Hammer of the Scots, Part II

Carl had me on the ropes after Tuesday’s session, with the Scottish King holed up in the north with a few loyal nobles. But, having solidified the base after the shudder induced by defecting nobles due to Comyn’s coronation, the Scots were ready to take the fight to the English again.

The far north is awfully difficult for the English to campaign in, absent Sea Moves and big hands; so the knockout blow is difficult to administer, and the English can’t be complacent just because they’re up 9 nobles to 5 and have the remainder penned in. In this case, I think Carl really only made one mistake – he had the King and 4 powerful blocks all the way up north, with the Scots on the ropes, but decided not to winter there and return home. This gave Comyn the breathing space he needed to survive and turn things around. The next year, the English King again made it all the way up north, but the Scots managed to sneak behind him and secure the “neck” of the country, with the help of the Norse (usually, I find the Norse a waste because they’re so expensive to activate – but when you’re against the wall and don’t have much to spend your activations on anyway, they can be a tremendous nuisance).

Things were downhill from this point for the English, as Carl didn’t get many good levies or good cards from here on out, and I ended up pulling it back from the brink of disaster to squeak by with the win.

This was probably the most enjoyable and all-around best-played game of Hammer I’ve seen, and the only one that has gone the distance. After an early run of decisive English victories, followed by a run of decisive Scottish victories, we finally had a good, close, interesting game. Although I do think it’s quite a good game, nonetheless my opinion of and enthusiasm for Hammer has fluctuated a bit over time – but it won’t take too many more exciting games like this for it to move up significantly in my opinion.

My only qualm is that in the last couple games I’ve played, the Scots have always been foiled by first-turn Sea Moves into Mentieth that block Wallace from joining up with Bruce. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next time the Scottish “south first” strategy isn’t thwarted in this way; without that blocking play, this strategy has dominated recent games.


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