The Great Game recreates the 19th Century Anglo-Russian struggle for supremacy in Central Asia. In the actual contest, Tsarist Russia resented British expeditions into the Steppe Khanates while Victorian Britain feared that Russian entreaties to Persia and Afghanistan would jeopardize India's security. So the two imperial powers wove a complex tale of diplomatic intrigue, colonial conquest and proxy wars that spanned 50 years.
In the game, players alternate moving officers (historical personalities) and troops across a point-to-point map of Central Asia in yearly turns. Imperial powers strive to enlist vassal states such as Afghanistan and Bokhara into their camp through diplomacy or combat. Vassals offer troops and tribute to their imperial patron. But there's a twist, vassals closest to Russia prefer alliance with Britain while those closest to India prefer Russia, so an engaging game of move-counter move unfolds across the chessboard of Central Asia. Random events such as the Crimean War, Sepoy Mutiny and American Civil War intrude to make each game different.