William and I are in the middle of a game of Napoleon’s Triumph, the hard-to-find board game that models the battle of Austerlitz. The game jumped to the front of our to-play list when William finally acquired a copy in excellent condition two weeks ago, and after a few hours of tense in-game decision-making, we are already much impressed.
William and I had a conversation about game aesthetics on Saturday, in the context of a board game meet-up where he acquired a game he had long yearned for, but which is out of print and difficult to find. The game is called Napoleon’s Triumph, and it models the battle of Austerlitz (with some ingenious mechanics, by the way).
When I introduced Sans-Papiers (the immigration game) to Isaac Joslin at the University of Denver, we had the luxury of playtime. We spent half an hour or so playing the game together, as I explained the rules in context and we navigated the situations that came up in our particular game. Isaac hadn’t played a tabletop role-playing game before, so the mechanics were new to him, although he picked them up quickly and, I felt, came away from the session with an understanding not just of how the rules functioned as we used them in that instance, but how the RPG models what it tries to model and how its rules serve the game. I was pretty confident that he would be ready to teach the game to his students, but the reality is that many students are not experienced in playing a wide variety of tabletop games; even with an experienced teacher, there is a learning curve to games that has to be addressed.
This week, Isaac Joslin of the University of Denver reports on playtesting Sans-Papiers with his students. Isaac is a specialist in African francophone literature and film, and this course dealt specifically with the immigrant experience in France. Check out his bio at DU’s website. Here’s what he has to say about the game:
Sans-Papiers: role-playing and social realism in the language and culture classroom
By Isaac Joslin – University of Denver