Notes from the Designer #1

“Chandra-” who?

From the days of the Rig Veda (1500 BCE) to the Umayyad Caliphate (711 CE), the history of ancient India is replete with foreign invasions and the rise and fall of kingdoms and republics. Of the many generals who defended their homelands or forged new empires through conquest – names familiar to students of Indian history like Porus, Agnitmitra and Skandagupta, Anandapala and Prithviraja – one of the most conspicuous is Chandragupta Maurya. The empire Chandragupta founded would become, in a span of less than 60 years, the largest and most powerful in India’s history. It was a distinction that would remain unchallenged for nearly two millennia. Given this auspicious history, and the fact that the major battles of the Mauryan era were roughly contemporaneous with Alexander the Great and the Diadochoi, I believed that a game focusing on the Mauryan era would be an exciting addition to GMT’s Great Battles of History (GBoH) series.

My primary motivation for designing Chandragupta, however, was to introduce the long-neglected civilization of ancient India to the hobby. To my knowledge, no operational-scale hex-and-counter conflict simulation has ever been published that focuses exclusively on the ancient Indian military system. And if Chandragupta is successful, the hobby will have a rich new venue to explore, opening the potential for further modules and volumes not only on India, but perhaps even neighboring civilizations. Already there has been talk of a game treating ancient China, and interest has been expressed for such areas as Burma and Thailand. All of these regions and eras are rich in military history but have been virtually unexplored by the hobby.

My personal interest in Indian culture and history first began, as with many Westerners I suppose, with my stomach – I adore Indian cuisine. I’ve also studied Hinduism and Indian philosophy. But my deepest interest and respect for India is entirely due to my lovely wife, who is of Indian descent. After nearly two decades as a member of her family – talking with her mom and dad, aunts and uncles, and friends about Indian history, myths, politics and current affairs – the idea of designing this game became a personal mission, a means of melding the culture that had become part of my adult life with the hobby that I have loved since a teenager.

So … welcome to Chandragupta, and to these “Notes from the Designer.” These “Notes” are planned as a weekly series to introduce fellow gamers to the military history, game features, and design challenges to Chandragupta. They will appear in this folder every week (as much as work and other priorities permit, of course). I sincerely hope that you find them interesting, informative, and above all, I hope they stimulate interest in playing the game.

Next week: The challenges of research.

Battle scene, Ellora caves