Ideology cover
designer Andrew Parks
publisher Z-Man Games
released 2003
players 2-5
playing time 90 minutes

Ideology

reviewed Walter Sorger

Actually, Moritz wanted to write the review about this game. Then he had to travel to Kuala Lumpur for some weeks to receive the public price at the "Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra International Composers " competition. In the meantime, his artistic-creative capacity is booked for the next decade, so that I would like to relieve him and to write this game review using his thoughts and words. Here they are.

The gaming community does not particularly long for new games about the topic. Up to now, there may be nearly a hundred thousand games about a 3rd World War (and naturally just as countless computer games). At the beginning of the wargame boom, the legendary "Gone With The Wind" was used as a model for epic but callow combat dice games.

With "Ideology" Z-Man Games appeared as one of the most influential independent American game companies ("Legends of Camelot") on the scene. It is well known that this is one of my (Moritz) favorite games. With some trouble I succeed from time to time to persuade our rather special group to play a "free for all" chaos driven game. This time everyone was looking forward to this new and ambitious game of Andrew Park, which counts less on power and military but rather on interesting conflicts and tragic characters. An enormous game board started a new trend in the USA. Each player symbolizes one of the most ruling ideologies of the 20th century: capitalism, communism, fascism, imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism. Each ideology is anxious to expand their influence (culturally, economically, and militarily) into still independent regions. As soon as a player achieves a global influence level of 12, the game ends and the winner is determined.

Game play consists mainly of playing different influence cards, in order to bring regions under one's own control or to develop regions in order to stabilize their power base as well as to succeed in conflicts with foreign or independent regions.

How does the game play? First of all one must realize that this is a wargame in the style of "Diplomacy" and "Risk". Even if one knows nothing about the world, there's a lot of atmosphere in the game. King making, alliances and sudden breaks of alliances are common. It is not too complicated and not dependent on too much luck. Nevertheless, dice (i.e. action cards [ah]) help to make for a combat system with sufficient uncertainties but not depending on pure chance. It is not a game for die-hard tacticians, but a very entertaining and communicative group experience, which will inspire many. Not an absolute classic, but worth an attempt.

Ideology board

In addition, the historical importance of "Ideology" is not to be underestimated - it actually is the first wargame, which uses ideologies as variable motivation elements.

Finally, a few Walter words about our session: The game is a war game. Everyone tries to beat on everyone else, above all on the weaker ones. From production and design it is obvious that the regulating influence of the USA is regarded stronger at all places of the world than grown relations within the third world. I played the leader of the Islamic ideology with its heartland Iran, and I was not able to convey why I should not get e.g. my next neighbor Afghanistan under my ideological control at the first opportunity.

The USA under President Maurice settled in immediately and prevented any success of my Mullahs using their economic presence. But they underestimated my readiness to take sacrifices and my fanaticism. As Ayatollah Walter my whole striving was to release my neighboring country on all accounts from the claws of the evil. I didn't succeed completely. But I could put some nice pressure on the Christian military power. They had to send new troops into the unrest area again and again, while the English imperialism and German fascism could expand their positions unimpaired, and in the end determine the winner between themselves.

Next time - if there should be one - the superior USA might well consider whether they want to seize a remote country like Afghanistan. Fanaticism and terrorism are not eliminated by applying the same means. Martyrs are the seed of the church. Every church.

read/add comments

2004, Westpark Gamers