So…I’m not persuaded that running Fief with everything is a great experience. Last night we added the Templar, Teutonic and Crusades modules for the all-in experience. And it’s one hell of an experience! But it’s long and kind of loses the gut-punch focus of the core game.
The knightly orders are okay, although running them without Crusades seems kind of pointless. Maybe not! There’s some vagueness in the rules, which was disappointing (are knight titles capital-t Titles? Does the Teutonic knighthood qualify you for King? Do you vote on the Grand Master roles every round?), and the impact of the new plastic is iffy, but that stuff was okay. I really love how the constraints of the two orders really mess with your dynasty! Lining up marriages was super-fraught with the Knight orders in play, and nonexistent once we added the Crusades.
The Crusades module (second picture) adds a second board to which your Lords can travel and beat on Saracens. I’m always iffy about add-on boards! Kemet added one in the Ta-Seti expansion, there’s a whole second board for Simurgh now, there’s all those Battlestar Galactica minigames…I dunno. The longer I play board games, the less enamored I am of expansions like this. But I still feel compelled to have them.
Anyway, Crusades. 150ish years too late historically speaking but whatever! It’s pretty cool in principle: when you send your dudes away, they’re gone baby gone from France. Their property is under the protection of the Church, which means if you go help yourself to some crusader’s empty castle? Oopsie you’re excommunicated. Which is very, very tempting if you can afford to ignore the ecclesiastical side of the game. When the lords show up in the Outremer, they get assigned to Crusade Goals, some of which are additional VP-giving titles and some of which are cold hard cash.
To call for a Crusade, you need a Cardinal (or the Pope) to make it happen. In our game at least, we didn’t have any cardinals until way-late into the game. So, that whole second board went unused until the fourth hour or so. But by then everyone had 2 VPs the normal way (Fief title or one of the Knight Order bosses, no king or pope, totally deadlocked), and the Crusades were a race to the tiebreaker status. Gross! And pretty anticlimactic. Haha on the fourth tiebreaker criteria I win!
I guess a win is a win but I so prefer to become king, slam my mailed fist on the table, and declare a thousand years of peace.
I suspect a couple things:
* If you’re playing with the Knight Orders, you have to increase everyone’s VP requirement by 1. The RAW says it’s still 3VP for solo win but 5 for married win. We weren’t clear if the Knight Order Grand Master titles were voted for every round, but we decided they were and that did add some healthy uncertainty. Even more wheeling and dealing: you can keep your Grand Master title if you marry me and give me that cardinal’s biretta you’re sitting on, stuff like that.
* The full meal deal is probably quite the experience if you start at noon and intend to play alllll day long. With all six players. We played 4 and we played from 7 to midnight, and I think fatigue made it hard to stay focused and loose. I know I start sliding over to “okay fine but who’s winning” mode when I get sleepy, because I just want to go to bed. #trueoldguyfacts