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This page brings a few suggestions to the rules of the Atlantic Islands Map Game. This is not intended to be mandatory, but only a few guidelines, which players may choose to overlook freely. This is only intended to make the game more believable, and maybe taking this into consideration would make the difference between just a nice Map Game and a great ATL.

Quick notes

The map.

  • The game will begin in 1600, at the beginning of the European colonization of North America. It should end near the end of the 1800s, when the islands should begin to claim independence.
  • There will be a previous section, relating to expansion prior to 1600, that will be open to fewer countries. Only Portugal and Spain will claim lands in the 1400s, and France will be allowed to do so after 1500 as well. This will be done to reflect the early expansion of these countries.
  • It is possible to skip years in the case of inactivity in that year.
  • Because of the immense amount small of islands in the Southern Atlantic, it is possible to split the maps into three, the North, the Brazilian, and the African Islands, if requested.
  • Users don't need to draw up OTL borders.
  • The Caribbean islands were removed from the map in order to avoid causing confusion.
  • France, Spain and Portugal get first "dibs" on islands as they are the first three major powers to colonize the Americas.
  • The Brazilian Atlantic Islands will most likely be colonized by Spain, Portugal and France.

Moves must be viable and believable

Whenever we make a move, we always have to consider its viability, that is, if the movement is possible, and what motivations the nation would have to do that. A few things that ought to be considered:

  1. Historical context. When the game begins, there is a historical context in Europe, that is probably pretty similar to OTL's. There are specific motivations, there are powerful institutions such as Roman Catholic Church, there are merchants, noblemen, natives and Jesuit priests, each one with their own interests. And there are the kings, of course, who decide how to cope with all this mayhem: that's up to us. As the game goes on, the context diverts from this, but it's always important to understand what is going on. This is why the game would better move on slowly, so that everyone has the time to understand the changing context and planning what to do around it.
  2. Motivation. What would be the purpose of the occupation? Does it make sense? For instance, why would Russia send ships to Bahamas and occupy the islands? Just for the sake of having a few colonies? How does it match its historical development? (Or instead, how deeply would this historical development have changed due to the existance of some islands in the middle of the ocean?) Of course Russia could make such a move, but the player should understand how much of a sense he is planning to make from this.
  3. Islands and colonies dimensions. How would the islands be able to support the colonists? Are the islands big enough to support many of them? How many colonists is the insular colony capable of holding? Unless they're large enough, islands usually have scarce resources, such as water and food supplies. Portuguese left off a few sheep in Azores a few years before their actual settlement began, because there was no food supply for a viable colony.
  4. Labor. What kind of labor system would be used, and why? Slaves, indentured servants and free colonists are viable possibilities, but each of them has their advantages and their disavantages. More importantly, each of them has been established in the colonies by a set of historical reasons that should be considered.

Of course there is no simple answer to any of these questions, but it is worthy to think about them. The more we consider this, the better our ATL gets.

Have a plan for your colonies

What is the plan of the country you are playing with? Why did they establish colonial systems? Obviously, it’s not just for the sake of it, or because “everyone is doing it”. Can it support this kind of (very expensive) enterprise? How? How strong is the country, in military and economic terms? What is the colonies' main objective? Is it production? Of what? Is it trade? Of what? Is it immigration? Why?

About immigration: In the 1600s or 1700, immigration used to be a last case measure, or, for very few wealthy and well-related men, a chance of making even more money than they already had. For others, leaving Europe was truly desperation, or a punishment for crimes. How many people lived in the original country, and how many of them would be willing to leave? What will all these colonists be doing there? What’s the point of taking that specific island and putting some folks in there? Would massive immigration weaken the old European country, and to what extent?

"It's the Economy, Stupid!"[1]

1. What kind of economic activities will be developed in it?

  • If it’s mere subsistence, there has to be a reason, usually a strategical one, like Portugal occupying Brazil in order not to lose it, or an ideological one, like Great Britain undergoing a series of religious conflicts that led infidel colonists to want to leave the continent for good.
  • If it is a plantation system for exporting tropical commodities, which are these? How needed they are in Europe? Does the country have the necessary technology to produce them? How much of them will be produced, and where will it be exported to? How will they will be produced? And, very importantly, where will the food come from, if it is not planted there? There must be a subsidiary food production system, lest the colonists starve to death.

2. What kind of labor system will be used?

  • Slavery? Where from, Africa? Where in Africa? How is the country going to get the slaves – will it buy them in Africa, or from pirates, or from other countries? How? Or will it capture them on its own? As side-effects, how will slavery influence relationship among people: will it lead to prejudice? And what about its economic effects: will it lead to a slower production? This depends mostly on what you believe about what the effects of slavery are.
  • Or maybe you'd rather have indentured servants – but where will they come from? How many citizens of your own country will be willing to virtually sell themselves temporarily as indentured servants? And why? – are labor and living conditions so harsh that they would rather leave the place they ever lived at and venture overseas? Does your country accept foreign indentured servants in the colonies?
  • Or still, free labor – the latter applies as well: why would colonists leave their countries for some tropical island? To make a fortune? To flee from persecution? Of what kind? Are foreign or infidel colonists allowed?

Of course most of the colonies had a mixture of all these systems, and it can be very interesting to think about how these things may relate.

Nothing is definitive

We must keep in mind that nothing must be definitive. The best way to look at the game is prospectively, not retrospectively. That means, trying to follow every move and derive its consequences, and then see what goes from it, instead of thinking “I want things to be like this in 2000, so I’ll lead my country to get this in 1600”.

So, if a country claims an island, that doesn’t mean this island will have to be theirs in 1800, and speak their language in 2000. Things change. Jamaica was taken up by British, Lagos (Nigeria) was founded by Portuguese and Louisiana belonged to France for centuries. So, we can take any island we want, but usually there is a principle that ought to be followed:

Uti possidetis

The land belongs to whomever settles it. So, if a country takes up an island in, say, the Ampere Islands, it would require a war to make it change hands, or a treaty. A war would hardly be acceptable, since all countries see each other as equals, and they would rather move to the next void island than bother about killing fellow Europeans for a piece of floating land. And why is that specific island so important to the country that is attacking? It is possible that a natural resource may cause a power to want the island, but that shouldn't be the only reason.

At the same time, if a country takes up an island, it had better care for it; if the colony is not strong enough, there may be some skirmish over it.

The only limit is our imagination, here, but this is what makes things difficult: it’s like playing football with an imaginary ball: each one says the ball did what they want it to do.

Disputed elements

Disclaimer: The following Atlantic Islands elements are currently being disputed and questioned.
A vote can fix these disputes. Every vote counts.

Keep the Americas!

New islands means there's a better chance of sailors to find the Americas by accident (or on purpose). This would lead to new colonies and possibly new countries in the present. However:

Portugal only sailed to the Azores and went down to Brazil. (Another problem with Portugal using the islands to get to North America means that they would claim almost every single island in the North Atlantic Ocean, which would render the map game useless.)
Spain never went the route through the isles to get to the Americas that way.
Denmark and Sweden didn't have a large influence in the Americas.
The Netherlands already had a colony in North America, but they were taken over by the British.

It's likely that if any colonial power colonized part of OTL United States, UK ships may try to take over the . For these reasons, it is unlikely that any colonial power other than UK and France would be able to colonize North America. ChrisL123 04:16, July 13, 2011 (UTC)

Please vote below.

Keep the Americas!

Change the Americas!


I think the only country that would leave a new country in North America is Portugal. The only plausible thing I could think of to make a new country in North America is this: around the 1560s, sailors could have used one of the islands in northern Azores to sail down to find the Corner Islands (which at the time were colonized by France). Since they couldn't colonize these islands, the sailors could look for other islands. They could sail lower to find the OTL-Florida area, perhaps create a colony in the northern Gulf of Mexico (OTL Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida.) If everyone agrees with this I guess I'll consider it. ChrisL123 00:19, July 15, 2011 (UTC)


  1. This phrase was used by Bill Clinton's campaign strategist, James Carville, in Clinton's successful 1992 Presidential Campaign, where he defeated incumbent President Bush (senior). He later explained the phrase by saying that Clinton's campaign, in order to be successful against Pres. Bush, should focus in a crucial but overlooked question: the economic situation. Please take this as a joke only, which is the idea.
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