Category Archives: History in board games

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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Süleyman the Magnificent and the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire

500 years ago, a certain Süleyman succeeded his father Selim to become sultan of the Ottomans. He transformed his inherited state from a regional power into an empire with a universal claim, whose dominion ranged from Hungary to Iraq, from Crimea to Algiers, and whose fleets sailed the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Indian Ocean. Later, he was called Süleyman the Magnificent, and his reign the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire. This post will explore three questions (as always, with board games): How did Süleyman win his domains? How did he forge them into an empire? And how has the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire influenced later views and depictions of the Middle East?

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BoardGameGeek War Game Top 60: #60-51

The best ideas are often those of others. For example, Dave from the Dude! Take Your Turn blog came up with this neat series to write about the top 100 games on BoardGameGeek – just some thoughts what the game is about, if he has played it and if so, what that was like, and if not, if he would give it a shot. You can find the starting post for the games #100-91 here. If you want to go straight for the crème de la crème, here are the top ten games on BGG, and if you still don’t have enough after 100 games, Dave has already started diving into the games #200-101, which I also read religiously.
These posts have been tremendous conversation starters about a variety of board games. Therefore, I asked Dave if I could borrow his idea and apply it to the BoardGameGeek war games list. He graciously agreed, and here we are! Here are the ground rules of this series:

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The Life & Games of Florence Nightingale

2020 is the year in which we all suddenly discuss hygiene measures and infection rates. Medical workers are recognized as the essential pillars of our society that they are (although much of it is performative, and working conditions in care do not reflect the crucial role of the field). One particular pioneer of our medical system was born 200 years ago, and she made major contributions to all the areas mentioned – hygiene, statistics, and nursing. And thus, it is doubly fitting to dedicate this post to Florence Nightingale, from her early struggle to become a nurse over her sudden fame as a nurse in the Crimean War to her contributions to sanitation, statistics, social reform and nursing instruction – and, at times, to discuss the board games in which she features and the limits of biographies via board games.

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The Nuclear Bomb (End of World War II, #3)

World War II ended 75 years ago, and so does this miniseries on the matter. The two previous posts on the Great Power conferences and the meeting of Western and Soviet forces have focused on Europe. When the guns fell silent there, fighting still raged on in Asia and the Pacific, where the United States, China, and the British Commonwealth slowly retook the Japanese conquests. Before the Allies would attempt an invasion of the Japanese home islands, they brought their naval and aerial power to bear – including their newest weapon. After years of research and testing, the first nuclear bomb was ready to use. The Americans hoped it would shock the Japanese into accepting surrender. Since then, we live in a nuclear world – with all its implications on the ensuing Cold War, arms control, and board games until today. Continue reading

Decolonization in the Cold War (Decolonization, #3)

Sixty years ago, a whopping 17 former African colonies became independent nations. In commemoration, I’m doing a miniseries on decolonization on this blog. So far, you can read an overview over decolonization and a closer look at decolonization processes within a colony. Today, we’ll deal with decolonization in the international context of the Cold War. All too often, it is assumed that the anticolonial movements and newly independent states were mere pawns in the games of the superpowers. However, they had quite some agency of their own. As you rightly expect, we’ll look at how different board games deal with the complex relationship between the Cold War and decolonization. Continue reading

Book Review: Do You Want Total War? (Darren Kilfara)

Book review? The blogger who has steadfastly refused to review any board game over the last three years now does book reviews? Well, yes (kinda, I’m not sure if this post qualifies as a review). But bear with me, not only is Do You Want Total War? (Darren Kilfara, Dunbar Press), as the sub-title of the book says, „A Book About History“, but our young protagonist Sean Lansbury is also an avid boardgamer: Every week, he spends one evening playing Totaler Krieg! (Alan Emrich/Steve Kosakowski, Decision Games), going through permutations of World War II over and over again. Let’s have a look at the characters and the themes the book explores – especially in regard to playing historical (war)games. I’ll also discuss a bit what that means for myself.
Warning: There are spoilers for the plot of „Do You Want Total War?“ ahead.

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Decolonization on the Ground (Decolonization, #2)

In 1900, about half the global population lived under foreign suzerainty. A century later, almost all (formal) colonies had vanished. The climax of this breathtaking process of decolonization was in 1960, exactly 60 years ago, when 17 newly independent states joined the United Nations. We’ve looked at decolonization from a bird’s eye view in the first post of this miniseries. Today, we’re going to zoom way in and look at decolonization processes in individual colonies. First, we’ll get an overview of the agents of decolonization. Then, we’ll look at the ideas that influenced the decolonization struggle as well as the fight for longer colonial rule. Finally, we explore the limits of an explanation which only looks to the colony in question. And, as always, we look at board games.

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