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<   No. 4657   2021-11-30   >

Comic #4657

1 Siobhan: Whoever’s at the door, bring them over! Let’s play Diplomacy!
1 Ishmael: Sorry, he’s not staying. Uh... wrong door.
2 Siobhan: Oh well, six players then. We can play Republic of Rome.
3 Ishmael: That sounds like it could be a long and complicated game.
3 Siobhan: Nah, it’s only 5 hours playing time.
4 Siobhan: Ooh! We could do Campaign for North Africa if you want.

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We discussed Diplomacy in the previous strip of this theme.

If you don't have the ideal number of seven players, then you might have to settle for a game of The Republic of Rome. It's another game that relies heavily on player alliances and diplomacy, however unlike the relatively austere Diplomacy it is notorious for its complexity.

And then if you want to continue down that road, there's The Campaign for North Africa, a game legendary for its complexity, detail, and sheer number of playing hours. It has been variously described as "the longest board game" and "the most complex wargame" ever produced. The map board comes in 5 pieces, which when assembled cover an area 0.86×2.92 metres. 1600 cardboard counters are supplied to represent military units, individual vehicles, and individual people. The 6 rulebooks come to a total of 191 pages. Oh, and the box also includes a six-sided die.

The game is a simulation of the World War II campaign in North Africa, from 1940-1943. Each game turn represents a week of time. The total listed playing time for completing a game is 1200 hours. Although it is a two-sided game, it recommends that each side by played by a team of 5 players, who take on the roles of Commander-In-Chief, Logistics Commander, Rear Area Commander, Air Commander, and Front-line Commander.

The game is not really so much about combat as about military logistics - you need to keep track of supplies and how the supplies are being moved from rear supply lines to front line units. There are extremely detailed rules covering all of this, including rules that specify evaporation losses of fuel - and the evaporation rates are different for different troops because of the different methods of storing and transporting the fuel. Another rule is the infamous "pasta rule", in which Italian troops require additional water compared to all other troops, justified in the rules because they need it to cook pasta.

The game features in The Big Bang Theory episode 16 of season 11, "The Neonatal Nomenclature", in which Bernadette goes into labour, and Sheldon decides to start a game to pass the time. That would need a pretty long labour.

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