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Subject: Caliphate prototype available for download rss

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Lajos
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(This post is a follow up on my blog entry 'Caliphate and other work in progress'.)

After making some further changes, I decided to make a prototype of Caliphate available for download. If you're interested, you can find the files at the Papercut Games page for Caliphate.

Obviously, the game need more playtesting. If you're willing to playtest it, please send me your comments and/or a playtest report afterwards. Please read the rules well before your playtest session and ask me questions on unclarities by means of geekmail or email. (It really sucks to find out halfway during a playtest that you don't understand a specific rule and I'm not always online to explain the things that may need further explaining.)
Of course all playtesters will be mentioned in the final version of the rules, but I do not guarantee that the game will ever be published in any other way than as a free PnP download.

Besides playtesting, the rules also need some editing. Any help on that is, of course, also very welcome (and so is help editing the rules of my other games downloadable from the Papercut Games page) and will be credited in the rules.


changes since the previous prototype

The economic system is improved, but since I didn't go very deep into that before, the nature of these improvements will be a mystery to anyone but me and playtesters of previous versions.

Originally there was a lot of chrome in the game, but during the design process I cut most of it away. Last playtest session gave me the feeling that I cut away too much, which led to the re-introduction of 'Great Persons' (prominent generals, philosophers, scientists, etc.). These are mainly meant for historical flavour (chrome) and have relatively little effect on game play, but it was, of course, that added historical flavour that made me re-introduce them.


from page 1 of version 1.3 of the rules:

Introduction
Caliphate focuses on the rise and fall of Islamic civilization in the (approx.) 7th to 12th centuries. It is a game of conquest, trade, diplomacy, and building up your emirate economically, culturally, military, etc.

Caliphate is not a historical simulation. It is a game based on historical events, but it is – of course – heavily abstracted. Consequently, some people may be offended by some of the design choices I made in trying to convert these events into a playable game. To these people, I offer my apologies and the suggestion to try another game.

Short historical introduction
Mohammed, the founder of Islam and the first military leader of Islamic civilization, conquered the whole of the Arabian peninsula before his death in 632. After Mohammed’s death, a series of Caliphs ruled the Islamic state, the Caliphate, and expanded it.
The Caliphate consisted of a number of Emirates ruled by Emirs, but it would remain a single state until it started to fall apart in the 9th and 10th century. However, even in the period before that, the Caliphate wasn’t always an example of unity. After Mohammed’s death, there was a brief period of conflict between competing successors and there were two civil wars (‘Fitnas’) in the 7th century.
With the growth of the Caliphate it became increasingly difficult to govern. The Emirates slowly became more independent and the Caliph’s authority gradually became a mere theoretical notion. The first Emirate to become independent was Spain (the Emirate of Cordoba).
Besides these political struggles, there was a continuous theological debate as well. Different philosophers, theologians, and religious factions and sects had different answers to what was one of the core dilemmas: the relationship between reason and revelation.
Islamic civilization inherited classical philosophy from the Greeks and imported mathematics and astronomy from India. Starting from there, they did important discoveries in numerous scientific fields. Islamic scholars of this period laid the foundations for modern mathematics, scientific method, medicine, and astronomy and made important contributions to many other fields. Because of the enormous achievements, and the relatively rationalist world view that flourished in many centres of Islamic learning, the period is often referred to as the ‘Enlightenment’ of Islam. To a great extent, the much later Enlightenment of Western Europe was built on the foundations laid by the Islamic Enlightenment.
There is no exact historical date demarcating the end of Islamic Enlightenment and the fall of the Caliphate. As mentioned, from the 9th century onwards, the state started to fall apart. In the 11th and 12th centuries it was under crusader attack (followed by the Mongols in the 13th century). Spain was slowly conquered by Christian forces (the ‘Reconquista’ wasn’t finished before the 15th century, however). And besides all this political turmoil and its economic consequences, mystical interpretations got ever more powerful in Islam in expense of the rationalist factions that were the main sources of philosophical and scientific progress.

Main deviations from real history in the game
The game starts with Muhammed’s conquests, but the players decide what is conquered by Muhammed. Arabia can be conquered, but there are other possibilities. After Muhammed’s death, competing generals (the players) take over. These generals no longer work together, but start conquering land and founding Emirates of their own. From the start, these Emirates are pretty much independent and the Caliphate exists only in name (of the game).
The theological debate is abstracted into two positions, rationalist and mystical, and has a much stronger effect on political and military events than in historical reality, potentially splitting up the Caliphate into two big factions that are in continuous civil war.
Byzantium was never conquered and Italy (Longobardia) only partially and for a short time. Both can be conquered in the game and both can be subject to ‘Reconquista’ similarly to Spain (Cordoba).
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Mendon Dornbrook
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Thanks Lajos! Looks cool! now I just need someone to play with Hey, are you helping Greg Berry on his M.U.L.E. project?

cheers
 
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Lajos
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mdornbrook wrote:
Hey, are you helping Greg Berry on his M.U.L.E. project?

Yes.
 
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Jim Van Verth
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Lajos wrote:
mdornbrook wrote:
Hey, are you helping Greg Berry on his M.U.L.E. project?

Yes.


Er, what M.U.L.E. project?

Jim
 
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Glenn Broadway
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Yes, what M.U.L.E. project?
 
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Lajos
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I found a few (minor) errors in the Caliphate rules version posted on the Papercut Games website. I'll get these fixed tomorrow and post an improved version.

About the MULE game, you'll have to contact the designer (see on of the posts above) if you want to know more about that. I'm merely doing graphic design and will not say anything about the game without the express consent of the designer.
 
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Mendon Dornbrook
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I don't know how much information the designer wishes to have disclosed. However, I believe that it arose out of this: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/21865
 
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Jonathan Moore
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This looks like a great game!

I have downloaded everything and read the rules through but unfortunately the board will not load. Could you upload it in pdf format?


Thanks!
 
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Lajos
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The PDF version was 20MB, so sorry, but I don't think that's really an option. The version available is a 2MB Jpeg. It seems strange to me that you're unable to download that and I'm not sure how to fix this.
 
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Jonathan Moore
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For some reason it wouldn't display east of Damascus. I saved it to disk and it displayed the whole board. However it wants to print it on one piece of paper(all shrunken up). How did you print it? Was it on landscape or portrait?
 
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Erik Nicely
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Hey Lajos I'm impressed after briefly skimming the rules and other materials. Byzantium is the only boardgame (all wargames aside) I've found so far that gives a good historical portrayal of Arabs, I'll have to give Caliphate a playtest run. Great subject matter and good potential for some interesting alternate history.

Have you read Years of Rice and Salt?
 
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Lajos
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Toi San wrote:
However it wants to print it on one piece of paper(all shrunken up). How did you print it? Was it on landscape or portrait?

I printed it on 8 sheets. You can do that in powerpoint for example, by superimposing a regular 8 segment grid over the image; resizing such that one grid segment fits in a (landscape) page; print that page; move the file such that another segment fits the page; etc. There may be other ways to do this, but this is what I find the easiest.
Let me know if this doesn't work for you and I'll try to see whether I can arrange an alternative.

Harkonnen13 wrote:
Hey Lajos I'm impressed after briefly skimming the rules and other materials.

Thanks.

Harkonnen13 wrote:
Have you read Years of Rice and Salt?

No. I read a a couple of books and articles about the period, but I don't remember any specific titles. Most of the information I needed (such as what was produced were (for the commodity cards) and the location of great battles (relevant for neutral defence numbers)) came from specialist sources (about economic, military, etc. history) that dealt with a larger part of the world than what's covered in the game. (Fortunately I can find most of these things in my home library.)
 
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Erik Nicely
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Lajos wrote:
Toi San wrote:
However it wants to print it on one piece of paper(all shrunken up). How did you print it? Was it on landscape or portrait?

I printed it on 8 sheets. You can do that in powerpoint for example, by superimposing a regular 8 segment grid over the image; resizing such that one grid segment fits in a (landscape) page; print that page; move the file such that another segment fits the page; etc. There may be other ways to do this, but this is what I find the easiest.
Let me know if this doesn't work for you and I'll try to see whether I can arrange an alternative.

Harkonnen13 wrote:
Hey Lajos I'm impressed after briefly skimming the rules and other materials.

Thanks.

Harkonnen13 wrote:
Have you read Years of Rice and Salt?

No. I read a a couple of books and articles about the period, but I don't remember any specific titles. Most of the information I needed (such as what was produced were (for the commodity cards) and the location of great battles (relevant for neutral defence numbers)) came from specialist sources (about economic, military, etc. history) that dealt with a larger part of the world than what's covered in the game. (Fortunately I can find most of these things in my home library.)


Initially looks like your sources are good. My wife has a pretty good off-the-top-of-her-head knowledge of Islamic history and lo and behold she would be the person I will be playtesting with. I've searched this website high and low for a game that handles historic Arabs well and have come up short so your playtest rules are quite a find. I'll see if I can get a chance to test it this weekend.

 
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Harkonnen13 wrote:
Initially looks like your sources are good. My wife has a pretty good off-the-top-of-her-head knowledge of Islamic history and lo and behold she would be the person I will be playtesting with. I've searched this website high and low for a game that handles historic Arabs well and have come up short so your playtest rules are quite a find. I'll see if I can get a chance to test it this weekend.

Thanks - in advance - for trying the game. I'd be very much interested in your comments. However, you'll need some more players or play for two both, since I haven't made 2-player rules yet.
 
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