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Independent Review -by Bryan Morris
Bryan worked as a professional reviewer for video games. He also is a professional comedian in New York! He has no ties with Command Post Games but he does great work on stage. Check out his site:
Supremacy 2020 is an immensely fun update to the 1984 global warfare board game. The game will inevitably be compared to Risk, as players similarly create troops and roll dice to attack others in an attempt at global domination. But Supremacy 2020 is far more intricate and rewarding than Risk.
It’s obviously a war game, but first Supremacy 2020 is a balance of managing money and resources. Players start by choosing one of six Superpowers and then compete for company cards which they can use to produce the game’s resources: Oil, Grain, and Minerals. Resources are spent to create and mobilize military forces and weapons of mass destruction. If they don’t have the cards, players can purchase resources off the Market at fluctuating prices or trade with other players for whatever prices or terms they agree upon. Players can also steal each other’s resource production by conquering their territories.
A Player wins by having the highest “Net Worth” at the end of the game. They get these points by accumulating money, company cards, forces, weapons and not having debt. The game ends when all but one Superpower goes bankrupt or has had all 4 of their major cities conquered or destroyed. If enough nukes drop, the game can also end in nuclear winter.
Playing Supremacy 2020 is a very, very fun war game experience. The more you play, the more options for victory you discover. Once you have the rules down, the game turns play fairly quickly, and the updated rules provide players with something to do every single turn, so no one feels like they aren’t participating. They also never feel like they don’t know what to do. When in doubt, make a missile.
With boats players are very mobile and any exposed shore is at risk to card-hungry opponents. You’ll dread your friend’s secret plans, and grin with delight when you storm and seize their unsuspecting oil fields. You never feel geographically trapped, because there’s always a sea route or a minor power to go through. With so many variables, players have to strategize. They can’t just amass soldiers behind a choke point. They have to pay those troops’ salaries each turn, so the bigger they get, the more expensive they get. Too many troops in one country also become targets for nuclear weapons.
The game takes about and an hour and a half to play which allows you to experience the satisfying feeling of creating an empire without drawing out the game. Thankfully you’ll never have to wait for your friend to roll every single die as he slowly traipses across the world to inevitably destroy you well after the game was meaningfully over.
Conventional combat – my three guys roll dice to attack your three guys – is pretty straight forward and intuitive. Combat is fast and exciting. Giant armies can be created and deployed quickly, catching your enemies off guard. Sometimes lady luck doesn’t have your back, but hey – that happens in real life, too.
Nukes are extremely powerful and extremely fun to use! Gleefully wiping a pile of your opponent’s troops off the board and permanently destroying a territory is very satisfying. It’s a pretty empowering moment. Being on the receiving end of a nuke, is less fun. Nukes add a palpable tension to the game as soon as they appear. There’s usually a collective gasp when the first person successfully researches ICBMs. Just try keeping a steady pulse when you roll your last defensive die against an oncoming nuclear warhead. Supremacy 2020’s counterattack rules often leads to a cold war. You’ve gotta make more ICBMs and more ABMS than the other guy, but you better not use!
You can play the Market by driving prices up or down, making other players spend substantially more for resources or collect substantially less when they sell them. I like this part of the game. You’ll feel good after a few smart trades, but market gains do lack the sense of accomplishment you get from ripping a card from your friend’s hands. It is quite enjoyable to produce weapons and troops to sell to minor powers – especially when you sell a nuclear missile to a country your enemy plans on attacking.
Supremacy 2020 offers players a plethora of options with which to conduct global warfare. Because of this, the rules can be a bit complicated at times. There’s a lot to keep track of: Money, debt, resources, market prices, troops, and game phases. While not overwhelming, the rules will definitely take some time to explain to friends new to the the game. Luckily Command Post Games includes a very helpful Turn Summary and Combat Flow Chart that help illustrate a lot of the game’s mechanics. They also provide a helpful FAQs page on their website. Still, you’ll probably be grabbing the rule book frequently until you’ve played the game a few times.
Additionally, Loans, bonds and interest can be confusing and intimidating.This is partly because thinking in terms of Billions and Trillions seems complicated at first. Once you realize you can ignore the extra zeros, they became much more easily mentally manageable.
The game materials are all “beer-proof,” meaning spills won’t damage any part of it. This is a very smart idea, so your buddy doesn’t accidentally ruin something by slamming his hands on the table after watching his resources turn into a mushroom cloud. Supremacy 2020’s company cards are fantastic. The cards are made of high-quality plastic which look quite sleek and are very durable. They look almost collectable.
The board itself is very colorful and detailed and is surprisingly big. Like it won’t fit on my table big! Its size easily accommodates all your pieces even in smaller countries, and is large enough that you could use a croupiers’ rakes if you want to feel especially militaristic.
The game board, while aesthetically pleasing, does seem slightly flimsy. So do the Strategic Reserve Cards, which may be have been better on a thicker card stock. None of this detracts from the enjoyment of the game, though. Everything looks nice.
Ground force pieces are fairly basic colored cubes, generic enough that they could represent any kind of troops: Soldiers, tanks, giant futuristic mechs, whatever. The coolest-looking components, though, are the mushroom clouds. They are made of plastic but look like glass.
I highly recommend Supremacy 2020 to anyone who likes war games. If you ever played Risk and enjoyed it even a little, Supremacy 2020 is for you. It’s an exciting and versatile game that allows you multiple paths to victory. It takes a few play-throughs to really be comfortable with all the rules, but once you do, you’ll want to keep playing and trying out different strategies and Superpowers. The power of nuclear weapons coupled with the power of persuasion make for a game where there’s no clear winner until the end. It offers something for every type of player. You can sit back and focus on playing the market or on arms research. You can be aggressive with conventional troops and kick your opponents’ legs out from under them. You can even decide it’s time to go to bed and destroy the world in a nuclear winter if that’s your cup of tea. Bottom line: Supremacy 2020 is a highly enjoyable and repayable war game.
Review -by Robert Thompson
I am honored to be a play-tester for this great remake and I wanted to address some of the fixes and changes that have been implemented.
The Market was a sore point in the original – now it is fixed and dynamic! The cost of war was overwhelming – now you can wage conventional war with ease! Nukes are still deadly, but there is a penalty if you trigger nuclear winter! Combat is fast and streamlined!
Switching up the resources forces interaction of the superpowers – no longer are you safe to build up for 3-4 turns before anything happens. Games are much faster, we can finish a game in a night!
And I cannot wait till we get to share some of the expansions that we are testing!
Review -by Gabe Smith
Wow, what a look. Honestly, I was a little taken aback at first. Not what I was expecting, it’s bright. I have to say, the more I’ve seen it, the more I like it. Reminds me of Apple, although it looks somewhat edgy. It’s Futuristic. Modern. Simple. Completely different but I remember that’s how the original Supremacy made me feel. Although, I never would have expected “white” oceans but they actually work. Not bad. We had the printed paper cards for the Print & Play, and they actually look good. The plastic cards look very cool, I hope they do those. The map is huge, we actually had trouble fitting it on the table. Actually, would fit fine. There just isn’t room to put the supply cards, money, and such. Although to be fair, our dining room table is kind of small right now. I wonder how it would fit on a regular table? The map measures 44” x 25 ½”. We just used the pieces from the original at the time. The ones they are planning, look about the same. Simple. Functional. Nothing amazing. I was almost expecting something more spectacular. This works I suppose.
Rules, clarity? User friendliness
One page rules? When do you ever see that? They fit on a page. If you played the old game and remember it somewhat, these work pretty well. Although they aren’t very detailed and leave lots of open questions. That’s O.K. for us, we just go with it. Although, some guys may not like this. Some guys want the rules spelled out. For example, it just says “pay total to the bank if buying.” I know what that means because I’ve played it before. Some guys want more detail on exactly how you do that, so the good news is that you can. The game also has a main rule book, we just used that mostly. Not including the covers and the table of contents, there are 9 pages of actual rules. These are small mini half pages, with fairly big print. I like the way it reads, it’s fairly easy to find things. It seems simple and to the point. On the contrary, we were confused about some of the combat sequences. The developers said they are still rewriting this section some, so it should get sorted out before release. If it ends up like the rest of the rules, it should be fine.
How does it compare to the original?
I like it, by far a vast improvement. We weren’t sure about the idea of having more actions per turn, though. We kind of liked how limited actions forces you to prioritize, but we gave it a try anyways. We loved it! After playing a few games of 2020, the old game really seems to drag now. This is a very subtle change but it makes a big difference, it is easier to attack and fight now. Basically you get 3 attacks for the price of 1 in the old game. It’s easier for everybody to consistently make money on the market now as well. The net result is that you can make money and fight every turn. I remember the old game you would have to fight a turn or two, then save up a turn or two. In my opinion, this is way better. Bottom line, you can spend more time doing what you want AND playing the game, not waiting to play the game. L-stars are gone, well actually they call them ABMs now. Basically the same thing only ABMs can’t shoot at each other. I don’t see anything about the space burst or high tech rule, though. Also, the map is bigger! With smaller areas and more of them. I never had the mega map, but I compared it and the map of 2020. The 2020 map looks comparable to the scale of that. Some guys thought the extra areas were needless, though. I suppose, there is something to be said for a compact size. Also, we have no player in Africa and South America. Instead we have Japan and the Commonwealth. Looking back onto the whole superpower thing, it didn’t really pan out for Africa and South America did it? Anyway, these days who is a superpower? Even the US is looking questionable. But, that’s what the game is about right? More importantly, only 1 area in Japan?! We didn’t like this at first. I mean, isn’t it easier to conquer them? Surprisingly, no. You see, each player has 4 cities. Therefore, you have to nuke all 4 cities in Japan to destroy them completely, just like all the other players. As well, in terms of Cards. You get more cards, a double deck. As well, the cards are dealt out randomly now. We didn’t like this at first. Odds are, you won’t get cards in your own country, and some countries don’t even have cards. And starting with only 3 cards, made us feel very uncomfortable. Often times you don’t even get any of certain a resource. Still, we gave it the old college try. It actually works out fine. In part because the market works now. Now it is easier to trade and get the things you need. It makes you feel like your whole economy is just flapping around out in the breeze there. The more we play it, the more we like it. It forces you to think internationally, and can really put you into some awkward situations. It forces you to get out into the world instead of just sit idly by at home.
Is the market fixed?
Yes!! This did it, but I was very skeptical about this. I’ve seen many market optional rules over the years. They all make the game more complex, slower and still not right. But, this does it. It’s funny. Ironically, the changes are very small and almost imperceptible. They make a huge difference, though. I like how they kept the original intent of the market, and it’s simple too. Not a bunch of crazy rules, It just works.
Game Play: engaging? Excitement/Fun/Tension level?
Yes, this was always the best part about Supremacy. When a player announces he is launching and picks up 10 mushroom clouds, it’s like all the air just rushed out of the room. It still has the same punch we remember, though I kind of miss the good old USSR. And where is the natural gas in the North Sea? Anyway yes, very fun. Again, more time spent playing rather than building up and saving.
Well, we do have the problem of the nukes. Of course, they inherently blow out your play balance, right? I’m not sure if you can do much about that, though. It’s kind of the nature of the beast. What if a player gets and builds a ton of nukes on turn 2, then decides to end the world on turn 3? Well, it’s pretty much game over. It is a game spoiler, but at this point you figure up victory by points. The nuclear mad man that destroyed the world, he comes in last place. That’s some consolation but still, I was just getting into this game.
Summary, Pros, Cons, Overall conclusions
Overall? I have to say I like it, a lot. But, does it live up to all their hype? For the most part, yes, I think it does. Definitely a vast improvement over the original. Cons: No detailed miniature pieces yet, but they say they are coming. Nukes still make play balance a little squirrely, though. It’s still a board game, although I’d still really like to see the e-version of this. I’d rather see the computer deal with all the transactions. Pros: Market fixed. More actions a hit. Oh, and the combat. The more we played, the more we really liked the conventional war. Supplies to move, attack and build. This kind of builds in logistics. The whole attack sequence is really fun, especially when it doesn’t bankrupt you in a turn. We need to play this more without the nukes.
Star rating? Thumbs up/down?
Definitely thumbs up. If you liked the old one, this is certainly a must have. This may be too simple for serious gamers, though. On a scale of 1-5, can you give anything a sure 5? Supremacy 2020 is certainly worth a 4, and I’m almost leaning towards a 5.
Review -New Rules vs Old Expansions by Glyn Reynolds
- Supremacy 2020 is simple and streamlined. By the time Mr. Simpson had published 11 expansions to Supremacy and created “Mega-Supremacy,” his creation has lost the elegance and simplicity it once enjoyed. After playing your game (in whatever hybridized form I managed to create), I went back and read through my “Commander-in-Chief’s Rule Book to Mega-Supremacy” and realized what a mess it was. Over half of the 11 expansion sets add complexity for complexity’s sake. Supremacy isn’t and never will be a simulation. The “Neutron Bombs and Killer Satellites,” “High Tech Edge for Strategic Forces”, “High Tech Edge for Conventional Forces”, “Unconventional Forces” and “Tanks” expansions merely complicate gameplay and offer little-or-nothing by way of improved enjoyment in return. Granted, the tank minis are really nice, but for over 70 years, all modern armies have included tanks as a major constituent of their firepower so what is the point in creating new rules to justify the minis? Just give us the nice minis to use instead of five cubes or whatever, similar to what is done in the many versions of Risk.
- “Resource Deck 2” is fine, variety is good. Supremacy 2020 gives us 90 company cards – I like this: if variety is good, more variety is usually better.
- The “Middle Powers” expansion set also adds variety and allows a seven or eight player game: another expansion that sits well with me.
- “Boomers” – actually, a pretty nice idea but nuclear subs can and should be considered part of a modern superpower’s strategic weapons arsenal. Game-wise, they might be more justified than Tanks but other than the attractive minis, they really offer little. To make matters worse, when used most effectively, they’re not even placed on the board! I really think this is another expansion set that should never have been released (but did I tell you I love the minis?).
- “Warlords and Pirates” – moving into neutral territories should not be too easy. Supremacy 2020 includes the essence of the “Warlords and Pirates” expansion set and distills it down to its basics. Most of the rules to this expansion were unnecessarily complicated.
- Miniatures of war for the warlords and pirates. Nice eye candy: fortunately they don’t add much complexity to the game if you’re already playing with the Boomers and Tanks expansions.
- “Fortuna” – either you love ’em or you hate ’em. Some people love the unpredictability an event card deck brings to a game. Supremacy 2020 is fine without event cards, but if you’re looking for stretch goals in the future, this could be an idea.
- So overall, well done on reducing the bloat that more than anything caused me to give up on the original Supremacy.
- I like the way you allowed for victory after nuclear winter. In my experience, whenever there is a way for a player on his last legs to ensure that everybody loses together, that outcome will happen most often. I suppose in the real world, an “everybody loses scenario” is what would happen after an all-out nuclear exchange but in a game, I’m more than happy to see whoever triggers nuclear winter finish last. It reminds me somewhat of “Twilight Struggle.”