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 #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.

Delian League Diaries #3

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The First Peloponnesian War


Pericles is now starting its public testing with my favorite gamers, the 1st Minnesota. This means that Pericles is now officially launched and from early responses doing very well. I am now getting a breather where I sit back and see how things are going, modify stuff that needs improving and so on. However, the design is finished and I cannot stop playing, which is my key metric for any of my designs.

Delian League Diaries #2

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mark-herman1As I write this, the Yankees just lost to Toronto and I just lost the first full playtest of Pericles to my wife. We played the Pentecontaetia scenario, which is the beginning of 1st Peloponnesian War and the Campaign game, and covers the period from 460 BC to 400 BC. The way you win the game is your City State (Athens or Sparta) wins the war and of those two players the one with the most Honor (Timē) wins.

Carole and I played the two player version. Before you ask, the game can be played with one, two, three, or four players, ultimately with ‘Bots for each faction. While Pericles uses a variant of my Churchill conference mechanic this design is not a clone of its predecessor. I will also say that the rules should clock in at around 8 pages of rules without diagrams.


Delian League Diaries #1

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mark-herman11 February

Today I played Pericles for the first time, so it’s game on! This is the first of a regular set of notes that I will pen and post on InsideGMT and on my Blog. So, what is Pericles?

Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars is the sequel to my recently published Churchill: Big Three Struggle for Peace. Although Pericles is the second in my Great Politicians Series, it is its own design that does not follow a formula from its predecessor, yet borrows the conference mechanic to simulate how City State strategy was formed and executed in 5th Century Greece. Unlike Churchill, Pericles is a wargame, although a light one. So, let me frame my design for you.

MacArthur did not return… (Labor Day Churchill Playthrough)

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mark-herman1I just had the best Labor Day weekend with my whole family hanging out, eating, drinking, swimming, and playing Churchill plus a little MechWarrior. My boys and I played a campaign game with my son Grant (Stalin), son-in-law Dan (Roosevelt) and I was Churchill. Grant and Dan were play testers and both of them are very skilled at the game, so I had to play very well or lose. In fact the last time I played two games with them at Monster Con in Arizona they each won one game, to my none, which they have not let me forget. The trash talk indicated that they were confident of a repeat performance.

Conference 1

Now when I play with the boys it always works out in the beginning that they are not going to let the old man have any leverage, so at the end of the first conference I actually won no issues. Stalin won the conference and managed to gain sufficient offensive support to advance against stiff German opposition. During play testing Grant specialized as Stalin and he invented most of the known Soviet strategies. New players and those who have not had success as Uncle Joe need to remember that the Soviets are locked in a titanic struggle on the Eastern front. They need to focus on gaining offensive support in excess of 5 to advance. It is important that they advance at least once during the first two conferences to keep pace with the Western front.

This takes winning Western Allied directed offensives and production. The issue choices based on which cards you are holding determining whether you pick two directed offensive issues or a one of each. Grant’s performance was a primer in how to dominate scoring with the Soviets. As it turned out he was just a little too good at it this time.

Once D-Day has occurred continuing this strategy should result in at least one breakthrough, there were two in this game, giving the Soviets military leverage. With all concerned focused on Europe and the US early focus on political moves there were no advances in the Pacific.

Post Conference 1 situation

Post Conference 1 situation

Churchill Strategy Primer #3: Asymmetric Staff Abilities

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Here are links to my first two strategy primers for InsideGMT:

Churchill Strategy and Tactics Tips

Churchill Strategy Primer #2: Defeating the Axis

mark-herman1My topic for this strategy discussion is to focus on the asymmetric staff abilities of each side and highlight strategy themes that I have not seen yet in the general discussions on BGG.

First here is a general analysis of the each sides asymmetric capabilities. The decks were constructed to align each sides capabilities with my view of how they operated during the conferences. If you were to do an analysis of the staff with values and attributes assumed to always be played on the proper attribute you would find that the total strength of the decks lays out as follows:

US: 99
USSR: 83**

**=Nyet national characteristic situationally adds 1 to Soviet staff cards.

In each case I assigned the CoS as a 1 value plus their attribute, so there is some variation based on the strength die roll. Clearly this is not exactly how it would ever play out, but it demonstrates each staff’s strength if played efficiently to maximize a cards value.

Now on the surface you would think that the Soviets are way outclassed, so I will begin my analysis with Stalin.

Post-Publication Musings on Churchill

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mark-herman1Well, Churchill has finally hit the market and I am very pleased with the production values and the initial reception. Only time will tell if this one becomes a cross-over design, but I could not be happier with how it came out.

I was at the World Boardgaming Championships (WBC) in its farewell to Lancaster PA, and I never saw less than four ongoing games of Churchill being played in open gaming. A new phenomena for me was in most cases there were at least one if not two females playing in each session (three person game). This is the one game that I have done out of over sixty that my wife will play, so it hopefully will be a more accessible game to the most important part of the human race.

For those who have not followed my earlier blog posts, I wanted folks to experience a different narrative of World War II. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for Third Reich and the multitude of big picture strategy games on the war, but I have “been there, done that” and I have over 50 games in that category. Churchill’s genesis was based on his World War II memoirs and his big picture perspective. I wanted to sit in the big chair and win a global war, not drive tank divisions across Europe.

Churchill Map