Then Tom took a major royal from Coventry with his main army - but the very next go the Plague hit Coventry and the royal and his main army were wiped out! The next big change was Henry being sent to the south coast from the safety of London for an embassy - putting him in the idle location for my gathering force to nab him. Getting across to Calais was slowed a bit by chasing Henry's embassy's around the country but eventually I got across and grabbed the royal.

I then swung my boats down the English Channel and up to Harlech - discovering how Safe being at sea is, despite storms, in terms of escaping embassies and raids. Landing at Harlech I took the Earl of March (despatching him to join his kin), nd then marched on Tom's recovered force in the Midlands. A stop at Chester en-route to call a parliament so as to beef up the post holdings of my now large band of nobles meant that when I met Tom near Warwick he stood no chance. The rain intervened though and he slipped away north, but fittingly I finally ran him to ground at Towton and demolished his Army.

Jo was still lurking in the North and when one of my main nobles (the Warden of London) was called south, so she fancied her chances. The King was then called south as well, but I decided it was safest to send him on his own, ready to be picked up by the Warden. Her Army finally clashed with mine at York, she thought she'd have the upper hand, but in hidden cards I had a 150 pt army under the Earl of Northumberland so immediately swung the odds in our favour and we were victorious. So with all the other nobles dead Henry VI was last man standing and had never lost his crown!

ENDEX - after the Battles of Towton and York
Overall a great game. The first hour was pretty slow as we tried to worm out the ambiguities in rules and map (does Windsor block a road, what is the Crown discard pile for etc), but by the 2nd hour we have the game pretty fast and smooth and it was all over in under 3 hours.

Would certainly play again, and indeed plan to, and would have a far better idea for a winning strategy. The randomness of the events cards does make planning hard though - witness my delays in getting to Calais - including one trip to Hull, but that probably makes it ideal for solo play. Indeed its next outing will probably be as a solo campaign system, with battles being decided by Hordes and Heroes with 1 tabletop unit per 10 pts of an army, and some random inf/cav (or Bow/Knight) allocation.

Fittingly the day after the game we visited Harlech Castle - where my force made its historic landfall - and not to far from Milford Haven - Henry VII's landing point.

Harlech Castle

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