How the West Was Won

We took a break from all the playtest launch mayhem and started another Microscope game. The concept? Settling the American frontier. Go West young man! It’s a real world alternate history setting.

We’re only one session in, but we’ve already had the hanging of an innocent man, gold in them thar hills, war with Mexico, a sheriff gunned down by outlaws after the townsfolk turned their back on him, and a reverse Louisiana Purchase (yep, they sold the midwest to England).

Oh, and we had our very own Alamo analog. Except a bit darker. Y’know how there are all those famous moments of history where everyone fights to the bitter end? If everyone dies, how do we know what really happened? Hmm? No survivors, right? Turns out when you look closer at the last moments of the last stand of the fearless heroes of your very own Alamo analog, maybe everyone is not so certain that what they’re doing is going to make a difference. Maybe they think they’re just some unfortunate souls doomed to die in the Texas dirt. Who’s going to remember them or care? It’s good stuff.

Alternate history is a whole bonus realm of Microscope fun. We already did a classic “what if the Nazi’s won WWII and took over the world” (no really, it turned out lighter than you’d think). The trick is just being very clear where your game history diverges from the constraints of real history — bingo, that’s your starting period.

    Ben Robbins | June 24th, 2009 | , | hide comments
  1. #2 ben robbins says:

    That’s actually part of the trick of Microscope: it ended light because we decided at the beginning that it would. We agreed that the end of our history was that the Nazi world gov would evolve into an enlightened and benevolent institution, so the rest of the game was figuring out how the Reich went from nasty fascists to nice people.

    We started the history just post WWI, but instead of a blow-out WWII, Germany used a lot more diplomacy to gain territory and kept the major allies from ever fighting out-right. As it played out there were lots and lots of dark moments along the way, and eventually the worst atrocities repelled many more sensible people within the regime. In time (because this is spanning a century or more) the new generations of leaders are secretly ashamed of the deeds and credos of their ancestors and shift the Reich to a brighter future.

  2. #1 maidahat says:

    Lighter than expected outcome to the Nazis winning WW2? Have to know about this. Must see those Microscope cards.

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