Grandma, Maddie and I played The Downfall of Pompeii this morning. This game depicts the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Players place their people (meeple) into the city in the first phase of the game and then try to exit them in the second phase before lava and falling ash engulf the city. Grandma was yellow, Maddie was red and I was black.
By the time the first AD79 card was drawn Grandma had 13 meeples on the board (with 2 in the volcano), Maddie had 13 meeples on the board (with none in the volcano) and I had 12 meeples on the board (with one in the volcano).
Maddie picked up the strategy fairly quickly. She delighted in placing lava tiles on to my people and blocking off my exits. I gave as good as I got and did my best to hamper both her and Grandma. Final scores were Grandma 1st with 8, Maddie 2nd with 6, and me 3rd with 5.
Although this game is light-hearted fun it is based on a terrible real-life natural disaster in AD79 that is estimated to have caused between 10,000 to 25,000 deaths. Maddie was surprised that the game was based on an actual event. I showed her a couple of books I have on Pompeii and she marvelled at the well-preserved buildings and the plaster casts of the bodies of some of the victims.
Due to almost 2000 years having passed since this huge loss of life the horror of it is lessened somewhat. These people are removed from us by a gulf of time and culture although this does not make their deaths any less tragic than those we witness on the evening news. The theme of the game we played today could easily be changed to another type of natural disaster, for example an earthquake. Can you imagine the worldwide furore if someone produced a game depicting the recent Haiti earthquake?