Designed by Joe Miranda and developed by Keith Schlesinger, two people noted for their solid work. The main thesis of the game is that in the near future, the government of the United States will face organized, violent opposition from its own people as it becomes less and less representative, and more and more intrusive and authoritarian. The plausibility of something like this actually occurring depends on your personal politics and how you view the State of the Nation; however, in the accompanying articles and sidebars Miranda does give the reader a lot to think about.
Physically, the game is much the same as other Gamefix issue games: eight pages of rules with copious examples, one page of charts and tables, an 11x17” map, and 100 backprinted, full colour, die-cut counters. A 10-sided die is needed to play.
The mapsheet shows the continental United States, divided into 13 regions rated for their general terrain type (Metroplex, Developed, and Wilderness) and Political Value. There are also three overseas regions (representing Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim) and several other holding boxes and record tracks.
There are 62 counters representing military and paramilitary units, marked with ratings for Data Conflict, Armed Conflict, and movement. Units are the same on both sides of the counter except that one side is coloured to show Government allegiance and the other to show its loyalty to the Rebels. Players may choose High-Tech, Rapid Deployment, or Strike Force units for higher Armed Conflict strengths, Cybernaut units for higher Data Conflict strengths (these units are also ‘clandestine’ and may be attacked only through Data Conflict or by Strike Force units), or Insurgent and Special Operations units for a balance between Data and Armed combat strengths. Finally, there are the fragile but very important Infrastructure units both sides need to keep control of those portions of the country they have taken and ultimately, to win the game.
There are also 37 Crisis markers that are shared between the two players. They are constantly being drawn, used, discarded, and redrawn during the game. Judicious use of Crisis Markers will go a long way towards winning the game. Crisis Markers come in two flavours: Support Markers that add to the combat strength of attacking units in varying degrees according to the type of Conflict and the terrain type of the region where the battle is taking place; and Special Events that may help or harm the drawing player.
The Sequence of Play for each turn is as follows:
Crisis Marker Selection.
Depending on the total Political Value of the regions containing friendly Infrastructure units, players draw from 1 to 7 Crisis Markers.
Data Conflict is one of the two types of possible conflict in the game. The concept of Data Conflict sets this game apart from the only other game I know of on the subject of a modern revolution in the United States, SPI’s Minuteman (1975). It is an acknowledgment of the critical role that control of information and manipulation of attitudes through the news media and computer networks play in modern society. Each attack may be augmented by one or two Support Markers. For a Data attack, the varying results are Crash (the attacker loses one Crisis marker), Neutralization (one enemy unit is sidelined for one turn), Recruit (one friendly unit may enter the game), Riot (the attacking player receives one Insurgent unit and Crisis markers equal to the Political Value of the region), or Defection (one enemy unit in the region changes sides and is flipped over). Data attacks do not require enemy units to be in the region - the region itself may be ‘attacked’ through Data conflict in order to recruit new units. Units may make one Data attack and one Armed attack during the same turn.
Movement is handled much the same as in other games, except that enemy units pose no barrier to friendly movement - the size of the regions involved prevents it.
This is the more familiar ‘shoot-em-up’ style of combat. Again, each Armed attack may be aided by one or two Support Markers. Enemy units may be Terminated (one enemy unit (but not Infrastructure) removed) or Eliminated (all enemy units removed, including Infrastructure). In any battle there is a certain chance that the defending units may Counterattack, and if too much firepower is used Collateral Damage may occur (in which the attacking player loses Crisis Markers equal to the Political Value of the region).
All friendly units that were neutralized by Data Conflict in the preceding turn may return to play, anywhere on the map.
Games last a varying amount of turns depending on the scenario that is being played. At the end of the last turn, players add up the total Political Values of the regions where they have Infrastructure units. The size of a player’s victory depends on how many more points he has than the other player, but if the totals are too close both sides lose as anarchy breaks out!
Crisis 2000 will of course not be to everyone’s taste, but it is a solid, simple, exciting design on an unusual subject. I highly recommend this game as an enjoyable (if somewhat subversive) way to spend an evening with a politically-motivated gaming friend.