Here I Stand (Game)

Here I Stand is game devised by Ed Beach and published by GMT Games. It provides a dynamic account of the Reformation from 1517 to 1555, starrting with Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses. There are three scenarios:

  • 1517 start
  • 1532 start
  • Tournament game (an abbreviated version of the game which starts in 1532, but gets off the ground quicker and ends sooner)
Here I Stand (Game)
DesignerEd Beach
TopicRenaissance Europe
OrganisationGMT Games
Preparationall materials supplied by GMT
No. of roles/players3 to 6 players
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Game Concept


The players in the game are the Ottomans, Hapsburgs, England, France, the Papacy and the Protestants. The game can consist of a maximum of 9 turns if playing from the 1517 scenario. Each turn is long, consisting of a maximum of 9 phases, though most turns use only 7 of those. The first turn starts out with Luther's 95 Theses, with the Protestant player receiving the chance to start the Reformation. This phase is used only on the first turn. Then there is the Card Draw Phase. This is where you deal out cards, the "currency" of the game. All cards can be used either for its CP or command point value or for the specific event listed on the card. Different powers receive different numbers of cards, usually varying from 3-5. All powers receive an additional home card, which gives them a specific event, such as France's, which gives them a VP if played for the event. All home cards are worth 5 CP. Then, on the first turn only, the Hapsburgs, Papacy and Protestants must all discard a card for the Diet of Worms, which allows either side to make gains. The next phase is the Diplomacy phase, which features secret deal-making and allows players to declare war, make alliances, ransom leaders or remove excommunication. After that comes Spring Deployment, when each power (except the Protestants) can move troops from his capital to a space he controls. Then comes the meat of the game: the Action Phase. Here is when players play cards. Some of the actions include raising troops or ships, moving them, launching voyages of conquest, exploration or colonization, calling theological debates, assaulting fortresses, burning books and initiating piracy. The Action phase is divided into impulses where a player plays a card. This phase is always the longest, taking about 40 minutes. After they have played a certain number of cards, a power can pass, bringing the Action Round to a close. After this comes Winter, when all players must return troops home. Then, the New World voyages are resolved, and lastly, victory conditions are checked. If anyone has won, the game ends.



Victory is usually achieved by accumulating 25 VP, or victory points through conquest, the New World, religious struggle, or their power's unique abilities. Other ways of winning are conquering the required number of other keys (usually five). This victory ends the game automatically. The Protestants do not have keys; they can win by converting 50 spaces to Protestantism. Keys are the most important spaces and give extra cards and VPs.

Here I Stand as a learning resource


This game has a wealth of historical material including a number of historical personages - both as temporal leaders, explorers and as Protestant Reformers and Catholic debaters for the Counter Reformation. These are placed in the context of Europe in the sixteenth century, with the impact of the Ottoman Empire and the discovery of the New World also represented. With the specific ways of gaining victory points assigned to different players, participants get to understand the varying viewpoints which arose in Europe as the Reformation took place.

The game board


The game board consists of a map of Europe in the sixteenth century, excluding Russia and Scandinavia but including Turkey and North Africa. There is also an area depicting the New World and charts of game information. The map focuses on control of areas laid out in a point to point style. The religious debates are also affected by language with the protestant efforts to have the Bible translated into German, English and French affecting the debates in those language zones. There is also a Spanish and an Italian language zone, but these are less significant. There is naval as well as land movement and combat.

Game roles


Each player is given a 'Power Card' which gives details of the possible actions for that player, and the cost of that action in 'Command Points' (CPs), attributes of the initial ruler and a holding area for markers which can be added or moved to indicate how the player is doing during the game, both in terms of how many cards they can draw and in terms of how many Victory Points they have accrued. The roles are assymetric with players representing:

The Ottomans are one of the more straightforward powers. In the 1517 scenario you start At War with Hungary, a minor power, and from there you should take Belgrade and Buda, two keys. By 1532 you have control of these two keys and most of Hungary. Once the Barbary Pirates come into play, you can initiate piracy, with can be very rewarding. You also gain two VPs by defeating Hungary.

The game covers the period when Charles V was Holy Roman Emperor (1519 - 1556). The way he continually moved around his Empire dealing with different problems is reflected in the Hapsburg Home card which allows him to immediately move to any Hapsburg space and then conduct 5 CPs. The Hapsburgs have the opportunity to gain extra VPs through excursions to the New World, and by the control of electorates in Germany.

The game replicates Henry VIII's desire to produce an heir. Although there is some variation from history allowed in the game, the reigns of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I all have religious consequences. England has the opportunity to gain extra VPs through excursions to the New World. England also gains significant VPs from the religious struggle. (See Tudor Origins of the British Empire for an additional learning resources for England during this period.)

France can gain extra victory points (up to 6) while Francis I is alive by using their Home Card to build Chateaux. This is no longer available after Henry II has succeeded to the throne. France has the opportunity to gain extra VPs through excursions to the New World. France can be quite challenging to play as you are surrounded by the English and Hapsburgs to the north, the Hapsburgs to the south, and the Papacy in Italy.

In this simulation the papacy can concern itself with three principal ways of gaining VPs:

  • Defeating the Reformation
  • Building St Peters
  • Military conquest, primarily in Italy
Historical tide of reformation and Counter-reformation

The reformation in Germany is central to how the Protestants start the game. A key turning point in the game for the Protestants is the founding of the Schmalkaldic League. They gain VPs for translating the Bible into German, English and French - which also enables them to speed up the Reformation. They have a number of Reformers, some of whom play a role on the map board, others of whom confront the Catholics in debates.


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