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Olivares: a grand-strategy game about the decline of Spain in the 17th century.

Javier Adarga
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This would be a game about Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares: a game about Spanish politics in the seventeenth century.

It would have to include a military aspect to simulate internal and external conflicts such as the Eighty Years War, the Thirty Years War, the War of the Mantuan Succession, as well the revolts within the Iberian Peninsula (Catalonia and Portugal). Unlike other games that present multiple angles, this game would focus on the Spanish experience of these wars, and how they directly affected the country. It would be great to see the internal consequences of international events.

In addition, it would incorporate an economic component in which Spain would be on the verge of bankruptcy--a situation solvable by taxation, though higher taxes would lead to further revolts. There should be a constant tension between what the player would want to do and the risk of pushing taxation.

Thirdly, there would have to be a political element. Olivares sought to centralize power and create legal uniformity across the Spanish domains. The game could create "what if" scenarios. Less pressure on uniformity and centralization would have helped to control the revolts, but it would have decreased the cash flow. What would have happened if Spain gave up the Netherlands? Is that a way that the player loses the game or a possibility that the games incorporates?

Finally, there would have to be a system to integrate the great art of baroque Spain. Though it seems that Olivares himself was never really interested in art, Philip IV was, and Olivares had to continuously support this interest of the king. The art section would include the building of the Buen Retiro palace, the paintings of Velazquez, and the theatre of the Spanish Golden Age.

Ideally, this game would be somewhat stressful, perhaps becoming one of those games that hate you. Not only would Spain struggle to keep it together (literally and figuratively), there would be constant pressure to satisfy the King. Unlike other games in which the player has total control, in this game the player is the favourite of the King, and the latter should be satisfied or he will fire you. I can see interesting mechanics developing from this circumstance.

I think this would work great as a solo game, but multiple players could exist as factions, perhaps as different advisors competing for Phillip IV's attention--each with different secondary objectives. I can see fans of Here I Stand being very interested in this game... in fact, many of these elements could be part of a future Ed Beach game that will deal with 17th century Europe.

All in all, a very ambitious game of deep politics and military conflict. It looks like it could be a lot of fun. And I wish someone would design it, because I probably will not.
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Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:32 pm
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