Maria is one of those games that have rather interesting flow and some interesting mechanics. The beef of the game is military conquest spiced up with walk on a diplomatic slackline. Our first three player outing turned out to be rather long, but eventful and interesting. Beginning was slow because of the acclimatization on the board, pieces, the politics and their long term implications. Initially none of the powers were particularly aggressive, albeit it was pretty evident what needed to be done to accomplish victory – it was just hard to figure out how to grab the enemy cities without compromising own territory and armies.
Everyone was way too afraid of overextension – a thing which kicks back in military themed games usually pretty badly. To prevent overextension, everybody tried to do two things at the same time – protect own domains, and skirmish on the front lines without realizing that the best opportunity to play out the game of attrition is at the beginning. Few turns in, and it becomes increasingly difficult to fight battles with favorable odds. Several turns more and the Franco-Prussian inactivity shows and Austrian hand becomes so strong that it can do two things, draft armies in numbers unmatched by opposition and have hand sufficiently strong to strike decisive blow first in one front and then with gracious help of interior lines, before another power can pull coup d’état.
Late in game Pragmatic faction decided to have non-aggression pact with France to slow down the Austrian juggernaut. This was however too little too late, the squabble between the west had already dented both sides and was especially hard on France in their war of two fronts. Prussia on the other hand tried war of limited gains until Austria kicked Saxony out of the alliance pushing Fredrik into ill fated rampage. So, result was outstanding Victory for Maria Theresa who by now concentrated her efforts for the only thing that was necessary – not losing battles she could not possibly lose.