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Pax Pamir 2nd Edition
I'll say that my enjoyment of this remains quite high, a little below Pax Renaissance but higher than most games. There's a lot of game in these small Pax packages.
Glad to talk about it or answer questions if anyone is thinking about getting the reprint.
I... I... I'm tempted by the coins now that I now that I know it's in my permanent collection. Kill me.
What does this have to do with the game’s setting? Everything. And to Eklund’s credit, his own calling-out of some of Britain’s bad behavior in India often goes missing from the discussion, whether thanks to the structure of his essay — there’s a reason your thesis should be stated up front — or the aspersions readers cast upon anything that seems pro-colonialism. Pax Pamir is not set in India; its topic is Afghanistan, which Eklund emphasizes was a buffer state between warring empires. As dismal as colonialism proved for those who existed outside its power structures, Eklund asserts that “Afghanistan’s legacy as a plaything of superpowers has left it as one of the world’s worst places to live.” Unlike Britain’s colonies, to which they owed at least the appearance of responsibility, both Britain and Russia approached Afghanistan with an attitude that was all take, no give.
In other words, fertile soil for Pax Pamir, a game about eking out survival as a chieftain teetering between forces too large to care about their wellbeing. As framing, this casts Pax Pamir in two very different ways. The first is a work of apologetics for the failures of empire and colonialism; unfortunately, this is what many people took from Eklund’s essay, withering their interest in the game before they had a chance to actually experience it. The second is comparative and hardly even controversial, although it’s still principally interested in the story from the perspective of empire than the indigenous: better British colonial rule than Spanish or Belgian, and certainly better than being relegated to a buffer state and having your soil churned as a playground of empires.
The interesting thing for me is the amount of people who kick off over Eklund's essay without having read it. Afghanistan stands apart in that it's a country in which colonialism failed, nor does it seem it was really used as a buffer state (British attempts failed, the Russians never really tried). Pax Pamir 2e is particularly good for pointing out any imperial victory is suborned and becomes a local one.
PP is also notable for having a treatment of multifactionality that should be standard; that is, it allows people to change sides.
spacebiff.com/2020/06/18/sbbs-5-cole-wehrle/ - the Space-Biff! podcast with Wehrle was excellent.