Update: My copy of Mound Builders has arrived, and my first-impressions overview can be found here.
Victory Point Games is a small, California-based company that manufactures inexpensive designer board games, usually strategy games or historical war games. One of their more popular product lines is “States of Siege,” a series of solitaire war games in which the player must defend a central point – usually a capital city – against enemy armies that advance on numbered tracks. Each turn the player draws an event card indicating which armies advance, any special events that occur, and how many actions the player may take, including attacks on enemy forces (which, if successful, drive the targeted army back a space or two on their track). Most include additional resources or political elements that the player must manage while defending the capital. Levee en Masse, for instance – a simulation of the wars of the French Revolution – requires players to maintain (through die rolls) a correct balance between Republic, Monarchy, and Despotism ratings, which shift during the game in response to historical events. Some have special “chrome” that distinguishes them from other titles in the series. Ottoman Sunset, for example, has a game-within-a-game that begins when Britain's fleet tries to run the Bosporus-Dardanelles gauntlet, for which players can prepare in advance if they spend their scarce actions to build fortifications. Other games in the series cover the English Civil War, the defense of Canada during the Seven Years' War, and the Battle of Roarke's Drift, inter alia.
I mention this here because VPG has just released a States of Siege game on what I had thought was an impossible subject for a game, and one highly relevant to this blog and my readers: The Mound Builders. Yes, it's a war game about the Mississippian civilization! Here's an excerpt from the catalog:
“Until the arrival of the Spanish late in the game, you will expand your control across the map of North America, extending it over the various chiefdoms encountered, incorporating them into your economic and religious sphere. Your domain will grow and shrink, but be aware that rather than a military advance and retreat, this process represents the rise and decline of culture, religious ideology, and an economic way of life, [all] threatened from outside by competing ideologies and lifestyles as much as by hostile armies.”
In other words, it's a bit of a departure from previous States of Siege war games, in that it covers several centuries of time and simulates socio-economic as well as military conflict. And it's nothing like Risk, and thank goodness.
Needless to say, your humble narrator plans to order a copy of Mound Builders in the very near future, and in a forthcoming blog entry will let you know how it plays, and whether it is suitable for team play in a classroom setting.