Patrick Rael
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I’m thinking about teaching a college-level history course that incorporates games centrally (we would focus on one game per week). So I’m looking for games that are historically very sound (not just a theme pasted onto an abstract), but can still be played in several hours. The conflicts can come from any time or place, though my preference is for non-obscure topics that fit into the basic contours of Western history from the Middle Ages to the present.

For example, I just played the COIN game Liberty or Death. It’s playable in a long afternoon, and does a beautiful job of setting up the asymmetrical architecture of the American Revolution. I can assign reading around it, and we can assess the game’s capacity to actually teach its topic. In contrast, Diplomacy is an awesome game, but is too ahistorical to teach anything about European diplomacy in the first decade (and it takes forever).

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
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prael wrote:
I’m thinking about teaching a college-level history course that incorporates games centrally (we would focus on one game per week). So I’m looking for games that are historically very sound (not just a theme pasted onto an abstract), but can still be played in several hours. The conflicts can come from any time or place, though my preference is for non-obscure topics that fit into the basic contours of Western history from the Middle Ages to the present.

For example, I just played the COIN game Liberty or Death. It’s playable in a long afternoon, and does a beautiful job of setting up the asymmetrical architecture of the American Revolution. I can assign reading around it, and we can assess the game’s capacity to actually teach its topic. In contrast, Diplomacy is an awesome game, but is too ahistorical to teach anything about European diplomacy in the first decade (and it takes forever).

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!


Can you provide a list of games that you have considered, so the scope can be defined?

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Patrick Rael
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thanks. i wish i could nail it down a little. let me try.
i'm looking for games that might actually teach something about history -- not just a battle, but history. i'm looking for games that are sufficiently historical that secondary scholarship has been published around their topics. i'm not looking for close battle simulations, unless they are exceptional in somehow speaking to broader points. i don't have a specific example here, but scale is part of the issue: a close examination or Rorke's Drift wouldn't be as interesting as a game that captures something important about the Zulu War.

neither do candidates have to be oriented around battles or war. Freedom: The Underground Railroad would be a good candidate.

hope that helps a little.
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Robert Wesley
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There is that: Machiavelli; and perhaps "Origins of: WW1, WW2, Pacific", "Colonial Diplomacy"? "Pax Brittanica"?
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Phil Hendrickson
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An example you may have considered is 1775: Rebellion. The faction cards each portray a moment that had a turning effect on history. Each faction's dice represent characteristics of the various fighting groups (for example, Redcoats never fled a battle, but volunteers often did). Native Americans were drawn into alliances on both sides.

Twilight Struggle is an obvious example, as it captures the breadth of the Cold War and nuances of things like DEFCON and the space race.

Perhaps new titles like 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis or Sola Fide: The Reformation are worth considering, though I haven't played them yet and cannot give a perspective.
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Patrick Rael
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Mach i see as right on the edge -- probably too abstract. i've seen Dunnigan's Origins games used, but also pretty abstract.

"Liberty or Death" is an incredible example because it is so clearly built around a historical situation, and reflects real research, but does not take forever.
 
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I would recommend the Quartermaster General game series (WW2 is available and WW1 is being kickstarted)

Pax Pamir is very interesting too, but maybe a bit too obscure for your goal. It goes beyond purely military operations in describing the vying for influence and power.

For games about history but not wars, you should have a look at Wir sind das Volk!
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But the drumbeat strains of the night remain in the rhythm of the newborn day.
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    Warriors of God is Medieval Britain and France, covering the machinations of Henry II/Eleanor, and the 100 Years War. There's plenty of reading material you can assign associated with the era, including Tuchman's masterpiece. The game focuses on the leaders of the era more than particular battles or tactics of the time. Joan of Arc makes quite an appearance.

    The map itself is worthy of an afternoon's discussion, as "France" is broken into 20 or so pieces, each with different alliances due to the intermingling of the royal lines. It's also gorgeous.

    The scope is pretty broad, but it speaks to the timeline and succession of each of the Royal lines. A full game runs about three hours, rules are relatively straightforward once you've gotten through the first two turns. There are nods to the nature of warfare at the time, social structure, economics, but that's just brushed upon by the game, so you would need to speak to the topics in order for them to appear to first-time players.

             S.

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prael wrote:
thanks. i wish i could nail it down a little. let me try.
i'm looking for games that might actually teach something about history -- not just a battle, but history. i'm looking for games that are sufficiently historical that secondary scholarship has been published around their topics. i'm not looking for close battle simulations, unless they are exceptional in somehow speaking to broader points. i don't have a specific example here, but scale is part of the issue: a close examination or Rorke's Drift wouldn't be as interesting as a game that captures something important about the Zulu War.

neither do candidates have to be oriented around battles or war. Freedom: The Underground Railroad would be a good candidate.

hope that helps a little.


What about Here I Stand

or

Virgin Queen
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Brad Miller
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Yeah, Here I Stand was my first thought.

The Napoleonic Wars (Second Edition) or Age of Napoleon for Nappy's time, though both are OOP, and rather complex.

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2 de Mayo
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Patrick Rael
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i'm drooling. please keep them coming!
 
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Tobias
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1960: The Making of the President
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StercusCaput wrote:


This was on my short list, and an excellent historical primer for that period of time in the US.
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prael wrote:
thanks. i wish i could nail it down a little. let me try.
i'm looking for games that might actually teach something about history -- not just a battle, but history. i'm looking for games that are sufficiently historical that secondary scholarship has been published around their topics. i'm not looking for close battle simulations, unless they are exceptional in somehow speaking to broader points. i don't have a specific example here, but scale is part of the issue: a close examination or Rorke's Drift wouldn't be as interesting as a game that captures something important about the Zulu War.

neither do candidates have to be oriented around battles or war. Freedom: The Underground Railroad would be a good candidate.

hope that helps a little.


Thanks, because that helps a lot. There are many wargames, ala The Russian Campaign that focus on very narrow scopes of history and are more wargames in their play, than historical lessons. That isn't to say that their accompanying designer notes and referenced historical materials aren't informative, they just don't deliver an in depth lesson like others mentioned in the thread so far.
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Tom Demento
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Founding Fathers could work given the use of unique abilities on cards it would allow for a wide variety of readings. It might be too abstract but it never hurts to recommend something.



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Ryan Keane
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+1 to Here I Stand and Virgin Queen
+1 to Wir sind das Volk
+1 to most card-driven wargames, since the cards draw directly upon events, and leads to a lot of discussion about the relative importance of events, how the sequence of their play differed from history and affected the outcome, etc.

Maria and Friedrich have probably done the most to inspire me to read about 18th century European conflicts that I didn't know much about.

Earlier than Middle Ages, but Britannia and Sword of Rome have also inspired a lot of research. Other games in the Britannia system like Italia and Hispania would likely do the same if I'd played them.
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Carel Teijgeler
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(I used this answer in the Recommendation thread as well)

You can also include:

Civilization
Source of the Nile, or Terra Incognita (a PnP)
Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648
 
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John Robertson
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Are you including any games that aren't conflicts (battles and great people)?

Conquest of Paradise (ok conflict :-) )

Brass: Lancashire

I'd also wonder about having an alternate week with something like Agricola - but with ~preselected roles/ improvements to a) be slightly more realistic b) intentionally unbalanced




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David Brown
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Maybe not your subject but GMT's Unhappy King Charles is like playing history.

Takes about 2-3 hours once you are up and running with the rules and not much downtime

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Ryan Byrd
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It will not KS until next year, but 1066, Tears To Many Mothers uses actual events in history to drive the narrative (from a historical standpoint), but the actions taken by the players makes it an alternate history game.
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Scott Nelson
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Freedom: underground railroad, is a good euro with a real theme, not just pasted on. It will be hard to find that in a typical euro. Maybe Pandemic Iberia has real history under the skin. Martin Wallace is driven to make his hybrids from British history. Brass, Tinners trail.
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Robert Moore
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Have you looked into Reacting to the Past at all? It's a role-playing classroom alternative that I use with my college students. Not exactly what you're looking for here, but maybe applicable. Threshold of Democracy, 403 BC Athens is probably the easiest to use as a one-off.
 
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Patrick Rael
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thanks, Robert. yea, in fact i'm teaching a Reacting class soon. in this instance, though, i'm thinking about a course that includes games themselves.
 
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