Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A Play By Mail / Email Campaign Game of War, Intrigue, Diplomacy, Trade etc. set in the C18th

[Warning! This post is about pen and paper wargames, so might not be of interest to everybody.]
Agema Publications produce a massive rpg-type 'diplomacy-cum-civilisation-cum-wargames campaign' game called The Glory of Kings (formerly known as La Gloire du Roi) which is set in the period beginning 1700AD.
I'll be playing out the game solely on paper, though the option is also there for email. It requires the players to use their imagination as well as historical research. I've been playing The Glory of Kings off-and-on since 1999, controlling various positions such as The Dukedom of Savoy-Piedmont (Northern Italy - Turin), The United Kingdoms of England and Wales, and, to be something completely different, Blackbeard the Pirate.

Well, I've now joined up again to play in the latest game (Game 10) and have taken on the ruler-ship of the Kingdom of Rozwi.

Who? You ask. Well, the following picture should give you a better idea.
The Rozwi Empire [1660 - 1866] was establish on the Zimbabwean Plateau by Changamire Dombo. They were cattle farmers, skilled in gold working and ivory carving, traded with the neighbouring Portuguese colony at Mozambique and also with the Omani traders who were based at Zanzibar. They were also the Zulu warriors of their day!
An absolutely, totally different game position from the majority of the rest - the European, Indian and Asian countries (even sometimes an anachronistic American Republic) who all enjoy a level of civilisation contemporary to 1700AD. And then there's me, Rozwi, still actually living in the Sub-Saharan African Iron-Age.

I've just completed my first 'start-up' turn and posted it back to the Games Master this morning.
Not wanting to give too many details away (as it is a competitive game played against other players) I've re-organised my armed tribal infantry into regiments, composed my Military Regulations for the troops to be drilled in - they'll then need to be exercised in battlefield tactics on 'Army Exercise Days' when properly drilled - and lastly, created some additional non-player-controlled characters for my position. A couple of wives, some advisers for important areas such as cattle husbandry and gold trade work, and one or two men who'll possibly become ambassadors to neighbouring tribes, or European colonies, in the future.

Suffice to say, this is a long-term type of game. Played out one game turn every three weeks, each game turn representing a calendar month in the C18th. Players have been known to be involved in games for a decade or more!
In terms of money, (as money makes the World go around, after all) at £10 a game turn it is very reasonable, as, when all things considered, the Games Master won't be making a large amount of money for the amount of work he puts in for each player.

Seventeen game turns might be managed in any one real-life year, £170 therefore, and for that I will get the benefit of playing a wargame against other opponents and the games master without leaving my home. Considering that Agema provides either .pdf emailed turns or mailed out paper-copy turns, with an in-game colour newspaper, armed forces and financial lists for your game position, letters sent from other players, and also they cover the postage cost of the turn sent back to you, that £170 a year is good value for money. I can spend £170 in an hour on toy soldiers, and probably never get around to painting or playing with them!
In a couple of sentences; The Glory of Kings Play By Mail / Play By Email works for me. I can interact with other players through rpg-themed in-game correspondence or through the in-game newspaper. I get the benefit of playing a game that allows me to learn as I play, both in military and social history, historical technological and religious matters, also researching general history and about other cultures.

The game does not have to be played as a wargame, the army or the navies commanded could simply be left as a defensive device and the player could instead decide to play a diplomatic, religious, financial or trading type of game - or a combination of all or any of the component aspects of running a country. Or, if a game position such as that of a pirate was chosen (Barbary, Japanese, European in the West Indies) then it's all basically about creating chaos!
I'll finish off by publishing the link to the Agema Publications forum, then readers can check that out as well.

For those of you who know my past history in regard health matters, you'll obviously see that playing such a game as this is ideally suited to those of us who are unable to get out of the house, or are unable to socialise, for one reason or another.

Off note: Agema produces other PBM / PBEM games. True wargames, played out like a game of postal chess, or other campaign games set in other time periods. Well worth checking out.

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