Since I have actual work my mind has developed an overwhelming compulsion to play Victoria: Revolutions. This is a wonderful grand strategy game in which you run one of about 200 nations in the world from 1836 through 1936. I really should give it a rest since I finally finished up my first game playing as the United Kingdom, bringing the British Empire in 1936 to one covering a healthy bit more of the world than the historic British Empire did, including a few wanton bursts of imperialistic overreach that I didn't remember in the end -- particularly, somewhere along the lines I apparently set up a puppet government in China. I don't remember it, but it seems to have spared China some of the worst excesses as there was no race for it or Boxer Rebellion in the close of the 19th century. On the other hand, a bit of my getting too clever with the power of the crown to appoint governments -- and my unawareness that this really, really annoys the masses -- lead to an awkward little period around 1901 which, well, after a turbulent couple years with the United Kingdom falling into proletarian dictatorship, it finally emerged as a liberal democracy again. The name stayed unchanged.
So after that lovely campaign with some highly amusing side lines in North America I plunged back in to play the United Kingdom again, and to see what I can do as Britain while avoiding some of the nation's more disreputable habits of the era. The first really big change was ending the opium trade with China in the 1840s rather than using it as a way to routinely get bursts of money that really don't match what improved industrial production would give me. (Other early moves include approving much of the Chartist Movement even though that costs money, and repealing the Corn Laws early to lessen the blow of the Potato Blight.) This is having interesting side effects, particularly in that standing firm in defense of the rights of small nations to exist without being conquered by the large imperial powers results in a series of nasty colonial wars to prove that I actually do mean to stand by pledges of protection.
Along the way in the message log I get news on what's going on in the whole world, as it would be reported to non-national participants: ``April 21, 1852: The reform Party now rule in Liberia'', for example, or ``April 24, 1852: Cambodia accepted peace with France on the following terms: Penonbang to France.'' And then this one got me: ``September 3, 1856: Hawaii concluded a diplomatic deal with Montenegro.'' What would Hawaii of 1856 have to do with Montenegro? And I'll never know what this deal was all about. These games can be addictive in weird ways.
Trivia: There were 72 separate British military campaigns during the years of Queen Victoria's rule. Source: Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, Niall Ferguson.
Currently Reading: Soon I Will Be Invincible, Austin Grossman.