Comments: In this game, Mauryans-2 were still owned by Green, Mauryans-3 by Purple and Mauryans-4 by Blue. Ephthalites were owned by Purple. Tibetans and Ahoms were not yet in the game. The Harappans were beaten quickly (though were finally eliminated only by Magadha), yellow gained monopoly of Ganges easily and dominated much of the game. It seems to be much more entertaining if Aryans-2 try to contest the control of Ganges, working together with the Harappans against Aryans-1, which was tried in the second test game. Aryans-2 should be awarded for this kind of bravery with extra points, like 3 points from Bundelkhand and other Ganges Income areas. Anyway, trying to please the yellow produces little points, so Aryans-2 have virtually nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain. Back to game 1: In the North Purple was very successful with Aryans-3 and Persians and Bactrians, eliminating Aryans-4 easily. When Gupta empire broke up, yellow tried to create a strong Malwa (at the cost of some victory points) and then recreate Gupta empire after moving east. The plan failed because Rajputs, Ephthalites and Guptas of Magadha fought back viciously. The threat of yet another powerful yellow kingdom scared everybody. Eventually Purple gained the Ganges areas. The Muslims were whittled down by Rajput resistance and didn't make much of an impression, their fighting with Purple only managing to smoothen the way for the Mughals who scored big. In the South Sinhalese and Cholas were high-scorers. It proved necessary to limit Chola migration to east. In game 2 yellow was less overwhelming and thanks to a powerful show by the Pandyas, Green secured 2:nd place. Because of Ephthalite co-operation Muslims had reasonable success in game 2, though still not reaching their historical limits (complaints of being understrentgh). The poor game balance was a great disappointment. It seems that only a totally incompetent and stupid newcomer can lose with Purple, while it is a great achievement if Blue doesn't come up last. Victory point turns seemed pretty absurd as Purple had up to 6 point scoring nations, when others had to make with two, one or none(Blue) ! It helps the balance somewhat if Ephthalites are given to Blue, in game two they were played as if they were, it didn't change much since co-operation with Purple was still deemed necessary before the arrival of the Muslims. Purple victory isn't in doubt, but Blues position is better. As counters Ephthalites can use French and Afghans, those pathetic Mauryans-4 use naturally Blue squares and boats, Afghans are wasted in them. As for your questions: Scythians and Malwa last as long as is proper (not too long), and there is no way Blue can score enough points to win.
Comments: No scores reported for many of the nations in this game. I tried the latest version of Maharaja with following results: Blue 187, Green 142½, Yellow 116, Purple 101½ As both Aryans-1 and Aryans-2 went to east as quickly as possible Harappans were left rather intact and consequently scored 40 points. Harappans are (surprisingly) far too powerful to be left alone. As Aryans-1 and 2 fought together Aryans-3 were annihilated by Harappans and Aryans-4. Muslims scored 60 and Kushans 31 , about half of Kushan points and third of Muslims points were direct result of co-operation with Ephthalites who scored 35 - I didn't count those Himalayas points. Muslims expanded effectively (and collected much points) in South India having 6 areas plus 2 submitted Pandya areas before Portuguese came. Muslims and Mughals didn't get far in east though where Guptas of Magadha and Malwa held to the end of game. Earlier Purples Persian-Ephthalite-Rajput combination was too effective but now Blues Muslim-Kushan-Ephthalite combination is likewise deadly. To break the combo I give Kushans to green, to help Purple I would give him Tibetans, whose strength must temporarily be much higher to allow a powerful attack into Ganges plain on turn 16 (earlier three normal armies and on turn 16 six "remove after turn" armies -mountains should not stop Tibetan movement). Purple should be able to score about 30 points with Tibetans (half on turn 16 for attacking Ganges plain and half for holding Himalayas, especially Nepal, on other turns). Yellow was so hard pressed, that Mauryan empire didn't split, there were not enough areas. Gradually Magadhas increased their strength and Guptas were quite respectable. Slight increase in early strength is in order so that Yellow can spread more rapidly, now Pandyas had lots of empty areas to expand to (they scored now 55½) and also to be better able to spare a couple of armies as Sinhalese. I propose adding one or two armies to Aryan-1 start forces. Hopefully these changes would bring everybody's score closer to balance (about 130).
Comments: 1. Damn good question. I had the Aryans-2 attack the Harappans fairly strongly, on the theory that if they went after Aryans-1, the Harappans would pick at them mercilessly for victory points. Yellow ended up nearly completely monopolizing the Magadha region until the Gupta breakup. I have a hunch, though, that even if Aryan-2 had gone after Aryan-1, the losses due to Harappan attacks would have kept Aryan-2 from doing too much serious damage to Aryan-1.
2. Well, as is obvious from the score of my game, Blue had no problems. There was some luck involved - the Kushan rolled very well and the Ephthalites fairly well. These two were able to leverage their positions, clearing the way for the Muslims while themselves occupying the Himalayas (where the Ephthalites racked up plenty of points). (Incidentally, I assumed that the Ephthalites were allowed to continue using the French counters even after their initial invasion, giving them a maximum population of 9). The Muslims were never seriously threatened.
3. Yellow didn't have much to do in the second half, as the Malwa fell before too long (they scored 5 in turn 16 but were gone before scoring in 19). Incidentally, your rules state that the Aryan & Mauryan successors can submit to the Guptas, but not the Magadha. Yellow seemed to be doing to well that I decided to let them submit to the Magadha. Otherwise, none of them would have been around to submit to the Gupta. The Scythians scored 3.5 in turn 10 but were gone before scoring in 13.
5. I didn't write down exactly what they had, but they scored 2 Raj points in 23. They were in very good shape. I was following the Mughal schedule on the Mughal victory card rather than the overall turn chart, so Timur and his Mughals invaded in 23. Since the Ephthalites and Muslims had enough units to stack the entrances, Timur didn't accomplish a whole lot.
1) Our Aryans-2 just attacked at 2-1 odds, which allowed a couple of Harappans to take the high road to Burma (were they sat out the rest of the game). This seemed OK at the time, and the Aryans-2 survived into mid-game.
2) The Blues won with a stomping 216 VPs! As they were weak in the early-mid game they were given slack by the other players, while my Yellows were attacked as I had 114 VPs by Turn 13. The Harappan, Mauryan, Kushan, Ephthalite and Muslim Alliance then swamped the board, holding sway over 30 areas at one point! The Rajputs only had 5 armies and 2 areas and were eliminated by the Kushan and Ephthalite hitmen on their first turn (I let them be small as the Aryans3 had carved out a large kingdom in Southern India and threatened to take the Ganges off the Magadha/Guptas). I think next time I will make a strong Rajput Kingdom in return for a non-aggression pact!
3) The Yellows were great until Turn 17, when the Malwa were wiped by the Blue Alliance. The Scythians were eliminated in their second turn for 0 VPs and the Malwa Kingdom did little in its brief reign. It was frustrating having the Sinhalese as my only nation, with excess armies, but unable to use them to grab VPs in Southern India. I do not think the Yellows need the Scythians, who were attacked by all at the get go because of the powerful Yellow position when they come on. Maybe they can be given to the Greens (who are weak at the time), in return the Greens can have the Malwa and the Yellows the Guptas of Magadha (using Guptas armies and breeding, which with the Ganges should keep them as a power longer and give the Yellow player something to do in the later game.
In this game, Yellow basically plowed through everything up until the Muslims arrived. Due to somewhat unclear instructions about what counters Malwa should use (the rules say that they flip Gupta counters over at the start, and then flip them back, which sounds like you should use Gupta counters. The card says to use Dutch square markers. I later found out from Rick Heli that the latter was the intention), I had them using Gupta counters, which means that they could grow strong again after the Gupta split up in turn 14 (with some creative stacking). This allowed them to stay alive a bit longer against the Muslim hordes, but also meant that the Rajputs and Guptas of Magadha had a hard time (2 points and 0 points, respecitively).
Another thing to note is that Mauryans-2 went down to south India and hid there the whole game. Seems to be a decent tactic, since there isn't that much opposition by the time they can get there.
Comments: Players were:
The course of the game can be tracked from here. The game was stopped in mid-course and then started anew. Some of the more interesting junctures:
From: Patrick Wamsley Mon Feb 2, 2004 7:45 am
This game is completely pointless now as you are so far ahead.
From: Jelley Phillip Mon Feb 2, 2004 8:06 am
I wondered who would be the first to admit it. There are still Jim's Mughals to come, but then I have the Elphalites and Muslims. Rather than carry on for 15 more turns do you all want to concede and start again. This variant or another?
From: Patrick Wamsley Date: Mon Feb 2, 2004 8:06 am
Subject: Balance Problems with This Variant
The original version of "Maharaja" had some serious design problems.
Here's my personal list:
While the "pre-gunpowder" variant is better, it's evident to me that there are still some problems. These comments are unrelated to the incredibly skewed dice results I've received in the current game.
In the first century B.C. the northern Deccan contributed more fully to the history of the sub-continent, with the rise of the Satvahana dynasty . . . also referred to as the Andhra dynasty, and it is they who gave the name to the region . . . They established their power during the general confusion caused by the decline of the Mauryan empire.In game terms, I suppose the Satvahanas are one of the Mauryan fragment kingdoms.
The decline of the Greek kingdoms in the north-west coincided with an attack on Bactria itself by nomadic tribes from central Asia. These tribes included the Scythians. The movement of these tribes westwards originated with the activities of the Chinese emperor Shi Huang Ti . . . the Yuch-chi had to flee far across the continent . . . to the shores of the Aral Sea, where they stopped for a while, displacing the inhabitants of the region, the Scythians, or the Shakas as they were called in Indian sources.Shakas = Scythians and Yueh-chi = Kushans
The Shakas poured into Bactria and Parthia . . . using the Bolan Pass (near Quetta), the Shakas swept down into the Indus valley, and settled in western India, their power eventually reaching as far as Mathura (in the neighbourhood of Delhi) and Gandhara in the north.If anything, the Shakas (Scythians) might be linked to the Persians.
Shaka administration was broadly similar to that of the Achaemenid ... The kingdom was divided into provinces each under a military governor called mahakshatrapa (great Satrap) . . .Next, the invasion of the Kushanas into India. They did not head very far into the Ganges Valley as the Kushan rulers were more interested in maintaining control of trade routes in Central Asia.
The Shakas were destined once more to be driven out by the Yueh-chi. The Chinese historian Ssu-ma-chien records that a Yuch-chi chief, Kujula Khadphises, united the five tribes of the Yuch-chi and led them over the northern mountains into the Indian sub-continent, >establishing himself in Kabul and Kashmir . . . Kanishka was the greatest ruler of the Kushan Empire, which flourished in what is now Pakistan, Afghanistan, and northwest India from about A.D. 50 to the mid-200's . . . The Kushana kingdom extended southwards as far as Sanchi, and to the east as far as Banaras . . .The Kushans were not a unified force. Also, they were weakened by a major Sassanid Persian invasion, not well depicted in this game.
The successors of Kanishka ruled for a hundred and fifty years, but Kushana power gradually diminished. Events in Persia were once again to intervene in the history of north western India. In A.D. 226 Ardashir overthrew the Parthians and established Sassanian ascendancy. His successor conquered Peshawar and Taxila in the mid third century and the Kushana kings were reduced to subsidiaries of the Sassanians.Three armies in Turn 12 is too small a force to make anyone a subsidiary of the Sassanid Persians.
The coming of the Kushanas had pushed the Shakas south into the region of Cutch, Kathiawar, and Malwa in western India. Here they dramatically burst into the Indian political scene in the mid second century under Rudradaman. With the weakening of Kushana power after the death of Kanishka, the Shakas once more asserted themselves . . .Unless they are incredibly lucky, the Scythians will not even exist in Turn 12. Perhaps they should be allowed to submit to the Kushans?
I see no point in continuing given Blue's obvious edge. Regardless of the abnormal dice results in this game, there does seem to be a serious play balance problem. Right now, I'd say that the most serious problem is the Blue Aryan faction. Unless the Harappans are exterminated in the first two turns, Blue can quickly establish a commanding position on the board.
From: Jelley Phillip Date: Mon Feb 2, 2004 8:38 am
True, but there were some other problems. The Aryans-1, Aryans-2 and Aryans-3 all failed to kill off the Harappans in the first three turns, which they should have done. Instead they just attacked enough to get by, and even then the Aryans-2 just hung about in the Himalayas doing little. They should have wiped the harappans and driven South (as my Harappans did). Only I tried to organise my kingdoms so as to help each other, nobody else did as I recall. I was therefore able to group together and wipe out all contenders in the Indus Valley. A risky strategy as all the invasions come that way, but the Persians, Greeks and Scythians all attacked each other, which made it easier. Everyone else I have to say was very sluggish in their play. I was amazed that the Aryans-1 didn't expand much into South India and breed as much as possible. The real turning point was the Kushan Invasion. Despite the Mauryan & Magadha breeding frenzy the Kushan beat them as a) I trapped 4 armies in Malwa with a leader & 5 Kushans b) twice the Magadha overpopulated and lost 3 armies and c) my Kushans took 2 areas each turn, whereas the Magadha only took one, thus they were moved East. Bad die rolls yes, but 4-2 and 3-2 attacks are supposed to work, especially if forcing a retreat loses the defender an extra army from lack of Ganges Breeding. The 27 army Magadha should have dominated the Ganges Valley and beaten the 12 army Kushans.
I am willing to try again, you three chose colours, I shall take the other,
From: Patrick Wamsley Date: Mon Feb 2, 2004 9:43 am
The Aryans-1 need to get to the Ganges Valley as quickly as possible. Thus, destroying Harappans isn't their top priority.
The Aryans-2 did restrain Aryans-1 expansion a bit, as they threated to move into the Ganges Valley.
Definitely true, they should have wiped the Harappans. I recall a game using the old version of Maharaja in which the Harappans also survived as a major power. This is something that should not happen in this game. It's almost as bad as having the Belgae become Bretwalda in the original "Britannia" game.
I used the Mauryans to set up the Sinhalese. However, the Sinhalese could not expand far because they are limited to only five armies.
Aryan-1 expansion into South India turned into Sinhalese armies, which cannot breed. The Cholas obstructed Aryan-1 expansion further north.
The Kushan invasion was greatly helped by the disastrous Scythian invasion. Due to bad dice rolls, almost all Scythian attackers were eliminated. The resulting vacuum left NW India wide open for the Kushans.
From: Jelley Phillip Date: Mon Feb 2, 2004 10:42 am
I think the Aryans need to be stronger, therefore eliminating the Harappans before the Aryans-4 show:
T1 8 Aryans-1 in Central Asia & Major Invasion
T1 8 Aryans-2 in Afghanistan & Major Invasion
T2 8 Aryans-3 in Central Asia & Major Invasion
T3 8 Aryans-4 in Central Asia & Major Invasion
It really depends who is Blue of course. I recall writing to Rick Heli about this a couple of years ago after a game of this variant, but I forget what I recommended. Swopping Scythians and Hephalites between the Yellows and Blues as I recall, but we didn't get that far.
At this point the game was re-started:
From: Patrick Wamsley Date: Thu Apr 22, 2004 8:58 am
The BBC website has an interesting article this week on an ancient city in Central Asia. Supposedly, it was once the Kushan capital. According to other sources, the city was built by the Bactrian Greeks but later modified by semi-Hellenized Tocharian tribes migrating west from China.
See "Uzbekistan's Best Kept Secret"
"Central Asia Before Islam" http://www.britac.ac.uk/events/programmes/2004/abstracts/asia-rtveladze.html
From: Patrick Wamsley Date: Fri May 20, 2005 12:17 pm
What is your opinion of the Yellow faction, both in the original "Maharaja" and in the modified version? Does the game still need further modification? For example, should the Mauryan and Gupta Empires be controlled the same player? While the Romans and Romano-British are assigned to the same person in "Britannia," the Romano-British are not a major power located in the same position as their predecessor.
A) Was the Gupta Empire really a continuation of the Mauryan Empire?
Here are some obvious problems with this assumption:
History of the Mauryan and Gupta Periods:>The Mauryan Empire started to dissolve in 232 B.C. >It collapsed entirely when Brhadrata was assassinated in 185 B.C. >The Gupta Empire did not become important until the 4th century A.D. >Thus, there is a gap of ~500 years between the two empires.
>Many empires filled the gap between the Mauryans and Guptas in northern India.
>Satavahana [Buddhist] kingdom of Andhra, 230 B.C. - 250 A.D. >Kuninda [Buddhist] kingdom, 200 B.C. - 300 A.D. >Sunga Empire [Hindu] of the lower Ganges Valley, 185-73 B.C. >Indo-Greek [Buddhist] kingdoms, 180 B.C. - 10 A.D. >Kushan [Buddhist] Empire, 135 B.C. - 270 A.D. >Indo-Scythian kingdom, 90 B.C. - 10 A.D. >Indo-Parthian kingdom, 20 A.D. - 135 A.D. >Western Satraps, 35 A.D. - 405 A.D.
From: Philip Jelley Date: Fri May 20, 2005 2:14 pm
Jim & Pat,