I've been giving this some more thought after more plays, especially after a couple of attempts at the first campaign solitaire. So far my York always manages to kill at least one of my Lancaster rose nobles (and often several) in the first campaign. Losing more than one rose noble seems to be pretty much game over for Lancaster, as York can pretty easily reach their maximum of 15 nobles (including London) in three campaigns, while Lancaster has a harder time recruiting everyone (I'm looking at you, Lord Rivers). Lancaster's maximum is 16 nobles (excluding London), so with one Lancaster noble dead, Lancaster can still get 15 nobles and retain the throne, but with two dead the show's over. My conclusion for Lancaster strategy is to be extremely cautious. Expect the worst, because it is going to happen.
Here's the best solution I've come up with (Run Strategy):
- Exeter, Devon and Pembroke ships to France, from where they will return together with the French mercenary in the last turns of the campaign.
- Oxford ships to Scotland, where he will stay until the third campaign because Essex is going to occupy his shield.
- Somerset and Wiltshire go to the king in London and then run north together.
- Beaumont goes to East Yorks to prevent a port-to-port landing there from the Yorkists in Calais (no, Northumberland can't be recruited to do this instead as Beaumont is too vulnerable in his home area and must leave).
- The Scottish mercenary does the same in Northumbria.
After intial moves, all the good blocks in Northumbria and South Yorks are recruited, and Lancaster sets up to defend in the areas Lancaster and South Yorks, with available reserves to the north.
The problem is that York isn't going to let Lancaster do all of this, and because the pretender goes first on equal AP York can almost always catch someone before they get away. It seems to get even worse for Lancaster if York is allowed to port-to-port move into the northern ports as well, as this can prevent Lancaster recruits for several turns while the starting Lancaster blocks get slaughtered.
So far I've failed to come up with a Lancaster strategy that would keep all their nobles alive.
I've made two assumptions in the above conclusion that I hope might be wrong: a) York will always control London and b) Lancaster won't kill any York nobles. While a) feels almost certain, b) is more in question.
Maybe Lancaster is supposed to lose a noble or two in the first campaign and needs to be played much more aggressively in the second?
I restricted my solitaire tests to the first campaign, so I haven't really seen if that would be feasible. I also hope I may be overlooking something that Lancaster can do in the first campaign to delay the York kill-stack (Burgundy-Calais-March-Warwick).
All right first off let me say, i have been on this site for over 2 years and now rarely buy any game without checking on here first. But this is my first post, so let me thank you all in advance for the love.
Now on to the actual strategy (Aggressive Defense).
First off I will be talking about the general strategy for a Lancaster player. I will assume your opponent is also a decent player (or at least equal to you).
Now for speed I will break the board into 3 main theaters:
- The first is the North defined as everything north of the South York county.
- The second is the West which is Wales, Cornwall and the two counties next to it (Somerset and Dorset).
- Everything else is in the South.
In addition there are four central Counties, due to their location (the ability to move in one normal move, that is two spaces people) to critical locations (like London or South Yorks) and the ability to muster a unit or two. Now there are more spaces then these that meets these requirements but they are either critical locations or lack the ability to support multiple fronts effectively, the four are Warwick, Lincoln, Wilts (Wilts and bombard if need be and right by Dorset, Cornwall and Middlesex) and Northumbria (due to the sea move and support of the North).
Finally, Lancaster always play a 3 card as your first card of the first campaign. It gives you a good response for anything York does yet means you go second (only a 2 makes you go first and opening with a 2 as York is pretty crazy but if it happens march Oxford to London and summon up Buckingham and the Coventry Levy to Warwick county):
Back to our general strategy (Aggressive Defense):
For Lancaster, the first campaign is an aggressive defense. To be honest that sounds insane, but it works. If you just run for your life, York can pick too many units off. But if you concentrate then run York also has to concentrate to hit you. And it allows you to survive the first round of combat and then run like a little girl. If York goes south:
You're also going to want to summon the Welsh mercanaries in Caernarvon. The way to counter the North move is to get your mercanaries together and then attrition the hell out of them. York can bring more blocks out in the north and will have to summon them to the south, you must use your activations to group Oxford and Exeter to Middlesex with the King and then either retreat en mass or summon the Bombard and make a stand there.
If the main York army (usually the Calais mercs, Warick and March) come south, run. They aren't worth fighting. But if those four are north you can, in fact, fight for London. Once you got your five stack in London (a muster event card is a great way to do this) then get the french and scot mercs to the welsh mercs and head for south york and summon up York levy and Shrewsbury. York usually attacks and you just fight to the death. All of your blocks come back (unless Warwick can successfully treason shrewsbury, but even then its not a big deal he has a 1 loyalty to York and a 2 to Lancaster so you can get him back if you want) once this fight is done.
Get Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Newcastle levy in Northumbria and watch York run (unless you had poor rolls or he had really good ones, or some combo of the two) mean while you have london plus a pretty serious threat to most of York's muster options sitting in London.
In addition as needed you can muster up Buckingham and Coventry levys to beef up london or operate as reinforcements should a huge london attack develop.
Just a general idea of how to fight a north move: my group does tend to see a north move with a smaller south move, but if no south move comes continue to concentrate on using expendable units (levys, mercs, and in a pinch noble with loyalty ratings as meet shields to atrit York.
I find the first turn its less important to get out a lot of nobles (unless York is doing that) then it is to stop York from killing your units. King/Heir/Nobles unit survival should be the main focus.