When we last left our European nations Byzantium had lost Jerusalem.
That bring us to Saladin: The Fall of the Crusader States. It covers the period starting in 1174. People who have seen Kingdom of Heaven or a Robin Hood (Richard the Lionheart is included in the game, too) movie will have some familiarity with this time period. The only problem is that at this time only 50 copies of the game exist on the planet. I am not one of the lucky 50 people. I'll write an entire blog on this game if I ever get to play it.
Thanks to Richard's crusading his brother John (Prince John of Robin Hood fame) came to power without much popularity. John signed the Magna Carta and that charter laid the foundations for parliamentary democracy.
Continuing with the Middle Ages we have Kingmaker. This is a game about the nobility fighting each other to advance their royal heir, killing others in line, and gaining votes in both houses of Parliament to secure the throne.
A lot of negative things have been said about Kingmaker, as a game. But all of the "problems" that I've heard can be fixed by playing with the right combination of advanced/optional rules. If you think the game is too long then play the "short game" with a fixed time limit. I enjoy it for what it is: a good game about the Wars of Roses.
About 200 years later Revolution: The Dutch Revolt. Notice that I've skipped over Here I Stand. While I respect a lot of GMT's games, I tend to dislike Card Driven Wargames. I've never played Here I Stand so I could be in for a pleasant surprise. It plays 2-6 players (an expansion is needed for 2 players).
Main things that happen are the Reformation and the rise of Protestantism. Basically laying the foundations for everything that happens in Revolution.
The rise of the merchant class. Armies marching across the country. Merchants paying Water Beggars to attack enemy troops. Jesuits trying to hold back the spread of Protestants. The construction of Protestant Universities. Culture shaking changes.
This is one of the great games. It feels smooth like eating a decadent chocolate dessert. The joy of this game lasts for hours after it is done. Looking at the moves you made, seeing how the situation went your way or fell out of your control. Scores tend to be very close at the end. Although there is no luck, the consequences of your actions are so complicated it seems impossible to compute the results. I play by "feel". Each faction in the game has its own strengths and weaknesses. There are "natural" alliances, but I have even seen alliances between Protestant and Catholic.
We're firmly in the Modern Age now. Just as the Ancient World passed away so too are the foundations for a new social order laid.