Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

Game Design Update – In the Hands of the Many

As many of you know, Bruce and I have been working on game design for the Peloponnesian War for a while now. I’ve been trying to improve my knowledge of some of the planned player teams, apart from the big boys of Athens and Sparta. We definitely think there are interesting game roles for Corinthian and Boeotian/Theban teams but have been wondering about Thrace, Thessaly and Macedon.

We’ve made some progress with a political ‘spider web’ originally designed by Bruce, to track the political affiliation of the many cities that could play a part in the game. The basic mechanisms allow for simple spending of political tokens to move cities from Oligarchy to Democracy and Tyranny, but also for coups to occur etc. We hope to test some of this at the June meeting.

For the played teams, the internal dynamics will need to be a bit more complicated, offering different political options to the players for debate, internal tensions and also to have an impact on the strategic game (such as choosing to invest in naval building, or land reform in order to weaken democratic opposition). Each of the poleis will have a different set of options as well as a different focus – so Corinth will be controlled by oligarchic houses and will mainly be focused on trade, whereas Thebes/Boeotia is a federation of different cities but headed by Thebes who is trying to deepen her control over the league.

Thessaly, Thrace and Macedon all offer interesting and different political frameworks. Thrace is on the verge of domination by one particular dynasty, though is still a patchwork of rival uncivilised tribes. Thessaly is more advanced, but is divided between three or four major cities who will compete for dominance. Macedon is yet to find her strength, though is starting to modernise her infantry and cavalry forces from tribal units, and is expanding into the mountainous Upper Macedonia in the face of fierce tribal opposition. All of these groups are trying to expand their trade with the main Greek cities, facing threats from other barbarians such as the Illyrians, and can make use of allies to pursue civil wars or territorial expansion against each other (historically Thrace invaded Macedon in 429 and the rivals within the royal house of Macedon played off Athenian and Spartan interests to gain local advantages).

We still have a lot to work through, crucially on the game design of the internal political of the different played states, but think there is a lot of interesting decisions and choices to be made. Look forward to getting your feedback on the game design so far at Anerley soon!

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