Finally, we come to our noblest category in the annual farewell posts – historical board games! Here are the three I enjoyed most this year.
You can find the other posts in the Farewell 2021 series here:
I’ve owned this game for over three years now. I’ve played it a few times, but not a lot. Thus, as there had always been a few months (or more) in between plays, I never made the leap from the classic Second Punic War (the Hannibal part) to the First Punic War (Hamilcar) – until this year! The innovations proved worthy, particularly the struggle for naval supremacy (which, once my Romans had gained it, proved instrumental for their victory). I think that’s a good lesson to learn in this age of acquisition frenzy and cult-of-the-new (particularly in the board gaming hobby): The older games on your shelf might still have some new tricks in them. Give them some love. They deserve it, and they’ll reward you for it.
After all these years of raving about Here I Stand – strategy this, history that – it should not come as a surprise to anyone that once more it was one of my best gaming experiences this year. I played a six-player game over three online sessions (which kept my spirits up in the gloomy lockdown January we had), and I also developed a new way of playing: Cue #ChancellorHIS, in which six Twitter users represented the monarchs of the individual powers – and I acted as their trusted chancellor, preparing a briefing for them each turn and then acted upon their instructions. The Twitter thread of this romp can be revisited here:
It’s been a wild and intense experience (and, I would flatter myself, also gave some fun to the six players and numerous spectators in the trying times of this pandemic). The players brought different styles of instruction (from very broad mission-type statements to detailed commands full of if-clauses) and roleplay – one of them even changed his Twitter name and profile pic every time according to the pope he represented at any time. As it’s been such a blast, I have in mind to run another version of it next year.
And the game that sparked most joy for me this year is…
Another game with an attached Twitter project! In my #USEAAR2 (yes, it’s the second time I’m running it), I do a classic after-action report on Twitter – but the community gets to vote on the strategy of all sides.
This time, the Axis has gone east first – that is, declared war on the Soviet Union before France and Britain. Yet as Axis diplomacy has been awful, they first had to make their way through Soviet-allied Italy – and then through half of the Balkans and Scandinavia before deciding the time was ripe to invade the USSR proper. That happened in 1941 (and saw a resounding Axis success with the Soviet Union collapsing after three months of lightning warfare). Since then, the Axis are in dire straits again: Their attack on France in 1942 was met with fierce resistance (and petered out after conquering around half of France), and, as 1943 has now set in, not only have the Soviets resumed hostilities, but also the United States have joined the fray. Dramatic events are about to unfold. If you want to be kept updated, just reply to this post with your Twitter handle (or message me there), and I’ll tag you in the thread (updates typically 1-2 times a week)!
And which historical board games did you enjoy this year? Let me know in the comments!