OLD WORLD is an abstract simulation of national, commercial, and cultural expansion in Eurasia and Africa before 1500. You control a region (representing several empires over time) and use its resources to 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 game is played on two Game Charts which represent various geographical regions


The class is divided into groups. Each student takes a region. Each group has a moderator who runs the game and keeps records for the group.


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

First, the players check the Scenario Instructions for any special rules which apply to a particular Game-turn. Then, up to 10 minutes per turn are allocated for negotiation among the players.

Next, 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 may conduct attacks against the other players' RFs. All of this takes place on the Game Charts. 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. 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 completed. The players total their Victory Points and the winner is determined.


Resource Factors (RFs) represent a region'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 region 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 region, another player's region, or in a territory not represented by a player. You must use all RFs received on that turn in that turn. You cannot move RFs after deployment. 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 Charts in your region's column in accordance with your instructions. In effect, you deploy RFs vertically on the Charts.

An X on any of the charts means that you cannot deploy RFs in that box.


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 region. 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 regions as you wish, as long as you have RFs in them.

You cannot attack a player unless he has a positive number of RFs in that particular region. You cannot reduce a player to less than zero RFs through an attack.


You have a Presence in a 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, annexations or religious conversions. More than one player can have a Presence in a region.

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


During the game, some areas will have a negative number of RFs. These usually indicate unruly domestic opponents, natural disasters, or foreign adversaries. To establish Presences in these territories, you must deploy enough RFs to overcome this. For example, if Europe wants to get a Presence in an area that drops to -10 RFs due to some problem, the European player must deploy at least 15 RFs there to establish a Presence. In effect, you must attack the negative RFs and remove them before doing anything else in that area.


Your second goal is to develop your region's commerce and spread your religion and culture. On the Game Chart page you will find a Trade and Culture Chart. You can win VPs by establishing Presences in these boxes. Since these types of interaction tend to be nonviolent (not always of course) players may not attack each other on this chart.


The Game Chart represents the core areas of the major powers plus associated borderlands. The Trade and Culture Chart represents civilization development, internal stability, the spread of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, and commercial expansion.

Areas on the Trade and Culture Chart include:
Americas: North and South America
Mediterranean: Southern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa
Arabian Sea: Eastern Africa, Arabia, Persian Gulf region, Western India
Indian Ocean: Eastern India, western Southeast Asia and the East Indies
Silk Road: commercial centers stretching from the Black Sea and the Middle East to India and China
Western Pacific: Japan, Korea, China coast, Indochina


You cannot win OLD WORLD 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, a book inspired by all of this, before the exercise. If you have any bad qualities as a human being, this would be a good time to use them.


A game of OLD WORLD 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. The player with the most Victory Points at the end wins.


OLD WORLD is based on STRATAGEM, an abstract military and diplomatic game. It is designed by Peter L. de Rosa and is published in Academic Gaming Review here.

OLD WORLD is Copyright, 2009, 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 region. To simulate the problems some governments have in making decisions, more than one player can be assigned to a area 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 region, you must remove that Presence before attacking him elsewhere.

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.


Central Asia is not played by anyone is this version. Instead, at the beginning of the game, deploy Central Asia's RFs as follows: 15 in her European box, 20 in the Middle East, 15 in India, 20 in China, 5 in Southeast Asia, 5 in East Asia, and 5 each in the Internal and Silk Road boxes on the Trade and Culture Chart. Central Asia does not receive the extra Turn 5 RFs in this game.

Central Asia's RFs can be attacked by the normal procedure. At the end of the game, assign VPs to Central Asia as per the standard rules. Note that it is possible for Central Asia to win the game against human players


To simulate the early stages of the Age of Exploration, add a seventh turn to the game and make the following modifications:

Europe gets 25 RFs on this turn and moves last.
Europe receives points for presences as follows: India--3, China--2, Africa--2, Southeast Asia--2, Americas--3.
China and India can each get 10 VPs for not having European presences in their regions.
The Middle East receives 12 VPs for not allowing a European presence.
Note that players, except for Central Asia, can now earn as many as 40 VPs in the game.

This scenario is basically a lock for the European player, but it does simulate the Sixteenth Century reasonably well.


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


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 this 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 15 RFs. He puts them in Xenophobia:

Ariel Beauregard Chas Dirk
Xenophobia 3 5 21 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 11 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.