Highlights from SDHistCon – Fall 2021!

Sunny San Diego is a few thousand kilometers away from me. No way I could just go to a board game convention there… or could I? In 2021 I can! For pandemic reasons, San Diego Historical Games Convention (SDHistCon) has been held online the last few times, including this November 12-14. I’ve had a blast at the previous SDHistCon in May this year, so of course I signed up for this one as well. Once more, it was a great time – thanks to Harold Buchanan and all the many volunteers who made this event happen. Here are a few of my highlights.

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Bookish Board Games

At this point, the annual joint post of Naty (from Naty’s Bookshelf, your prime source of book recommendations) and me is a hallowed tradition. It’s the bridge between the worlds of books and board games. In the last years, we’ve done:

Now we return to the roots and do another post on bookish board games – that is, board games which would appeal to book lovers. This time, we look at Eldritch Horror (Corey Konieczka/Nikki Valens, Fantasy Flight Games), Ex Libris (Adam P. McIver, Renegade Game Studios), and A Game of Thrones (Christian T. Petersen, Fantasy Flight Games).

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Adjusting Difficulty in Eldritch Horror

Happy Halloween, everyone! Nothing better today than a little gathering with friends – and maybe playing a spooky board game. One of my favorite horror-themed games is Eldritch Horror (Corey Konieczka/Nikki Valens, Fantasy Flight Games). As a cooperative game with fairly straightforward rules, it’s suitable for newcomers as well (provided they have the patience for a multi-hour game), it accommodates one to eight players, and thus it makes for an excellent Halloween party game. Depending on the group with which you play, maybe you want to adjust the difficulty of the game – make it a bit easier for a laid-back beginner’s game, turn it up to challenge crack players. This post contains some ideas how can make the game easier or harder – via investigators, Ancient Ones, the Mythos deck, and encounters.

Related: I’ve written a short primer on how to win at Eldritch Horror already – so if you need some simple tips for successful play, check it out!

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Winston Churchill (Prime Minister Ratings, #2)

I’ve started a little irregular series called Prime Minister Ratings – assessing British prime ministers by a very general rating system and showcasing one board game in which the prime minister in question or the problems they faced feature. Our first contestant was Robert Walpole, the very first prime minister. Today, we move on to a 20th century heavyweight: Winston Churchill, the man who led Britain through World War II… and was elected prime minister for a second time six years after the war. Our accompanying board game is Churchill (Mark Herman, GMT Games).

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SPIEL 2021: Most Anticipated Board Games

You say „board game fair“, I say “SPIEL” at Essen. It’s the Mecca for the tabletop gaming faithful. Four days of playing, trying, and buying. 160,000+ visitors. I’ve been there a few times over the last years for two days each and found it an intensive board game experience. Other plans prevent me from going this year, but that can’t stop me from writing a short list of the new releases that look most interesting to me. Maybe some of you who can attend find a new gem! And maybe I’ll get to try these games out some other time as well.

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Greek Freedom? (The Greco-Persian Wars, #2)

2500 years ago, the most powerful man in the world, Persian great king Xerxes I, had set out to add another country to his vast domains – small, mountainous Greece. In the previous post we’ve seen what prompted this invasion and how initially things were going well for the Persian invasion force – they broke through the Greek defenses at Thermopylae and thus central and southern Greece lay open to them. This time, we’ll finish the account of the Persian invasion of 480/479 BCE, look at Greco-Persian relations in the following one and a half centuries, and look at how the Greco-Persian Wars were remembered among the ancient Greeks and until today – of course, with board games!

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Mining, Decolonization, and the Cold War: The Congo Crisis

60 years ago, the Republic of the Congo – one of the largest newly independent countries in Africa – was embroiled in a bitter struggle. Four domestic factions claimed either their right to rule the country or to secede from it. The struggle was completed by the international agents ensnared it ranging from the old colonial power Belgium over the superpowers to the United Nations who wanted to preserve their business interests, score points in the Cold War, or redefine their international role. We need to look at the Congo’s colonial past before we can understand the Congo Crisis and, following this, its bloody legacy. As always, board games will guide our way.

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Shelf Statistics, #2

Board gamers love talking about their shelves. Sometimes, that’s literally the piece of furniture – do you use KALLAX shelves or something else? More often, it’s about what’s in them. I did so in the first part of my Shelf Statistics – who designed the games in my collection, who published them, when were they published? In this second part, it’s all about ownership and acquisition – and about the most important part of our hobby (at least to me) – playing!

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Earth and Water (The Greco-Persian Wars, #1)

Big anniversaries of historical events are often the occasion for me to write something for this blog. 100 years ago, this happened. 500 years ago, that happened. Yet never have I gone as far back with that as I will today: 2500 years ago, in the summer of 480 BCE (keep in mind that there has been no “Year Zero”), a storm was brewing in the eastern Mediterranean. The most powerful man in the world, Persian great king Xerxes I, had set out to make Greece part of his domain. In this post, you’ll find out why he did that, and how his enterprise initially went. The next post (coming in September) will pick up the story from there and tell the rest of the tale of these Greco-Persian Wars and their repercussions until today. As always, there are plenty of board games on the way.

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How to Win in Wir sind das Volk! (Three Basic Tips, #7)

You know the general idea of this series: You’re a new or intermediate player of a strategy game and look for some easy-to-digest tips that will see your fortunes improve without you having to read tomes of strategy literature. That’s what we’re doing today for playing Wir sind das Volk! (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame) – well, almost. Wir sind das Volk! is not a game to accept easy answers to complicated questions. There’s a reason I called it the most nuanced Cold War game out there. This nuance does not only allow the game to tell a compelling story of the two Germanies, but also makes it a bit tougher to give generalizable tips. So, I’ll give you two basic tips – which actions to prioritize and what the most important track is– and one that requires a bit more in-game thinking: Regularly assess the victory and defeat conditions and act accordingly.

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