April, 2014 | Command Post Games
Strategy Board Games Napoleon Waterloo Gettysburg Bulge Supremacy

The Apple of Wargames

The Measure of a Great Game

Supremacy was always kind of a counter culture product.  It reminds me of Apple or Volkswagen.  It zigged  while the rest of the market zagged.  The measure of a great game is not how many complex rules they can cram into a 100 page rulebook.  The measure of great graphics is not how many competing colors they can fit into highly detailed, high res images cluttering up an overly busy board.  Supremacy was and is based on the concept of minimalism.  Less is more.  It is that way by design.  More rules and pieces do not make a game more realistic.  Don’t be fooled by its seeming simplicity.  In many ways, Supremacy is more realistic at modeling international conflict, trade, economics, politics and warfare than many so-called ‘simulations’.  Though the rules are simple, the strategic possibilities and layers are very complex. Fans of the original get this.

Our graphics guy is not ‘mediocre’.  He is brilliant!  The graphics look clear and stark on purpose.  That is the theme of the entire game.  Supremacy’s focus is grand strategic, not micromanaging minutiae.  New people comparing Supremacy 2020 to current market standards for board games maybe surprised.  This is not your run of the mill Euro/RPG board game.  Don’t mistake the stark, minimalistic style for cheap and unfinished.  Look at the diehard commitment to this game from people who saw it in the 80’s.  And that is in spite of the ‘flaws’ it had then!  How many games on the shelf today will be remembered like that 30 years from now?  There are no custom molded zombies, (not that those aren’t cool) but this is a game that will become a favorite and classic.  It has tremendous replay value.  The new random card opening gives players a unique strategic puzzle to solve every game:  Different weaknesses.  New opportunities.  This is a game you will play over and over.  Every Supremacy game ends with players discussing why they did what they did and what they plan to do in the next game.  🙂

Kids and War

My daughter Emily heard about the budget battles in congress on the news and the ensuing government shutdown.  “Why do the republicans want to shut down the government?”, she asked.

“Well, I think they are worried that the national debt is getting too high.” I answered.

“Oh, is that like in Supremacy?”, she asked.

“Yes”, I answered “Exactly.”

“What is our debt?”, she asked.

“I think it’s around $16-17 TL.”, I answered.

“Oh my,” responded Emily, “That’s high.  We aren’t bankrupt yet?”

“Well, not yet but we are getting close.  That’s what congress is worried about.”

“How can we even afford the interest payment on that much debt?”, she asked.

“Well, that’s a big problem for us now.  Our payments on debt is a big part of our budget and it’s growing.  That leaves us with less money to pay for other things.”, I responded.

“We have to pay all that money to the bank?”, she inquired.

“No, we pay it to our bond holders.  China holds a lot of it.”, I answered.

“Oh, just like in Supremacy!  So we have lots of debt and China has lots of bonds.  So each turn they make a bunch of money and we pay it?”, she clarified.

“Yes”, I said, “That’s mostly it.”

“Do they have a big navy?”, she asked.

“Not yet”, I said, “but they are trying to build one.”

“That’s not good.”, she said, “Do they have lots of ICBMs?”

“Yes”, I answered, “but so do we.”

“Ah, so there is no point in attacking us.  We’d just obliterate each other.”  She said, “What about North Korea?  I heard they were threatening to nuke us?”

“Yeah, but they only have like 1 or 2 and they aren’t long range or very reliable.”, I answered.

“Do we have ABMs?”, she asked.

“Sort of”, I answered, “It’s not full proof but we can shoot down some.”

“So it’s like we only have a couple ABMs in Supremacy but the North Koreans only have 1 ICBM?”, she surmised.

“Yeah,” I answered, “More or less.”

A surprising conversation considering that Emily is a 10 year old.  What?!  What is she?!  Some sort of international/political genius?  Nope.  Just a regular kid.  A regular kid that has played Supremacy!

Pretty sophisticated knowledge for a 10 year old.  Unlike most of her peers, she knows where Burma, Afghanistan and Argentina are and she can point them out on a map.  She understands the basics of global trade, conflict, negotiation and politics.

Well, that’s all good but what about nuclear war?  Doesn’t playing games like this make kids violent?  Nuclear war is horrific.  It shouldn’t be made into a fun game. It may seem that way at first.  A closer look actually reveals the opposite:  Studies show that wargamers tend to be more pacifistic than the general public.  It makes sense if you think about it.  People that play wargames understand better than anyone else how devastating and destructive war can be.  They see how it starts.  They know why it’s best to avoid it and  how.  The world would be a much better and safer place if more people played Supremacy.