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Supremacy 2020» Forums » Variants

Subject: New Year's Variants rss

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Daniel Grant
United States
Santa Clarita
CA
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Played a five player game of Supremacy 2020 on New Year's Day (US, Russia, China, Europe, CW). It was a lot of fun and we play tested a few variants.

Loans for Bonds Scam
My brother is a real life banker, and awhile back he found an exploit in the rules we decided to house rule to fix. It goes like this - at the start of the game, take out $8 Trillion in Loans and immediately use with $4 Trillion in starting cash to buy $12 Trillion in Bonds. Because the interest rate goes up exponentially as you move towards $12 Trillion, you end up receiving a lot more in interest from the Bonds than you pay in interest on the Loans. If you were to just spend $4 Trillion of your starting cash on Bonds, you would only make $300 Billion in interest. See the picture below. But leveraging $8 Trillion in debt allows you max out your Bonds and make $2 Trillion per turn with your $4 Trillion investment. That is not a bad investment!

 


The exploit comes because you can always sell Bonds at any time to raise needed cash. If you can keep your head down for a few turns, you can use the interest to pay down your loans, increasing your Bond interest even more. In two or three turns, you're raking in $3.2 Trillion per turn while your opponents are struggling to keep the lights on. And if you can't keep your head down, just sell off the Bonds. No downside to this maneuver.

The problem is that this becomes optimized play, and every player would use the Loans for Bonds Scam right away. Might as well set up the game with every player having $3 Trillion starting cash, $12 Trillion in Bonds, and $8 Trillion in Loans.

I experimented with some "fixes", limiting when you can buy and sell Bonds, etc. Finally we landed on this. Bonds became Economic Investment. It still produces the same interest rate, but it can never be sold back for cash. It is like a permanent investment in your superpower's economy. Loans remained the same - you can take out or pay off whenever you wanted. (If I wanted to be technical, I'd rename loans to bonds as governments don't ever take out loans. When governments borrow money they sell bonds which is their debt. Governments work differently than regular people).

With the house rule you can still take out $8 Trillion in loans to "invest" in Economic Investment (Bonds) but you can't ever get the cash back. My brother decided to play test the Loans for Bonds Scam with the house rule as Russia. It would still provide a nice interest profit each turn, but his cash was dangerously constrained. He went all in to be the sole nuclear power on the first turn, and relied on nukes to function as his only means of defense. I thought he did well, he was never attacked and collected interest profit each turn. But he felt the economic trade off was too limiting. If anyone had attacked him early, he would have been quickly overwhelmed.

Midgame.

Hot Spots
The other variant we tested was making some neutral territories "Hot Spots" or conflict zones. Marked with a star token, holding the neutral provided a $2 Trillion bonus to the end score. Korea, Israel, South Africa, and Venezuela became Hot Spots.

As it turns out, they were a non-factor. No one bothered with them. As CW, I executed multiple combats in a single turn to take a swath of neutrals with other player's companies. There had been no combat up until that point with all of the other players peacefully trying to build their economies (and crashing the commodities market). But my massive invasions unsettled the world. I didn't seize any Companies, my intent was political leverage. But China, Europe, and the US freaked out.

China retaliated with an attack on undefended Australia. I responded by invading Chile. The back and forth quickly escalated. I offered China peace and a return of their Argentinian and Chilean companies if they pulled out of Australia. At the urging of Russia, China responded by nuking my Indian navy. I knew the CW was going to fall to the combined might of Europe, China, and the US. So I launched my only nuke at Moscow. It was the principle of the thing. I may lose, but my brother wasn't going to win!

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