Brett David Spain
Have I gone mad? I'm afraid so. You're entirely Bonkers. But I will tell you a secret, All the best people are.
I was able to demo and purchase Balance of Power at GenCon.
My initial impressions are extremely positive. The game is a varied cross between Stratego, Risk, and Diplomacy. The rules take less than five minutes to explain and setup takes less than a minute.
The base mechanic is a rock-paper-scissors exercise. Each country has pieces representing generals, bankers, and kings. Generals beat kings, kings beat bankers, and bankers beat generals. You have three actions per turn unless you solely control all areas of your home nation. If you do, you get an extra action. Your three actions must be:
1. Move a general or duplicate a general in an area.
2. Move a king or duplicate a king in an area.
3. Move a banker or duplicate a banker in an area.
At any moment in time, an area may contain no more than three pieces, either friendly pieces or enemy pieces. For example, you could have an area with two bankers and an opponent's banker. The order in which a piece enters an area determine if an immediate attack occurs or is deferred.
For example, you could move a banker into an enemy area containing a general and two kings. The banker would immediately beat the opponent general, resulting in an area with two opponent kings and a banker. During the opponents turn, one of the two kings could simply defeat the banker moved previously.
Victory is determined by the number of areas you control and a bonus for controlling your capitol with one of each type of piece. There is also a sudden victory mechanic where if you are able to duplicate a piece but none are left in your supply, the game ends and scoring occurs. In the base rules, if one of your piece types is eliminated, you cannot produce another for the rest of the game. There is a variant which allows you to spawn this banished piece type in your capitol.
The three player game we played lasted about an hour. The recommended number of players is five; this will promote alliances and help reduce the 2 against 1 situation in our game.