44 players showed up in the heats with 16 games played. The top ix finishers were Michael Dauer, Jeff Heidman, Paul McCarthy, Nick Benedict, Kirk Harris, and David Sherwood.
Here is recap of the final. On Turn 1, after the French move out of Paris and take Metz, Charles teleports to threaten Paris by taking St Quentin. France prefers not to lose its capital, so agrees to a verbal deal with the Hapsburgs, agreeing to sue for peace with an extra VP to take back the occupied space if Hapsburg go no further. At start of turn 2, France 'adjusts' the deal and only sues for peace without regaining the space.
Turn 1 new world included Hapsburg completing circumnavigation as well as conquering the Aztecs for 6 bonus VPs. France and England also have successful explorations and the Maya are found.
On Turn 2, the Ottomans build up and take Belgrade. Hapsburg declare war on Venice, with the Pope accepting the activation. Otherwise, Hapsburg build up in Vienna, send colonists and explorer. England declares war on Scotland, with no reaction from France, who is busy in Italy taking Florence.
Turn 3 sees Buda taken by Sulieman followed by a move towards Vienna, but Charles does an end-run thru Agram and sieges Belgrade. A game of who-can-cut-the-other's-supply-line ensues, with Hapsburg taking Belgrade and Ottoman holding Buda at turn's end.
In Turn 4, the cat-and-mouse game continues but the central position is sufficient to hold off the relief of Buda. The Hapsburgs win a significant field battle against the Ottoman to take Buda and Nezh. Meanwhile, Ferdinand takes Algiers while a massive Hapsburg army winters in Vienna.
The last turn saw Hapsburg with a huge hand, 6 draws, 2 held and 2 from New World riches. Diplomacy deals give Hapsburg more cards. Hapsburg returns Algiers to the Ottoman who then sues for peace since Nezh is still Hapsburg owned. A non-publicized 4-2 split on electorates had also been agreed to with the Protestants which would hold until almost the end of the turn. During negotiations, Hapsburg offers to give an alliance to France for the price of a single mercenary but this was refused. At the diplomacy phase, France pays a card to another power, bringing his hand down to 5 cards.
Haps remembers the earlier France deal 'adjustment' and decides it’s time to declare war on France and spring deploys the Vienna stack, Charles, Duke and ~15 units to Innsbruck to threaten the French Italian keys. France responds by using the card Spring Deploy to move the majority of his forces, Francis and ~5, to reinforce Milan, bringing him down to 4 cards. Hapsburg is content with looking longingly at Milan for a couple rounds, sending a conqueror, playing events, and waiting as France plays thru his few cards. France uses his cards to build more FR mercenaries in Grenoble and march to Milan. France is down to his last held card and the trap springs when the Hapsburg home card teleports Charles to Besancon where he raises mercenaries and moves on Metz. Metz falls quickly and additional forces from Brussels join to siege and take Paris. By this point everyone is within passing range. Hapsburg uses their second to last card to siege Lyons and the last card for a successful assault. The Protestants, with their own score sitting at 23, move on Koln and successfully assault, advancing 2 VPs and knocking the Haps from 25 to 24. The New World conquest roll would decide the game. Double sixes come up on the roll, giving the Hapsburg the Inca and the game and the direct-from-Wittenberg limited edition Playmobile Martin Luther figurine, a gift from designer Ed Beach.
England had a successful divorce roll from the Pope to conceive a sickly Edward. As he was allied with the Protestants, he used home card again in same turn to marry Anne, obtaining cards for himself and the Protestants, improving to a healthy Edward. England goes the duration of the game without being at war with a major power.
The Hapsburg winning score consisted of
- 13 Keys
- 9 New World VPs
- 1 electorates
- +1 War Winner from France
- +2 War Winner from Ottoman
- Final Score 26
|The Pope deciding on a course of action
|Hapsburg and Ottomans examine their hands
|Ed Rothenheber smiling at the situation
|Here I Stand Finalists with GM Jeff Heidman