We have agreed to host a series of posts written by David Thompson on the blog about his upcoming design Europe Divided published by PHALANX and coming to Kickstarter on June 10th. As you know, we have hosted a few different series of Event Card spoilers over the past year or so with All Bridges Burning and People Power both from GMT Games as well as a recent CDG focused on the Barbary Coast War in The Shores of Tripoli from Fort Circle Games. I really love the Card Driven Game mechanic and frankly any game that uses cards as a primary engine. So keep an eye out for several of these posts leading up to the Kickstarter campaign start that focus on the history behind the game and how the cards are used.
Europe Divided – a Game Deeply Rooted in Recent History
The threat of world war is no more. — Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev
The end of the Cold War ushered in a new age of European expansion. Central and Eastern Europe had emerged from dictatorships and wanted to consolidate their democracies. They sought European integration to ensure they would not fall back into the Russian sphere of influence. The EU and NATO offered a guarantee of this, and the EU was also seen as vital to ensuring the economic success of those countries. Russia — a shell of its former power as the Soviet Union — could do nothing to slow the European expansion.
A strong EU, a strong NATO, and a true strategic partnership between them is profoundly in our interest. — US Senator John McCain
But then things changed. Oil prices increased, bolstering Russia’s economy. Putin came to power, and despite political discontent in Russia, his popularity remained strong. In 2008, war broke out between Russia and the NATO-aspirant, former Soviet country of Georgia. Russia’s resurgence had begun, exemplified by the 2014 annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine.
If we do not win the New Cold War on terms of our choosing, we will ﬁght at a time and place chosen by our adversary, and the odds will be tilted against us. — Edward Lucas former Moscow Bureau Chief for The Economist
Europe Divided is a game of an expansionist Europe, a resurgent Russia, and a new Cold War. In the game, you control of one of the two powers: Europe (controlling both NATO and the European Union) or Russia. You manage conflicts of political and military influence, vying for control over Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Caucasus. Europe is powerful and rich, but bureaucratic and slow to react. Russia lacks Europe’s resources, but can respond rapidly.
Europe Divided takes place over two periods: 1992-2008 (European Expansion) and 2008-2019 (Russian Resurgence). Players score victory points by having dominant influence in contested countries in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Caucasus. They can also score victory points by bringing key historical events to fruition. The player with the most victory points at the end of the two periods wins.
Europe Divided is rich with history and includes today’s potential flashpoints, but it features a quick-playing card-driven core mechanism. Players use cards associated with countries they control to establish political and military influence, gain money, and build and deploy their military presence. An elegant deck-manipulation mechanism weakens players’ decks as they increase their influence, creating a tension point between seeking to expand and overreaching. Players also compete over key political events throughout the game. Will the Velvet Revolution result in the split of the Czech Republic and Slovakia? How will the Bosnian War end? The players will decide the fate of history throughout this period of Europe Divided.
This is the first in a series of blog posts that features some of the Headline Cards — the key historical events — that drive the action in Europe Divided. If you’re interested in the evolution of the design, or reading a detailed play through of the game, you can head over to BGG: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2195790/europe-divided-post-cold-war-influence-over-europe
As mentioned before, the game begins during a period of European expansionism. In this first blog post, let’s take a detailed look at one of the Headline Cards from this period: the Visegrád Group.
Central European nations Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia form an economic and military alliance. Joint energy policies and greater integration with the EU are also in sight.
In 1991, leaders from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland held a summit in the Hungarian castle-town of Visegrád, where they established the Visegrád Group as a cultural, political, military, and economic alliance. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia became independent members of the group, increasing its number to four. Eventually all four members would go on to join the EU and NATO.
In the game, the EU must have more influence than Russia in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary for the headline card to be completed. If the headline is accomplished, Europe scores 4 victory points. Four victory points is the most any headline card in the game scores. This is due to the difficulty in having more influence than your opponent in three different regions. Thus, establishing the Visegrád Group is a critical goal for the Europe player.
Thank you for your time in writing these posts for our readers David. The game looks very interesting and is sure to be a winner with its focus on the new Cold War and the use of these fantastic Headline Cards grounded in the history of the past 30 years. If you want to find out more about the game and how it works, check out our interview with codesigner David Thompson.
There will be more posts to come so keep an eye out.