Tag Archives: Agency

The Leipzig Debate

What is the most exciting part about gaming history? – Doing what the historical agents might have done („Let’s see how an alliance with Imperial Germany would have worked out for Victorian Britain“) or see how what they did would translate into the game („John Shore was made a baron after his time with the East India Company, which is like scoring a prize after leaving the office of chairman.“
In short: Nothing is better than taking the perspective and agency of a historical agent. Card-Driven Games (CDGs) are reputed to have trouble with that. They can include all kinds of historical events on the cards, but the downsides to that are

  1. that the exact agency of the player in bringing about those events is a bit fuzzy (how exactly am I responsible for that storm which wrecked the opponent fleet?) and the player might feel „like an overworked Time Lord, delaying discoveries, accelerating accidents“
  2. and that the „standard“ moves to be conducted with the action points can be rather abstracted and generic („spread influence“).

One way out of this dilemma is employing standard events for each player which return to their hand – like the Home Cards for each power in Here I Stand (Ed Beach/GMT Games), which can be played once per turn and perfectly mesh with the respective power’s play style.
Today, we’ll look how that plays out in regard to the Leipzig Debate, one of the defining events of the early Reformation. After a quick look at the budding Reformation, we’ll go straight to the contestants of the debate and then the theological contest itself – and how it shaped events to come. All the while, Here I Stand will be our companion.

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The Cold War in Board Games

As some of you know, I’ve been enrolled in university to complete my M.A. program in history for the last few years. It’s been the end of a long journey through academic history which began in 2010 with me as a bright-eyed freshman in my undergrad history classes. During these eight years, I have not only taken classes on everything from late classical Greece to the history of spaceflight. I’ve also interned, gone abroad for studying, worked for election campaigns, and finally taken up a regular day job before I’ve graduated. All of this has taken time, and that’s the reason why I spent a longer time enrolled in university than most. I even took longer for my M.A. than for my B.A. And all of this has given me valuable experience, made me more employable, and helped me grow as a person. I cordially recommend all of you out there who have the chance to look outside your college campus to seize this chance. The more you know outside of a classroom, the better for you, and for the world.
I know that not everybody has these opportunities. I was incredibly privileged. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed good health, and I had a generous student grant from a prestigious foundation to cover my living expenses. I was enrolled in programs that allowed for student engagement with the world off-campus, and I had advisers and supervisors who were flexible and encouraging about projects which might give experience but might also delay graduation. Most importantly, I come from a country where university does not cost more than a symbolic fee, and where students from low-income households even receive assistance in the form of half a grant, half an interest-free loan (of which no more than € 10,000 must be repaid). Without all these privileges, a young person like me – brought up in a single-parent, low-income household without any relatives who’d ever graduated from college when I enrolled – would have never been able to succeed like I did. I am grateful for that. I also regard it as a responsibility. I have been able to fulfil my potential because others and the society in which I live allowed me to. I will personally strive to enable others to fulfil their potential, and work for a society which allows as many people as possible to fulfil theirs.
This post, however, is not about my personal journey. As you know, this blog deals with history, board games, and history in board games. As it so happens, so did my M.A. thesis. I dealt with both my academic and my personal passion – the Cold War in board games. Let me share some insights of the thesis with you. If you’re interested in the why and how and what of the thesis, check out the research interest of the thesis, its methodology, and the sample of board games I used for it. You can also skip directly to my key findings on history-themed board games in general and the Cold War in board games in particular. Continue reading