DANCING CONGRESS

By Brian Cameron

London - 1st June 2019

 

The Congress of Vienna 1815

After the defeat of Napoleon the rulers of Europe gather to decide the fate of nations

Game Concepts

1814 and Napoleon Bonaparte, the so-called 'Ogre of Europe', has been defeated by the Allied Nations! The wars which have ravaged Europe for 20 years are over. During that time the boundaries of European countries have been drawn and redrawn. Many states which existed at the start of the war no longer do so, a number of new states have been formed and the boundaries of virtually all have been altered.


With the final defeat of Napoleon and France occupied, the great and good of the powers who allied against Napoleon - Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, Austria - along with a number of the smaller powers are meeting in Vienna to draw the map of Europe once again. Europe as it is mapped out at Vienna will be the foundation for a balance of power between all the states so that peace will endure for decades. It is thus recognised that France, restored to its former rulers, will have a part to play in that peace and is thus also represented at the Congress.


There won't be any military operations; all the powers are too exhausted by the long struggle to continue military operations. Failure to agree by the end of the game will pose a threat to the existence of the powers represented in the game as the forces of nationalism and liberalism are loosed once more. There is thus an incentive to reach a final agreement.
The game thus has both a cooperative aspect (the players must reach an agreement or they all lose) and a competitive one (in which teams attempt to achieve as many of their objectives as possible).

What are the player roles? Players will be organised into teams representing Great Britain, France, Prussia, Russia and Austria. There will be a number of smaller teams to represent the lesser powers of eg the Papacy, Spain and Savoy (full list below).

What are the players doing? They are negotiating with the other teams to agree a series of deals which involve swapping, gaining and possibly losing territories so that a compromise is agreed which meets at least the minimum objectives of each team and produces a balance of power between the larger powers. In agreeing changes of boundaries and territory, teams will have to consider a number of aspects: historical claims, connection of new territories to established territories, population and the navigation of rivers (which are important for trade). The fate of a large number of overseas colonies must also be determined.
Each team has a brief as to which territories they desire and the preference for the fate of other areas.

How will the game operate? Each team will have a table at which its members can meet and discuss progress towards their objectives (there will be a period in each turn during the player must return to their team table. There will also be a large table for a plenary session and small tables at which bilateral and multilateral discussions can be held. A number of maps which illustrate the boundaries of Europe and the ownership of colonies prior to the war, at critical stages of the war and the current state. Small versions of the map will aid the discussions and a large map on the plenary table will be updated to reflect agreements made.
It will be for the player decide how the discussions proceed; as few issues impact all the powers, it will be possible to set up sub-committees if desired.


Is this a new game? The game has run twice previously, in 1998 and 2006. Based on that experience of those games and the 12 years of designing since then, some changes will be made to the game team briefings to provide further information which will enable them to better judge the relative value of various possible deals. New maps are being produced to bring them up to modern standards.


You might like this game if you liked: the Washington Conference megagame; historical games in general.

Player Teams / Numbers


Great Britain 5
France 5
Prussia 5
Austria 5
Russia 5
Bavaria 3
Holland 3
Papacy 3
Savoy 3
Spain 3
Sweden 3


With only a small control team required, this is a relatively small game (45) by comparison with many megagames these days so get in quick if it sounds like your glass of wine.
Note: The Congress of Vienna was also referred to as The Dancing Congress because of the immense number of balls and entertainments arranged for the vast number of distinguished delegates.

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