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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Half-Year Gaming Report, 2021

2021 is already halfway over! At least the period of January to May felt like the longest five months ever. Yet now summer is here, COVID is retreating where I live, and so we get to enjoy some of the things we love best again. For example, board gaming in person. So far, I’ve only been visited by a friend for some board gaming once this year, but I do plan on stepping it up! Here’s what I played so far in the first six months of the year.

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How to Win at Eldritch Horror (Three Basic Tips, #6)

When you have just learned a shiny new board game, especially one which is a bit longer and more complex than others, it’s nice to have some strategic direction. That’s what I aim to provide with my series Three Basic Tips – strategy advice for beginner and intermediate players that is easy to remember and yet gets you places. That goes for cooperative as well as competitive games, and so today you’ll find the first ever Three Basic Tips for a co-op game!

It’s no secret that I like Eldritch Horror (Corey Konieczka/Nikki Valens, Fantasy Flight Games). It’s the non-campaign coop game I have played most often – no mean feat considering that a game easily lasts a few hours. With that kind of time commitment – and given that the fate of the world is at stake when the Ancient One takes over – you want to give yourself the best chances for success. Here’s how you get the job done, give yourself the time for it, and make the most of the means at your disposal.

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Shelf Statistics, #1

Board gamers are a funny folk. They love statistics. Many track all the games they own and play, sometimes to the level of detail that they write down if Gina played with the green pieces this time. I’m not quite as obsessed, but I do love statistics, too. And infographics. So, without further ado, here are some from my collection.

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SDHistCon 2021: Spring Deployment!

I’ve always (well, at least since 2018) dreamed of going to the San Diego Historical Games Convention (SDHistCon). Now as it happens, San Diego is about 10,000 kilometers away from where I live, so just casually stepping by was never an option. As current events dictate it, the con was transformed into an online one last November – and that opened up opportunities for me. I missed the first online SDHistCon in November, though – I’d found out it was happening, and just hours later when I wanted to buy my ticket, they were all sold out already. So, I was ever more excited when I got the badge for the May 21-23 one!

Many thanks to Harold Buchanan and his team of enthusiastic volunteers for making this happen! It was great to chat with fellow gamers, some of whom I’d known from Twitter, see designers showcase their old and new designs, and play a game. As there is a substantial time difference between where I live and San Diego, I missed a few cool things that happened too late for an early-to-bed person like me, but there were so many amazing things I could do! …like the following:

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Clio’s Board Games Ranked #20 on the Top 100 Board Game Blogs by Feedspot!

My purpose in blogging is to indulge myself. I love board gaming, I’m deeply interested in history, and here I get to explore both of them in the most interesting ways. So when I started out, blogging was mostly a solitary experiment for me. And then other people came along, and with them a form of appreciation I’d never imagined.

No matter if you’ve commented on my blog, interacted with me on Twitter, or reached out in any other way – it’s amazing, and it keeps me going to know that every once in a while a post of mine got someone fascinated with a new historical topic or game.

Now, almost four years into the creation of this blog, I’ve gotten another form of appreciation: Feedspot has included it in their list of the Top 100 Board Game Blogs and ranked it a whopping #20!

Thanks to Feedspot for selecting Clio’s Board Games! And to everyone else, have a look at the list. There are some pretty great blogs on there, and I found out about at least one new blog that I follow now.

Sophie Scholl and the German Anti-Nazi Resistance

Living until one’s 100th birthday is not given to everyone. Under different circumstances, a woman from southwest Germany named Sophie Scholl, born May 9, 1921, would have seen hers these days. Yet she did not even live to see her 22nd – having been executed for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets on February 22, 1943. This post traces the various forms of German resistance to Nazi rule – socialist, Christian, conservative and military, as well as the non-conformists like Sophie Scholl. Finally, it looks at what remains from the German resistance – in public memory and board games.

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