Cuius Regio: Reformation Microgame

Instructor Guidance and Info

Overview: The purpose of this microgame is to allow students to experience the competing factions at play in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Students will play roles representing different ideological and social perspectives, including the local prince (the Margrave von Brandenburg-Anspach) who will decide the religion of his/her principality. Your role as the instructor is to set the conditions for their interaction and adjudicate any extraordinary actions by students. The game is designed to be playable on its own, but will be more effective if paired with readings about the Reformation Era from a history textbook.

Numbers: The simulation is built for a maximum of 16 students. If you only have 15 in the classroom, drop the Freigraf von Marburg. You can play the game with as few as 11 students by dropping representatives from the Catholic, Lutheran, Zwinglist and Anabaptist factions.

Structure: Any standard classroom will work, as long as the desks can be rearranged to have the students sit in their respective factions. Look for ways to emphasize the importance of the Margrave, such as giving him/her a bigger desk or a slightly elevated position. A suggested layout is in Appendix A, with an editable version in the “Cuius Regio” slide deck.


The “Cuius Regio” slide deck has an easy chart for assigning roles, a sample class layout,
and name cards for each participant.

You may elect to circulate the character sheets ahead of time to students to allow them to
read the associated materials linked in each character sheet.

Set up the desks well ahead of time with the name cards in place, so that each participant can move directly to their station. Make sure their character sheet is in place at their station.

Execution: A sample timeline is in Appendix B. The key phases of the microgame are:

  • Opening: Explain the overall ground rules of the game to the students and emphasize that the Margrave has complete control over the microgame, just as the real Margrave would have. Avoid giving away too many details: remember, real Germans of the era would have been summoned with little to no notice.
  • Engagement: Players study their own character sheet to prepare their arguments and engage other players to ascertain their positions. The Margrave may individually summon one or more players to get a sense of their likely wants and needs.
  • Court Session: The Margrave calls the court to order and interrogates all participants. The Margrave may call or silence individuals as he sees fit. The Catholics may choose to excommunicate other participants, but the Margrave will decide whether that means they are truly silenced.
  • Review: The Margrave announces his decision. The instructor reviews what happened with the class, asking why individuals acted the way they did.