JUST ASK PHORMIO (or “how to teach Pericles”)

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Back when I was young and I could count the number of games I owned on one hand with fingers left over, we all read the rules on how to play our games. However, times have changed. I now own a ridiculous number of games, and when I get together with friends it seems we are almost always playing a game that only one person has played before. As such, teaching games has become a more important skill than I believe it was in the past.

Although the game has thankfully received many kind words from players and reviewers, a few of the ambivalent reviews of Pericles have made two points. First, that the game is more complex than the average Euro-gamer can tolerate. Second, that it requires a dedicated group to become proficient at the game, and unless you are willing to put in the time, beware. With all due respect to these respected reviewers, I believe that they have lost the forest for the trees.

What I am going to do in this short article is offer a very simple method for teaching Pericles. Using this method, you can play Pericles often or sporadically and still play well. I have been playing wargames for over half a century, so I think I have earned my stripes enough to know a mechanically simple game with complex strategy from a complex game with complex strategy. Pericles is the former, so mechanically it is fairly straightforward, but understanding what to do is where the fun lies. For a reviewer who plays a game once, though, the game’s deep strategies are the source of their view of complexity.

The Shot Heard Round Charleston Harbor…Fort Sumter Design Notes and AAR (Part 4)

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We now continue with Round 3 of Mark’s AAR of Fort Sumter. If you missed the first three articles in this series, click on the following links to read them first: Part 1    Part 2  Part 3.

The Shot Heard Round Charleston Harbor…Fort Sumter Design Notes and AAR (Part 3)

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We now continue with Round 2 of Mark’s AAR of Fort Sumter. If you missed the first two articles in this series, click on the following links to read them first: Part 1    Part 2.

Round 2: Lame Duck Buchanan

Round2 Unionist hand and objectives. They choose Washington as the Objective.

Because the score is still tied, the Unionist will still go first. We now see for the first time a 3 card whose event is available to both sides (Seizing Federal Armories). The Unionist decides to choose the Objective card Washington, where they already have one token.

The Shot Heard Round Charleston Harbor…Fort Sumter Design Notes and AAR (Part 2)

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As promised in Part 1 of this article last week, what follows next is my Twitter game of July 1st, with accompanying photos and my original text. The only edits were to take the necessary abbreviations that Twitter’s 140 characters impose and write them out in full. This is an instructional game, so the strategy is solid, but there might have been superior moves at times. I will supplement each photo and tweet with a short dialog on what is going on so you can follow the action while learning the game.

Caveat: I exceeded my multitasking abilities, as this experiment occurred prior to a family BBQ. One of my nephews hit the map, a neighbor’s cat decided to see what was going on, and my wife appropriately insisted that anything she wanted me to do had immediate priority. As a consequence, errors were made when reconstructing the situation and are indicated where appropriate in the text. Everyone participating in this experiment was a professional; do not try this at home.

The Shot Heard Round Charleston Harbor…Fort Sumter Design Notes and AAR (Part 1)

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On July 1st, I did something that I have never done before. I sat outside and I played a solo game of Fort Sumter while taking a picture of each move, then tweeted it out to my approximately 1300+ followers. It got a very good response, so with the aid of a very technically savvy millennial (thank you Rachel B.), I am commenting on what occurred so that you can see and learn how to play Fort Sumter.

Unleashing Hell: Redeployment Rules in Pericles

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“At my signal…unleash Hell…”

One of the interesting things that occurs when a new game is released is that members of our tribe try to push the rules to the extreme, then immediately conclude that there is a problem. The purpose of this strategy piece concerns the redeployment rules. Redeployment in Pericles is very broad and allows for very aggressive force concentrations that, when first seen, can surprise the other side with thoughts like, ‘you can do that?’ For today, let’s consider not that you can do this, but rather what should you do about it when someone, like in Texas holdem, goes ‘all in’.

Pericles: Strategy in the Archidamian War

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For me having a new design enter the gaming fray is like XMAS where everyone else gets to open the present. I opened a new copy yesterday to check that it was packed correctly and I was struck by that new game smell. I love that smell… far superior to what I usually smell in the NYC subway. As I have done in the past, I thought it would be helpful to pen a short piece on strategy beyond what is already well covered in the game’s playbook (page 35). I would also like to reiterate at this point that I strongly urge you, even if you have been gaming like myself for over 40 years, to make use of the games training regime (14.01). It will only take about an hour and the War in the Aegean scenario is quite fun, short, and interesting history. If you follow this sequence, you will come to 14.01 F, where you take the training wheels off and play a two turn scenario that I consider the tournament scenario for this game.

Delian League Diaries #6

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Pericles’ ‘Bots at War

In my first Peloponnesian War design, circa 1991, I had a mechanic for an Auguries die roll. In this regard it appears that Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars has been successful in its appeal to a higher power when I got this note (republished with permission):

Delian League Diaries #5

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Pericles Strategy Guide

This installment of my Delian League Diaries is intended offer deeper insight on how Pericles lets you experience Thucydides’ epic history of this long ago war. I thought it would be interesting to discuss some of the key mechanics and their impact on strategy options.


Pericles Playtest Map. Note that all components shown in this article are playtest components, not final art.

Delian League Diaries #4

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During a recent session of Pericles, JR Tracy (host and ASL expert) and myself represented Athens versus our worthy Spartan opponents, Roberto and Nate. We played the 1st Peloponnesian War scenario, which can last from 3 to 6 turns, ending when Peace is declared. In keeping with the history, this one ended up being a true death match and went the distance, as no one wanted to declare Peace.