Some quick thoughts re: Old World Order
An interesting report about an interesting sounding game. If you’re thinking of doing any more with the game it may be worth taking a look at Send A Gunboat, a megagame I did with Jim back in 1995 and 1996. The handbook and gazetteer are available on the MM website:
and may be of interest. Please note this was almost a quarter of a century ago and I’d certainly do make some significant changes were I doing it again (as I thought about a couple of years back).
Barricades & Borders may also be of interest:
I’d certainly suggest a change of start point. By 1898 the scramble for Africa is over really; I’d suggest a starting point in say 1872 when Germany is unified and there’s a lot of colonial expansion possible.
Engineering. Again, by 1898 a lot of the development is done and more possibilities exist with an earlier start date – Barricades & Borders may help here.
To make game aspects such as ‘engineering’ work then it has to produce outcomes that are worthwhile but not game-breaking and with more options than players can afford so that they have to make choices. Examples would be: improvements to army weapons, similarly for naval, improved army organisation so that large armies can effectively be coordinated, training for war at home, training for colonial expeditions, infrastructure at home (eg a railway network which just happens to focus on moving armies to a particular frontier), increased industrial capacity which can equip bigger armies or build more modern warships, etc. I think I’d re-titled this as something like ‘development’ and add ‘standard of living’ to the list so that players would have to think about the impact at home so that the historical problems in Russia could be modelled. If you want to build in some historical flavour then restrict spending on some areas for different countries.
I’d suggest a mechanism to roughly track how contented the population is. I’d treat three aspects: the upper class, the small influential part which have a big say on the government, the aspiring middle class who can give a boost to the economy if they are enfranchised (but doing so will encourage the masses to demand participation) and the masses who could revolt if, say, the standard of living falls far enough behind other countries. Though that needs looking at further, as many people in the glowing Victorian age of GB lived in squalor and hunger even in 1898 but weren’t going to revolt. I regard this as partly due to the masses being largely supine and partly jingoism, whereby they could regard themselves as British and look down on the natives, thus they weren’t bottom of the heap. It could provide an incentive for states to expand colonial empires as well as the usual basis of providing supplies of raw materials and markets for exports.
Actually, I may well take a look at Send A Gunboat again as I have a fair amount of time on my hands!