Brant Guillory, 19 November 2023
Tabletop Tycoon recently relaunched some of the States of Siege games, including Ottoman Sunset and Hapsburg Eclipse, two of Darin Leviloff’s classics. Although they can be connected, it’s been long enough since I played one of them that I just wanted to stick with a single game for now as I revisited the system.
If you’re interested, you can check out the dual unboxing of the new versions of both games.
click most images to enlarge
All set up and ready to go! Got the first deck of cards shuffled, with the other 2 close at hand at the top to add when told to. The only fronts currently active in the war are the Polish & Carpathian, and (so far) none of the Croats, Czechs, or Hungarians are revolting.
I’ve got the Przemyśl Fortress still intact to hold up the Poles and Russians, but both of the commanders on those fronts are at least average.
First card up? The Battle of Cer, which we resolve with a die roll against the value on the counter (next photo). We then advance all the fronts listed, assuming they’re active (at this time, only the Carpathian one), test the loyalty of the Croats, and then take a few actions.
Holy cow! A great die roll wins us this off-map victory, which puts it into our ‘victories’ box on the side of the map and will help with our national will.
Unfortunately, those damned ungrateful Croats didn’t pass our loyalty test, and are going to shift closer to revolt. We use some of our actions to buy some DRM’s for off-map battles elsewhere, and spend one to roll to push back the Carpathian front, which passes.
Time to resolve the Drina campaign, which includes an off-map battle we lose, an advance on the Polish Front, and using an action to try and push it back, which succeeds with a 6 on the die.
After a bit of push and pull along the Eastern European fronts, we get to the Battle of Mons, which, even with our +1 DRM, goes down as a defeat. The only active front to advance is the Polish one, and we need to randomly decide whose loyalty we test.
A 6 on the loyalty test gives is the Hungarians…
…which we clear quite easily.
A few turns later, Mackensen shows up. These tokens are pretty sweet in that they allow us to roll 2 dice when pushing back a front, and keeping the best roll. We’ll need to be judicious with them, but they are handy. It’s interesting that we’re about 10 cards in at this point, and haven’t yet activated another front, or added the next stack of cards to our deck.
And as if on cue . . . We now add the Italian front to the game, as well as the next stack of cards.
The Italian front doesn’t start at the end, but in the middle. So there’s room to push them back, but they also start much closer to Vienna than the others do.
The Czechs have czech’ed out, and are now in revolt, which hurts me in trying to push back the Polish and Carpathian fronts.
Which also means that I’m more likely to need my Mackensen tokens since my die rolls are hurt by the Czechs being in revolt.
So the Romanian front just came on the map last turn, but I already have the possibility of pushing it right back off the map this turn. Thankfully, the dice are in my favor, and it’s right back out of the game.
On the heels of the Romanians packing it in, the Russian Revolution1 takes out 2 additional fronts, which allows the Austrians to focus a bit more.
However, even with an unexpected victory on Dogger Bank, and no advancement on the eastern fronts, I’ve got 2 of my 3 ethnic minorities in revolt, the Balkan front in play and moving, and the Italian front in play but stalled out. I burn my actions trying to get the Croats back to loyal, which turns out to me a mistake.
Because the Corfu Declaration card advances by the Italian and Balkan fronts, and . . .
I was too focused on trying to get the loyalties of my revolting minorities back up that I lost sight of how close the Balkan front was to Vienna. Based on the number of cards left, plus my national will, I ended up with a marginal defeat. Overall, the battles in the field largely went better than they did historically, with the Central Powers winning a handful more fights than expected, and we were able to keep most of the converging fronts at bay or push them off the map entirely. But the internal power dynamics of the fractured empire were too much for the Hapsburgs to hold together, and the Empire fell, again.
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