Fate of the World

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Archonsod

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Yes, it's yet another attempt by me to get people to spend money again, but this time it's in a good cause since 20% goes to charity. Anyway, todays topic of gaming goodness is probably the only card game based on ecological disaster.



Handily the game sums up the premise in the intro movie



Currently there's only three and a half scenarios included. The Rise of Africa is a basic tutorial giving you control of North and South Africa and asking you to raise the HDI. The second, Fuel Crisis, is the one I'm using to demonstrate the game:


Yup, I beat this one already. It was the scenario they used for the beta and they toned down the difficulty since then

The objectives are on the left. There's two other scenario's; three degrees which lasts for 80 years longer and simply tasks you with having a global temperature increase of less than 3 degrees by the end (notable difference being you can let it get above 3 during the scenario as long as you bring it back down before the end) and Dr Apocalypse, in which you get to destroy the world. Except that's not activated yet and is due on the 11th along with an additional scenario. Of course, since most of my games end up destroying the world anyway I'm not sure what difference it makes. That's if they don't hang me first (apparently, genetically sterilising the Chinese is a crime against humanity. Bloody hippies). So, to our secret underground base global and perfectly innocent headquarters. Which I haven't built yet, so presumably I'm just borrowing Obama's laptop or something.


The world. Try not to break it

Ok, interface time. In the top left is the region and agent list, which is empty since I haven't got any henchmen employees yet. In the top right we have the statistics pane, currently showing global statistics, so we can work out complicated stuff like the entire world currently contributes 100% to the world GDP. Next to them, from top to bottom, is the current year (2020), temperature in relation to pre-industrial level (1 degree warmer), Emissions and finally budget. Clicking the buttons next to them takes you to confusing handy graphs or similar stat pages. Hanging underneath we have the news button, which is currently highlighting as I haven't checked the news yet, Statistics screen, Previous turn report (currently n/a), the Encyclopaedia which details a lot of the things you need to know to destroy save the world, and the option screen, in case you want to save or quit or something.
On the bottom left we have three satellite views. The top one highlights population change, so you can see where population is growing/migrating/dying off, the second is temperature, which gives you a trippy thermal view, and the final is environmental change, if you deliberately accidentally turn America into a desert or similar it'll point it out to you (though it's hard to miss to be honest). The big round button on the right with 2025 on it is the next turn button, each turn advancing the game by five years.

First things first, henchmen agent recruitment

In the future, Britain really will be bigger than the entire Iberian peninsula.

Here we have the fundamental mechanic of the game. You can hire up to six agents in each region. Each agent in a region allows you to play one card. Agents can go missing or be assassinated if  the people or regional governments get upset with your diabolical plans, or if you deliberately let a country destabilise to the point of war. If that happens, any card associated with them will stall. Oh yes, cards can take several turns to play.
Once you have at least one agent in a region you can enter the region screen:


Check out the retro 50's style


Latin America, getting pwned by mother nature

Each region has it's own art style, and it's own music snippet which will play occasionally while you're viewing that region. The hearts under the name represent how happy that region is with the GEO, if it drops too low the government will kick you out, meaning you lose all control of that region along with any agents you happen to have hired. Oh, they also stop contributing to your budget too, so with someone like North America that's bad (your budget is a % of GDP of each region, and any money you don't spend in a turn gets given back). Oh yeah, if you check the info panel you'll notice the stats are now regional rather than global.
Across the middle of the top screenshot you can see the cards you can play, divided by type. These ones are projects, which range from encouraging nuclear investment to building a world headquarters which looks a bit like the Whitehouse (presumably so when the 'Merkins decide to end your nefarious schemes there's a good chance of them nuking their own president). The coloured buttons underneath give you access to other types of cards, green for example shows you environment cards, blue tech cards etc.
In the second screenshot you have the news display, which shows you news pertinent to that region. These give you some important info on how you're doing and possible issues. Here for example we see South America is being wracked by storms as well as drying out as the Hadley cells move, so it would be a good idea to get some storm and drought defences in place fairly soon. You can also see that I played a card here last turn, in this case Cap and Trade. Most project cards last for multiple turns or indefinitely, providing you still have the money to fund them and the agent to manage it, which is important to consider.
The model itself is really well done, and pretty deep. Cap and Trade for example can work as a means to shunt funding to poorer countries who sign up to the agreement, but you need to be careful as companies will divert to cheaper, non cap and trade countries if they can. There's a lot of details like this which come out during play and it really does encourage you to find your own solutions. One immediate problem is population boom in India and China, you have four potential routes to take, for example a one child policy to try and limit breeding is unpopular; education subsidies aimed at women might slow down growth enough and raise HDI, or you could of course resort to black ops (which have some really nasty tricks, like a sterilisation program fronted by a fake medical program, rgodfrey would be in his element) or simply ignore it and try to cope.
On the subject of cards


The political office, the main weapon in the war on humanity


. GEO would like to remind the media our forces are there to keep the peace and not implement regime change. That's the Black Op department's job

Rolling over a card gives you information on what the card does. There's also a neat little tree feature whereby you need to play certain cards to get access to other cards. Here for example I need to play the Political Office to get access to political and fun black ops actions. An Environment Agency will let you take environmental measures like flood defences, institute organic farming and similar. Also in the second screenshot you can see some little icons on the planet, they correspond to news events for that region.

Finally we have a wealth of stats in each region, from economic


Working age starts at 21 and ends at 52? Lazy buggers

to how the people of the region are coping


Middle East instability not related to American aggression

Which are important factors to consider in your plans to crush save the world. Subsidising agriculture isn't much use if there's little unemployment for example. Outlook is an important one, nations who have a consumerist outlook tend to react negatively to certain actions, while pushing them too far towards eco-fanaticism can result in them suiciding your local HQ over mysterious squirrel deaths. Stability can also be an interesting one to play with; stable countries are good for HDI and the like, but on the other hand deliberately destabilising a region will result in war and famine, which is one way to reduce demand for resources.

Technology is another fun area.


Not shown : Giant Frikkin Laser project

All regions will develop technology themselves, however you can use a technology office to push certain technologies in the hope of an early breakthrough. Another neat feature is that if a region you have a tech office in already has a technology you can use those acquire cards to grant it to any other region with a tech office, so thankfully you don't have to wait a few centuries for Africa to discover biofuels.
The tech is well researched (they have actual scientists working as consultants, as well as economists, ecologists et al) and largely near future stuff, but it does throw the occasional quirk like AI, Mars bases and potentially aliens. It's not entirely a silver bullet either, most techs have their drawbacks. Fast Breeder nuclear reactors for example are great for expanding nuclear power without running out of uranium. They're also great for manufacturing nuclear weapons leading to proliferation (sparking off global thermonuclear war is counted as a tie. Nuclear winter solves the greenhouse effect, but most people are too dead to care). Similarly you can use sulphate aerosols to offset warming, with a risk of cooking off the ozone layer.
And it's not just warming measured either. It tracks the effect of carbon on the oceans (high acidity), atmosphere (health risk) and similar. It also tracks things like polar melt releasing more methane, and helpfully correctly models just how ****ed the planet is if the Amazon collapses (which it does at around 2.5 degrees).








In terms of actual gameplay it's good solid fun. The model is complex and sophisticated enough that you'll want to replay scenarios just to see all the different ways you can screw up solve them. The fact the modelling is pretty much based on current scientific models means it's fairly intuitive too. And the "just one more turn" effect is as strong as Civ, which is saying something.



It's available for purchase via Steam or the developer's site if you don't want the Steam version, for the princely sum of 9.99 units of your local currency. Like I said, there's a sizeable patch due on the 11th which will add a new scenario and Dr Apocalypse as well as some new cards, and they have plans for additional scenarios via DLC in the near future.
 

vadermath

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Goddamn you Arch.

I'll have a cousin buy it for me, though I haven't seen much of it apart from your handy little AAR, and the extremely positive RPS preview; enough good info for me, anyways.
 

Aethelbert

I got this, I just focused on 3 continents and sort of let the others die, the game didn;t seem to approve.
 

Dodes

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Necro

Just bought this one the steam holiday sale and I have to say that this was a very challenging and rewarding. I had avoided the usual 2070 economic collapse but unfortunately was assassinated in Oceania when I fell out of favor with Japan, Oceania, North Africa, and the Middle East (all of which I brought stability too :razz:).

Highly recommend it