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SS Youth in
Beyond Normandy




Teaching History and Life Skills
With Avalanche Press’ Soldier Games

December 2012

Many children have played Risk, so they’re familiar with generic games of global strategy. But Soldier Kings and Soldier Emperor are accurate simulations of real historical conflicts that teach players to deal with all the real-world issues that nations confront when managing geo-political strategy.

The skills and knowledge which the Soldier games teach include:

Money Management

War is expensive. You have to pay money to build armies and fleets, conquer your objectives, repair and maintain military units and pay your soldiers and sailors. The more you build and the more you try to conquer, the more expensive it gets. Players of Soldier games must be careful to plan and build only the forces they need, and launch only the military campaigns they can afford.

At the same time, they must keep enough money in the bank for emergencies and future efforts. Players who don’t delay gratification, spending lots of money to build and conquer everything they can, find themselves poor very quickly. Their armies melt away due to lack of funds for maintenance and repair. Only players who manage their money carefully have a chance to win.

Negotiation and Trade

No nation is strong enough to win the game on its own. Each player needs allies, and must choose them carefully. A nation may be rich or poor, and have large manpower reserves or small ones. A student playing a poor nation must make alliances with rich nations, and then negotiate with them (making promises of cooperation or exchanges of manpower) to obtain the money he or she needs. Players of Soldier games develop negotiation skills which they use to work out fair trades that work to their mutual benefit.


To win, each player must conquer rich foreign territories while protecting his or her own lands from invasion. Allied players must therefore coordinate their forces’ movements to defeat enemies, take valuable objectives, and hold them against counterattacks without leaving their homelands vulnerable. Playing Soldier games helps students develop strategic skills, since they must weigh the costs and benefits of taking specific territories while guarding against trouble elsewhere.

Geography and Economics

The Soldier games are played on maps of Europe, the Americas, Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia. They are therefore excellent tools for teaching global geography. In addition, each geographical region is rated for the value of its natural resources. Teachers can point out the high resource value of areas like the Caribbean islands and ask students to think about why such territory is so valuable.

For example: “How many of the things that you eat contain sugar? Well, what if you had no sugar? What if everything you’d been eating all your life tasted like cardboard? (Pause to let that sink in.) How much would you be willing to pay to get some sugar? That’s why France traded all of Canada to Britain just to get the little island of Martinique back from them. And what did they grow on Martinique?”

And for more advanced students, the economic realism of the Soldier games shows why colonialism made Britain and France so dominant. It also opens up discussions of the aftereffects of colonialism, how each part of the world has fared since the colonial powers left, and why.

History is Fun!

Many students find history dull and uninteresting. Historical games are an excellent way of showing students that history is not just names and dates. People in the past did things for specific reasons, and the world today would be very different if they had done things differently.

The Soldier games bring these possibilities to life for students. For example, what if France hadn’t lost the war in the Americas? What if Britain had run out of money and been unable to hold onto its overseas colonies? We might all be speaking French today. Have students play a Soldier game and then write essays summarizing what they did in the game and why, and speculating on how the world might be different if what happened in the game had happened in real life. Which nations would be more powerful and which would be less so? Why? And what would that mean for different parts of the world?

In addition, each Soldier game comes with a deck of historically accurate event cards that players can use to foil their enemies’ plans at the worst possible moments (or the best, depending on your perspective!). Players who protest that generals don’t disobey orders, or that military governors don’t do stupid things like banning all trade to fight smuggling, can be told no, they really did such things. Sometimes history is stranger than fiction!

Best of all, the Soldier games are highly enjoyable for children and adults, and provide a structured, educational activity for families as well as school groups. The skills the Soldier games teach are useful in all aspects of life.

Buy Soldier Kings today, and learn!

Pick up Soldier Emperor and learn even more!