Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Playing Nine Years

A French army lays siege to Tournai
I'm not ready to do a full-blown walk-through of Nine Years yet because I'm still learning it. What I am prepared to say is that I'm enjoying this game immensely!

Noailles captures Gerona during the campaign of 1690

I am not normally one for strategic scale games. I'm not big on point-to-point movement. Card-driven games (though I'm not really ready to say that this is completely card-driven) make me curl my lip in contempt. Give me an accurate map, a historical OOB, and grand-tactical or operational scale, please. Nine Years however really manages to capture the feel of the period in a system that I'm finding really fun to play. Beyond that this game has narrative running out its pores!

An Alliance army led by both William III and Marlborough - but can William trust Churchill?

Like Hold the Line:Frederick's War  and the upcoming Horse and Musket series from Hollandspiel, Nine Years is a game by designer Sean Chick. Sean tends to take existing games and either extends the rules or creates a stand alone expansion, which is what he's done here. This game uses the No Peace Without Spain system that covers the War of Spanish Succession to depict the earlier War of the Grand Alliance. These two wars were separated by only four years and were fought by the same combatants. One of the nice features of Nine Years is that it allows for a Grand Campaign scenario where the results of the War of the Grand Alliance are used to set the starting conditions for the War of Spanish Succession, provided you have both games. NPWS can then be played on the map and with the counters for Nine Years.

This is a game that nicely captures the limited campaigning season, emphasis on siege warfare, and the critical importance of maneuver. You really need to plan your campaigns and not try and do too much - your actions during each year-long turn will be limited. The historical twists supplied by the Event Cards add an element of surprise and uncertainty that makes the game interesting even when played solo.

Right now I'm playing about a turn a night as I learn the system. Expect a more detailed post later - and if anyone knows where I can get my hands on a copy of No Peace Without Spain please let me know!