AGE OF IRON is an abstract simulation of empire development in the Ancient world. You control a country and use its resources to expand and develop it. You earn Victory Points by reaching certain objectives. The player with the most Victory Points at the end of the game wins.


The class is divided into groups. Each group has a moderator who runs the game and keeps records for that group. Each remaining student takes a country. The moderator and the players receive Scenario Instructions.


AOI is played in Game-turns. A Game-turn proceeds as follows:

First, up to 10 minutes per turn are allocated for negotiation among the players. Then the first player receives Resource Factors (RFs) and deploys them. The number of RFs each player receives is specified in the Scenario Instructions. The player then conducts attacks against other players' RFs, upgrades his civilization, or engages in trade with the other players. All of this takes place on the Game Chart. This completes the player's turn.

The remaining players receive RFs, deploy RFs, and then make attacks with their RFs in the sequence given in the Scenario Instructions. Players may also develop their civilization and engage in commerce with the other players.

When all of the players have taken their turns, one Game-turn has been completed.

Each game lasts 6 Game-turns. The game is over after all of these have been done. The players total their Victory Points and the winner is determined.


Resource Factors (RFs) represent a country's military, political, diplomatic and economic strength, and its willingness to use it. RFs are similar to the pieces in Risk and checkers.

Your goal is to attain the objectives listed for your country in the Scenario Instructions. You do this by deploying RFs. Each turn you will receive a certain number of RFs. You then deploy your RFs wherever you wish. You may put RFs in your own country, another player's country, or in a territory not represented by a player. You must use all RFs received on that turn in that turn. After deployment, you cannot move RFs. You cannot give them to another player. After deployment you may use your RFs to attack RFs belonging to another player.

To deploy RFs, tell the moderator where you want to put them. The moderator will then record your deployments on the Game Chart in your country's column in accordance with your instructions.


One of your goals is to conquer territory. You do this by using RFs to attack your opponents. These attacks represent everything from simple threats to major invasions. Attacking is never required. Attacks can be made when you and another player have RFs in the same country or territory. In other words, you attack horizontally on the Game Chart. You attack by first indicating your target (the defender). Both you and the defender then remove an equal number of RFs. You decide how many RFs are removed. The moderator records these activities on the Game Chart.

After you are finished with this attack, you may attack a different opponent's RFs in that territory if you have any RFs left there. You may attack in as many countries or territories as you wish, as long as you have RFs in them.


You have a Presence in a country or territory when you have at least 5 RFs there at the end of the game. A Presence represents situations such as trade agreements, spheres of influence, alliances, satellites, or annexations. More than one player can have a Presence in a country or territory.

You usually achieve Victory Points by obtaining a Presence in certain countries or territories. Sometimes you can earn Victory Points by preventing a Presence. You can never have more than one Presence in any region. The Victory Points for an objective depend on its historical importance to the country involved.


Your second major goal is to develop your empire's Civilization Level. You can achieve VPs for doing this. On the Game Chart you will find a Civilization Chart. You win VPs every time your civilization moves up a level. You go up one level every time you put 10 RFs in a box. For example, once you have put 10 RFs in the Level I box, you have completed that Level and can start putting RFs in the Level II box. Attacking is not allowed on this chart.


Your third major goal is to trade with the other players. Each country has one type of trade good. For example, Egypt has Grain (abbreviated as G on the Game Chart) and Assyria has Tin (T). In the Four-Player Game each player has four of these items. In the Five-Player one each player has five.

Your goal is to get a complete set of trade goods. For example, in the Four-Player game you want to have four different trade goods by the end of the game.

To trade, you make an offer to another player. For example, Egypt can offer to trade one Grain to Assyria for one Tin. If Assyria accepts then Egypt crosses one Grain (G) off its column in the For trade section of the Trade Chart and adds a T (for Tin) below it in the Acquired row. Assyria eliminates one T and adds on G.

Commerce is voluntary. You can trade with anyone and make any kind of deal you want. For example, if Assyria refuses to trade Tin to Egypt, but Babylon has Tin from a previous trade, Egypt can swap Grain for Tin with Babylon instead.

It does not cost any RFs to trade. You cannot trade with and attack a player on the same Game-Turn.


You cannot win AOI unless you negotiate with the other players. Whoever makes the best deals usually wins. However, trust no one! Lies, betrayals, threats, broken deals, and bluffs are all allowed and encouraged. It is recommended that you look through Machiavelli's The Prince before the exercise. If you have any bad qualities as a human being, this might be a good time to use them.


A game of AOI normally lasts 6 Game-turns, unless specified otherwise in the scenario. After the last Game-turn, the players compare their RF deployments with their objectives listed in the Scenario Instructions to determine their Victory Points. More than one player can receive Victory Points for a territory. Players also check their Civilization levels and Trade situations to see if they earned points from those. The player with the most Victory Points at the end wins.


AOI is designed by Peter L. de Rosa. It is based on Ancient Near East which covers the same era from a different perspective. AOI's title was suggested by Professor Michael Ierardi of Bridgewater State University.

AGE OF IRON is Copyright, 2012, by Peter L. de Rosa. All rights reserved. Reproduction allowed for nonprofit educational use as long as this copyright notice is included.


Any of the following can be used either singly or in combinations. Make sure everyone knows which rules are being used in a particular game.

RFs can be deployed simultaneously. The players write their deployments out and give them to the moderator who will record all of them at that time. Resolve conflict in the normal player-order. Repeat this each turn.

Allow players to communicate with each other only through written messages.

Normally, one player controls one country. To simulate the problems some countries have in making decisions, more than one player can be assigned to a nation where internal disunity was a significant factor.

The instructor can require all players to record their diplomatic contacts with other players. They are collected at the end of the game. Information from these records (documents) can be surprising.

Any game can be lengthened beyond 6 turns at the instructor's discretion.

If a player has a Presence in your home country, you must remove that Presence before attacking him elsewhere.

If one player has 10 RFs in a territory, and no other player has any RFs there at all, then the first one has Control of that territory and no player can deploy RFs there for the rest of the game. Two players can agree to split Control of a territory, but they both must establish Presences there in the same Game-turn. Both players get Victory Points in this situation.

An attacker loses one less RF in an attack than the defender. For example, the attacker could destroy 4 defending RFs, while losing only 3.


To make Conflict Resolution more unpredictable, resolve attacks as follows:

After RF deployment, the attacker identifies the defender. The number of the attacker's RFs is compared to the number of the defender's RFs and the odds are computed. Divide the number of the attacker's RFs by the number of the defender's RFs to get a ratio. For example, 10 RFs attacking 5 RFs would be 2 to 1. Always drop fractions. For example, 14 RFs against 5 RFs would still be 2 to 1. 15 vs. 5 would be 3 to 1.

After computation, roll a die and resolve attacks on the following table:

Die Roll 1-2 1-1 2-1 3-14-15-1+
1 X D D D D D
2 X X D D D D
3 X X X D D D
4 A X X X D D
5 A X X X X D
6 A A X X X X

Example of Play

After several Game-turns, the situation on the Scenario Chart looks like this:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 5 10 8 5
Yurt 6 - 2 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Ariel gets 10 RFs per turn. He puts 5 in Xenophobia and 5 in Yurt:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 10 10 8 5
Yurt 11 - 2 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Ariel then attacks Beauregard in Xenophobia with 5 RFs (each loses 5 RFs) and Chas in Yurt with 2 RFs:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 5 5 8 5
Yurt 9 - 0 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Ariel next attacks Chas in Xenophobia with 2 RFs. (remove 2 RFs from each):

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 6 5
Yurt 9 - - 5
Zen - 5 - 11

Now is Beauregard's turn. He gets 15 RFs. He puts 4 in Yurt and 11 in Zen:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 6 5
Yurt 9 4 - 5
Zen - 16 - 11

Beauregard then attacks Ariel in Yurt with 4 RFs, and Dirk in Zen with 11:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 6 5
Yurt 5 0 - 5
Zen - 5 - 0

Chas now receives 20 RFs. He puts them in Xenophobia:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 26 5
Yurt 5 - - 5
Zen - 5 - -

Chas attacks Dirk with 5 RFs, and then Beauregard with 5 RFs, all in Xenophobia:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 0 16 0
Yurt 5 - - 5
Zen - 5 - -

If this were the end of the game, Chas would have a Presence in Xenophobia, Ariel and Dirk would have Presences in Yurt, and Beauregard would have one in Zen.

1800 B.C. Scenario: Instructions, Charts
900 B.C. Scenario: Instructions, Charts
Chronology. (from Ancient Near East)



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