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Subject: Review of Winds of Change rss

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Micael Gustavsson
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INTRODUCTION TO THE GAME
The game "Winds of Change" all is about the very current topic global warming and how it effects us the world we living in. This nice game of cooperative/competitive play simulates both actual political views and agendas of the states and/or governments of our world. The game was designed and produced by Munich Re in cooperation with the European Climate Forum so as to spread knowledge of how global warming affect us and the planet, the use of CO2-permits, etc.

COMPONENTS
The game comes with a sturdy game board ("The World") representing our world, with a temperature track running from 0.1 degrees Celcius to 4.0 degrees Celcius to monitor the rising temperature of the world. The board is simple yet nice. The game also includes four "landscapes" or player boards to put your markers on. Further, it comes with money markers or "Terras" in the same sturdy board material as the game board and the player boards.
In the game you also have cards, both 43 unique event cards representing effects on the world of global warming together with 12 insurance cards (yes, you can insure yourself against the effects of global warming. The cards are all in good quality and printed in both English and German.
With the game comes nice wooden pieces looking like houses but representing cities. They come in gray colors (representing cities without sustainable "green" technology, emitting greenhouse gases) and green colors (representing cities with "green" technology, not emitting greenhouse gases). You also get markers in gray (emission chips), green (know-how chips), and red (end-of-round chips).
The game is also supplemented with one die, 4 rule cards(one for each player), and 6 card board boxes to store the components in. Finally, the game comes with an easy to read and understand rulebook.
Thats it. The components are nice, but nothing out of the extraordinary.

GOAL OF THE GAME
The goal is to develop your part of the world without the earth getting to hot by your cities spewing out CO2-gases (greenhouse gases). By running your gray cities you will emit greenhouse gases until you invest in sustainable and "green" technology, building green cities. The game can only be won if the players limit the total emission and greenhouse gases and thus lowers the temperature and heating of the earth for two consecutive rounds. The winner is then the player who have developed the largest sustainable economic potential when the game ends. But, the game will also end if the players fail to limit their emissions and the earth reaches +4.0 deg Celcius in temperature. Then, we are all busted. Were all doomed!

THE FLOW OF THE GAME
The game is run through four stages of each round.

Stage 1: Auction of emission chips
First a little side note on CO2-permits. These permits represents the use CO2-permits that states have been allocated in our world. Some countries don't have all that many factories and industries, but they have CO2-permits that all countries get. These permits regulates the maximum amount of CO2 that we are suppose emit if we are to reduce global warming. These permits are traded on the open market and more industrialized countries buy them to emit more than they are allowed. This also gives countries an incentive to invest in "green" technology that does not emit CO2. This is the theory and a smart and good way for us all to proceed. However, there are different opinions on global warming in how urgent it is to revers it and how keen we are to increase of production costs through buying CO2-permits.

Now back to the game. Emission chips represent CO2-permits. You need this permits to operate your gray cities. In Stage 1, emission chips are being auctioned out in hidden auctions. Winner pays up what s/he bid, the other players keep their money.

Stage 2: Investments in know-how
Player can in this stage invest in emission-free technologies. These are represented by the green, round markers. The know-how chips are required to build green cities later on and can also be used to remove emission chips on the world (representing the current overheating temperature). To obtain a know-how chip you need to first invest in research. This is done by everyone making a hidden bid to how much research the players are willing to invest in. Then, the player how won the "bid", thus investing most, receives the opportunity to pay double the amount invested in research to invest further in technological development. The other players forfeit their spent money in research as sunk cost and are not allowed to develop the researched knowledge this round. After doing this the player obtain the sought after know-how chip.

Stage 3: Individual actions
Here, the players take turns to operate cities (gray and/or green) to receive income, placing emission chips on the world (the game board) from operating gray cities, drawing event cards if the temperature rises to certain levels, building cities, trading chips with other players, and finally, buying insurance. Operating gray cities gets you more Terras (money) unless you have lots of green know-how chips. But having green cities not only reduces emissions to zero but also the reliance on CO2-permits to zero. The green cities are more expensive to buy but is a long-term investment worth making. When is up to you.

Stage 4: Determination of the global warming at the end of the round
The oceans continually absorb a fraction of the atmospheric CO2. This reduces the concentration of greenhouse gases in the air and thus lowers the warming of the earth. The higher the concentration of atmospheric CO2, the more the oceans absorb. This is represented in the game by a removal of emission chips (and thus temperature) on the game board. After this has been done, a red marker is placed on top of the gray emission markers on the temperature track of the board marking down the temperature for the end of that particular round. Remember that the game ends if th e temperature ever reaches 4.0 degrees Celcius.
At the end of stage 4, the game continues into the next round, beginning with stage 1 again.

CONCLUSIONS
I think this game comes out great in modelling the global warming and the fight for using non-sustainable and sustainable technology to increase our standards of living through economic potential. As this is a game of cooperation you all will fight to keep the warming of the earth at bay. But at the same time, each player will use different ways of increasing their economic potential. Some will want to "go gray" and some will want to "go green" and some in between. As this is a game of competitiveness, discussions will begin that may or may not lead to backstabbing through false promises of not operating non-sustainable gray cities.
I also like the event cards and how they can cause bad events for you (or the other players) making you loose Terras, or good for you thanks to, for example, increase shipping and trade thanks to the freeing up of new trade passages as the arctic cap is melting. But how bad don't you feel as it happens, although you may gain Terras in the short-term...
Real nice to be able to evoke the feeling of dirtying your hands, gaining some but feeling guilty ruining our world.
All in all, it is a surprisingly good game. Nice mechanics increasing replayability. I like it.
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Steve K
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Nice review, but you seem to have omitted some of the game end conditions.

The game ends in two ways.

If the global temperature rise reaches 4.0, then everyone loses.

If the global temperature decreases for two consecutive turns then the game ends and the winner is the player who has the highest sustainable economic potential: basically, grey cities are ignored and green city income is what counts.
 
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Micael Gustavsson
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Yes, you are absolutely right!
I was a little bit fast there.
Thanks for adding to the review.

(Edit: the review has now been updated with comments on how the game ends)
 
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Martin Hagvall
United States
Los Angeles
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Micael,

I just got the game but haven't played it yet. I am curious how the trading element (trade between players) worked out in practice. Could you please say something about that, perhaps with examples?

Also, the rules specify that while having a know-how chip is required for building a green city, a player can nevertheless "build green cities for players who have no own know-how at a price that can be freely negotiated." Was this used in your game and if so, how did it play out? Any general thoughts?

Martin
 
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Micael Gustavsson
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Hi Martin,

I just saw your reply.
Now it's been awhile since I played the game but...

We played a two-player game and in this game there was no room for negotiation
But I remember thinking the negotiation part being kind of neat, as you can get some cash back at the same time as both lessening the other player's pile of cash and at the same time helping the planet go green. But you have to select the right moment to get ahead.

Hope this helps some.

/gustmic




 
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Mátyás Fodor
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Well I also think that this game has a nice modelling theme.

The game is straight, and it is nice to see that as you proceed with the game the number grey cities slowly reduces, then at the given stage earth escapes from destruction, only one player wins, but everybody is happy.

The event cards certainly give a nice twist to the play, and I really like the philosophy that the player has to spend money on insurance or research even if there's no benefit in the end, like in life.

However, I have some thoughts about the rules.

First, the rulebook is not precise about the number of green chips available for auctions.
There's an opposition, because the rulebook tells something like "in each round two green chips are provided for auction", then the usual thing that "there are two rounds of auctions in each game round". That reads for me 2x2 green chips are auctioned in each game round. But on the quick cards it is obvious, that only one green chip is provided for each auction, so 1x2 in a game round.

Well, we have played it in 2x2 style, and it was rather easy and not really emphasizing the fact that they are expensive and even if you invest a lot, it is quite hard to achieve the right know-how in real life.

And this could be combined with another bug.
It is on the quick cards, that one grey city using one grey chip produces 10 Terras, while for the green city symbol it shows the "4+owned green chips" formula. The rulebook has the same description and I think this is not clear and could be understood in two ways. So by that, if one has for example 3 ecocities and 3 chips, then they can produce either (3*4)+3 =15 or 3*(4+3)=21 Terras.

My approach is, that especially from the quick reminder card, the latter one is true, so 21 is the result. But in fact if one had 7 or more green chips, then one ecocity could be more effective than a grey, which is quite utopistic.

It is ok, that for this you need to research and invest very hard, but anyway, I don't believe that any eco technology can be as productive as others. It is not just about energy conversion rate, but also the time and space factor. For example you would need thousands of wind generators(currently the most efficient power source) to produce the same energy that a single power plant does in time unit. Although the conversion rate can be as good as 99%, the amount of output energy is low per generator, so it costs much much more to install, and needs much more space.

So if someone thinks, that in 100 years it is possible to reach then play it in the ecocities*(4+know-how chips) way. I think otherwise, so I would play it in the other, harder way, as sustainability is also very very hard to get.
 
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