Last year, I have inaugurated a new irregular series on my blog assessing the merits of UK prime ministers (illustrated through the lens of a single board game each). The rating system seemed robust enough to apply it to other countries/leaders (at least if they are more or less democratic). Thus, I’m branching out! After our first US president earlier this year, we now do a German chancellor – Ludwig Erhard, nicknamed “The Father of the Economic Miracle”. After a quick introduction to the rating system and an overview of Erhard’s life, we go straight into the rating. The accompanying game will be Wir sind das Volk! (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame).Continue reading
These days, we experience one of the most violent foreign policy developments of the last decades: Russia has invaded Ukraine. It is the culmination of a crisis that has been in the making for years – at least since the Euromaidan protests of 2013/2014 ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian government and Russia subsequently annexed Crimea. During the entire crisis, the posture of western governments (most notably that of the United States) has been of great interest: Ukraine has sought a closer alignment with the West to gain economic and military assistance. At the same time, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been committed to rolling back western influence and to prevent further countries bordering Russia from joining the western alliances.
US posture has been not uniform over these eight years: The annexation of Crimea presented the Obama administration America with a fait accompli, and Obama reacted with lukewarm sanctions. Obama’s successor Donald Trump was proud of his alleged good personal relationship with Putin, watered down the sanctions, and even attempted to extort Ukrainian president Volodymyr Selenskyy by tying an aid package for Ukraine to Selenskyy’s announcement of investigating Hunter Biden’s business activities in Ukraine. Current president Joe Biden has taken a tougher line on Russia again, but the exact response to the ongoing crisis is still in flux.
That brings us to today’s article: How does the United States react to local crises in faraway countries? After all, most Americans (including many elected officials and bureaucrats) know little of the place in question. Still, America’s global role resting on its political, military, and economic leadership demands that these crises are addressed. This challenge was by no means smaller when America was just about to transition into the role of a global power in the 1940s. One event stood out among the developments back then: Rooted in two specific local crises, president Harry S. Truman’s speech on March 12, 1947, asking Congress to approve of a support package for Greece and Turkey would have far-reaching implications for US foreign policy – until very recently.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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?Continue reading
One of the hallowed traditions of this blog is the annual collaboration post with Naty from Naty’s Bookshelf (see for example this one with bookish board game recommendations). This year, we’ve given some thought on how individuals, couples, families, and friends can spend days over the holidays when leaving the house is not really an option.Continue reading
World War II ended 75 years ago. 1945 was thus a massive watershed year in history. The biggest war that had ever been fought came to a close, and a new world order was forged. I’ll explore the end of World War II in a three-part miniseries. As war is an instrument of politics to achieve a better peace, I’ll kick the series off with this post on the conferences at which the great powers discussed the winning of the war against the Axis as well as the peace and the new world order which would follow. Several such conferences were held from 1943 on, but this post will only focus on the last two – the Yalta Conference in February 1945, three months before the end of the fighting in Europe, and the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, two months after the end of the fighting. 1945 was the end of World War II, but was it also the beginning of the Cold War? We’ll look into that question as well. As usual, board games will feature! Continue reading
Welcome to the last end-of-year post for 2019 on my blog! So far, I’ve done Top Threes in the following categories:
- New-to-me games
- Historical non-fiction books
- Non-historical games
- Historical fiction books
- Historical board games
Today, we come to the blog itself. It’s been a very good year for the blog – I posted 48 times (up by 9 in comparison to 2018) and doubled the number of hits and visitors.
The blog had visitors from 122 different countries and dependencies this year. Unsurprisingly, most (around 40%) of them come from the United States as the biggest English-speaking country, with the UK, Canada, and Australia accounting for another 20%. I’m always a bit surprised to see the blog doing well in countries where I don’t know a single subscriber (but of course, I cannot know everyone personally who stumbles over this blog) – so whoever you are who reads this blog in Sweden, Portugal, South Africa, Hong Kong (among many others) – thanks for stepping by! Leave me a comment. I’d like to get to know you!
Dear readers, thank you for your interest! I hope you had a delightful and possibly even educational time. I certainly had fun writing these posts. And here are the three projects which I regard as my finest achievements this year:
Welcome back to the seventh installment in my series on board games about the Cold War! Today, our game will be Wir sind das Volk! (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame). As usual, we’ll look at it in both game and academic terms. There are three aspects of Wir sind das Volk! which stand out to me: Its primacy of domestic politics, the decision-making aspect of the special cards, and the strong asymmetry of its two powers.
Welcome to the fourth installment in my series Century of German History! Every post in the series sheds light on a focal event of German history in the 20th century and illustrates this event with precisely one board game. You can find the three previous posts here, here and here.
Today, we look at the foundation of two German states in 1949. After the end of World War II, Germany was in ruins – materially and ideologically. While the Allies attempted some cooperation initially, they soon found themselves at odds and the three Western occupation zones and the Soviet occupation zone developed differently. The board game through whose lens we’re looking at these crucial times is Wir sind das Volk! (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame).
We are used to the ever-changing price of oil as one of the central indicators of the economy. Sometimes, the price is high, like in 2008, when a barrel cost over $120. Sometimes it is low (like in 2016 at $33/barrel). And sometimes somewhere in the middle (as it is now around $80/barrel). However, for almost three decades after World War II, permanently cheap energy fueled the post-war economic boom that has not seen its like again. Oil became the lifeblood of the global economy then and accounted for almost half of the global energy consumption in 1972. Initially, much of it came from American oil exports, but as American consumption grew, the country became an oil importer and the Middle Eastern countries picked up the baton as the leading oil exporters. But what would happen if that essential resource suddenly became expensive? The world found out during the oil price shocks of 1973. We’ll have a look at how the crisis came to happen and to be resolved, which short-term impacts it had, and how things turned out differently in the longer run. As always, expect board games!