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Subject: Global Agenda - Introduction rss

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Andrew Rowse
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Help me RSP...

I have been working on a game with the working title of Global Agenda, in which players take the role of one of six 'nations' (some aren't really nations) and are given one of four or five nation-specific objectives.

Each turn, each player receives 3-5 event cards, and chooses 2 of them to be resolved. All players' events are shuffled together and resolved in random order, so nobody knows who is causing what effects. The effects include terrorist attacks against countries, and economic boons and busts.

Each player also selects one of four overt actions for his country to take - military, growth, defense or influence. Players have to be careful that their overt actions don't make it too obvious what their secret objective is.

Each nation has two scales from 0-10 : Economy and Harmony. Events and action will push these scales up and down, and objectives will generally be based on the final states of nations. In addition, each nation has a Point of No Return (PNR), which can be voluntarily or automatically triggered, and will change some or all of the nation's actions once revealed.

The nations and their respective PNRs are as follows:

USA - Sanction of 'torture' (improves the US's defense, and allows the US player to force another player to reveal his action)

Iran - Nuclear Arsenal (improves Iran's military power, destabilises Israel)

Europe - Single Government (improves Europe's economic power, but weakens the ability to maintain domestic harmony)

Israel - Nuclear Arsenal (improves Israel's defense, but weakens other nations' ability to help Israel - ie helping nuclear Israel causes them domestic unrest)

China - Democracy (weakens China's growth, but allows much more flexibility of action)

Arab League - Alternative Energy (causes a one-time worldwide economic crash, weakens AL's economic influence, but makes it far less vulnerable to attacks)

All the nations are in play every game, even when there are fewer than six players, but the unplayed nations just sit there being manipulated rather than taking actions and choosing events.

After a set number of times through the draw deck, the game ends and players reveal their secret objectives. Each objectives lists ways that the nation scores points - for instance Iran : Persian Benefactor scores points from high harmony in Israel and the Arab League, and scores points from high domestic economy, plus bonus points if it has avoided developing a nuclear arsenal.

And here's the bit where I reach out to my fellow RSPers...

I need four or five conceptual objectives per country. I'd like them to span the range of what the real-world country claims to be doing, but also what the conspricists suspect they might really be up to. In the Board Game Design forum, this would quickly result in arguments and get the thread shifted to RSP, and anyway, I think RSPers have far more interesting knowledge and opinions about such things.

I'll start a new thread for each nation, along with my thoughts so far... For any questions about the game mechanics, ask here.
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Ken
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I'll have to give it some thought to answer, but isn't it worth noting that Israel's existing nuclear arsenal has to be the worst kept secret in the universe? Wouldn't it be better for them to aim for "Working Two-State Solution" that strengthens its harmony/economy and weakens the Arab states militarily since a major source of unity for them is gone?

I might also suggest replacing the Arab League with India or Indonesia. With the exception of China, your board doesn't have a whole lot of Asian nations about, which misses where much of the world's population and economic growth are likely to be in the future. Africa's also lacking, but it's hard to foresee a major power emerging there with the current state of affairs in the region.

Might be interesting to add more countries/powers (like India, a S. Africa that unites many of their neighbors, or a Central/S. American power), then use a random mechanism for selection with the powers that are out of the game still being in the mix somehow. You not only have to win, but prevent the non-players from winning.

Just some initial thoughts. I'll see if any objectives spring to mind.
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Andrew Rowse
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I envision the point of no return as being a fundamental shift in the way a nation 'does business' - a genie that once let out of the bottle cannot be put back in. However, the PNR should not be a goal in and of itself, though manipulating nations into reaching their PNRs may be part of many goals.

For instance, once of Israel's objectives would be to create peace in the Middle East. I had thought that this would involve increasing harmony in Iran, the Arab League and Israel, but I actually really like your take on it - that weakening the Arab League might be a critical aspect.

The game wouldn't have a board per se - but each nation would have their own two part board - one part with the harmony and economy scales (with plain backs, so they can be shuffled and dealt out), and one double-sided part showing the actions available pre- and post-PNR. Consequently it doesn't matter too much that large chunks of the planet are unrepresented, or that Israel is tiny. I would have liked to include Russia and India as well, but felt that 8 nations might be a bit unwieldy.

I wondered about making the game so that there were more nations, but not all of them would be in the game. The problem is that it could really hurt some of the objectives - for instance if a nation's objective is to economically boost USA and Europe, and neither of those nations has been selected to be in play (not even in play without a player controlling them), the player wouldn't be able to score the associated points.

I guess that I could perhaps make the game have three or four key nations, and then five or so non-key nations. Each session would involve the key nations plus two or three random non-key ones, and the objectives would have to reflect the fact that only three nations would be guaranteed to be in the game. It does increase the setup complexity though...

Sigh, it really WOULD be good to get a few more nations in. Perhaps in a sequel :)
 
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Philipp Schuster
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Hi there

Sorry, if I shake up your idea a bit.

Generally I think that a game representing the current global struggle would be very interesting. Generally, I do not want to meddle with your proposed game mechanics, which I do not know but from what I've read seem to be quite interesting.

But ... I do not know for how many players you decided to create your game. You talk about six, being

USA, China, Arab League, Israel, Europe, Iran.

That won't work. I mean, it could work, giving a great game, but it does not represent the current situation in any way. Israel definitely has to be cancelled out, and the same would be true for the Arab League and Iran. Even with Europe, I do have my problems, if the game should reflect the current political situation and influence.

Ok, I do assume here that the game should start NOW (April 2009), reflecting the main geopolitical issues of our time.

Well, talking about your 6 powers NOW:

USA ... no need to emphasize on that
China ... of course
Europe ... well, you suppose an independent, unified Europe here. This situation does not exist. Britain, Spain and Poland are relatively staunch US-allies, whilst France and Germany have to define their position. France nowadays tends to be more pro-independent Europe with strong ties to the US whilst Germany is pro-independent-Europe leaning towards Russia (Merkel might be the most US-friendly chancellor you will get in Germany, and even with her there are some major disagreements). So having an unified EU-bloc in your game simply does not represent reality.
Iran ... why did you choose Iran as one of your 6 powers in a game of world supremacy? Iran is a power you have to take into account if you want to concentrate on the middle eastern theatre, but globally, they are (almost) nothing.
Arab League ... even less so. They are disunited, militarily absolutely weak, and in terms of population unimportant.
Israel ... that's a joke, isn't it? Whilst Israel has the military potential to be one of the bigger players in the middle eastern theatre, they absolutely lack the resources to project power globally.

Ok. Now it is 3 powers the two of us do agree. USA, China, Europe (well ...). What would be my proposals to replace Israel, Iran, Arab League in a GLOBAL game ...

Russia. This is a must-have. Whilst Russia might have its long-term problems, in the short-term this is a global power to recon with. They still control a VAST stretch of land. They are the one power fighting Chinese influence in central Asia right now. They are the one power fighting US-influence in Eastern Europe right now. They are the one power fighting Iranian influence in central Asia right now, and compared to the means China and the US can field in Russia's sphere of interest, Iran is merely a bug to be fed or crushed at will. So who comes up with a game representing nowaday's politics ignoring Russia?

India. The one independent Asian power, being mighty enough to play Russia against the US even in cold-war times. They share one thing with China, India more or less met its geopolitical imperative. Both are in a situation to be able to concentrate on projecting their power outwards. Meaning, the only question for India at the moment is: Is it cheaper to crush Pakistan outright or to wait for the state to be destroyed by its rivaling fractions and pick up the shards afterwards. In effect, India is an island with the second-largest population of the world. They do have their power-base nobody can hope to efficently touch. And they are not aligned with anybody so far.

Brazil: Now I'm getting brave. But think about it. After Argentina was stupid enough to more or less ruin its economy, Brazil is the only South-American power left. Venezuela's Chavez did a lot of fancy socialismizising, but Bolivia's Morales was very quickly discouraged by some Brazilian interventioning concerning his energy policies. Details do not matter but the fact is that for the first time in history there is a power evolving on the South American continent that could truly shape global politics.
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Andrew Rowse
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The game isn't exactly a game of world domination - more one of fulfilling secret goals covertly. The nations are chosen because they're politically interesting, rather than necessarily powerful. Iran's nuclear ambitions, Saudi (as part of the Arab League) fundamentalist Islam, and Israel's survival in the midst of angry neighbours are hot topics that many countries have an interest in.

Europe's lack of unified purpose is to be reflected in its inability to make great changes, despite the resources it has available. The game is for 2-6 players (when playing with only 2 or 3, random events are added to the event pool each turn, to make it harder to guess what your opponents are planning).

That said, you're right that it feels odd not to have India and South America represented. Something I've been kicking around has been the idea of 'protectorates' - countries that are controlled by players, either as colonies or close allies. Each nation would begin with one protectorate, and they could change hands through some form of military or economic intervention. Off the top of my head, I'd probably use the following (with starting owner in parentheses):

Palestine (Israel)
Central America (USA)
Russia (Europe)
Central Africa (Arab League)
North Korea (China)
India (Iran)

Admittedly, the links between Russia-Europe and India-Iran are tenuous at best!

It might be better to leave at least some of the protectorate nations unclaimed at the start of the game instead of trying to wangle a connection to the main nations.

The protectorates would offer some form of advantage to the controlling nation, perhaps offering a buffer to military attack, or an economic boost. The control of Palestine would be a key point on many objectives.
 
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Jasper
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Perhaps it even more interesting if the main powers can compete for influence in the protectorates. For example both Israel and the Arab league would be interested in Palestine.

Although I would echo that Israel is a tiny nation that is really out of place here. Would serve better as a protectorate of the USA.
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