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Subject: Smallpox rss

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Philip Thomas
United Kingdom
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No not a rules query

Smallpox in Here I Stand is a 4 Cp card, which is pretty good, and its event text gives you a conquest attempt at a +2 bonus (this counts as your conquest for the round). A normal conquest attempt costs 4 cps and requires a 9 or more to suceed (- your conquistador bonus if Hapsburg). So Smallpox increases the odds to 7 or more, which is a massive jump from 10/36 to 21/36. In fact, as English or French, I'm not sure I would bother with a conquest normally, but Smallpox makes it much easier.

Thats the gameplay: what does it represent? I have been reading Ancient Americans by Charles C.Mann. He discusses the effect of smallpox (and other diseases) on the native American population. Some estimates suggest 95% of the American Indian population were killed by diseases (and combat, but mostly diseases). Smallpox epidemics devastated the Aztecs and the Incas either before or during the European invasion, paralysing their society and allowing the amazing conquests of Cortes and Pizarro. Their are accounts from other areas of European ships finding whole villages deserted except for the corpses of the dead, and perhaps a few starving people. The scale of the deaths was- well, we have to be careful here, because academics disagree, but it was considerable.

Smallpox was spread by contact with Europeans, but once it had infected the first Indians to meet them, it spread rapidly through the continent- reaching Peru before any white man set foot there, for example. It seems to have been devastating: not only did it establish the Spanish Empire, but the first British colonies were built on land which had been emptied of people by disease.

Just some background....
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