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 #6: A New Calculus
Even though a game of Vijayanagara may only take 90 minutes to play, the historical time spanned by the game is over a century. Each turn in the game, organized by Event cards, is meant to represent the passing of about 5 years of time. While there were many dramatic moments in the Indian subcontinent in the 14th century, some very important developments – not only for India but for the world – were a lot quieter.
Narayana Pandita was a mathematician from North India who is believed to have written a major mathematical treatise, the Ganitakaumudi (“Moonlight of Mathematics”), in 1356, which covered a wide array of arithmetic calculations. The text, one of a number of his written works, is divided into 14 chapters and contains 395 illustrative examples, on topics including: weights and measures; partnership, sales and interest; sequences and series; geometry of plane figures; excavations; mounds of grain; shadow problems; linear indeterminate equations; quadratic indeterminate equations; factorisation; unit fractions; combinatorics; and magic squares, all complete with commentary and solutions. One example problem from the book is “What is the number of cows at the end of 20 years, starting with one cow that gives birth to one calf every year and every calf in turn beginning to reproduce at the age of 3 years?” *
At around the same time India would see the birth of the Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics. Founded by Madhava of Sangamagrama, this school would produce some of the most advanced mathematical insights in the medieval world, including such important concepts as the infinite series representation of functions and other techniques which now fall in the domain of Calculus, the mathematical study of change. These discoveries predated some of the same advances in Europe by two centuries.
The card “A New Calculus” presents the players with two Events, 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 Sultanate may benefit from the Narayana Pandita’s mathematical treatises, whose calculations could have been used to solve an array of logistical puzzles, including more efficient resource management and deployment of armies on a large scale and across long distances. The specifics of the troop deployment offered to the Sultanate player is a geometric progression similar to the cow problem above, which is a tiny Easter egg in the game.
The unshaded Event, which tends to benefit one or both of the rebelling factions in the game, is a nod to the Kerala School; in this case either the Vijayanagara Empire or Bahmani Kingdom might have benefitted from similar mathematical advances to aid in infrastructure development – here the selecting faction can construct a Fort or Temple more efficiently than usual (i.e. for free), and remain Eligible, so that they may act again on the next Event card to come.
* The answer is 2,745 cows, or “too many cows.” For more, see https://www.maa.org/press/periodicals/convergence/geometrical-representation-of-arithmetic-series-introduction
Well, we have finally come to the end of our series covering some of the history behind the event cards in Vijayanagara. You can catch up on 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 have reached out to the design and development team and will be posting our interview on the blog in early July.
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