Welcome to a new (irregular) series on Clio’s Board Games! As you know, I love playing history in board games, and as you also know, I also love reading about history. So, we’re pairing the two! (Think of it like a sommelier recommending a wine & cheese pairing.) Here’s a book and a board game that match each other for gaming/reading that is as enjoyable as it is educational. We begin with the Eastern Front of World War II: I recommend Russia’s War (Richard Overy) and No Retreat! The Russian Front (Carl Paradis, GMT Games).Continue reading
Tumultuous times do not only change history-at-large, but also the lives of individuals. A person might have to move to another country and start anew. It’s hard to continue a successful career after such a sharp break in life. It’s particularly hard if the first part of your career was based on the exploitation of slave labor in the service of a totalitarian dictatorship that warred against your prospective new employer. And yet, a German rocket engineer did just that – he developed rockets for the Nazis, transitioned, and then held a crucial position in US rocket development and the space flight program that put the first man on the moon. “How did he do it?”, you wonder? – Gather ’round while I tell you of Wernher von Braun.Continue reading
Last year, I have begun a new irregular series on my blog assessing the merits of UK prime ministers (illustrated through the lens of a single board game per prime minister). 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! Today, we’re doing our first US president. And we’re starting with none other than 20th century heavyweight Franklin D. Roosevelt. The accompanying game will be Cataclysm (Scott Muldoon/William Terdoslavich, GMT Games).Continue reading
I’ve started a little irregular series called Prime Minister Ratings – assessing British prime ministers by a very general rating system and showcasing one board game in which the prime minister in question or the problems they faced feature. Our first contestant was Robert Walpole, the very first prime minister. Today, we move on to a 20th century heavyweight: Winston Churchill, the man who led Britain through World War II… and was elected prime minister for a second time six years after the war. Our accompanying board game is Churchill (Mark Herman, GMT Games).Continue reading
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.Continue reading
This post is part of an after-action report of Unconditional Surrender! (Salvatore Vasta, GMT Games) . However, the document is not fictitious – this was the Act of Military Surrender signed by the German High Command at the end of the war. All I changed is the date and the some of the names of the Allied generals present and witnessing (to better reflect the developments on the fronts in this after-action report).
ACT OF MILITARY SURRENDER
- We the undersigned, acting by authority of the German High Command, hereby surrender unconditionally to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and simultaneously to the Supreme High Command of the Red Army all forces on land, sea, and in the air who are at this date under German control.
- The German High Command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European time on 12th July 1943, to remain in the positions occupied at that time and to disarm completely, handing over their weapons and equipment to the local allied commanders or officers designated by Representatives of the Allied Supreme Commands. No ship, vessel, or aircraft is to be scuttled, or any damage done to their hull, machinery or equipment, and also to machines of all kinds, armament, apparatus, and all the technical means of prosecution of war in general.
- The German High Command will at once issue to the appropriate commanders, and ensure the carrying out of any further orders issued by the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and by the Supreme High Command of the Red Army.
- This act of military surrender is without prejudice to, and will be superseded by any general instrument of surrender imposed by, or on behalf of the United Nations and applicable to GERMANY and the German armed forces as a whole.
- In the event of the German High Command or any of the forces under their control failing to act in accordance with this Act of Surrender, the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and the Supreme High Command of the Red Army will take such punitive or other action as they deem appropriate.
- This act is drawn up in the English, Russian and German languages. The English and Russian are the only authentic texts.
Signed at Berlin on the 12th day of July, 1943
VON FRIEDEBURG KEITEL STUMPFF
On behalf of the German High Command
IN THE PRESENCE OF:
On behalf of the
Allied Expedtionary Force
On behalf of the
Supreme High Command of the
At the signing also were present as witnesses:
F. DE LATTRE-TASSIGNY
General Commanding in Chief
First French Army
General Commanding in Chief
Eighth Army, United Kingdom
You can see the current state of affairs in the game in the Twitter thread:
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
Berlin, June 22, 1943
You will have noticed from the top of this page – I am truly sending this letter from Berlin!
Tübingen, May 21, 1943
Finally, we are in Tübingen! Frieda has taken us in – of course she has, what else can you do when your sister with her children stands before you and you know they have no way to go? Of course, there was no guarantee she would still be here. The war has changed everything. Yesterday’s certainties are today’s gambles. In any case, she seemed happier to see us than she is worried about having to feed another four mouths. Continue reading
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.