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John Gorkowski
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We're looking for more random events to insert into the game. If you're familiar with the time and setting, Central Asia in the 1800s, then please feel free to recommned some historical incidents that might make good random events. Current random events include such things as: death of the Czar, American Civil War, Seapoy Revolt etc. These events shoudl weigh on this theatre by taking away coinage and/or troops.
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Charles F.
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Just curious: What's the ACW connection to merit its inclusion?
 
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Wendell
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charlesf wrote:
Just curious: What's the ACW connection to merit its inclusion?


American Civil War causes a shortage of cotton on world markets, so whoever controls Osh (good for cotton) gets an extra revenue point.
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Charles F.
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Ah. Thanks for the explanation.
 
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Lee Troutman
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The Victorian Era was rife with small(er) scale "wars" that might cause a diversion of resources from India (as I'm sure you're aware).

Two that come to mind immediately are the First Opium War and the Zulu War. I don't remember if any HEIC troops were used in China, and I don't think any Indian troops were used against the Zulus, but there probably would have been some affect on the funding for the region. And I seem to recall some expeditions against Burma and Ethiopia...

And would you entertain the possibility of the premature death(gasp!) of Queen Victoria? Admittedly she didn't set policy, but you did list the Death of the Czar as one of your possible events. Or would that be considered beyond the pale? Or do you already have it in there?

It's a little hard to know what to suggest without knowing what you have already

(I wouldn't tell, I promise!)
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Wendell
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I was thinking on this (with the advantage of having the rules so I know what's there already).

What about something like "European Tension". Sort of the opposite of the Crimean War, for the turn no British SP can move into a space adjacent to a Russian SP, or vice-versa. Sort of attempting to avoid accidentally starting a war.

Or "Diplomatic coup" - separate ones for the Russians and British. Event gives a -1 modifier to diplomacy dice for this turn.
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Lee Troutman
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wifwendell wrote:
I was thinking on this (with the advantage of having the rules so I know what's there already).

I was also thinking on this with the distinct disadvantage of not having the rules...


But seriously, how about the death of an "officer" triggering an outcry for a punitive expedition (more money and troops)?

Or (British only) changes in Parliament. "The Empire" vs "The Noble Savage" debate. Broadly speaking, Disraeli (more money and/or troops) or Gladstone (less of both)...

Perhaps an unexpected non-colonial war for the British. Greater commitment in the Balkans? Or maybe "54-40 or Fight!" flashes into open conflict? Western European intervention in the Mexican American War? Or even the ACW?

Maybe the Czar faces a serf (before 1861) and/or Cossack rebellion? Early trouble in Manchuria? Or the Russian Empire faces a non-Crimean European war (The Russo-Turkish War)?

How hypothetical can we go here? (Probably should've asked that first...)
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Charles F.
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I do hope the game will also model the wider course of Anglo-Russian relations. Say a tension track may see actions intensify in quantity and quality if relations sour. A tension track informed by off-map and on-map events.

What I'm concerned about regarding the "American Civil War" event is that its inclusion over say off-map events in places closer to Central Asia may smack of US-centric design.

I also do wonder whether having economic gains made in the region fuel colonial expansion happens to be appropriate. Most colonial expansion in the 19th century was a loss-making endeavour.

Now, I certainly see that economic advantage played a role. But say securing oil concessions in Perisa should in my book be more a step towards victory than actually being a catalyst for in-game action.

I fear making money earned by on-map action a motor driving expansion may undermine historical realism. Seems to me rather EUROesque.

At least that's my present concern.
 
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Lee Troutman
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I would not even presume to speak for the designer, but I would like to comment if I may.

Quote:
I do hope the game will also model the wider course of Anglo-Russian relations. Say a tension track may see actions intensify in quantity and quality if relations sour. A tension track informed by off-map and on-map events.

This sounds like a good idea, but in the almost total absence of any knowledge of the game sub-systems it's hard to say how this would be implemeted.
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What I'm concerned about regarding the "American Civil War" event is that its inclusion over say off-map events in places closer to Central Asia may smack of US-centric design.

I don't think you could get much more "local" than the Sepoy Rebellion, for instance. And again we don't know what events are already in the game. And it is a fact that the ACW did cause the prices for sub-continental cotton to go up. This could not help but generate more revenue for possessors of cotton growing regions.
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I also do wonder whether having economic gains made in the region fuel colonial expansion happens to be appropriate. Most colonial expansion in the 19th century was a loss-making endeavour.

This is certainly true, but most Colonial powers seemed to be more concerned with prestige (among other things) over profit, especially in the last half of the 19th Century.
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Now, I certainly see that economic advantage played a role. But say securing oil concessions in Perisa should in my book be more a step towards victory than actually being a catalyst for in-game action.

I'm not sure if I follow you here. Shouldn't a step toward victory be the result of an in-game action..., in a game? And in your example, oil concessions would not become much of a concern for another generation or 2 after the scope of this game.
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I fear making money earned by on-map action a motor driving expansion may undermine historical realism. Seems to me rather EUROesque.

Possibly, but you must have some sort of in-game metric to measure player performance (who's winning). Otherwise you might have to rely on a revenue stream that's either fixed or tied to random events. Fixed revenue, while more historically accurate, might be less "fun" for the players. OTOH, revenue tied to random events might seem too luck dependent for some. And entertainment is the goal here is it not?
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At least that's my present concern.

We know so little about the game at this point that I would not be too concerned. And it is at least a year out. Things could (and probably will) change before publication.

The views and opinions expressed here are the sole property of me and do not reflect the views of the designer or BGG (or anybody else )
 
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Charles F.
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phormio wrote:

I don't think you could get much more "local" than the Sepoy Rebellion, for instance. And again we don't know what events are already in the game. And it is a fact that the ACW did cause the prices for sub-continental cotton to go up. This could not help but generate more revenue for possessors of cotton growing regions.


My basic point: I don't see either British or Russian expansion being fuelled by revenue earnt in this region. I suspect this nonetheless happens to be the case in the game. Which feels to me playing way too loose with history.

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I'm not sure if I follow you here. Shouldn't a step toward victory be the result of an in-game action..., in a game?


With "catalyst for in-game action", I mean that it gives you resources to pursue the Great Game.

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And in your example, oil concessions would not become much of a concern for another generation or 2 after the scope of this game.


I forgot the game ends round the time of the 2nd Afghan War. If one were to extend it to 1907 (Anglo-Russian détente) or to 1914 (they still kept messing around with another after 1907...), then Persian oil became a strategic concern for the British Empire. It fuelled the Royal Navy, after all.

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Quote:
I fear making money earned by on-map action a motor driving expansion may undermine historical realism. Seems to me rather EUROesque.

Possibly, but you must have some sort of in-game metric to measure player performance (who's winning).


Looks to me that it's not a measure of winning, but actually a resource you want to go after so as to become stronger. That seems rather off to me.

Quote:
Otherwise you might have to rely on a revenue stream that's either fixed or tied to random events. Fixed revenue, while more historically accurate, might be less "fun" for the players. OTOH, revenue tied to random events might seem too luck dependent for some.


Are those the only two possibilities? I think not! You could make part of the game about convincing London/Saint Petersburg to take a pro-active stance in the region. I think this could be a very interesting aspect of such a game...

Quote:
And entertainment is the goal here is it not?


I want my wargames to both be good games in their own right AND also solid historical simulations. And in regards to the latter, I am perfectly fine with some abstraction and broadbrush design. I am however skeptical if a game teaches entirely wrong lessons. Such as that colonial revenue was what fuelled 19th century expansion.

I understand PAX BRITANNICA gets that wrong. And I fear the same is true of this game.

Quote:
We know so little about the game at this point that I would not be too concerned.


I see the map. And it looks to me like it does have that in-game economy heavily factoring into how strongly a side can push its interests in the region. This raises a red flag with me.

Quote:
And it is at least a year out. Things could (and probably will) change before publication.


Hence my voicing of such reservations at this stage. As a designer, I'd want feedback like that.
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Wendell
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charlesf wrote:
phormio wrote:

I don't think you could get much more "local" than the Sepoy Rebellion, for instance. And again we don't know what events are already in the game. And it is a fact that the ACW did cause the prices for sub-continental cotton to go up. This could not help but generate more revenue for possessors of cotton growing regions.


My basic point: I don't see either British or Russian expansion being fuelled by revenue earnt in this region. I suspect this nonetheless happens to be the case in the game. Which feels to me playing way too loose with history.


You don't. You win by controlling more areas than the other side.
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Charles F.
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Wendell, I don't think you're quite understanding what happens to be what I'm worried about:

Looks like in-game revenue does play a critical role in at least pushing forward your power's ambitions. It's what finances those diplomatic missions...

That is what I think makes for an unconvincing premise. Just didn't work that way.

The Great Game was about the British seeking to establish a defensive perimetre round India, whereas the Russians had ideas of gaining a warm-water port on the Persian Gulf (and the like). It was not some commercial rivalry. Or driven by revenue generated in that region.
 
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John Gorkowski
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Team

Thanks for all the great ideas.

Charles

Your worry is valid, but your interpretation of how the game interprets history is a little off. Indeed, in game revenue "limits" rather than "drives" activity because that is what actually happened. Most colonial ventures, like this one, were money losing operations. In reality, the imperial powers did NOT want to invest money in Central Asia. So, the struggle persisted on a shoestring funded in proportion to what the region could generate. That's what the game simulates.

This is not a Euro where you just gobble up space to boost revenue. You take space, most of it worthless, and stuggle to fund your ambitions.
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Charles F.
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gorkowskij wrote:
your interpretation of how the game interprets history is a little off. Indeed, in game revenue "limits" rather than "drives" activity because that is what actually happened.


I never assumed that the game was more than partially driven by on-board economic gains.

As far as I can see, "limiting activity" amounts to the very same thing.

Quote:

Most colonial ventures, like this one, were money losing operations. In reality, the imperial powers did NOT want to invest money in Central Asia. So, the struggle persisted on a shoestring funded in proportion to what the region could generate.


I'm just not seeing say the British Raj aiming to seize control of the economic resources in some remote corner in order to be able to finance their next diplomatic mission.

My hunch is that gaining control over local resources was at best a pretty marginal factor in funding expansion. What really drove the pace of imperialist endeavours in the region was political will.

Political will ought to be in my estimation a central focus of a Great Game design. How else to model phases of escalation and de-escalation? How else to account for a whole lot greater resources funelled into the region at one time over another?
 
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John Gorkowski
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This is a good discussion but we need to curtail our hunches and refer to the actual history to keep it on track and demonstrate how the Great Game in fact mirrors history.

Although colonial ventures were ultimately money losing operations, control of economic resources, for one’s own use and to deny them to the other side, was in fact a major factor in the Great Game. Contrary to what was earlier suggested, the Russians did NOT seek a warm water port in the region during the 1800s. But they did seek consumer markets in Central Asia to which they could sell their manufactured goods and that worked. To this day, Russian consumer goods dominate Central Asian markets.

Another good example is Herat, Afghanistan - the breadbasket of Central Asia. In their effort to defend India from infiltration via Afghan passes, the British saw great value in Herat because its fertile, well-watered plain could sustain a Russian army that would otherwise wither in the field. The Afghans and the Persians also fought over Herat because selling the wheat harvested there not only generated revenue out right, but also sustained an artisan class that could be taxed.

Also, although we now know that colonial ventures ultimately lost money, during the 1800s this was not yet clear. In fact, a number of firms such as the British East India Company, were created - and sold stock - on the premise that colonial ventures did in fact turn a profit. So, an economic motive in the game reflects a historical perspective. During the time depicted in the game, a significant number of powerful people "thought" colonial ventures could turn a profit if not through harvesting natural resources then through mercantilism. Therefore, governments invested money in the region in proportion to the wealth that they thought they could generate, or deny to the other side.

Another way to look at this is through the prospect of a game about the recent housing boom and bust. In the end, housing turned out to be not so profitable. But, from 2000-2005, insane profits driven by reckless speculation did in fact generate money that motivated people to buy and sell homes for profit. So a game about that period would need to portray housing as wildly profitable, even though the final analysis would prove otherwise.

As for Pax Britantia, I’ve never played the game. But, if it has an economic motive for colonial expansion - as was earlier suggested - then in fact it is accurate for all the reasons I have elaborated here. If you really want a game to be historically accurate then it needs to exhibit historical perspective - what was "thought" to be true at the time - even if that later turned out to be untrue.

All that said, the Great Game is not about reaping huge profits by conquering Central Asia. Even though economic motives did play a role there, both sides viewed the area as a backwater. In the game, the entire British OB amounts to about 20,000 troops, the Russian maybe twice that. That’s about 60,000 world power troops in the entire region from Persia to Mongolia. Today, the USA alone has more than twice that number in Afghanistan. Many of them came from Iraq, where significant actors in the U.S. government "thought" that oil revenues would cover the costs of intervention.
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Charles F.
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gorkowskij wrote:
To this day, Russian consumer goods dominate Central Asian markets.


I've only been to Kyrgyzstan, but most consumer goods there are Chinese nowadays.

Quote:
In their effort to defend India from infiltration via Afghan passes, the British saw great value in Herat because its fertile, well-watered plain could sustain a Russian army that would otherwise wither in the field.


Those are classic logistical concerns and are best modelled as such.

Quote:
Also, although we now know that colonial ventures ultimately lost money, during the 1800s this was not yet clear. In fact, a number of firms such as the British East India Company, were created - and sold stock - on the premise that colonial ventures did in fact turn a profit.


...and they all failed. The British Crown reluctantly had to step in and take over. The 17th century mercantilistic trading company model no longer worked in the 19th century. The East India Company had to repeatedly be bailed out by the British taxpayer... Eventually after decades of this, London finally lost patience and decided repeated bailouts weren't working and the Crown had to take over in India.

As profits and losses, one has to distinguish between private ventures and state (or state-like) institutions. The latter just had too much of an overhead in most colonies.

There is no doubt that India as a whole was a big economic boon to Britain. But not in terms of the state budget.

Moreover, Central Asia was a remote and not lucrative area. Britain's move into the region was primarily about providing a forward defence of India. Not about getting to tax Central Asian backwaters.

Quote:

So, an economic motive in the game reflects a historical perspective. During the time depicted in the game, a significant number of powerful people "thought" colonial ventures could turn a profit if not through harvesting natural resources then through mercantilism. Therefore, governments invested money in the region in proportion to the wealth that they thought they could generate, or deny to the other side.


As said, you need to distinguish between private and state (and quasi-state) spheres.

"Informal empires" made economically a whole lot more sense. Which is why Britain was not interested in annexing say Argentina (as they might well have), but preferred to simply invest heavily there and dominate the local market.

In the 19th century, colonial expansion simply didn not pay for itself. Taxpayers at home picked up much of the tab. That is not to say that colonial expansion was divorced by economic motives. Of course not. What I am saying is that such colonial expansion wasn't funded by exploiting those territories and markets. Least of all in as non-lucrative an area as Central Asia...

Quote:

As for Pax Britantia, I’ve never played the game. But, if it has an economic motive for colonial expansion - as was earlier suggested - then in fact it is accurate for all the reasons I have elaborated here. If you really want a game to be historically accurate then it needs to exhibit historical perspective - what was "thought" to be true at the time - even if that later turned out to be untrue.


Again, one needs to make the above distinction...

And 19th century contemporaries were perfectly able to assess those financial implications. You need only look at primary documents to that end (parliamentary debates, cabinet memos, etcetc)...

Quote:
All that said, the Great Game is not about reaping huge profits by conquering Central Asia. Even though economic motives did play a role there, both sides viewed the area as a backwater. In the game, the entire British OB amounts to about 20,000 troops, the Russian maybe twice that. That’s about 60,000 world power troops in the entire region from Persia to Mongolia.


Considering the size of the British Army, this was a very substantial - and costly - commitment!

Bismarck famously responded to the question how he'd react to the British Army landing in Germany:

Well, I'll arrest it!

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Lee Troutman
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Hunches curtailed.

At the risk of getting back OT, I'm guessing you've already included provision for the Sikh Wars in your random events (or in some other way)?
 
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John Gorkowski
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Which Sikh Wars? If you're speaking of the British invasion of the Punjab then that is accounted for in normal game play. No need for randmon events there. The Punjabis can fall victim to Russian diplomacy just like the Afghans, so sooner or later the British have to do something about it.
 
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Lee Troutman
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I was referring to the First Sikh War (1845-46), and the Second Sikh War (1848-49). But after looking at the playtest map at the original size I see where this could be modeled within the game system (or at least what I know of it).
 
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