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King of Men

Junta - your comments?

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I have decided to attempt porting the boardgame onto the computer. To that end, I have made myself a preliminary design document, more of an overview of features than the real thing. One might think of this as a very early draft of the manual, although obviously a final version would not assume familiarity with the boardgame. Obviously, the main appeal of the boardgame is the wheeling and dealing between seven human players, which it is difficult, at best, to capture on the computer. I have tried getting around this by giving the player more to do, including some slight development / building. I should very much appreciate your comments. Overview Junta is (loosely) based on the West End Games boardgame of the same name. Each player controls a political faction of the Republico de los Bananas, and attempts to end the game with the maximum amount of foreign aid dollars in his Swiss bank account. However, unlike the boardgame, other factors also play a role in victory, such as peace credibility, popularity with the voters, and industrial development. Further, it is possible for all players to lose the game by touching off a nuclear war through courting foreign intervention too assiduously. It''s tough at the top... Terms Cred : International credibility. The factor that gets you support in liberal newspapers, increases the chances of your chosen superpower intervening on your behalf, and may get you a Nobel Peace Prize. Used for determining victory. FIP : Foreign Intervention Probability. Each of the two superpowers may choose to intervene on behalf of a faction. As FIP increases, you may see arms shipments, military advisors, and actual troops. (Peacekeepers, of course!) Use them wisely. If FIP rises high enough that both powers intervene, there could be a nuclear war. That could ruin your whole day. Ind : Industrialisation points. Gained by building factories, which also increase (slightly) the money earned by the state. Victory points. Minister : The Minister of Homeland Security. Next in power after the President. Controls the police; may make arrests and force budgets through the Chamber. Militia : Informal, spur-of-the-moment musters of concerned citizens. Useful for intimidation, but usually no match for regular troops. On the other hand, how well have you paid the Second Brigade lately? Swiss account : Your retirement fund. A place to put public money while you wait for a chance to spend it. Only money in your bank account counts towards victory - the stuff in your safe is "easy-come, easy-go." Pop : Popularity with the voters. Gains you victory points, Chamber of Deputies votes, and street militias. Determined on a district-by-district basis. Game flow Each turn starts with the current President proposing a budget. His sources of income are bananas, tourism, cocaine, and foreign aid, in approximately that order. His outgoes are the other players, who each demand large sums for their own departments. A President who gives too stingily will, of course, be faced with revolt. On the other hand, a generous President will find himself unable to pay his own troops - and be faced with revolt. It''s tough at the top... The players now vote over the budget. Each player controls a certain amount of Chamber of Deputies seats, as determined by elections (see later). If the budget passes, money is transferred. If not, there is trouble. The Minister of Homeland Security may decide to force-pass a failed budget; if he does, the President''s credibility goes down, and foreign intervention probability (FIP) goes up. If he does not, the President keeps the money, but his voter popularity and peace cred both go down. It''s tough, well, you know. It is now time for Cabinet reassignments, essentially as per the boardgame. However, the loyalty of troops with a new chief may be somewhat suspect. Of course, for precisely that reason, it could be in the President''s interest to keep everybody on their toes by frequent reassignments. On the other hand, the ex-General who now finds himself Admiral may not be any too happy with that reasoning, while the ex-Admiral who now controls the crack First Brigade may have been plotting revenge for the past three turns. Alliance? Oh yes. It''s tough... Assassins, anyone? Assassination is more difficult, but also more deadly, than in the boardgame. An assassinated player loses half his cred and pop, since a relatively unknown successor has to take over. His troops'' loyalty will go down, and he loses a random amount of money as subordinates see an opportunity to run off with the jewels. However, an assassin must not only choose the right location, but also get through the bodyguards. (It behooves the faction leader with an interest in continued breathing to keep his guards well paid.) And, of course, a captured assassin has no incentive not to talk, and will drag his employer''s good name through the mud. Ungrateful sorts, assassins. The Minister may not assassinate, but may try to arrest, other players. Arrests last for one turn, during which the arrested player is incommunicado. His troops do not move should a coup occur; however, if the rebels capture the Prison, they may set him free, in which case he can give orders again. Arrests are not automatically successful; like assassinations, the location of the player must be guessed. However, the bodyguards are, of course, helpless against the lawful agents of the elected government - unless the player chooses to lose cred by declaring himself in rebellion. This touches off an instant coup, but only the arrested player may move in the first Rebel phase, since everybody is caught by surprise. If this occurs, the bank is closed until after the coup is over. Next is banking, which is somewhat expanded from the boardgame. In addition to transferring money to the Swiss bank account, players may use money to : [list] [*] Beautify a part of the city (increase pop, tourism) [*] Industrialise (Extra banana income, less tourism, increase pop, cred, ind) [*] Arm the citizenry (increase pop slightly, decrease cred, militia more effective) [*] Pay troops (increase efficiency and loyalty) [*] Pay bodyguard (same) [*] Lobby for intervention (increase FIP) [*] Buy bread and circuses (increase pop) [*] Bribe other''s troops or guards (decrease their loyalty) [*] Donate to the Church (increase pop in slums, decrease in middle-class) [*] Bribe electoral official (chance of gaining districts you shouldn''t). [/list] Elections are held every three turns; each district elects a given number of deputies, who are controlled by the most popular faction in the district in a first-past-the-post system. Slums have few deputies, rich areas have lots. Every second election is a Presidential election, in which a new President is elected by the Chamber of Deputies. Coups Ah, the coup! Final argument of politics in the Republico de los Bananas, the coup is also an occasion for merrymaking, feasting in the streets, and settling long-standing grudges with your neighbours. From the ceremonial shelling of the Presidential Palace in the morning, to the twenty-one gun salute for the victor (usually in the general direction of the opposing side) in the evening, the coup is widely held to be the most noteworthy holiday of the Republic. The coup is played essentially as in the boardgame, but combat is more detailed. Troops have an efficiency rating and a strength, which depend on how much money has been spent on them. They also have a loyalty to each faction. It is possible to give orders to other people''s troops, if they have sufficient loyalty to you. One can also raise militias on a less ad-hoc basis than in the boardgame; however, militia casualties heavily impact district loyalties. Finally, there is the chance of foreign intervention; foreign troops are the Imperial Storm Troopers of Junta, but carry the risk of the other side also intervening, with drastic results. In addition to the five objective areas of the boardgame, one can invade a player''s home, thereby increasing troop loyalty through loot, but also increasing his cred as he gains sympathy in Western media. "See what I have sacrificed for the cause of peace in the Republic!" Troops capturing the jail may free an arrested player. The side which controls the radio station may choose to broadcast static, making it more difficult to give orders - for all sides. This can be a useful tactic for a winning side, since it makes it less likely that objectives will change hands. Coups decrease tourism income, more so the longer they continue. Rebels will also find themselves losing cred, since they are in opposition to a lawfully elected government. Ending the game The game ends if both superpowers decide to intervene in a coup, and their FIPs are high enough to touch off a nuclear war. In this case all players lose. The game also ends if one player gains control of all districts in an election; he is then entitled to declare himself President-for-life, shoot all the other factions, and jump up and down and shout. More usually, however, the game ends after a predetermined number of turns, specified before the game begins. In order to avoid endgame effects, the game does not take exactly this number of turns, but will end with increasing probability on each turn after that. Unless there is a President-for-life or a nuclear war, the winner is the player with the highest sum of Swiss account money, one-half voter popularity, one-third cred, and one-half industrialisation points. The coefficients, obviously, are subject to change.

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This (with a few alterations) was the first game I ever played on computer (16 years ago). The Sinclair Spectrum version was called Diktator. All text (although it made use of all 8 of the Spectrum''s colours) with just a little bit of sound - when you put down a coup attempt you were offered the option;
Show mercy? Y/N
Selecting N resulted in a machine gun sound (or at least as close to one as the Speccy''s BEEP command could muster). A great game.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions (www.obscure.co.uk)
Game Development & Design consultant

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