Wednesday, 12 November 2008

History of the Western World (part 3)

History could just be the study of cause and effect. Or maybe it is the study of how great people have shaped our modern world. Maybe it is about how advances in technology make the present different than the past.

In any event, Struggle of Empires is next on my list. It is a highly abstract game, but ultimately captures the feeling of the 18th century, in my opinion. Mechanically it is an auction game mixed with area control.

You start with very little money and few actions, but can grow your country with various tiles into a unique power. Building up your country's technology and economy are fun. Getting bogged down in wars in the German state can also be fun. But all of the games I've played have come down to the alliance auction.

Paying money to determine turn order and who can and cannot attack each other is something that is frequently under valued in the games that I've played. In the "limited wars" of this period, it is vital to have the correct allies (or pay money so they join your side).

Struggle of Empires has a lot of colonial growth. And it is possible for countries to end the game in a state of revolt, if you over tax the peasants or kill too many of their sons in battle. This leads up to the intensely studied French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. There are some good multi-player games about this period, but I've not played Empires in Arms, and it's out of print.

Speaking of out of print the next game is out of print, too. But it is a variation of a game that is still in print. It shouldn't be too hard to print out a copy of the map and find directions on-line. I am speaking of Colonial Diplomacy.

I really enjoy Colonial Diplomacy. It might be heresy to say so, but I like it better than the original Diplomacy. Instead of essentially equal starting positions, Colonial gives the UK a lot of units and territory. That is justified because they historically "won" Struggle and ended up with lots of colonies.

For those who don't like the player elimination of Diplomacy there are options to play faster games. These tend to allow more players to stay in until the end. Paying for alliances was important in Struggle, but Colonial Diplomacy removes the auction and anything goes. You can wheel and deal with any player in the game. You'd probably ask for good deals from Britain since they have such a good starting position.

But beware the stab. Any country can betray any other.

That brings us up to the 19th century colonies, but while Europe was fighting abroad technological improvements and industrialization was happening at home, but that will have to wait for the next part.

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