The Game of Nations

Waddington's House of Games, 1974, 2-4 players, "for adults and older children". As far as I know, this game was only available in England (and I imagine it's long out of print). The rules are pretty brief and it's very easy to learn and get started playing. Sadly, I'm just not all that impressed with it. I think it has a number of basic flaws. The basic goal is to "stay alive" by making money exporting oil from the pseudo middle eastern land of "Kark". This is accomplished by paying to place "leader" pieces on the board along with tanker pieces and pipeline pieces. Different types of leaders produce different amounts of revenue, multiplied by the number of tankers you have in play. Enemy leaders can be attacked and removed from the board and enemy tankers can similarly be captured.

My first complaint is that the gaming system is so ridiculously abstract it makes absolutely no sense in real world terms. Each turn you must pay to move one of your leaders around in little circles if you cannot place a new one on the board (there are a finite number of spaces where new leaders can be placed). So, your leaders are producing revenue for you based on this ridiculous system of leader movement - if they're on the magic red dot, they make you money, if they're not, they don't. "Sorry, squire, the dictator is out camping this week, no money for the treasury". Secondly, I generally dislike games where players are elminated one at a time and the winner is the "last man standing". This is just not a good way to design a game. If my friends have gathered to socialize and enjoy some gaming, why should some of them be forced to the sidelines while the rest of us continue on with a game? Inevitably you have to arrive at some negotiated settlement of who will probably win, rather than playing to the bitter end to determine a clear winner. Finally, it's just not all that compelling. I suppose it plays a little bit like chess, but none of us found it all that interesting. I wouldn't say it's an out-and-out bad game, but I wouldn't say it manages to rise very far above mediocrity either.

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