Previous to this Action Point, we have covered two major phases in the 2-player variant game of Here I Stand from GMT Games. In Action Point 1, we talked about the specifics of the Diplomacy Deck as well as a look at the playing of the Mandatory Event card Luther’s 95 Theses and in Action Point 2 we took a look at the special Turn 1 only phase Diet of Worms. In this Action Point, we are going to examine three specific available Religious Actions, including Biblical Translations, Publishing of Treatises and Calling Theological Debates. There are more than this but these are the ones we will focus on.
A large part of the Reformation was an effort to get the written word of God into the hands of the common man so that they could read and understand the gospel. So, in Here I Stand, there is the option for the Protestant player to spend their Command Points on translating the bible into various languages, including German, French and English.
The player can spend Command Points to move the markers below shown on the Protestant player card one space per CP spent. In order to move the Bible marker though, the player must have first completed the translation of the New Testament in that language. You will also notice that at the end of the track for the New Testament translation, there is a note that reads, “Take 6 Rolls”. This is in reference to Reformation attempts in that language zone only. There are no inherent bonuses to those rolls but they are a very valuable benefit that can move forward the process of the Reformation in each of the three language zones.
Once the Protestant player completes the translation of the New Testament, they can now focus on the full Bible in that language and can spend their CP to translate it. It is a little more difficult, as it requires 10 CP to be spent to get to the end of that track, but there is an amazing benefit awaiting for its successful completion. The Protestant player will now earn again 6 Reformation attempts in that language zone but this time they will gain a +1 modifier to each dice roll. Really powerful! The other added benefit to the Protestant player is that they will gain 1VP for completing each of the three language translations, but they can only be done once each per game. Simple, thematic and a different way for the Protestant player to go about the work of the Reformation.
Publishing a Treatise
I love that this element was included in the game, as the entire reformation started with a treatise being nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. As an option for the Protestant player, they can spend 2 CP to Publish a Treatise. The Protestant player then gets to take 2 Reformation attempts in a single language zone but with no additional bonuses other than those granted for the presence of a Reformer, adjacency of each of Protestant religious influence space and land units. Pretty simple but very important! I found myself spending 2-4 of my CPs from cards each turn to do 1 or 2 of these as it is so very important to convert those spaces. In fact, for each space the Protestant player controls, it effectively takes away victory points from the Papal player (see the photo below of the Religious Struggle Card).
Now to the fun stuff! I loved the Theological Debate action as it really was dangerous, for both sides, but also very thematic. Both the Protestant player and Papal player can spend 3 CPs to Call a Theological Debate in any one of the three language zones. The key here is that if you have committed all of your debaters in that zone for their abilities or for other debates, you won’t be able to initiate this action so you have to plan carefully, as early in the game, you only have access to a few debaters and their abilities are really good and tempting to use in other areas.
These debates are a little less predictable than using Reformation attempts, but offers some additional benefits of their own, such as bonus victory points for disgracing enemy debaters. But you must keep in mind that you also have a risk as the Papal debaters can cause you to be burned at the stake. This can be very risky but definitely have some reward!
The process is pretty simple and follows the following procedure:
- The attacker specifies the language zone that is being targeted.
- The power choosing to debate must randomly choose from amongst their available debaters to participate. The Papal player doesn’t have to worry if their debaters are from that language zone but the Protestant player does.
- This debater is then placed on the “Current Debater” box on the Religious Struggle Card.
- Choosing the defender is one of the key strategic decisions to be made in this part of the process. The initiating power can either choose a random debater from the pool of already committed enemy debaters or choose from the uncommitted. This is really sometimes a very easy choice, as if Luther has already been used by the Protestants, but no other debaters have been used, the choice is easy. Have them choose from the uncommitted. But, if they have used some of the less powerful debaters, those consisting of ratings of 1 or 2, it will definitely be worth forcing them to choose from the committed pool. This debater is then also placed on the “Current Debater” box on the Religious Struggle Card.
- The debate initiator then rolls a number of dice equal to the value of the debater plus 3. This number can be modified by various event cards and you have to play close attention to these exceptions to not miss a bonus. Each roll of a 5 or 6 is considered a hit.
- The debate defender then rolls dice equal to their value plus either 1 die if they were committed or 2 dice if they were uncommitted. Each roll of a 5 or 6 is a hit.
- The debaters are then flipped to their committed side and you compare the number of hits on the rolls.
- If the hits were equal, this was just the first round of the debate and you will then move to 2nd round following the same procedure but the players will choose new debaters as before. The Protestant player has several tricks in the case of a 2nd round. They can substitute the Reformer Bullinger or play the Here I Stand Protestant Home Card to replace the debater used with Luther as long as the debate is in Germany. If the hits are still equal, the debate is inconclusive and nothing happens.
Now comes the good part. The winning side, or the side with more hits, takes the difference and can do several things. They can flip the difference of spaces to their side for religious influence as if they had been successful at a Reformation attempt, but they must still follow the same process so these spaces have to be adjacent to another similar religious influence space or contain a Reformer and must be in the same language zone. But, if they have more to turn over than they can in that language zone, they can jump to other language zones.
If the difference in hits is ever greater than the debate value of a debater after these rolls, the debaters will have other things happen to them as well. If the winner is the Protestant player and they won by more than the value of the Papal debater, the Papal debater is then disgraced and will be removed from the game and placed in the Bonus VP Box on the Protestant Player Card. This disgraced debater will be worth one 1VP. Conversely, if the Papal player won by more than the value of the Protestant debater, the Protestant debater is then burned at the stake and also removed from the game and placed in the Bonus VP Box of the Papacy Player Card. The difference in the VPs for the Papal player is that they get VPs according to the debate value of the burned debater. So, if they can somehow best Luther, Zwingli or Melanchthon, that is considerable VPs at 4, 3, and 3 respectively.
In our play, I was able as the Protestants to disgrace one debater and gain only 1VP. Fun part of the game that is a little bit risky as those dice can be fickle.
The final point I want to bring up is the Victory Check and Victory Points. Pretty simple for our 2-player variant game. We were concerned with the number of spaces under Protestant religious influence vs. those under Catholic (Papal) religious influence. To that number, we added special bonus victory points, such as for my translation of the Bible in German (+1VP) and my disgrace of the Papal debater (+1VP). As you can see from the Religious Struggle Card below, each space that the Protestants add to their total, by having a successful Reformation attempt, doesn’t necessarily translate into direct victory points. A VP change really only happens with every fourth space. For example, notice the change from 3 spaces to 4 spaces (reduced the Papal VP by 1 from 15 to 14 and increased the Protestant VP by 1 from 0 to 1). You have to stay on top of that track because you have to know where you are. Our game actually ended in a Domination Victory after Turn 4 for the Papal player because Alexander had 19 VP to my 10, which was at least 8 greater. Had I been paying a little more attention to the track, I could have added at least a few VPs from additional spaces as well as possibly finishing the French Bible translation was I was only a few spaces away from the Bonus +1VP and would have possibly added a few more spaces to my total. Great game that I really enjoyed and really look forward to playing with a group as a 6-player game to experience the true Here I Stand full experience.
In our next and final Action Point for Here I Stand, I want to take a look at the Schmalkaldic League event card and how it would have changed our game moving forward if it hadn’t ended prematurely in Turn 4.