Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Vive la Famille

Surely the ambitious motto of my aspiring family patriarch - though I'm sure the much exploited grandchildren don't think much of his grand designs. But when it comes to an aspiring famille hoping to leave a lasting legacy during the baffling upheavals of the French Revolution, can you blame the determined fellow?

Which is basically the theme of our latest game. Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy lets us step into the shoes of an upwardly mobile French noble in 1729 and compete for lasting honour by establishing a powerful dynasty with marriage ties to many different wealthy and powerful families.

Years back as a kid playing endless reruns of largely competitive games such as Risk and Monopoly with my brother, I already surrendered myself to the notion that such games obviously weren't suited to my taste. Barbaric hordes tearing across borders to plunder and pillage simply isn't my idea of fun.

Evidently I tend to lean towards thematic cooperative games with lots... and lots of witty narrative. So a game such as Legacy where gambling on the fickle vagaries of the marriage market ( like my all-time favourite Georgette Heyer regencies ) forms the basis of the game sounds made for me. Just imagine Crusader Kings with the endless Machiavellian manipulations of the hapless family members but without the blood-soaked warmongering on a mini board game.

Which is what I immediately set out to do as the future Count Philippe of Malacca. Though resources were few for his family wasn't all that well-to-do, he managed to gain the hand of the far more politically astute courtesan Arianne. Fortunately despite the unpredictable medical facilities of those times, a string of successful pregnancies ensued with a handful of promising though oddly identical offspring - Patric, Paul and Paige.

Philippe : Well congratulations, you survived the birth without complication.
Arianne : You were hoping otherwise?
Philippe : Did you expect bouquets? There's no love lost between us after all.
Arianne : You would have carried on the affair with the handsome footman from Provence?
Philippe : Certainement! Well I might have publicly mourned for a week. And fucked him thoroughly in private.
Arianne : Before searching for a new bride the week after?
Philippe : You know me too well.  

Feeling that times would be getting better despite noble heads getting summarily lopped off at the bloody guillotine, Philippe purchased a grand title for himself along with a gracious country chateau. After all where else could he throw his grand fetes to beguile high society. Along the way his socialite wife eagerly arranged advantageous marriages for his children. Even a match where poor Paige was sacrificed to a petty court blackmailer - who nonetheless, through whatever nefarious means, brought in several influential friends to the social circle - which paved the way for her more fortunate brother Paul, then the city mayor of Paris, to be engaged to a lovely Castillian princess.

Things looked up with the third generation as one grandson attained the status of a Duke while another granddaughter married a finance minister's son. The rest Philippe bartered off for whatever benefits they brought to the family - though one handsome suitor caught his eye... well just because.

Certain patriarchal entitlements Philippe surely didn't see fit to share with the rest of his family.

Philippe : The son of a mere baron for our beloved granddaughter Patience! My dear, you are certainly addled. I see at least one hunchback duke and two cross-eyed ministers who would be more advantageous.
Arianne : Take a good look at the boy before you judge.
Philippe : Vraiment! I finally see his undeniable charms. Certainly gifted. Now that's a virile stallion I would be glad to introduce into my stables.
Arianne : At least wait till after the wedding, my dear.
Philippe : Certainement!

Perpetually trying to gain more prestige along the way as the family picks up advantageous alliances. With a penchant for marrying intellectuals and scholars, soon enough the family gained the attention of Madame de Pompadour who became the family patroness.

Which is more than I can say for my lesser-connected rival families, one of whom had a motley crew of butchers, maids and stableboys in their hodge-podge lineage. Even a wandering Cossack! How shockingly bourgeouis!

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