I played a game of Hammer of the Scots. We drew lots for scenario and sides; I got the Scots with the Braveheart (next time I’ll try the Bruce, I suppose). Last two games I’ve played, I’ve played English. I’ve won both games as marginal victories. Back in January, I said "I believe that Scots have actually a pretty good chance in the game. Decisive victory might be hard to come by unless they get to kill Edward (and that needs to happen twice!), but marginal victory is certainly possible." Well, it turned out I knew little back then.
I did manage to get a decisive victory and I only killed Edward once! It was close, though: I convinced Galloway and Bruce of the Scottish supremacy in the last year. It had been my game for a longer time before that, but the question over decisive or marginal victory was quite interesting.
I must say I’m impressed of the Scottish war machine. It takes a long time to build up the armies, but if you’re careful not to lose your units, you’ll be able to build a large army. After I cleansed the northern Scotland of the English scum, I was able to use my nobles (especially Comyn) without a fear. One of the later years actually saw Buchan from the very end of NE corner fighting in Galloway in the SW corner.
William Wallace was, of course, the star of the show. He was never even close to getting killed. In the early game I paired him with some heavy infantry and off they went, picking fights with lonely nobles while the English attacks raged elsewhere. Why fight them, as they’ll leave eventually and then the nobles will be easier to get back. It’s not a respectable strategy (Wallace left the nobles he was fighting with several times, fleeing battles that seemed lost), but it wasn’t a honorable war to start with. Besides, who cares about single battles when the result of the whole war is acceptable?
English had Edward out quite often and the knights were seen frequently harassing the nobles of Scotland, but Olli was missing something. Perhaps it was in the cards — he commented that the fate of the English seems to be tied stronger to the luck of the cards. I agree — English player will usually get decent units in England (especially if one makes an effort to keep the infantry out of the pool), but what you can do with them depends quite heavily on the cards.
One of the highlights of the game was the Norse invasion of England! Olli emptied England once and Norse attacked immediately. They stayed there for two turns and then were kicked out by the Welsh archers. It was still fun.
Hammer of the Scots is an excellent game which I like very much. I finally updated my Geek rating from eight to nine. Last time our game took about three hours, now it took just two hours and twenty minutes or so. It’s a good length, now we both had played the game before. Hammer of the Scots certainly offers an interesting and captivating experience.