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Wrestling with the Reformation: Augsburg, 1530

by Emily Fisher Gray

As a member of the City Council of Augsburg in 1530, you will have to balance the competing demands of the citizens and the Emperor, while considering the implications of various Reformed positions for the city’s military defense, economic growth, and spiritual purity. Should you adopt the Augsburg Confession, a statement of principles presented during the 1530 Augsburg Reichstag by Martin Luther’s colleagues from Wittenberg? Or join the four “Tetrapolitan” cities that offered an alternate vision of reform influenced by Ulrich Zwingli? Or perhaps you should you support the Confutatio Pontificia, the strong rebuttal to the Augsburg Confession written by representatives of the Pope in Rome and endorsed by the Emperor? Decisions about religious practices in Augsburg could provoke a riot from reform-minded citizens or cause Emperor Charles V to make good on his promise to invade the city and revoke its independent charter. In this volatile environment, Augsburg needs allies, but alliances are dependent on the type of reform Augsburg chooses. As does Augsburg’s ability to feed its poor, protect its rapid proto-capitalist economic growth, and deal with the problem of Anabaptists infiltrating the community. The salvation of souls and Augsburg’s very survival are at stake.



Cultural and Social History; Medieval History; Religion; Western Civ/History; World History

16th Century; Early Modern Period


Published Game (what's that mean?

Themes and Issues  
Religion, Politics, Sausages

Player Interactions 
Factional, Competitive, Collaborative, Coalition-Building

Sample Class Titles

Renaissance and Reformation; Western Civilization; Europe 1300-1700


Rolling Dice

Chaos and Demand on Instructor

This game is mildly chaotic and mildly demanding on the instructor.

Notable Roles 
Conrad Peutinger, Daniel Hopfer, Philip Adler

Primary Source Highlights

The Augsburg Confession, The Tetrapolitan Confession, the Confutatio Pontificia

Using the Game

Class Size and Scalability 
This game is recommended for classes with 12 to 40 students. Roles over 28 are doubled. Special instructions are in the Instructor's Manual for small classes (12 or fewer). For classes over 40 students, it is recommended to divide the class into two groups so everyone has a chance to fully participate.

Class Time  
For this game 7-8 sessions (1 to 2 setup, 5 game, 1 debrief) are recommended.

Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive.  Augsburg, 1531 may pair well with:


You can adjust the assignments to fit the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include letter writing and persuasive writing to be adapted into speeches. All roles are required to give formal speeches.


"'Augsburg' is a well-conceived and well-crafted game about the Reformation in Germany. While not a complex game, individual objectives and nondoctrinal issues might well add a bit of surprise and variability to the play of the game. It brings the Reformation 'down to earth' by focusing not only on the theological debates, but the way that religious changes affected the lived experiences of German city-dwellers in the 16th century."

"I think this game has a number of levels of religious, political, and economic complexity. This should make it a rich experience for students. The Reformation was certainly a defining moment in Western history and this game really exposes the fact that the outcome was both religious and political."

"This game is just really well written! Very clear and straightforward; minimal changes to venue, which can sometimes be confusing for students. Very well structured and laid out, with a natural progress of ideas and injects by the instructor to keep the tension high. From the student perception, I think the game starts deceptively simple. I suspect students will come in with an attitude of, 'oh, let’s just be tolerant,' but the first session can disabuse them of that notion and drive students to truly wrestle with the issues."


Reacting Consortium members can download all game materials below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.  


All students need a Gamebook, which includes resources and historical content. The Augsburg Gamebook is published by UNC Press. 

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7630-2
Ebook ISBN: Coming Soon

Published September 2023

 Available wherever books are sold.

Instructor's Manual

The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.

Download the Instructor's Manual

Updated August 2023.

Role Sheets and Primary Sources

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, suggestions for further reading, and role-specific info or assignments.  

Additional Resources 

Augsburg Kahoot!

A Kahoot quiz to help your class learn key information from the historical background essay.


Emily Fisher Gray

Emily Fisher Gray received a doctorate in early modern European history from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004. She spent three years as a postdoctoral teaching fellow at Penn before joining the Norwich University faculty in 2007.

Gray has written on the early causes and progress of the Protestant Reformation, the phenomenon of Lutheran-Catholic co-existence, and the unique aesthetics of Lutheran architecture. Her ongoing research takes place in churches, libraries and archives in the former Free Imperial Cities of southern Germany, especially Augsburg, where she lived for a year as a Fulbright Fellow.

Reacting and Related Titles

  • Peace of Westphalia: Creating a New European State-System, 1648


Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


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