Thursday, 23 April 2015

Hellenistic Era (very preliminary draft)

I'm right now playing an Ancient Mediterranean game and once again got Greece (Macedon). Most of my AM games have been with that power, that's why I'm nagging... but anyhow it's not going badly so far so guess it's alright. 

It is a very good classical variant but I'm not fully satisfied neither with the historicity nor the design of the game, particularly the many land provinces that should be impassable or at the very least more complicated to use in the Sahara and Barbarian Europe. 

So I've been thinking as of late in designing a new variant for the same historical period and approximate geography.

This is what I got so far:

Province borders were drawn in a rush to end up with something and hence are not at all definitive nor too pretty. Sandy areas are impassable (deserts, Scythian steppe). 

The game begins c. 312 BCE, when Antigonus, the most powerful of the diadochi, was challenged by a coalition of the other successors of Alexander. At that approximate time Rome began expanding in Italy beyond Latium and Carthage and Syracuse were engaged in wars for the control of Sicily. A few years later Pyrrhus of Epirus intervened in Italy in favor of Taras (Taranto) and other Greek colonies, almost defeating Rome. Almost.

The powers:
  • Diadochy:
    • Antigonus: Antioch (A), Tyre (F) and Sardis (A)
    • Seleucus: Babylon (A) and Media (A)
    • Ptolemy: Alexandria (F) and Memphis (A)
    • Lyssimachus: Lyssimachia (F) and Seuthopolis (A)
    • Cassander: Pella (A) and Larissa (F)
  • Other:
    • Epirus: Epirus (F) and Taras (A)
    • Syracuse: Syracuse (F) and Zancle (Messina) (F)
    • Carthage: Carthage (F) and Ziz (Palermo) (F)
    • Rome: Rome (A) and Capua (A)
Neutral centers are depicted in gray: dark for armed neutrals, light for open neutrals. Armed neutrals basically just hold and are disbanded if dislodged, however especial rules about diplomatic influence allowing control of neutrals for support only may be used optionally, so this is the list of units of the armed neutrals:
  • Armies: Turdetania, Iberia, Numidia, Gallia Cisalpina, Etruria, Delphi, Sparta, Armenia, Nabatean Kdom.
  • Fleets: Massilia, Cortona(?), Athens, Corinth, Rhodes, Cyrene and probably also Bosporan Kdom. (wrongly represented as unarmed in the map above)
Canals exist at Byzantium, Corinth and Egypt (crossing both provinces), they work as follows:
  • Byzantium is naval passage between Western Black Sea (or Bythinia or Lyssimachia-ec)and either Lyssimachia-sc or Troad (both of which are coastal with Aegean Sea)
  • Corinth is naval passage between Aegean (or Athens) and Ionian (or Delphi-sc*)
  • The Nile, including the canal to the Red Sea is navigable, so Memphis has coastal border with Alexandria, Red Sea and Nabatea.
*I have to reconsider Greece and particularly that province and borders, maybe extending Athens to Thessaly or creating a non-center Thebes province.

Additionally I'm planning to make a Red Sea - Persian Gulf naval connection but unsure if direct or via an Arabian Sea province (represented by a blue square with connecting arrows). 

Strategical notes (provisional):

Carthage has good chances to expand in the Far West (historical) by annexing the Phoenician colonies of Gadir and Tingis (to begin with). However it may need to sacrifice Ziz for that. 

All Diadochi have good expansion possibilities but some borders may need tweaking to help avoid early clashes, particularly in the Balcans. 

Epirus is probably the power with less clear options: going West may make it clash not just with Rome but also Syracuse (should I split the Ionian Sea in two to prevent that?), going south to Greece can only be done in coalition or after reinforcement. Balcanic border tweaking should also help to keep Epirus and Macedon in good terms (historical), so a mountain province between them seems a must.

Rome's path is simple: take Italy before the Western naval powers become too annoyingly big.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Imperator (draft)

This is a very simple Diplomacy variant for 8 players: The Emperor has died and no clear successor stands, 8 generals rise up in the provinces and vie for the throne, each commanding a single legion. It is the year one of your reign... or is it of that of a rival?

The factions have no names (either initial province or color can be used initially) but I would encourage players to take up a fictitious (or historical if you wish) Roman name such as a romanization or your real name (as used to be common up to the Renaissance, mine could be Ludovicus) or a funny sounding name such as Pompous Maximus (example taken from Caesar II).

To do: mostly I want to add navigable rivers in the Nile, including a very historical canal to the Red Sea, Danube and Rhine. Maybe I want to split some provinces like Lugdunum, Cappadocia or Carthage, which are maybe too large. Maybe make the Egyptian player begin with a fleet. Creta will probably be made a province for naval mobility reasons.

Victory conditions: 11 centers (over a total of 20) and one must be Roma (optional Late Empire rule: Roma or Byzantium). Draws are possible but only players controlling at least 5 centers can enter in them, under 5 centers you lose-lose-lose no matter what (you can still veto the draw as long as you have at least one center, as usual). So a draw can include at most 4 players (this is quasi-historical: when the Empire was split, there were never more than 2-4 Augusti/Caesari but it's also conceived to discourage the most stupid versions of draws such as draws including too many players or players that cannot stand on their own forces: you must be a real contender to be acknowledged into a "partial victory" of sorts).

Players control no province when they begin, so even the players that begin at one center province still need to conquer it in the fall of year 1 in order to gain a center. That means that year 1 and year 2 everybody has only one unit (or zero if you play horribly), 2 at most in year 3, 4 at most in year 4, etc. No victory is possible before year 6, but of course it won't be so easy, will it?

Grey areas are of course impassable (no barbarians, no desert foxes and no Persian wars take place in this scenario). 

The following provinces have two coasts: Tarraco, Ravenna, Roma, Thessalonica and Alexandria (when I implement the navigable rivers, canal and Red Sea). 

Arrows allow land movement between:
  • Londinum and Belgica
  • Tingitana and Baetica
  • Syracusae and Neapolis
  • Byzantium and Nicomedia
  • Byzantium and Ephesus
Movement between Mare Aegeum and Pontus Euxinus must be done by the coast of the intermediate land provinces (either Byzantium or Nicomedia + Ephesus

Balance notes: West and East (as historically divided in the Constantinian partition) have each 10 centers. Most centers (15) border the Mediterranean Sea (8 the Western part, 7 the Central part and 7 the Eastern part). 

Initial accessible dots (can only get one in any case in year one):
  • Britannicus: 4
  • Germanicus: 5
  • Hispanicus: 3
  • Africanus: 2
  • Pannonicus: 4
  • Dacius: 5
  • Syriacus: 3
  • Aegiptianus: 4

Early campaign problematics:  you can be easily eliminated very early on for a diplomatic error, for example an accidental bounce in Ravenna or Thessalonica is something that Pannonicus does not want at all (but surely not either his potential competitors, unless they do that from a center such as Byzantium).