Virgin Queen: Wars of Religion 1559-1598 is a game of grand strategy for two to six players based on the military, political and religious conflicts within Europe during the reigns of Elizabeth I of England and Philip II of Spain. Each player controls one or more of the major powers that presided over European politics in that day. Spain is the juggernaut, able to draw upon the vast riches of their global empire. But such a dominant power is sure to have many enemies. The Ottoman expansion towards Spainís Mediterranean outposts remains unchecked. Elizabethís English sea dogs are poised to raid Spainís overseas empire. And the forces of Protestant reform will soon drag Spain into eighty years of rebellion in the Netherlands. Will Spain find aid from its Catholic allies? Perhaps not from France, where the Catholic Valois dynasty is soon to engage another group of Protestant believers in the bloody French Wars of Religion. And even Philipís relatives in Vienna who rule the Holy Roman Empire may dabble in the Protestant faith instead of remaining loyal to their Catholic heritage and Spanish brethren.
The six powers in Virgin Queen are:
Ottoman, Spain, England, France, Holy Roman and Protestant.
Virgin Queen is the sequel to Here I Stand, another card-driven game of grand strategy that covered the previous forty years (from Martin Lutherís posting of his 95 Theses in 1517 through the abdication of Charles V in 1556). Players familiar with Here I Stand will find much that is familiar in Virgin Queen: over half of the rulebook remains unchanged. New game systems have been put in place to emphasize the changing nature of the conflicts here in the late 16th Century:
Religion: Streamlined from Here I Stand, the new rules for religious conversion and rebellion allow actions to be resolved quickly, reflecting the already entrenched presence of both Catholic and Protestant factions across the key areas of religious struggle.
World Map: Oceanic expeditions are now under direct player control as they sail to the Caribbean and beyond to seize plunder, found colonies, and attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
Diplomatic Influence: Alliances with minor powers (and major powers that can be activated in games with less than 6 players) are now made through a unified system where players buy influence at each of these foreign courts.
Weddings: Here I Standís secret negotiation phase is still present here in Virgin Queen, but with a new twist. Now you will want to arrange marriages for each of the princes and princesses of your family dynasty with a suitable foreign royal. Will even the Virgin Queen succumb to love and take a husband, or will she jilt that suitor at the last minute once again?
Patronage: Your royal court will be visited by artists, writers, scientists, and architects, who all want you to invest in their endeavors for the glory and advancement of the realm. Will you sponsor Galileo, Cervantes, or Shakespeare or instead spend your treasury on a fruitless quest for the Philosopherís Stone?
Espionage: Beware, there is also a dark side to this period -- a time of espionage and spymasters. In Virgin Queen you can ask your ambassadors to spy on foreign courts, send out handgun-armed assassins, invest in cryptology, and even recruit Jesuit priests for undercover missions of conversion.
There are several different scenarios included allowing your play sessions to be tailored to the number of players and time available:
2-Player Tutorial: Great for new players just learning the series, this 90-minute game pits the Ottomans against Spain during the time of the Siege of Malta and Battle of Lepanto. Uses a subset of the full rules so you can dive in quickly.
Campaign Scenario: The full Virgin Queen experience, this 8-hour game can last up to 7 turns and is normally played with from 4 to 6 players. Variant rules allow you to play with just 2 or 3 players if desired.
Armada Scenario: A quicker game focused on Turns 3 to 6 of the full campaign, this 4 to 5-hour game is ideal for tournament play. Once again supports from 4 to 6 players.
TIME SCALE 6 years per turn
MAP SCALE Point-to-point
UNIT SCALE Land unit = 5000 men Naval unit = 25 galleys
NUMBER OF PLAYERS 2-6
Five full color counters sheets
22x34 inch full-color mounted mapboard
112 Playing cards & 22 Royal cards
Six Power Cards
Diplomatic Influence Table card
Protestant Spaces card
Two Reference cards
Patronage Charts cards
Royal Wedding card
It may not be possible to ship very heavy items outside of the Mainland UK.
Released: 29 May 2012