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The Peloponnesian War

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Matt201
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It is the year 431BC. The Delian League has fully transformed into the Athenian Empire and Athens has reached a prosperity that sees them dominate the Aegean Sea with their naval forces. After they send a defensive force to Corcyra to defend against a Corinthian attack, and place a trade embargo on Megara, Sparta and her allies attack Athens, and so starts the Peloponnesian War...

As you can gather from the setting, it's going to be a war game, but actually begins earlier than that. The twist I want to put on it is in the game you have to concentrate on building allies, whether it be through mutual understanding, or by conquering them. I s'pose the game begins several years before the war, circa. 460BC. The game begins with the Peloponnesian League [Sparta] (with her various allied states) and the Delian League [Athens] (with hers).

From the start of the game, Sparta has a strong land based army (and adequate naval force, thanks to Corinth). Athens has a very strong navy, but relatively weak army (enough to defend, but not mount a full scale attack on enemy units). Both teams have comparable wealth, with one exception. On the island of Delos Athens has a large fortune. However, this can ONLY be used to purchase more naval units (this is important). Sparta, however, are unrestricted with how they spend their money.

The first stage of the game is both teams building up allies. With each city state that joins your respective league, you add their wealth and units (if they have any) to your own. At the beginning of each turn, you receive the benefits from each state (i.e. each stage, the owner of Corinth receives extra naval forces, etc.) You can also use any money you have to build triremes or train Hoplites. Some city states are more likely to join a particular side, while neutral states will join whoever reaches them first. (Currently the only system I have in place is a unit from either Athens or Sparta enters a city-state space and either claims it if it is neutral and/or unoccupied, or fight enemy units within the city to gain ownership. I still don't know the best way to implement a city state showing hostilities (eg. Corinth towards Athens)).

The first stage ends when Athens moves the treasury from Delos to Athens. When this happens, they are allowed to spend the money however they like (no longer restricted to naval units). However, allied city states may now start revolting against Athenian rule (I'm not sure what system I can use to implement this, and whether revolting states become neutral or join Sparta, or a combination of the two). The Athenian player chooses when to move the treasury. The obvious advantage is access to the money, which makes Athens a lot more wealthy than Sparta, but the prospect of losing allied states, and therefore resources, is risky. (I was thinking perhaps giving them freedom over how much tribute they demand- higher tribute = more money faster, but higher chance of revolt perhaps?).

Stage two can be considered to be around the later parts of the the first Peloponnesian War. The idea is that now Athens has money available to build land units, they will start to conquer land to put themselves in a better position (perhaps at the start of the stage, putting a restraint on the Spartan army if they have advanced a great deal towards Attica [i.e. Athens] in the first stage?) Basically this can be considered the first combat phase (even though technically there was nothing preventing battle in stage one), because Athens is encouraged to expand (as well as put down any revolts).

Stage two ends when (or if) Sparta invades Attica. The Athenian player has a choice to defend as per normal, or "bribe" the Spartan king to return to Sparta. If bribery occurs, stage two ends, if not play continues as normal (the game just remains in stage two). At the end of stage two, Spartan land forces return to Sparta, and Athens loses control of Megara to the Spartans (if they own it) and Euboea automatically revolts (either Athens sends forces to crush the rebellion, or the territory becomes neutral). The game will be designed that it is in Athens best interest to end stage two. Unless the Spartan player avoids Attica for a prolonged period of time, Athens generally won't be strong enough to defend. It also gives both players the chance to collect units and money from their allies. (I thought possibly having Athens lose ships to coincide with the failed revolt of the Egyptians against the Persians, but this may place Athens at too much a disadvantage for 'advancing' the game to stage three?)

Stage three is the "thirty year peace". During this stage, neither player are allowed to attack each other or invade an enemy's ally. They are, however, allowed to claim any neutral territories that still exist on the board. This is very much like stage one, however combat cannot occur in this stage (see below). Another important aspect is that the territory of Corcyra receives a large naval bonus (in terms of extra ships) during this stage. Whoever claims this receives the bonus units into their army. Although the game treats the territory as neutral, if Athens makes an attempt to claim it, it is considered an aggressive move against the Peloponnesian League.

Stage three ends when one player makes an aggressive move (i.e. makes an attack) against the other. Stage three could be very long or very short depending on the circumstances, but the idea is that Athens takes the naval bonus at Corcyra, or risk losing their naval supremacy. Of course, any aggressive move will advance the game.

Stage four is the actual Peloponnesian War. One can assume that by this stage Athens has control of the waters, and Sparta has a better army (Athens having less forces, or having them spread out to deal with revolting city states). Basically the game continues on until one team wins (conquering the opposing city- Athens or Sparta). I'm thinking of including a Stage five where Persia gets involved, but I'm not sure how to implement that yet).

The game is still really rough in my mind, and I'm sure you can tell it need refining (sorry about the massive post). Other things I am considering is having stages being further broken up, so that both teams can collect their respective tributes/units and build any new units more often. Also perhaps a card system to deal with some of the elements above I don't have systems for currently, and/or to add more historical events (eg. plague in Athens, etc.) I'm also missing a combat system, but I want to avoid the "roll the dice" luck element if at all possible.

Thoughts on the game? Is there potential?

Matt201
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Some Other Thoughts...

There will be three different coloured pieces (4 if I end up including Persia). Two of them will have both naval and hoplite units, and one will be made up just of hoplites. For arguments sake let's say they are yellow, blue and red, respectively.

Yellow units are those of the Peloponnesian League EXCEPT for Spartan hoplites (i.e. all of the allied units and any Spartan naval units). Blue are Delian League/Athenian Empire units and red are Spartan Hoplites (who have an attack bonus).

Each stage is broken into turns. Each player alternates deploying any new units and moving existing ones around the board. At the start of a players turn, they may use any funds they have to buy new units, which must be deployed to a dock (if naval) or barracks (if land) [a handful exist at the start of the game, and a player will have the chance to build more in strategic locations]. Spartan Hoplites may only be deployed in Sparta. If the Peloponnesian player wants to deploy hoplites anywhere else, they are restricted to buying allied hoplites.

NOTE ABOUT STAGE ONE:
Sparta starts with an army of Spartan hoplites. However they are not deployed to the board until Stage Two (historical relevance= helot rebellion/game play relevance = keeps Athens from being destroyed early on). During stage one, Sparta is restricted to allied [yellow] units. They may buy new Spartan hoplites during this stage and deploy them, however.

Stage One = begins 470BC
Stage Two = begins 454BC
Stage Three = begins 445 BC
Stage Four = begins 435BC
Stage Five = begins 413BC

^historical reference. Stages may be longer or shorter, not reflecting the actual time periods between stages.

lewpuls
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P War

The Athenian empire came into existence as a league to fight Persia. Athens turned it into an empire when the threat subsided. The Athenians ultimately lost he war because of their own self-destructive foolishness, and Persian subsidies to Sparta that let Sparta build a fleet. Consider how you're going to have Persia affect the two-player game.

Money was spent to build ships and pay rowers (free men). It was not spent on Hoplites, who were citizens wealthy enough to have the necessary equipment. (Less wealthy citizens became rowers, in Athens.) This war predates, I think, the widespread mercenary presence seen in later Hellenistic history.

Of course, how close you want to stay to history is up to you.

The Athenians effectively committed a form of suicide by sending expeditions to Syracuse. How are you going to persuade a player who knows this to do something that foolish?

I assume you're aware of Clash of Arms very long P War game, and the block game about the war (I cannot recall if that's two or three players).

Matt201
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lewpuls wrote:Money was spent

lewpuls wrote:
Money was spent to build ships and pay rowers (free men). It was not spent on Hoplites

It is simply gameplay mechanics in this case

lewpuls wrote:
Of course, how close you want to stay to history is up to you.

This is something I've thought about a lot. The only other Peloponnesian War game I am aware of follows history very closely.

Personally, I think people want to play a game, not partake in a war re-enactment, so I wanted to give both players the freedom to do what they want. I think in this case, history is only a springboard to launch this game (with a few events pulling it closer to reality, such as Athens losing Magara [back] to Sparta and helping Corcyra to solidify their supremacy in the Aegean). To force the Athenian player to make a foolish move (a la real life) only limits the game.

lewpuls wrote:
Consider how you're going to have Persia affect the two-player game.

This is also something I have thought long and hard about. In fact at one stage I even considered them being a third player (however, due to the course of the war, this is impractical, as they would just be sitting there for most of the game doing nothing).

I then considered having a way for the Spartan player to gain access to an abundance of extra men and ships. This is one possibility, however in the interests of making the game better, why not have the possibility of Athens receiving the help from Persia instead of Athens?

tl;dr: I don't know how to include Persia into this game yet.

Matt201
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Would it be too "luck based",

Would it be too "luck based", if the Athenian player demanded tribute from her ally states using a 'track system'?

Say there are 7 numbers along the track, each representing a tribute payment. Next to this is a group of numbers that correspond to the dice roll of a d8.

For example:
$10 | 1
$20 | 1 2
$30 | 1 2 3
...
$70 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

At the beginning of each stage, the Athenian player rolls a d8 for every state they have allied. If the number corresponds to one that appears on the track, that state revolts. (Not unlike the order 66 track on Star Wars Risk for those who have played it).

This way, the higher tribute Athens demands, the more likely states will revolt. The Athenian player's job is to decide how much money they are willing to demand, and if that much is worth the risk of revolt.

Ratmilk
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randomness through players actions, not dice

Don't randomize revolts through dice but through card hands. As players demand tribute and troops from their allies make them increasingly suseptible to revolt if the other player plays the proper card. Make your track scale back and forth like you said but the actual revolt comes through the card play of each side. A player might make heavy demands on an ally, only to have the opponent play the card that tips them over the edge into neutrality or worse yet, go over to the enemy. Your game will have a feeling of escalation as each player attempts to reach a power balance without losing their allies support. It would increase tension not knowing what the opponent holds and how far to go.

You can also tie historical events to these cards and the decisions that the players makes will shift the posture of other city states. For example, the war between Megara and Corinth is what angered the Corinthians so badly against Athens and made them bitter enemies. This way the run up to the war can be accounted for and included, go off history a bit to make plausible events in there so the game is not scripted.

pelle
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lewpuls wrote: I assume

lewpuls wrote:

I assume you're aware of Clash of Arms very long P War game, and the block game about the war (I cannot recall if that's two or three players).

And the old AH solitaire game. The one in which the player switches sides to always be on the losing side. I spotted a copy on eBay yesterday, but decided I don't need more unplayed games here.

Matt201
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Ratmilk wrote:Don't randomize

Ratmilk wrote:
Don't randomize revolts through dice but through card hands. As players demand tribute and troops from their allies make them increasingly suseptible to revolt if the other player plays the proper card. Make your track scale back and forth like you said but the actual revolt comes through the card play of each side. A player might make heavy demands on an ally, only to have the opponent play the card that tips them over the edge into neutrality or worse yet, go over to the enemy. Your game will have a feeling of escalation as each player attempts to reach a power balance without losing their allies support. It would increase tension not knowing what the opponent holds and how far to go.

You can also tie historical events to these cards and the decisions that the players makes will shift the posture of other city states. For example, the war between Megara and Corinth is what angered the Corinthians so badly against Athens and made them bitter enemies. This way the run up to the war can be accounted for and included, go off history a bit to make plausible events in there so the game is not scripted.

I'm very interested in this card idea! How do you imagine they would be implemented into the game. What exactly would the card say that forces a state to revolt?

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