El Salvador Spel is a game about the El Salvadoran Civil War and the events leading up to it, in abstracted form. Players each receive a role card - roles include military, guerrilla, plantation worker, and Archbishop Óscar Romero - which determines how they play and what their goals are. Play takes place on a large square grid with areas designated as guerrilla camps, plantations, mass demonstrations, etc. Players roll dice and move their pieces and pieces representing resistance movement members in order to occupy the various areas; occupying an area provides a benefit depending on the type.
The game consists of a 24-page booklet containing the rules, historical background, "news" items and military tactics for use during the game. In addition, there are cardstock sheets bound in to the booklet. These are cut apart to create the role cards and cards depicting the various board areas. The players have to supply the board, dice, pawns, and resistance movement markers.
The game is designed for 13 players (one of whom runs the game and one of whom is in charge of the news), but can be played with more or fewer by doubling up players or roles. No specific minimum or maximum numbers are given.