In the real world I earn my living as a teacher in the elementary school.
I’ve always played many board games, roleplaying, LARP, been interested in history … pretty basic nerd stuff I guess.
I try to implemted gaming and playing a lot in all my classes (I teach 4th, 5fth and 9th grade), you can learn a lot of math and mathmatical thinking through gaming.
In this week the normal classes have been turned upside down, we do this a couple of times a year. In week 41 we had a whole week that was all about health, exercise and sports.
When I was hired, my colleagues were pretty fast to give me responsibility for a “roleplaying themed” week. This week. Of cause some of the colleagues have been involved in the process. Now it’s pretty hard to teach through roleplaying, to none roleplayers. Especially since there’s three 4th grade classes, two 5fth grade classes and three 6th grade classes. That’s roughly around 160 students.
So I came up with something else. And I just wanted to share with the world, how teaching can also be done - thankfully it’s still a possibility to do stuff like this in the public school system.
Romerriget på Spil - The Roman Empire
So we decided teaching all the kids about the Roman Empire - good and important history. The most important of any antique empires.
First up we mixed and match all the students into ten teams. So the student are on a team with 1 ot 2 regular class mates and then the rest from other classes.
The setting for the week and the game was just after the murder of Caesar - Et tu Brutus?! So wikipedia helped finding 10 different historical figures from that time. Each team got a colour and a “leader”.
Every day a team has to spend the entire school day in a workshop - where they’ll be taught something about the era. In one workshop they hear about weaponry and build swords and shields. In another the learn about the Gods and make pictures of them. And so on, so forth.
Every morning all 160 students start together, hearing a small lecture about something interesting. I told them about gladiators yesterday, today a history nerd told them about famous legions, tomorrow about the gods. After this they go to their workshops.
Now all this is pretty standard (and already so many words). Here’s the interesting part.
Everything - the entire week- is centered around a large boardgame. Advanced RISK you might call it.
Board - end day 1
A large black board was used to paint a map of the central Roman Empire and the ten teams started with a single territory.
Mostly like Risk. The basic unit roles 1d6 for attack and defence - a Centurie, costing 1 denare.
Then theirs cavalry (trumae) attacking with 1d8 and defending with 1d6, costing 2 denare. Catapults 1d10/1d4, 3 denare.
Castles costing a lot but allowing to denfend with 1d8 for all units in the area.
Bringing a general into combat is risky, but it allows you to pick 1 of your kills - otherwise it’s just centuries that die.
And a few other units. Ships, generals, NPC (me) raiders, bandits, praetorians.
A territory is worth a single point, star marked (famous cities) territories are worth two points, having a living general 1 worth one and Rome is worth 4. The ones with most points come the end of Friday gets elected Emperor of Rome.
During the day, the game is flowing, controlled by me. So the different teams can come and take actions when they want. Is more than one team want to do an action or many in a row, I control the flow for fairness.
All the other teachers, at the different workshops have been giving denarii. They hand out between 20-30 denarii to a team depending on their work i the workshop. They also have 10-15 extra denarii for individual students who do something beyond expectations.
The result has been bag carrying, high polished red apples and a lot of compliments for the entire staff.
When a team has earned denarii, the spend them at the board, take actions and return to their workshop. Depending on dice, luck and strategy some teams really have to work harder in their workshop - earning money for the war.
Well… That a lot of text. My hopes for this week has already been met more than I could have hoped. Been able to add rules to the game along the way.
And it’s pretty cool seeing 160 students aged 10-14 in 10 different teams fighting for power, backstapping, making alliances, working with new friends to win - and they all want to win!
The end of the day
Every day is ended together as well. I put a picture of the map on the projector, tell the points, tell it in a storytell way, what wars, battles have been foght during the day and so on.
Friday, when an emperor is chosen, will tell the students what really happend in the war after Caesar was murdered in 44 BC.
School can be cool!
Dio Cassius and Ciceros armies in the alps. Cicero (orange) can near a complete wipe out after fighting Markus Antonius (blue). The green team offered them a protectorate.
They’re centurie, trumae, a legatus (general rolling 1d10/1d10, but very expensive and max one) and a dromon (ship) in the picture.
Board end day 2
The green under Dio Cassius, started to get worried. A lot of orange troops in the protected zone
Starting out I placed some marauders, raiders, bandits in some territories. Rolling between 1d4 or 1d6. Bad troops. But just a symbol of unrest - when there’s no roman soldiers around. I en areas where they havn’t been dealt with, there’s now more and more. Passive, they don’t attack, only defend territories. Also if a team completly leaves an ares, raiders will appear.
Sicily beeing worth two points, changede hands 6 times yesterday. Both Labenius (ppink) and Sextus (black) wanting it. There where also some rather large ship battles.
Agrippa (purple) has another strategy than the other teams. They’ve been very passive, not having many troops on table. But they’ve saved all their denarii, having lots of money. Manipulating other teams, they wait to strrike in a gigantic force. Today the lunch an attack, taking massive amounts of land.
End day 3
Today was a great day. Lots and lots of action, large wars. Dio Cassius (green) has had the lead the entire week. Having double the points of other teams. Today an alliance between four other teams tried to balance it out.
Rome was finally conquered (NPC praetorians roll 1d8 in defence), but the cost was high and Hirtius (white) now only control Rome - they losot everything else. Went from 15 to 5 points. Never seen anyone so unlucky with dice in my life - a bit sad for the kids. War is hell I guess.
Some of the stuff the students has done
Gods, gods, gods.
Other workshops are athletics. Spear throwing, wrestling and other stuff. Here to teams face off against eachother and win denarii based on performance.
It’s not a bad way to earn your pay check I’ll tell you that.
Iacta est alea!