Category Archives: History in board games

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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Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford (Prime Minister Ratings, #1)

300 years ago, Robert Walpole was made First Lord of the Treasury for the second time. Not a particularly impressive event – if Walpole had not retained that office for 21 years and turned himself into the leading British politician of his time. Thereafter, the office of First Lord of the Treasury customarily was given to the monarch’s representative to parliament – the Prime Minister, as the holder became known. As times changed, so did the office: Today, the prime minister is much more responsible to parliament than to the monarch. Yet the office, unofficial at first, has endured these 300 years and been held by dozens of very different men and women. And thus, this post about Walpole will kick off a new irregular series on the blog – Prime Minister Ratings! I’ll assess Walpole (and, in the future, other prime ministers (or even leaders from other places)) by a very general rating system – and I’ll introduce one board game in which the prime minister or the problems they faced feature – this time, Imperial Struggle (Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews, GMT Games).

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Venice in History and Board Games

One of the most storied cities of the world celebrates its 1600th birthday this year: As legend has it, Venice was founded when three Roman officials established a trade post on the lagoon off Italy’s Adriatic shore on March 25, 421. Since then, Venice has been a refuge, a great power, and a tourist destination. Venice continues to be an inspiration due to its special topography of islands and canals, the enterprising spirits and artisanal skills of its population, and the heights of subtlety and sophistication which its diplomacy, politics, arts, and culture reached. Correspondingly, the city is a frequent subject of board games: 64 are listed in BoardGameGeek’s “family” of Venice games – many more than are set in, say, Milan (13), Florence (25), or even Rome (also 25). This post will take you on a journey through the history and board games of Venice.

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Glasnost and Perestroika

35 years ago, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was about to commence its XXVIIth party congress. Party congresses were rare events, held regularly only every five years. They thus marked an important occasion for the Soviet leadership to talk about past successes and lay out future plans. The XXVIIth party congress was the first one headed by the new general secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev. He set out an ambitious reform agenda. For the next years, the Soviet Union – and the world – would talk about glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). This post is going to cover three questions: What did those terms mean? Which consequences did the policies that Gorbachev set in motion have? And, a question that is especially important to board gamers, who are used to assess events and policies by their strategic value: Were those policies beneficial?

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Playing Nazis? Ethics, Historical Accuracy, and Personal Comfort in Games with Loaded Topics

Earlier this year, I’ve written a post about my most anticipated games to be released this year. Among them was Weimar: The Fight for Democracy (Matthias Cramer, Compass Games), which deals with the interwar Weimar Republic that was toppled by the Nazis. My fellow blogger Dave (check out his blog!) had asked me a year ago how I felt about the Nazis being a playable side in such a game – as this one does not feature them as such, but The Weimar Republic: Political Struggle in Germany, 1919—1933 (Gunnar Holmbäck, GMT Games) does. I’ve been coming back to that question, as it touches on some important matters: Most importantly, one of ethics, which will form the main part of this post. However, there are also questions of historical accuracy, and of personal comfort, with which we will deal in turn. While this post is focused on the two Weimar games, it’ll also take the wider matter into account.

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Board Game Geek War Game Top 60: #30-21

Welcome back to the fourth part of the series on the top 60 games in BoardGameGeek’s war game list! We enter the upper half of the top 60 games, and there are some excellent games in today’s package. You know the drill from the first, second, and third part – I give a few thoughts on each of the games, and then you add yours in the comments. Without further ado, here are games #30-21 of the list.

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Most Anticipated Historical Board Game Releases in 2021

Happy new year everyone! Before I get into my most anticipated historical board games likely to be released this year, let me remind you: The best game you’ll have played at the end of this year is likely one that sits on your shelf already – be that one you know and love, or one that has not been lucky enough yet to be actually played by you after you got it. Give those some love before you chase new games!
Myself, I’ll try to be judicious with my board game purchases. Last year, I bought a grand total of four games – one digital adaptation, two from a flea market (when things like that still existed), and one with book store gift cards. So, don’t expect me to run and buy any game that looks interesting. That being said, here are some upcoming titles which I am at least seriously considering to acquire. As all of them are set in human history, they are ordered from most ancient to most recent.

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Farewell 2020 – The Best on the Blog

2020 is all but over! (Cheers erupt everywhere.) It was the third full year of my blog. The blog keeps growing: While my number of posts is almost exactly what it was in 2019, both the number of visitors and views have markedly increased. Unsurprisingly, most of my visitors come from the United States (almost 45%), but there are many other (mostly English-speaking and/or European) countries in which the blog does well – adjusting for population, Clio’s Board Games is very popular in Canada and Sweden (I guess the people in the often dark and cold north know the pleasures of board gaming and blog reading). Some countries whose visitor counts have increased markedly are Spain, France, Brazil, and Japan. Hello everybody new! I hope you enjoy reading this blog.

I certainly enjoy writing it. And so, to top off my review of the year, here are the six posts which I think represent the most interesting this blog had to offer in 2020:

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The Great Enfranchisement: Women’s Suffrage in the United States and the United Kingdom

The United States are on the eve of an election. In a democracy, this is when the people (so prominent a term in the founding documents of the United States) are called upon to have their say and decide the future of their country. Yet, for a long time in American history, only a very limited amount of Americans were called upon to cast their votes on a Tuesdays in November – because of their race, their class, and also because of their gender. 100 years ago, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ended the latter practice and gave women equal suffrage rights with men. We’ll look upon the roots of that long struggle for equality and at the political machinations that led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment, drawing strongly on two soon-to-be published board games: The Vote (Tom Russell, Hollandspiele), to be released on November 3, and Votes for Women (Tory Brown, Fort Circle Games), to be released in April 2021. Of course, American women were not alone in their fight for voting rights, and the British suffragettes (more on that term later) were particularly influential with the style of their campaigns – and with the board games they published.

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BoardGameGeek War Game Top 60: #50-41

Welcome back to the second part of the series on the top 60 games in BoardGameGeek’s war game list! The first part has generated a lot of replies from you on the blog as well as on Twitter – and that’s exactly what I set out for. So, thanks for all your responses, and I’m looking forward to more comments as the series goes on! Without further ado, here are games #50-41 of the list.

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