I am continuing to discover the great, small jewel which The Mission is. After playing the full, 27 turn campaign, I am trying now the much smaller but definitely more difficult 7-turn “Rise of Islam” scenario. But before plunging into the actual session report, let me provide some more information for those who does not know that game or only heard about it.
Above you can find first-hand pictures of the game components – beautifully produced and very thematic!
Jesus asked his disciples: “When the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:8, NLT) That question is the premise behind The Mission. The Mission: Early Christianity from the Crucifixion to the Crusades is a “grand strategy” solitaire game covering 1,200 years of Christian history on a map of the ancient Mediterranean, Near East, Europe and Africa. The game publisher is the White Dog Games and was designed by Ben Madison.
So we have here secular world of empires and politics – which influences and adds context to you mission – and of course your missionaries, spreading the Christian faith and converting areas of the map to your new religion. During each turn – lasting decades in historical time – you will experience expansion and doctrinal battles (heresies!) of early Christianity while you will be building institutions to educate, heal, and inspire the societies you touch.
Apostles and brilliant theologians will help you evangelize, but you will come to rely on the Roman/Byzantine state and Christian kingdoms to establish and defend the faith. Heresies and schisms in the Church will try to thwart your plans. From some moment in time, barbarian hordes will activate and will press against your political protectors. Some of them you may convert 🙂 The turning point will come when the armies of Islam emerge as the game changes from one of missionary outreach to one of self-preservation, as Christian communities hunker down for survival during the long Dark Ages. At the end, you will rise up in a blaze of glory as the Christian world finally fights back using Crusaders and the Spanish Reconquista to recover lost provinces!
Can you build a strong, united and prosperous Christendom?
The short, 7 turn “Raise of Islam” scenario is definitely much more difficult endeavor then the full campaign game, as you start immediately attacked by the Jihad and need to play with whatever is at your disposal to repel that threat – or rather, to limit the losses and destruction it will inevitably bring. You really need to know the rules well and there is no time for gradual introduction – so this is definitely challenge for more experienced The Mission players.
The final result of 115 meant that – despite all the hardship and destruction – Christianity prevailed. Still, it was a very hard fought battle and a lot of money went into preserving the freedom of various Christian communities. The unsuccessful Baqt and resulting destruction of the Nubia kingdom was a very painful experience. The Reconquista of Spain and conversion of Turks to Christianity – a major highlights of the game.
Each time I play The Mission I am discovering new flavors and I relish in the theme and challenges it brings. Definitely, one my my favorite solitaire games and you may expect I will play more of this! Highly recommended!