The Life & Games of Napoleon Bonaparte (Part 2)

Welcome back to the Life & Games of Napoleon Bonaparte! You can find the first part dealing with Napoleon’s biography here. This second part is going to be a little more analytic, examining his military, political, and cultural legacy – and the games about it (see more games also in the first post).

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The Life & Games of Napoleon Bonaparte (Part 1)

BoardGameGeek divides their history-themed games in eras. Only one of them is named after a person (and the one after it indirectly, as Post-). So, how big must you be to have that honor? – Napoleon-big. As Napoleon was born 250 years ago (on August 15, 1769), here’s a post covering his life (from his early years over his mastery of Europe and finally his downfall) and the games about it. Not all the games, mind you. Not even close. In board gaming – as in history and public memory – Napoleon looms large. Continue reading

Wir sind das Volk! (Games about the Cold War, #7)

Welcome back to the seventh installment in my series on board games about the Cold War! Today, our game will be Wir sind das Volk! (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame). As usual, we’ll look at it in both game and academic terms. There are three aspects of Wir sind das Volk! which stand out to me: Its primacy of domestic politics, the decision-making aspect of the special cards, and the strong asymmetry of its two powers.

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The Naval Arms Race (Century of German History, #5)

Welcome to the fifth installment in my series Century of German History! Every post in the series sheds light on a focal event of German history in the 20th century and illustrates this event with precisely one board game. You can find the four previous posts here, here, here, and here.
Today we go to the very beginning of the century, to the very first decade and the Anglo-German naval arms race – from the comfortable naval position the United Kingdom enjoyed in the 19th century to the German challenge to this position, and the arms race proper and its consequences. Our game will be Europe in Turmoil: Prelude to the Great War (Kris van Beurden, Compass Games).

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The Leipzig Debate

What is the most exciting part about gaming history? – Doing what the historical agents might have done („Let’s see how an alliance with Imperial Germany would have worked out for Victorian Britain“) or see how what they did would translate into the game („John Shore was made a baron after his time with the East India Company, which is like scoring a prize after leaving the office of chairman.“
In short: Nothing is better than taking the perspective and agency of a historical agent. Card-Driven Games (CDGs) are reputed to have trouble with that. They can include all kinds of historical events on the cards, but the downsides to that are

  1. that the exact agency of the player in bringing about those events is a bit fuzzy (how exactly am I responsible for that storm which wrecked the opponent fleet?) and the player might feel „like an overworked Time Lord, delaying discoveries, accelerating accidents“
  2. and that the „standard“ moves to be conducted with the action points can be rather abstracted and generic („spread influence“).

One way out of this dilemma is employing standard events for each player which return to their hand – like the Home Cards for each power in Here I Stand (Ed Beach/GMT Games), which can be played once per turn and perfectly mesh with the respective power’s play style.
Today, we’ll look how that plays out in regard to the Leipzig Debate, one of the defining events of the early Reformation. After a quick look at the budding Reformation, we’ll go straight to the contestants of the debate and then the theological contest itself – and how it shaped events to come. All the while, Here I Stand will be our companion.

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1989 (Games about the Cold War, #6)

How time flies – it is already the sixth installment of my series on board games about the Cold War (here are parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). Today, we go to the very end of the Cold War – the collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989: Dawn of Freedom (Ted Torgerson/Jason Matthews, GMT Games). As usual, we’ll look at it in both game and academic terms.

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13 Days (Games about the Cold War, #5)

Welcome back to the fifth installment in my series on board games about the Cold War! Today, our game will be 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis (Asger Harding Granerud/Daniel Skjold Pedersen, Jolly Roger Games). As usual, we’ll look at it in both game and academic terms. Continue reading