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Our Board Early in the Game
The group arrived mid afternoon at Joel's wonderful house in Elmhurst. We each had scoured the various resources for learning the game, but we all knew we would be learning together while we played.
I lobbied for playing the Hapsburgs drawn in by their superior capabilities in exploring the New World. Surely, nothing could distract me from that right?
Wrong. Almost immediately I was caught in a quagmire in war with France. Support from temporary ally England was helpful but it was a long time for me to regain what I had lost to France. That happened just in time for England to dissolve our allliance and declare war on the Holy Roman Empire (shouldn't that name be enough to scare him off?) and for the Ottomans to open up a second front on me near Vienna.
My plans for the New World would have to wait.
France encroaches on Spain
The Ottomans soon took Vienna but I was able to stall their advance with some maneuvering behind the front lines. Nonetheless, this was more of a delay tactic than anything as they were a formidable land force. On the naval front I had some success though. My naval squadrons were boosted by some loaners from my new Papal ally. Over a few impulses I was able to wipe out the Ottoman corsair fleets and get in some nice hits on the English units parked in the English Channel.
Naval Combat Heats Up Between the Hapsburgs and Ottomans
What I just described was my experience over nearly three full turns and about 8 hours(!). So yes, the game takes a long time to play. In the meantime, the Protestants became a formidable scoring force and was leading for most of the latter half of the game closely trailed by the Papacy. I have to admit the conflict between the two was hard to follow as I was embroiled with my own concerns.