Here I Stand: The Minor Powers

August 23, 2010

In Here I Stand the players command one of the six Major Powers in the game. However, there are also four Minor Powers that play a big part in how the game unfolds. They can be allied to some powers, conquered through war or used as pawns during diplomacy. Below are some of my recommendations of how each Minor Power, and the cards that affect them, can best be used.

Sorry Luther, but you’ll have to sit out this strategy discussion. Also, first up is Hungary/Bohemia which is only relevant to the full 1517 scenario. The discussion of the others powers is pretty relevant regardless the scenario.

• Keys (units): Belgrade (1 Regular), Buda (5 Regular) and Prague (1 Regular)
• Spaces: Breslau, Brunn, Pressburg, Agram, Mohacs and Szegedin
• Major Powers: Ottoman and Hapsburgs
• Activation: Diplomatic Marriage and Defeat of Hungary-Bohemia
• Deactivation: None

The Hungarians act as a buffer for the Hapsburgs against the Ottomans. The typical start for the Ottomans sees them sieging Belgrade and then moving to wipe them out in Buda with a fairly easy field battle due to the 5 regulars present. This gives the Ottomans 6VP (2 Keys and War Winner) and starts the war with the Hapsburgs. It also gives the Hapsburgs a key, Prague, due to the new alliance with the Hungarians.

Taking a look at the power cards and board, I think it is in the Ottomans best interest to hold off on the Buda field battle. The Ottomans need 1 key to give them an extra card which they will get with Belgrade. The Hapsburgs need 2 keys. If the Haps take Metz, the Ottomans defeating Hungary gives the Haps their 2nd key and that extra card. The Ottomans are better off holding their cards, building forces and potentially taking out the Knights of St. Johns before giving the Haps a gift.

Unless the Hapsburgs draw Diplomatic Marriage in the 1st (or possibly 2nd) turn, there isn’t much the Hapsburgs can do about the Hungarians. If they are able to activate Hungary right away, it will slow down the Ottoman advance. The Haps can control the 5 regulars in Buda to force an Ottoman siege versus the field battle. The Ottomans will have to spend more time and/or CP than they would like to march West, but it certainly won’t stop the Turkish advance. I would recommend saving that marriage for another minor power…

• Keys (units): Venice (2 Regulars, 3 Squadrons)
• Spaces: Corfu (Fortress, 1 Regular), Candia (Fortress, 1 Regular)
• Major Powers: French, Papacy, Ottoman and Hapsburgs
• Activation: Venetian Alliance, Diplomatic Marriage and Papal intervention
• Deactivation: Venetian Alliance, Diplomatic Marriage

In my opinion, Diplomatic Marriage, should almost always be used by the Papacy, French and Hapsburgs to activate Venice. The Venetians can be a powerful ally against Ottoman piracy with their 3 squadrons and two fortresses. The Venetian fleet can also help gain naval superiority for assaults on ports. And in winter, moving the regulars in Corfu and Candia in Venice give you a fully defended key.

Since one of the ways to activate Venice is by a Papal intervention, this is often used by the Pope during negotiations. The French or Hapsburgs would be my first choice for a Venetian declaration of war (DOW). These powers may be declaring war on other powers and they may have an extra CP to discard. This way they can get something from out of it. The Pope benefits because he can hang excommunication over their head if they don’t follow through on all the terms of the deal. The Ottomans could be used for a Venetian intervention as well, but the Pope is likely no match for a strong Ottoman force if the deal goes bad. Plus, the Pope can not excommunicate Suleiman.

If the Pope draws Venetian Alliance after Venice is already an ally, they can use this 4 CP card for the event to build up to 6 CP worth of units. I would guess that the card would be used for CP rather than the event in most cases.

Once allied, deactivation is always a possibility but would require the right powers – Ottoman or Pope – to get the right cards. And even then, it may not be worth the CP to do this. This is yet another reason that Venice should be the favored ally for these powers.

• Keys (units): Genoa (2 Regulars, 1 Squadron, Andrea Doria)
• Spaces: Bastia
• Major Powers: French, Papacy, Hapsburgs, Ottoman (kind of)
• Activation: Andrea Doria, Diplomatic Marriage
• Deactivation: Andrea Doria, Diplomatic Marriage

The Genoans are a strong ally as well. With Andrea Doria, as the only non-Ottoman naval leader in the game, the other powers in the Mediterranean certainly want to have him on their side. However, Doria can cause problems: If one of the other two powers (able to) plays Andrea Doria for the event, Genoa is deactivated AND reactivated to that power. This swing in units, keys and VP can be dangerous.

For this reason Genoa should be activated near the end of the game. It would be wise to hold the card Andrea Doria as long as possible to activate Genoa. In the tournament scenario this may easier to do than the longer scenarios. If the French or Pope draw Andrea Doria they should highly consider spending the 5 CPs on a war and assault on Genoa than activation. Once Genoa is conquered you won’t have to worry about it switching control with the play of a single event card.

The second part of the Andrea Doria event card will likely never be used. A power would have to activate Genoa earlier in the game, and go to war with the Ottomans, and move Doria into a sea zone with two Ottoman controlled ports. Then when Andrea Doria is played you have the chance to take away up to three piracy VP and draw a card. The power playing the event also draws a card. I can see this event occurring for the Hapsburgs as they would likely already be at war with the Otts and try to position Doria near them to prevent piracy. However, 5 CP can probably be spent else where.

• Keys (units): Edinburgh (3 Regulars, 1 Squadron)
• Spaces: Stirling, Glasgow
• Major Powers: French, English
• Activation: Auld Alliance, Diplomatic Marriage, French intervention
• Deactivation: Auld Alliance, Diplomatic Marriage

Scotland will play a part of every game of Here I Stand. Obviously, the English should use Diplomatic Marriage to activate Scotland as an ally if they draw it early. They’ll get a squadron, 3 regulars and save the time and trouble of a war. However, chances are the typical English strategy early in the game will be to kick those pesky Scots off their island.

The French should carefully consider intervening if the English declare war on the Scots. The French could negotiate a deal with the English: France will intervene in an English home card DOW and move the Scottish troops to Glasgow. The French get 3 Scottish regulars come winter and the English should have an easy time taking an empty Edinburgh. The French should look for an alliance on the following turn.

But be wary of the English asking the French to intervene, they may just be looking for a free DOW on France. If a satisfactory deal can’t be struck, the French may just want to let Scotland defend itself. The English may spend more CP than they would like trying to take out 3 units in an assault.

If the French do intervene, England should be sure to take political control of both Glasgow and Stirling. If France and Scotland are allies, the French can use Auld Alliance to bring 3 French regulars onto any Scottish controlled home space not under siege. Used later in the game with an English alliance, these 3 Catholic troops can wreak havoc to the Reformation in England.

• Don’t be in a rush to knock out the Hungarians.
• Venice should be your number one choice for an ally.
• Activate Genoa towards the end of the game.
• France and England need to discuss Scotland.

Here I Stand Primer: The Hapsburgs

October 13, 2009

We continue our primer for newcomers to Here I Stand by taking a look at the second power to act in the action phase, the Hapsburgs. Again, I’m talking about the tournament scenario, and pulling the game map up might be helpful.


As the scenario opens, your forces are divided between four distant regions: Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, and Austria. You have the highest point total in the game, which makes you an easy target. In addition, you are the only power to start with some of your territory under the control of another power (Buda is Turkish territory). No doubt you’ve already figured it out–winning will not be easy!

Basic Openings

I will admit that the Hapsburg opening moves are not obvious and are the most dependent on how diplomacy plays out. However, keep some general considerations in mind. First, you are the defender of Europe. Whether the Ottoman onslaught succeeds or fails is based almost entirely on your actions (or lack thereof!). You’ll need to work to keep Vienna from falling to them. Some people prefer to build up a large force in Vienna itself, while others prefer to move a large force to Pressburg, Graz, or Linz and intercept the Ottomans from there. Deciding when to fight the field battle and when to withdraw inside the walls is based on what combat cards you’ve got, keeping in mind that the Ottoman player can lay down “Janissaries” at any point and throw in five extra dice in a field battle.

If the Ottomans aren’t applying too much pressure, it is possible to snatch up Tunis early. This takes some planning and costs several CPs (hey, it’s a sea invasion!) but success is assured if you can keep the Ottoman navy off your back with a strong naval force. This move is most commonly launched from Naples, but it could work just as well from Spain or Corsica.

Other players prefer to begin their first turn by retaking lost electorates in Germany. The Protestants have to split their resources between military and religious actions and their leaders are just plain awful, so marching a force from Antwerp into western Germany is pretty easy. Remember, each electorate you own grants you 1 VP and harms the Protestants greatly (their hand size is dependent on number of electorates owned). Also, the presence of your Catholic forces in these spaces will aid the Pope.

Last, some players go for Metz (independent), Calais (English), or any number of French keys. This is not always easy to do–Metz is almost surrounded by French and Protestant spaces, and declaring war too early on the English or French may spell disaster if someone else decides to beat up on you while your back is turned.

Negotiation Considerations

Keep this thought in your mind: “The Hapsburgs are the fulcrum of Europe.” You’re top dog, you’ve got a lot of resources at your disposal, and you’re trying to keep the entire continent from descending into utter anarchy. Those foolish rulers: why don’t they ever listen to the guy with “Holy” in his title? In negotiations it’s critical to get one or two of the four powers directly opposing you–that’s everybody but the Papacy–to agree to an alliance. Then you can keep the others on their toes! On the other hand, if it seems two or more powers are planning on teaming up against you, watch out!

Keep Your Eyes Open For…

I’ve only played the Hapsburgs twice (and won both times), but in watching other players take on the role of Charles V, one danger has become abundantly clear to me. Some people will become paralyzed by the multiple fronts and just spend cards to hold territory, never actually working up the VP track. It’s true that there are times when you just won’t be able to make military gains, but this doesn’t mean you don’t have options. If you have the CP in your hand, send an explorer AND conquest in one turn. Sure it’s a gamble, but there are very few cards in the deck that can cancel these entirely, and they can win you the game. In round 1 of the 2009 Here I Stand play-by-email tourney, I spent cards to resist Ottoman piracy on the first turn, took one electorate (moving me to 19 VP) and then got a successful exploration and conquest to win the game in the second turn. If people really aren’t paying attention, you can actually do this and win in the first turn of the scenario.

Its tough being Emperor!

It's tough being Emperor!

Last, use your home card wisely. Being able to “teleport” Charles and the Duke of Alva anywhere in Hapsburg territory is awesome. Doing so will probably scare the living daylights out of the enemy (especially if it’s the French, Protestants, or English!).  Many people  choose to move Charles to face the Ottomans, but then it’s a pretty equal match. Instead, think of teleporting him to Antwerp and charging after electorates, or any other number of fun places. Being able to spend the 5 CP right away is neat, because you can teleport, bolster an army with mercenaries, and then move it right away. Any of your small armies can become a force to be reckoned with once the Holy Roman Emperor shows up, and that knowledge will give your enemies pause.

Final Thoughts

I am sorry to be so vague, but in my opinion the Hapsburgs really have the toughest job in the game. You’ll be the great balancing act of the continent, and everyone is jealous of your armies, your number of cards, and your chances for an early victory. The wolf pack will do its best to drag you down, but through skilled diplomacy, military might, and a little of that “I’m the Emperor–don’t mess with me!” bravado, you’ll find yourself pack leader at game’s end!