Games about the Ancient World

As I gear up to present Canon: The Card Game to game companies at Gen Con in August, I’ve been looking up more information about a variety of companies. If you have played Canon and have suggestions about companies that you think would be a good fit, please do let me know!

One company that came to my attention during this process unfortunately does not have a booth at Gen Con: GMT Games, which specializes in historical reenactment military games. One of their games is called Genesis: Empires and Kingdoms of the Ancient Middle East, and it is based on an earlier game of theirs, Pax Romana. It focuses on military interactions from Egypt across Canaan into Mesopotamia, including figures who impinged on the history of Israel. I am already starting to think of how it could be useful in helping students to understand the political, military, economic, and also religious history of these regions.

One game by Minion Games, Kingdom of Solomon, focuses on a time of peace, which is thus rather different. But then there is the game Kings of Israel, which focuses on eliminating idolatry as the way to keep the Assyrians from destroying your kingdom. And so I could easily envisage having students play Kings of Israel and Genesis, and by way of comparison realize that what the Biblical prophets and texts were doing was interpreting events that almost certainly would have transpired anyway, through the lens of their own religious and ethical convictions.

blogged about Chris Heard’s SBL presentation about a couple of these games at SBL last year. Have any other blog readers played any of these games, especially those from GMT Games? If so, I’d really love your thoughts about them.

There are several videos on YouTube that will give you more information, including examples of play, about many of these games. Scroll down below the videos for images of the covers of the games and links to more information about playing and purchasing them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGObwXtfHZ0

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  • Marja Erwin

    It’s long out of print but Civilization/Advanced Civilization would be possible. (Not to be confused with Sid Meier’s Civ.) Unfortunately, since each player represents an entire civilization, it tends to promote a “clash of civilizations” model– and monotheism is an especially aggressive card.

    https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/71/civilization

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Indeed, excellent suggestion!

  • Scurra

    Of course, there’s always the instructive and not-really-heretical-at-all Credo. It’s doing something similar to Canon I think, but in a much more involved way (and is 25 yrs old now, so it has its own issues.) I’ve used a very simplified version of it in courses introducing church people to aspects of Church History they knew nothing about; I can see that Canon is aiming at the same general space.
    https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1304/credo

    Your ruleset seems a little badly worded (but then again I’m probably pickier about that sort of thing!) – you switch from “a player” to “one” to “you” within a single page, and I’m not entirely sure how final scoring works; an example there would definitely help. I have other issues with the game itself – with the caveat that I have only looked at the rules – but that’s mostly because I’m a gamer and thus not really the target audience!

    Oh, and I apologise for having not seen your posts about this game before!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Thanks for the suggestions! Scoring in canon involves multiplying however many of each card you have in your canon, times the number of the same card in the central canon. You then subtract one point for each card you have that does not have a match in the central canon. So if my canon has three Gospel of Thomas cards and there are two of those in the central canon, then that is six points for me; then if I have two of the Gospel of Mark in my canon and it isn’t in the central canon, I deduct two point; and so on. Does that help? I will look into how I might make this clearer…

      • Scurra

        Again, I think that just having that small example is enough to show how the scoring works. I mean, the rules are perfectly clear in the abstract but it’s not always easy to visualise it.
        I must admit that with my game-designer’s hat on, I also tend to react to encountering any scoring system that includes the word “multiply” because I know from experience that most people will run a mile, even though it’s trivially easy to do! (It’s the same reason why using a term like “X” to indicate a variable number is generally a bad idea too, even though that’s often the simplest solution.) But I must admit that I can’t think of a more elegant way of phrasing it that doesn’t involve at least twice as many words!