As you know, I love the COIN Series and anything associated with it. In the March Monthly Update from GMT Games, a new series was announced as well as the first game in that series. This new game is not a COIN Series game but it shares some of the same elements. In Fall 2020, there was a game design contest held called Consim Game Jam where designers had to repurpose a COIN Series game and it’s components and make a new playable game in about 48 hours! The game that won the competition was called Vijayanagara: The Deccan Empires of Medieval India, 1290-1398. The game is an asymmetric 1-3 player game depicting the epic, century-long rise and fall of medieval kingdoms in India over two dynastic periods. Since winning the contest, the team has continued to roll up their sleeves and continue the hard work of focusing the design and developing the final playable product to be published by GMT Games.
The Irregular Conflicts Series, of which Vijayanagara is the first volume, attempts to bring some of the mechanics of the COIN Series to bear on conflicts that are just outside the Counterinsurgency-based model of COIN. If you want to better understand this new series, you can read the excellent InsideGMT Blog post by Jason Carr at the following link: http://www.insidegmt.com/2021/03/what-is-the-irregular-conflicts-series/
We have agreed to provide a home for this series of quick articles on the History Behind the Cards involved in the game as they game continues to move through development and playtesting. We are lucky to be able to bring these articles to you and will be hosting a series of at least 6 posts over the next few months (I am hoping to do more!). This project is being led by Joe Dewhurst as developer and the design team includes Saverio Spagnolie, Mathieu Johnson, Cory Graham and Aman Matthews.
*Note: The cards and their event text, as well as any pictures used showing any of the various components, are still just the prototype version which is only intended for playtesting purposes and the design and event effects and text might still change prior to final development and publication.
History Behind the Cards #2: Uprising in Daulatabad
In the previous article, we saw how the decision of the Delhi Sultanate to relocate its capital from Delhi to Devagiri (renaming it Daulatabad) resulted in the resentment of Delhi’s elite nobles. In 1337 the Sultan abandoned his vision of Daulatabad and sought to reverse this expansion, returning again to Delhi and ordering the nobles back along with him.
With the Delhi Sultanate shrinking back to the north, the revolts in the Deccan Plateau would accelerate. Muhammad bin Tughlaq could not hold all the rebellions at bay, and by forcefully tamping them down bent some provinces to the breaking point. In 1345, in order to send a message to other potential rebels, 89 amirs were seized, accused of causing all of the rebellions across the south, and executed. The remaining amirs of Daulatabad, Gujarat, and adjoining districts revolted in unison, uniting together to assert their independence from Delhi in 1346, ceasing the payment of tribute and daring Delhi to respond.
And respond he would – a year later the Sultan marched an army back south to Daulatabad. Although the Sultan would face 30,000 troops and an elite Deccan bodyguard 6,000 cavalry strong, on this day the forces of Delhi prevailed and the Deccan army reeled in defeat. Changing course, Muhammand bin Tughlaq, in control of Daulatabad once again, gave amnesty to all political prisoners there.
But Delhi’s strength in the south was still fading. Two months later, along with a force of 1500 cavalry sent by the Raja of Telangana, Zafar Khan, once a Governor in the service of the Tughlaq Sultan, rode out of Gulbarga and into Daulatabad, expelling the Delhi Sultanate’s troops from the city once again. The kingship of Zafar Khan had begun, crowned with the title of Sikandar-i-Sani Ala-ud Din Hasan Bahman Shah al-Wali, and legitimized by the Sufi Shaikh Siraju’d-din Junaidi on Friday March 8, 1347.
These events marked the birth of a new and dominant entity in the Indian Peninsula. Over the next century it would rise to prominence as a center of high culture, growing rapidly by trade with central Asia and neighboring kingdoms and attracting great minds from afar, its position well defended by a well-trained cavalry and advanced military technologies. Narratives supporting the legitimacy of the new seat of power would spread as origin stories, or foundational myths, propagated outward throughout the Deccan and across the oceans. One of the great Deccan Empires of medieval India, the Bahmani Kingdom, had arrived.
The “Uprising in Daulatabad” card offers two Event options, either (or neither) of which may be chosen by the factions in the game in place of standard actions (Commands and Decrees). The shaded Event tends to be favorable to the Delhi Sultanate – here the Sultan benefits from the removal of potential rivals, replacing Bahmani Amirs with 2 Sultanate Troop units each near Devagiri (renamed to Daulatabad during the move of the capital, but marked as Devagiri on the map), and allows the Sultanate player to remain Eligible, so that they may also play on the subsequent Event card.
Meanwhile, the unshaded Event, which tends to benefit one or both of the rebelling factions in the game, this time is a strong Event for the Bahmani player. One of Delhi’s Qasbahs or one of Vijayanagara’s Temples may be replaced by a Fort, and two Bahmani Amirs are placed adjacent to Devagiri, providing the Bahmani Sultanate a substantial defensive position in the heart of the Deccan.
In the next article we will start to see what happens to the Kakatiya Empire as they fall behind in tribute.
You can catch up to the posts in this series to date by following the below links:
I for one am very interested in this one and cannot wait to get more information on the mechanics and history as they work on the game. In addition to hosting this History Behind the Cards Series, I will reach out to the design and development team and try to get an interview up on the blog pretty quickly.
If you are interested in Vijayanagara: The Deccan Empires of Medieval India, 1290-1398, you can pre-order a copy for the special P500 price of $54.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-918-vijayanagara-the-deccan-empires-of-medieval-india-1290-1398.aspx