Frederick the Great Debuts in The Valley of the Sun: The First Arizona Playtest of The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble

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Introduction:  A new career opportunity has returned me to the Phoenix area from back east.  This provided an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the wonderful and friendly community of gamers here in “The Valley of the Sun”.  This article is a high level After Action Report of our first experience playing The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble (7YW:FG).

Please reference 7YW:FG material within GMT’s site, as well as within the InsideGMT BLOG, to gain a better context, understanding, and appreciation of this fine Greg Ticer design.  Referencing this background will complement this article’s descriptions.  

I had a fun day at the AZ Gamers club during one of their July 2017 meetings at the UAT Tempe Campus.  The get-together, away from the scorching heat outdoors, was held in a large comfortably air-conditioned room with great lighting and plenty of great for gaming tables and chairs.

While most of the club members focused on games they pre-scheduled for play; myself and three other “old school” war gaming stalwarts got to play an impromptu, yet rousing game of The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble (Yup, there are quite a few fans of Mark McLaughlin’s “Nappy” series games in Phoenix, many of whom were aware of the “good buzz” vibes regarding the Greg Ticer designed 7YW:FG).  After my explaining the rules, which took but a few minutes with these experienced war gamers, we got down to playing the game.

Joel Borie, who I last gamed with during my first Arizona sojourn some 17 years ago, and his 16 year old son, who was a gleam in his dad’s eye back then, contended against one another: Joel as France and his son Alexander as Britain.  I partnered with Alexander as Prussia to form the Coalition Camp while Dick Sauer, a retired engineer, played Austria as Joel’s partner to comprise the Imperial Camp for our four player game.

Dick was so taken with 7YW:FG that he volunteered to build his own play test set of it for local guys he games with when not attending club meetings.  After the session, I emailed him relevant files and look forward to receiving his and his buddies’ play test feedback.

The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble Playtest Map

Well, now to that high level After Action Report of our game, the first Arizona playing of The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble.  My luck was its usual abysmal self with dice and cards… in some case just inspiring remarkable luck with my opponents to everyone’s amusement, including my own. Here’s an example, on the first turn, Frederick with his entire 8 SP Army was exterminated during an offensive on Prag when I rolled 4 sixes with 7 dice for a Battle Card induced Attrition roll.

Although Frederick’s Army was destroyed and Frederick placed in the Honors of War Box, the Prussians managed to hold on to Saxony and even capture the Austrian Fortress of Olmutz with an end run out of Silesia by Prince Henry’s Army, which lost 2/3rds of its strength in the process and was therefore no threat to anywhere else in Austria once it settled in to garrison duty at the newly-seized Fortress Key.

A Prussian Army under Ferdinand captured Frankfurt from the Holy Roman Empire. Elsewhere in Western Europe, French Armies fenced with Cumberland’s British Army and Ferdinand’s Prussians, after he moved north from Frankfurt, to endure a stalemate.  Russia obsessively sought Konigsberg and did not invade Poland.  Consequently, at the end of 1759, I had 11 Keys.  I gave up a card for the upcoming 1760 Turn to have a shot at winning the game with a Peace Die roll of 5 or 6.  I rolled a one.

1760 proved an exciting year of play.  Prussia had been ground down and had to use its Turn Reserve and a couple of Resources to have a Trained Troop Reserve: no Trained Troops, no building Strength Points.

To make matters worse, during 1758, the Saxony Defects card was played and now Austria moved with two powerful Armies of 8SP each to capture Dresden.  Frederick’s battered Army was able to retain Leipzig.  However, disaster struck in the east when the Prussians finally lost Konigsberg, with Lehwaldt captured and send into the Honors of War Box. This was combined, with play late during 1760, of Russia Fully Mobilizes and Saltikov’s powerful Army appearing in Grodno.  Things looked grim for me with no Prussian Army to face the Russians; who were poised to at long last invade Poland and bring the war to the Prussian heartland.

In the West, a French offensive seized Wesel and then went on to capture by siege the British Hanover Fortress of Munster.  Britain forged a pact with Denmark during 1759, while late during 1760, France gained a pact with Sweden.  Frederick V’s Danish Army and Cumberland’s British Army, through an offensive interception card, sought to regain Munster and fought a large field battle against D’Estree’s French Army.  That Coalition Army Group was roundly defeated.  A single surviving Danish SP went into the Prussian 1 Level Fortress of Wesel where the French besieged it.

A second large French Army besieged Prussian-occupied Frankfurt, but due to poor dice rolling, despite the French inherent advantage with siege warfare, could not manage to capture it.  Ferdinand’s weak Prussian Army hung around south of Wesel as a screen after forcing the French, debilitated by play of Pay System Collapses, had to abandon their siege.  The Prussians, in that theatre, were too feeble to do anything more meaningful.

The shattered Prussians, two weak Armies under Schwerin and Frederick, contended against three full-strength Austrian Armies.  They barely held and, was Dick more experienced with the game, the Austrians could have torn into Prussia’s vitals.  In hindsight, Dick observed, he should have been more aggressive when his opposition was on the ropes.

In the colonies, through play of cards, Britain got to the maximum of 10 on the Naval Track with its 2VP early during the game.  That +2 DRM to roll a six enabled them to swiftly end the Caribbean Adventure Foreign War the French inflicted on them in retaliation to the British playing the British Raid French Ports Foreign War.  The French ended that Foreign War through play of the Diplomacy Card.

In North America, after Abercrombie’s British moved to reinforce Ft. William Henry, Montcalm captured Ft. Oswego to its west.  During late 1760, The British got Wolfe’s Army, which landed in Louisbourg to threaten Quebec via the St. Lawrence River.  Montcalm would have to scamper north during the upcoming Interphase to defend that French North American Fortress Key.

In India, the British initially had difficulties with the Nawab in Bengal and Nally’s French Army in Mysore, who launched an offensive against Madras.  Clive’s Army eventually captured the French Bengal Chandernagore Key and, during 1760, Coote and his British Army arrived in Mysore, just as the French were readying their final attack to throw Britain into the sea. With a 5CP card, Britain destroyed Nally’s Army through an overrun which went on to capture the French Mysore Pondicherry Key: so it was the French who were thrown into the Sea in this part of India.

What a year of play! When 1760 ended, we assessed VP and discovered the Coalition ahead of the Imperial Camp by a single VP.  Britain would be the winner if the game ended.  So Alexander gave up a card from his upcoming 1761 hand to win on a die roll of 5 or 6 (sound familiar?). Alexander rolled a 6 and the game ended with him the victor as Britain.  Had the Imperials captured a single Key from the Coalition, the game would have gone the other way with their achieving victory:  Close, very close.

This, of course, was a learning game for the guys since they’d never played 7YW:FG before.  Everyone had fun and looks forward to a rematch.  I noted some additional P-500 sales which could have been from these gents or one of the club members walking by and seeing what a grand time of gaming we were having..

What was learned?  The sharp eyed Joel did notice need to edit the notes appearing on the map to make them clearer and had the good suggestion of pre-printing the two Saxon Keys of Dresden and Leipzig grey (Austria) / black (Prussian)… like Magdeburg now depicts two Nation’s colors, so it is clear only an Austrian or Prussian Flag Marker may be placed on those two Key Duchies.  Otherwise, what would stop another Army, such as one of France’s, from placing their Flag there?  A map graphic such as this is better than a rule buried in the Rule Book.

Other recommendations went back to designer Greg Ticer (not to worry readers, nothing major).  Some fun in the “Valley of the Sun” as the players returned home to take lessons learned for the next play test match of The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble.

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4 thoughts on “Frederick the Great Debuts in The Valley of the Sun: The First Arizona Playtest of The Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble

  1. Omg, I was there and was really interested in what was being played. The group I was with have little to zero interest in wargaming but I still enjoyed the day of gaming and seeing the different groups playing quit different games.

    • Hi Brian, Glad you noticed. THE SEVEN YEARS WAR: FREDERICK’S GAMBLE was again played during the 8/12/17 club meeting (and an exciting contest it was with the Imperials winning by a single Victory Point!) A number of azgamer guys, new to 7YW:FG, have expressed interest in learning the game during the next upcoming get-together: 8/26/17.

      If your group has “little to zero” interest in traditional wargaming, I’m developing another game for GMT: ANCIENT EMPIRES OF THE INNER SEA This is more in the Euro game style they’ll hopefully enjoy.

      It would be great having you and your gaming buddies feedback for either or both of these upcoming new GMT games. Contact me directly regarding any interest.

        • Hi Brian,

          I’m somewhat new to Arizona and did not realize the Rincon convention was imminent. I may take a day trip from Phoenix to attend one day of the event. It seems an game fest more conducive to ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS OF THE INNER SEA than a traditional CDG war game like THE SEVEN YEARS WAR: FREDERICK’S GAMBLE.

          In any event, thanks for bringing this event to my attention!

          Thanks for your interest in 7YW:FG !