Balance of Power

Title		Balance of Power
Game Type	Strategy
Company 	Mindscape, 1987
Programmer      Chris Crawford
Players	        1
Compatibility	All
Submission	Callas

Balance of Power is set in the 1980's Cold War scenario, with the player
acting as either America or Russia.  Each turn, the player allocates
money, military support, destabilization efforts and so on, to every
country in the world. As such, each turn can take a long time, as you
read the reports each country and balance your resource allocations (and
search round the map wondering where Bolivia is). The up side is after
playing for a month you have a map in your head of the location of every
country in the world.

Once you've decided what to do where, you hit next turn and then go
through the stand-off phase; this is where your opponent (played by the
computer) objects to some of the actions you've taken. You have to either
accept their complaint and stop whatever it was that was objected to, or
face them down. If you face them down, sometimes they back down and
sometimes they escalate matters - at which point you have to decide if
you're going to back down or esclate further. Escalate too much and it's
game over, in the 1980's nuclear armageddon sort of way.

The score is kept by an international prestige value for each side. Each
time you face your opponent down, more prestige goes in the pot. If you
lose, you lose that amount of prestige from your total. If you win, you
get extra points.

The amount of prestige thrown in the pot depends mostly on the country
involved.  China for example is very sensitive - but no one gives a damn
about Namibia.

The graphics and interface are good. It's four colours and a wire frame
map of the world - but it's all you need, and because there's no need for
animation and fancy graphics the interface has aged well; it does its job
now just as well as it did when the game came out. You don't need the
manual to play the game.

If you're patient and you like micro-management there's a lot going for
this game. Each turn takes a long time and a lot of effort, but there is
a high degree of involvement; a real feeling of satisfaction as you make
progress in bringing countries over to your side and a real feeling of
tension as your opponent begins to dominate countries you're concerned
about, as well as the difficulties of balancing your resource budget and
deciding just how far you can go each turn in attempting to subvert -
sorry, I mean support - other governments in the face of resistance from
your opponent.

For a game to generate such feelings and involvement on the part of the
player is a sign of its quality, and BOP is indeed a classic strategy game.

Note there are two versions of this game.  The original was released in
1987 and an updated version in 1990. Ultimately, the game was released
free of charge on an Amiga magazine coverdisk.

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