Appendix: A Sample Expert-Level Game

[2014: I was unable to locate the original screenshots that were used in this appendix, so I am leaving it unmodified. It really isn’t much use without the screenshots.]

This appendix was written to serve two needs: to provide a more complete representation of the game Balance of Power for those who have not had the pleasure of playing it, and to provide instruction by example for those who have difficulty winning the game even after reading the theoretical material in the book.

To prepare this Appendix, I sat down with a Macintosh, fired up Balance of Power, and played a sample game. This sample game differs from a regular game in two ways. First, I had to frequently interrupt play to take notes for this Appendix and send screen shots to the disk. Second, I played more carefully and thoroughly than I normally do. It would be very embarrassing to set out to play a sample game and lose! Even for me, the designer, winning takes careful, thoughtful play. But the fact that I could sit down and play with the expectation of winning should indicate my confidence in the belief that Balance of Power is a game that can be mastered.

My approach in this Appendix is to present my thoughts on the game as it unfolds. This should give the reader a better idea of the thinking processes that go on during play than would be obtained by presenting a sanitized version of my actions. Thus, my mistakes will be evident as well as my successes. I also include afterthoughts made upon completion of the game that point out my miscalculations.

TURN 1: 1986

I begin by taking a few minutes to familiarize myself with the world situation. The Major Events display shows revolutions in Mali, Zaire, Mozambique, and Burma. I check out some fundamental displays: Insurgency, Spheres of Influence, Diplomatic Relations for both superpowers, Likelihood of a Coup dEtat, and the two displays showing likelihood of Finlandizing. Of these, the Insurgency display is the most important:


This display shows quite a bit of turbulence in the world. I take careful note of all the civil wars. Those in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Panama threaten friendly governments and must be stopped. Those in Zimbabwe and Tanzania affect neutral countries and are avenues of small opportunity. I decide to begin by examining the situation in the Philippines. The Closeup of the Philippines contains a surprise, as shown on the following page.


This display definitely calls for action. First is the notation of the civil war, and apparently the insurgents are growing stronger. It appears they will soon win unless something is done. The fact that this is a right-wing government with warm relations with the USA and cool relations towards the USSR means that I do _not_ want this government to fall, especially because the Philippines are worth up to 44 points of prestige (the value in brackets on the right side of the display). If I can help the government out, my 27-point prestige score in the Philippines will grow, and if the government falls, I will surely lose those 27 points of prestige. Moreover, I have a conventional defense treaty with the government - only a nuclear defense treaty is more binding. It is obviously imperative that I save this regime. Fortunately, I have almost a free hand in the Philippines. The countrys Sphere of Influence value is Fairly USA - thats very good. Moreover, my conventional defense treaty establishes a strong diplomatic position for me, especially when compared with the USSRs lack of any treaty relationship. Plus, my diplomatic relationship with the Philippines is much stronger than the Soviets. All the cards are in my hands.

Even better, the Soviets have foolishly attempted to both assist the insurgents, and destabilize the government as well. This tells me something very important: My Soviet adversaries are particularly belligerent this game - why else would they attempt such strong moves where the advantage is mine? I shall be in for a rough game. However, this can be turned to my advantage. As in judo, you can use your opponents momentum against him - and I am about to do just that. I shall use the Soviets belligerence to lay them low. They cannot possibly stand up to me over the Philippines. So I shall first challenge the Soviet Union here over their aid to the New Peoples Army.


I bring up the USSR Actions window from the Events menu and flip through the pages until I find the relevant entry, which is shown on the next page.


I press the Question button. The response comes back quickly:


Apparently, the Soviets mean to test my mettle. However, I note several items here. First, my advisors seem to think that my own interest in this affair is low, while the Soviet interest is insignificant. I think that my interest in the matter is considerably higher than that, and I also know that one cannot trust ones advisors in the Expert-level game, but it is always nice to have a second opinion when you are playing Russian roulette with thermonuclear weapons. At least my advisors agree that American interest in this matter is greater than Soviet interest. I have the advantage.

The second thing I note is the wording of the Soviet reply. The USSR sees no reason to reverse this policy. This is a reasonable wording. There is no bombast in it, no reference to military power, and no absolute refusal, either. It suggests that, if we merely point out a good reason to reverse the policy, they might do so. I therefore decide to challenge the Soviets publicly. Their response is:


There are two items to note here: First is the prestige at stake. If I back down now, I shall lose 16 points of prestige. That would not be a good way to start the game. More important is the tone of the Soviet response. Even though they rejected my challenge, their wording is almost conciliatory. They say that their policy is rightfully not subject to my challenge. Their appeal to moral rights seems to be almost an excuse. Again, there is no sabre- rattling, no declaration of firmness, no absolutes. I decide to press my case to the next level:


This surprises me in two ways. I had expected them to back down this time. Instead, they are standing firm. Was I wrong to escalate? Now I am in a tight spot. We are in a military crisis already. The Soviets are at DefCon 4, not a very dangerous level, but if I escalate I will go to DefCon 3, and that runs a small risk of an accidental nuclear war. Moreover, if the Soviets continue to stand firm, they will go to DefCon 2, at which the risk of an accidental war is larger.

The other surprise is the amount of prestige at risk: At 14 points, it is actually lower than it was before. This is because the calculation of prestige at risk is deliberately but slightly randomized, just enough to rob the player of certainty.

I turn to the wording of the Soviet reply; again, it seems to be less than an absolute rejection: The Soviet leadership has considered and rejects my challenge. The fact that they took the time to think it over means that they are not sure of themselves. They are probably arguing among themselves even now. They are very close to caving in, if I can just push them a little harder. The problem is, I have very little maneuvering room left. I am already risking an accidental nuclear war, and if I escalate one more time, I will have lost all maneuvering room.

After much consideration, I decide to go ahead. I go to DefCon 3 and the Soviets back down:


I stared them down! The success only gained me 17 points of prestige, and it greatly bothers me that I went all the way to DefCon 3 to get my victory, but I could not allow them to bring down the Philippine government. If I had backed down there, where in the world would I have been able to stand up to the Soviets? This was a scary crisis, too close for comfort, but it had to be done. As a reward, I have earned 17 points of prestige. I pat myself on the back.

I know that I have other work to attend to, but I decide it can wait while I check out what other actions the Soviets have been up to. I flip to the next Soviet action: an attempt to destabilize the government of Pakistan. I consult the Closeup for Pakistan:


Here is a right-wing government, friendly to the USA and cool to the USSR, and somewhat within my sphere of influence. I have a military-bases treaty with Pakistan, but the Soviets have diplomatic relations. The situation here is not as clear-cut as it was in the Philippines. Moreover, the Pakistani government is in no immediate danger of falling: the Closeup plainly says that the government is stable and weakening slowly; the Soviet attempts at destabilization will fail. Nevertheless, I decide to challenge them, promising myself that I will not pursue the matter into a military crisis. This time, the Soviets back down on the second step of the crisis, and I earn 4 more prestige points.


Now I seem to have established some diplomatic momentum in my favor. I continue looking through the news for items of interest. I come upon an item about Soviet attempts to destabilize Thailand; I happen to recall that Thailand is a US ally. This needs my attention; I check the Closeup for Thailand:


The situation seems to be in my favor. Thailand has warm relations with the USA and cool relations with the USSR. My treaty relations with Thailand are strong, and the country is slightly within my sphere of influence. This situation is less auspicious than that in Pakistan, but I still have the upper hand. I am beginning to believe that the Soviet intransigence in the Philippines was only to test my mettle, and now that I have demonstrated my forcefulness, they will be more reasonable. I decide to press my case and challenge the Soviets. The crisis reaches DefCon 3 before the Soviets back down. I pressed my luck again, but the score is up to 56, and I have really cowed the Soviets.

Continuing in the Soviet actions folder, I go on the diplomatic warpath. I find a whole series of Soviet attempts to sign various treaties with American clients - countries such as Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Honduras, and Venezuela. I challenge each action, and the Soviets back down on each one after registering a small protest. I earn a few points on each one. When the dust has settled, I have raised my score to 74 points. This is really the best way to earn points in Balance of Power. You do not risk starting a war if you never enter a military crisis, and you can just keep on racking up the points, a few at a time.

A few minor crises suffice to drive Soviet weapons out of Chile and Honduras; they were easy victories because the United States has such a solid sphere of influence in Latin America. Then I press my luck again: I challenge Soviet economic aid to Nicaragua. This is risky business. Nicaragua is ambiguous territory. While it is historically very much in the American sphere, the last seven years of Marxist rule have given the Soviets a claim to that country. I press all the way to DefCon 3, and the Soviets back down. That was a dangerous move. Nicaragua is simply not worth risking nuclear war over. Twice before I have gone this far, but those cases were matters of greater importance. I resolve to be more careful.

The very next news item gives me an opportunity to test my resolve. The Soviets are sending weapons to the Anya-Nya insurgents in the Sudan. I bring up the Closeup for Sudan:


This is not a reassuring situation. The Sudanese has cordial relations with the USA, but look at the prestige values: 1 point for the USA, -2 points for the USSR, with a maximum possible value of only 10 points. Here is a country that is not worth fighting for. Moreover, my diplomatic position there is weak: Although I have a trade-relations treaty with Sudan, the area is slightly within the Soviet sphere of influence. This is an ambiguous situation, the likes of which often cause wars. I decide to shy away from a confrontation with the Soviets over Sudan.

Afterthought: This was probably a mistake. While Sudan is indeed slightly within the Soviet sphere of influence, I need not have given up so easily. I could have started to develop a relationship by first sending a little bit of economic aid, then a small amount of military aid in later turns. These friendly gestures, being fairly innocuous, might well have gotten past a Soviet challenge. They would have warmed Sudanese-American relations and made possible an improved treaty relationship, which would have provided the basis for standing firm against further Soviet challenges. Spheres of influence are important, but so are treaty relationships. This general tactic of gradually increasing aid, which I call developing a relationship, is an important way to break another superpowers grip on a nation.

Next, I discover that Mozambique is the object of a great deal of Soviet activity:


Here is a right-wing government that is strongly anti-communist, and the Soviets are doing everything in their power to overthrow that regime. They are sending weapons to the insurgents, they are destabilizing the government, and, most outrageous of all, they have sent 5,000 troops to help the guerrillas. I would very much like to help the government, but three things stop me. First, the country is strongly within the Soviet sphere of influence. Second, I have no treaty relationship to justify any interference. Third, Mozambique is worth, at most, only 3 prestige points. It is just not worth a confrontation. Let them have it.

The other country that is attracting some Soviet attention is Indonesia:


Here is an important country, important because its worth up to 72 points of prestige. Moreover, I have cordial relations with Indonesia, while its relations with the USSR are cool. I also have a trade-relations treaty, while the Soviets have none. On the other hand, Indonesia is slightly within the Soviet sphere of influence. This is not a solid situation for me, and I decide not to challenge the Soviet actions. Instead, later in the turn when I make my own policies, Ill send some aid of my own to help the government.

There are, of course, many other Soviet actions not mentioned here. I ignore almost all Soviet actions in Eastern bloc nations. If the Soviets want to send troops into East Germany, let them. Theres no point picking a fight you cant win.

I have gone through all the Soviet actions and challenged all those that I wanted to challenge. Before I proceed to the next part of my move, I wish to explain a crucial aspect of my strategy. I made sure to challenge the Soviets in the area which I felt strongest: the Philippines. I could be certain of victory here, and that victory created momentum which I then used in Pakistan, where my position was weaker. That victory paved the way for the next victory, and so on. The trick here is to start where you are strongest, and the Philippines are always a bastion of American diplomatic strength. The other side of this coin is to avoid losing any crises. Winning a crisis increases your Pugnacity value, while losing a crisis decreases it. Pugnacity affects Adventurousness, which in turn determines the willingness of the computer to stand up to you in a crisis. In other words, every time you win a crisis, you make it easier to win the next crisis. Every time you lose a crisis, you make it that much harder to win the next crisis.


I am now ready to begin making my own policies. There are two tasks here: to determine what action is needed, and decide whether or not I can get away with the action. Making a policy that the Soviets can force me to rescind is bad business, so I must guess beforehand whether or not my contemplated action can withstand a Soviet challenge.

I check the maps for insurgency, coups, and Finlandization, noting any countries that are dark gray or gray. These are the ones that most need attention.

The very first item of business is to save the Philippine government. I may have been able to chase out the Soviets, but there is still the native insurgency. I feel confident of my position in the Philippines, so I send large amounts of military aid, backed up by a direct intervention with 100,000 American troops. Thats a pretty hefty intervention, but I want to finish off the civil war quickly and then pull out the troops. Besides, the Soviets wont challenge me after being so decisively beaten in the crisis over their aid to the rebels.

Indonesia gets $100 million in military aid. Id like to send more, but I feel weak here. The Soviets will probably challenge me, but maybe Ill get lucky and sneak it by.

Panama is another country caught in a civil war. Feeling secure in my own back yard, I send $100 million in military aid and 5,000 troops. This isnt much, but Panama is a small country and this force should be more than adequate to defeat the insurgents.

The Coups display shows that South Africa is facing the chance of a coup detat, so I send $1 billion in economic aid. I am not optimistic, but perhaps things will improve.

On the offensive side, I send $100 million in aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. This should keep the Sandinistas busy for awhile. I am satisfied with my actions for the turn and select Next Turn from the Game menu.


The Soviets immediately challenge my intervention in the Philippines. I am surprised by this; perhaps a smaller intervention would not have earned their ire. Now I definitely have a problem. If I back down on this intervention, the communist New Peoples Army will probably win the civil war. I will lose the friendship of the Philippine government and considerable integrity to boot. This is a very serious challenge; I cannot afford to back down. I stand firm as the crisis escalates up to DefCon 4; the Soviets balk at the prospect of going to DefCon 3 and back down:


This is a major victory, for my score shoots up to 222 points. In a single crisis, I have earned more than 120 points! Thats the game, I smile to myself. He will never be able to recover from this catastrophe.

However, the Soviets then challenge me on my military aid to Indonesia. The crisis escalates to DefCon 4:


I decide to back down at this point. My diplomatic position was not so strong to start with, and the Soviet message is strongly worded: Such behavior impels our government to respond with strong measures. This is not the limp-wristed wording they used earlier which plaintively wrung its hands over issues of rights. This is an unblinking threat of military force (strong measures). These guys arent bluffing this time. I back down and eat the 20-point loss. I can afford it; I am still way ahead.

The Soviets follow up with another challenge, this time for my economic aid to South Africa:


Again we have that stern phrase strong measures. My advisors seem to feel that my interest in the policy is moderate, while the Soviet interest is insignificant; if I were taking their advice I would stand firm, but the decisive factor in my mind is the amount of prestige at risk. With only 4 points at stake, I am unwilling to risk an accidental nuclear war. Besides, I dont think that the South African government is in that much trouble. I back down.

The Soviets continue their offensive by challenging me on my troop intervention in Panama, but I stand firm and they quickly back off. Another challenge over my aid to the Nicaraguan Contras produces an equally rapid American retreat. On one last throw of the dice, the Soviets attempt to scare me out of my military aid to Panama, but I stared them down earlier over the troops and I stare them down again.


It has been a very successful turn. I have stood up to the Soviets on several crucial issues and defended my clients in the Philippines, Pakistan, Panama, and Thailand. I have foiled their support for Nicaragua (even though I had to back down on my own aid to the Contras) and forced them to repudiate a wide variety of treaty arrangements. The only unmitigated crisis losses I suffered were in Indonesia and South Africa. The situation in South Africa troubles me. Although the government there is not in immediate danger, my backing down will only encourage further Soviet action there. I may well be forced to make a stand on South Africa later. If so, backing down now was not an auspicious beginning.

Except for that one cloud on the horizon, Turn 1 was highly successful. On to Turn 2!

TURN 2: 1987

The Major Events display for Turn 2 has several surprises for me:


The first surprise is the large number of revolutions that took place in a single year. Ten countries, most in Africa, underwent revolutions. Most are minor countries that will not affect the balance of power, but the loss of Indonesia will definitely hurt. Much more surprising was the revolution in India. On the last turn, India was only in a state of terrorism, and that exploded into a civil war within a single year. That definitely surprised me. I examine the Closeup for India:


The situation calls out for quick American action. Here is a pro-American regime that is facing a developing insurgency. To make matters worse, the Soviets are helping the insurgents and attempting to destabilize the government. I resolve to assist the new government, but Im nervous about the Soviet sphere of influence here. I opt for the lowest levels of military and economic aid in the hope of getting a foot in the door. If these survive a Soviet challenge, I can increase them next year.


Next, check out Soviet activities for the year. The very first item in the folder is a real bombshell: The Soviets have invaded Iran with 100,000 men! Apparently my sabre-rattling behavior in the past crises has weakened their inhibitions, and they are now playing hardball. I immediately check the Closeup for Iran. The situation is quite hopeless:


The Iranian government hates America more than it hates the Soviets (that will change quickly enough). I have no diplomatic relations or policy commitments to back up any claims for helping the Iranians. in fact, I am giving $20 million to help the insurgents. In other words, the Soviets and the Americans are on the same side! How can I possibly convince the Soviets I am seriously opposed to their invasion? I have no credible basis for opposing the Soviet invasion. I must give up Iran to the Soviets. This hurts: Iran is worth 205 prestige points. I have suffered a major loss here.

I move on to the next item, which is even more explosive: The Soviets have invaded South Korea! This time I dont even bother to check the Closeup. The United States has a long history of close relations with South Korea. We have a conventional defense treaty with the South Korean government. We went to war once before to defend that country and I have absolutely no reservations about doing so again. I will take this crisis as far as I need to go. Fortunately, the Soviets back down immediately.

Now follows a series of minor crises in which the Soviets back down without resisting my challenges. They quickly back down from their attempt to destabilize Pakistan. In a surprise move, they accept my challenge to the destabilization of South Africa. Perhaps I was wrong to cave in over South Africa last turn. I shall be more assertive on this subject in the future. The real bonus is my gain in prestige from this crisis: My score leaps from some 220 points to 371 points - a 150-point gain from a single crisis! Apparently my previous retreat over South Africa had created the impression that the country was within the Soviet sphere, which impression made the Soviet retreat this time seem all the more stunning. In any event, I have taken a huge lead now.

The Soviets also back down from attempts to destabilize Chile, Turkey, the Philippines, Greece, and Mexico. However, they send troops to invade Zimbabwe, Tunisia, and Tanzania; I choose to let these outrages pass. I have the lead; why risk everything over issues that are probably worth only a few points?

I now examine the Insurgency map. My interventions in the Philippines and Panama seem to have turned the situation around quite satisfactorily. I could pull the troops out, but I will leave them in until they are needed elsewhere. Since there are no civil wars, I have little need for drastic action. I note a small guerrilla war in Peru. As a precautionary measure, I sent some military aid to Peru; this should keep its developing insurgency under control.

The Coups map also shows a more stable world. The only regime ripe for a coup is in Ethiopia; after considering the Closeup of that country, I decide to take a hands-off approach:


The Soviet grip on Ethiopia is too strong. This country is very strongly within the Soviet sphere of influence. Its a shame; I am now getting 26 points of prestige from Ethiopia and the Soviets are losing 38 points. I would very much like to freeze the situation right there, but there seems to be little that I can do to influence events without causing a confrontation with the Soviets. Too bad.

The Philippines seem to be vulnerable to a coup, so I send massive economic aid. Economic performance is the determining factor in the initiation of a coup detat. Otherwise, the world seems quiet. The Finlandization maps show nothing of interest, so I decide to move on to Turn 3.


The Soviets challenge me on only two issues: my military and economic aid to India. I back down on both issues. I am not going to throw away my big lead over tactical concerns.

This was a quiet turn. It started off with a bang, but there were no great crises. The two sides seem to be getting each others measure. I have come to accept Soviet hegemony in much of Africa (except for Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa). The USSR now seems to accept my freedom of action in the Philippines and South Africa. Except for the numerous Soviet invasions in Africa and Iran, the world seems to be settling down. Thats good - I have a lead so commanding that the only way I can fail now is to get into a war, so my primary goal for the future will be avoiding major confrontations with my Soviet adversaries.

TURN 3: 1988

The third turn begins with my score jumping up by another 50 points, to 380, while the Soviet score is -323. I am a little surprised by this development, for the Major Events map for this year reveals only some acts of Finlandization and another revolution in India. I investigate the Minor Country News to determine whats going on. The acts of Finlandization were numerous; it appears that the Soviet invasions and the crises between the two superpowers have frightened many world leaders, and they are hurrying to patch up their differences with unfriendly superpowers. Thus, Cuba and Indonesia both Finlandize to me, while Afghanistan draws itself deeper into the Soviet embrace. A host of minor countries - Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Mexico - Finlandize to me, boosting my score even further. You throw your weight around and you get results.

A check of the Insurgency map shows that the Soviet invasions in Africa have triggered a wave of political violence:


It would seem that Soviet aggression has not created a new Soviet bloc in central Africa but a gigantic Red Vietnam. Perhaps my reluctance to get involved was lucky. The surprise is Iran. Although the USSR sent 100,000 troops to help the insurgents, the government there seems to have matters well in hand.

The Coups map shows that Turkey, Pakistan, and South Africa are all in some danger of a coup, so I send massive economic aid to the first two countries. I send less to South Africa because I am not sure that I can withstand a Soviet challenge there. To get all this money, I suspend economic aid to Egypt and Israel, neither of which really needs the money.

On the next page, the Finlandization charts show a world made nervous by superpower adventurism.

[screenshot] [screenshot]

Still, I dare not take action on any of these issues. The Soviets would not stand still for my applying diplomatic pressure to any of their clients.

I check the Soviet actions for Turn 3. Only four trigger crises. A Soviet attempt to destabilize South Africa draws a quick American response and an equally quick retraction. I also shut down their attempts to provide economic and military aid to Nicaragua, gaining a dozen points in the process without having to take matters into a military crisis. I also jump on them for providing weapons to insurgents in Panama, which they immediately withdraw. Otherwise, I let them run riot in Africa and the Eastern bloc. Their actions dont seem to be doing them much good.

The only other policy action I carry out is some military aid to Sweden, which has been showing signs of possible Finlandization to the Soviet Union. Some additional weapons should bolster their confidence.


The Kremlin challenges me on just one issue: my economic aid to South Africa. I stand firm and they eventually back down, losing some 30 points in the process. I have established that South Africa is undeniably within the American sphere.

This turn was even more quiet than the previous one, a development that suits me just fine. With my lead, the last thing I want now are tough situations that force me to choose between losing a good friend (and lots of points) and risking a nuclear war. So far, my restraint with the Soviets seems to be doing just that.

TURN 4: 1989

There was a tremendous amount of activity this turn.


The two most noteworthy events were acts of Finlandization. Iran finally broke down and Finlandized to the USSR, giving them 51 points, while North Korea Finlandized to me, yielding 47 points for me. Thus, the two actions just about canceled each other out. Apparently my own belligerence in crises with the Soviets has made an impression on the North Koreans, who are hedging their bets and building a stronger relationship with the USA even while they remain firmly in the Soviet camp.

The various revolutions in Africa almost all worked against the Soviets and in my favor, except for the revolution in Ethiopia, which threw out a pro-American government. It appears that the Kremlin has mired itself in a real mess in central Africa from which it may never extricate itself. A lengthy investigation reveals the source of their troubles. As soon as their side wins the civil war, the Soviet troops depart. But the African countries, brutalized by so much civil war, do not find domestic peace so easily; as soon as the troops depart, civil war flares up again. The Soviets are forced to send the troops back. If they could afford to just leave the troops in one place for awhile, they could bring stability to their African clients, but they have so many troops tied down all over the world that they cannot afford to leave them in one place; they must instead shuttle them from one danger zone to another. The Soviets have overextended themselves and are paying the price.

In other matters, India is caught in another civil war; I try to take advantage of this opportunity and slip in a little aid to the insurgents. Mexico, Peru, and South Africa continue to have economic problems, so I ship them all increased economic aid. The Finlandization situation now looks fairly quiet.

Only three Soviet actions earn my attention: yet another attempt to destabilize South Africa, and more attempts to get military and economic aid to Nicaragua. The Kremlin backs down from all three without so much as a whimper of protest.

I decide that the time has come to eliminate the communist government of Nicaragua. I have established my sphere of influence, so I send $100 million in weapons to the Contras. We shall see if the USSR tries to stop me.


The Soviets challenged me on my insurgency aid to India; I stood firm for one step, then decided that they were serious, so I backed down and lost 33 points. They also challenged my economic aid to South Africa, but they lost that crisis and 2 points. Significantly, they didnt raise a whisper about Nicaragua.

I am feeling pretty good about my situation right now. I have a huge lead; all I need to do now is coast to the end of the game and victory. However, I have beaten them so roundly that I have half a mind to look for some opportunities. If I can find some safe areas for offensive action, I will take them.

TURN 5: 1990

The score at the outset of Turn 5 is 534 to -352; I am feeling quite pleased with myself. I am halfway through the game and have a gigantic lead. The Major Events display shows little of concern:


The revolution in India could only work in my favor. I decide that it would be worthwhile to attempt an opening in India. I shall begin with the most innocuous of actions, a treaty of diplomatic relations with the new government. Surely the Kremlin will not object to so unthreatening an action. Just to be sure, though, I consult the Closeup for India, which is shown on the next page.


This is great! After all that interference, all that activity, the Soviets have managed to make themselves more hated than before, and simultaneously contributed to my improved position in India. (Just three turns ago, India provided me with 6 points of prestige and the Soviets with -22 points; now the values are 26 and -44.) This was achieved without my ever getting aid into the country. Although much of the improvement in the situation is due to my many crisis victories, I believe that the Soviet meddling in Indian affairs has also played a role in the shift. My position in India is good. There is the matter of the moderate Soviet sphere of influence, but I think it is worthwhile to at least see what I can get away with. I go ahead with a diplomatic relations treaty with India:


The insurgency display shows little of interest. Peru is still struggling with its insurgency, so I increase military aid to that country. There are still quite a few guerrilla wars going in Africa; Im glad Im not caught up in that mess.

I decide that now is the time to make my move on Nicaragua. To establish a sound military position, I put 5,000 troops in Honduras. Then I send 5,000 soldiers to intervene in favor of the Contras. Lets see how the USSR reacts to _that._

The Coups display indicates developing problems with many of my allies. I send massive economic aid to Mexico, Turkey, Peru, Chile, and South Africa. I hope I can keep these regimes afloat.

Now it is time to check the Soviet Unions latest activities. It seems like a rehash of old activities. They are still attempting to destabilize South Africa. A stern warning sends them packing. They make a brief resistance over their military and economic aid to Nicaragua before caving in and losing 11 points.


Here I make my first big mistake. The Soviets challenge my treaty with India and I decide to test their mettle. All of a sudden I am facing a 124- point loss if I back down, and furious Soviet rhetoric. This is the type of situation that loses games. I am sorely tempted to stand firm; after all, thats a lot of points to just throw away. Why not just stare the Russkis down and win big? Its hard to be cold and logical in a situation like this, but I know that I have to back down. It would be insanity to escalate in the hope that they will be intimidated. I dont know that they will back down; it could go either way. If I am right and win, it means only that I will win the game more gloriously than I otherwise would. If I am wrong and lose the crisis, then I will lose the entire game. Its just not worth the risk. I _must_ back down, and eat the 124 points. Ouch! Thats what I get for succumbing to adventurous impulses. I should have just left India alone.

The Soviets also challenge me on my economic aid to South Africa. Still smarting from the loss over India, there is no way I will back down here, and they quickly retreat.

Turn 5 would have been a good turn for me had I not failed so badly over India. I made two mistakes, and they were both of the same nature: I was probing to see what I could get away with. The first mistake was trying to get a diplomatic-relations treaty with India in the first place. That should not have been fatal; you can always back out of a weak policy when it is challenged. The second mistake was the fatal one; it was the cavalier decision to test the Kremlins mettle once they had challenged me. I have done that before; the mistake this time was failing to realize that the cost of backing down would be so high this time. (The reason for the very high cost of backing down in this crisis will be explained later.) If I had given the same care to that decision that I gave most of my regular decisions, I would not have gotten myself into that mess. Balance of Power is an unforgiving game; one slip and you suffer a big loss.

TURN 6: 1991

Turn 6 started with more bad news. Although my own score recovered a little from the drubbing it took in the Indian crisis, the Soviets score leapt to -103. In just a few moments the scores have gone from 545 and -365 to to 444 and -103. My lead has shrunk from 910 points to 545 points. Ouch!

I try to determine where things went wrong. A check of the Minor Country News quickly shows the problem. Iran has again Finlandized to the Soviet Union, gaining it 51 points and costing me the same number of points. A revolution in Ethiopia finally ousted the pro-American government there, gaining another 54 points for the USSR. Other revolutions gained 25 more points for the Kremlin. In a single turn, they picked up 130 points. I begin to think that maybe my smug strategy of holding onto my gains was a mistake.

The various state-of-the-world displays show little action or opportunity for advancement. There are some minor guerrilla wars going on, but nothing that looks like a major opportunity. I see that I will have problems keeping Turkey and South Africa from undergoing coups. Otherwise, things are quiet.

The Soviets arent up to anything odd either. The USSR Actions window reveals the usual list of shifting allocations of troops and weapons to the various Eastern bloc nations. Nothing that I want to involve myself in, except for still another attempt to send military aid to Nicaragua. These guys will never give up! Once again, I send them packing.

For my own actions, I decide to make a move on Indonesia. I had been intimidated out of giving aid to Indonesia at the beginning of the game, but nothing has happened there for some time, so I decide to try my luck. _This time,_ though, I will be considerably more careful about backing down if I am challenged. My first step is to institute a diplomatic-relations treaty with Indonesia. Well see how the Soviets react.

Otherwise, I send more military aid to Turkey in a desperate effort to help prop up the regime; I also send more economic aid to South Africa.


The Soviets did not challenge my new treaty with Indonesia; I may have the opening I wanted! In fact, they did not challenge anything.

I am now trying to recover the initiative in this game. I would desperately like to get a foot in the door somewhere. The Kremlin has effectively shut me out of most of the volatile regions of the world. I will try to further my position in Indonesia, but I wish that there were some way to exert influence in Iran, India, or Africa.

TURN 7: 1992

The beginning of Turn 7 heightens my fears that the Soviets are eating away at my lead. The score now stands at 493 to -68. My lead is now only 561 points. The Major Events display shows why:


There were coups in Mexico and Turkey that could not have been beneficial to my score; Iran again Finlandized to the Soviet Union. The only bright note is the Contra victory in Nicaragua. Consultation with the Minor Country News shows that this gained me all of 9 points.

The Soviets have lost patience with the interminable war in Iran and send in a full 500,000 troops. The Iranians had Finlandized to the Soviet Union numerous times, but the continuing Soviet intervention in Iran kept poisoning relations between the two countries. The enlarged Soviet intervention is outrageous, but I know that objecting would be futile. I must watch in silence as they simply conquer Iran. They are also very active in Africa, sending large amounts of weapons to their clients. Africa is turning into a gigantic battleground.

I decide to explore my opening in Indonesia more closely. The Closeup is interesting:


The government is friendly to me; it will be difficult to improve on this situation. Nevertheless, it is a left-wing government, so if I could topple it, the Soviet score might fall further. There isnt much chance of the insurgencys going anywhere, but there are two weak spots. First, the government is shaky and weakening fast - a coup is in the offing. If I can help that along, I stand to gain. Of course, I could also send in economic aid, save the government, and be the hero. The other possibility lies in their high probability of Finlandizing to me. Perhaps a little diplomatic pressure will yield an act of Finlandization.

The problem with all this is that Slightly USSR entry for Sphere of Influence. Anything I try might well be upset by a Soviet challenge. What I need is some way of legitimizing my presence in Indonesia. I need better treaty relations. I therefore decide on a two-pronged strategy: First, I sign a trade-relations pact with Indonesia. Second, I apply a small amount of diplomatic pressure:


The second policy is risky, but I dont have much time left in the game to take a slower strategy.

I also need to send some economic aid to Peru.


The Soviet Union again fails to challenge any of my moves. The game is almost over; the main problem now is to get in a few last changes without doing anything foolish.

TURN 8: 1993

The situation continues to worsen. My score rises, fortunately, but the Soviet score rises even faster; its now 537 to 178. This is the last turn of the game, and it seems unlikely that they can catch up to me in one turn, but my once-huge lead has shrunk considerably. Even worse is the world situation:


The brutal Soviet invasion of Iran has been victorious; Iran is now a Soviet satellite. The victory actually gains me a little prestige, as the Ayatollahs regime hated America utterly, but the Soviet gain is even greater: 267 points. But that is the only event worthy of note in the year. Otherwise, the world is very quiet. Africa seems to have settled down. There is nothing in the Soviet activities folder that I can challenge, and the only policy action that I undertake is an attempt to destabilize the Indonesian government. The Soviets do not challenge this action when their chance comes, and the game ends.


Well, I still managed to win the game, and rather well at that:


A score of 591 to 157 is pretty respectable. Its not as good as it was halfway through the game, but its still a score to be pleased with. The final Major Events display looked like this:


The three most important events in this were the revolution in Ethiopia and the coups in Indonesia and South Africa. All except the last event worked to my favor, which is why my situation improved on the last turn.


Before I launch into an analysis of the game, it would be worthwhile to look over the individual histories of several countries. This will shed light on a number of crucial developments that I did not see coming during the course of the game.

I will start with Ethiopia.


This is definitely one of the most twisted and interesting history charts I have ever seen come out of Balance of Power. Ethiopia started the game with a pro-Soviet, left-wing government. (The little black square on the left edge of the Insurgcy graph indicates a left-wing government at the beginning of the game.) Then came a series of revolutions and one coup. The revolutions are indicated by the pairs of vertical lines in the Insurgcy graph, and the coup is indicated by the pairs of vertical lines in the Stabilty graph. The government flipped and flopped back and forth between the left and the right, as indicated by the alternating black and white squares in the Insurgcy graph. The Soviets added to the confusion by meddling in matters just enough to keep the pot bubbling but never enough to help its side win once and for all. The first revolution of 1986-87 put a very pro-American government in power, but this was weakened by the coup of 1987-88 and reversed by the revolution of 1990-91. It was the last revolution, in 1993-94, which again reversed the relationship, putting a more pro-American government in power. Thus, despite all the Soviet meddling, the Ethiopian government at the end of the game was more pro-American than the one at the beginning of the game, as indicated by the Dip Reln graph.

India provides another example of the ineffectiveness of Soviet meddling, as you can see on the next page.


The Indian government entered the game slightly pro-Soviet, but a quick revolution installed a pro-American government. The Soviets shipped some weapons to the insurgents and attempted to destabilize the government, and immediately toppled the government and put the left-wingers back in power. Despite escalating weapons shipments, this left-wing government was thrown out in 1989-90 and replaced with a strong pro-American government. The Soviet weapons shipments to the insurgents in 1989 insured that the new government would be anti-Soviet, and despite an intervention in 1990, the new government proved to be stable. I think that the Soviets would have liked to send more troops into India, but they were badly over-extended and just didnt have the troops to do so.

The reason that my exploratory bid to make a treaty with India in 1991 cost me so many prestige points is now apparent in the Insecrty graph in the lower right. Indian insecurity peaked in 1991, probably because of the Soviet intervention in 1990. Insecurity on this graph is really a representation of Military Pressure from the programs inner workings. You will recall that Military Pressure is the degree to which a government feels the need to increase its military budget. As it happens, Military Pressure is also used to compute the amount of Hurt that any treaty will inflict on a country - although such Hurt is always negative. Thus, I walked in and offered safety and security at the precise moment that India was feeling very threatened by the Soviet Union. What I thought was a minor exploratory action turned out to have immense significance to India. At the moment that they felt most in need, the United States stepped forward to offer them the security implicit in a treaty. You can imagine the reaction this generated within the Kremlin, which thought it had a solid grip on India. That is why the Indian crisis proved to be so expensive.

The last history graph I will present is that of Iran, shown on the following page.


The Soviet invasion in 1987 did not make much of an impression; apparently the Iranian armed forces were able to contain it. The insurgency stayed weak for years. The only real change was in Finlandization. Although the Iranians were winning on the battlefield, the growing strain between the superpowers and the demonstrated willingness of the Soviets to engage in harsh actions must have convinced the Iranian leadership that Finlandization was necessary to buy off the Soviets. Three times they Finlandized to the USSR. Each time, diplomatic relations with the US worsened, and each time relations with the Soviet Union improved, only to be immediately ruined when the Soviets nevertheless refused to pull out their troops. The big break came in 1992 when the Kremlin finally scraped up half a million men to finish off Iran. That produced the revolution of 1992-93 and a dramatic improvement in relations between the two countries, with positive consequences for Soviet prestige.


So what does it all mean? In the first half of the game, I pursued a conservative strategy of protecting only those nations about which I felt secure. Most of the critical actions were taken on Turn 1. After that, I just protected my gains. However, my lead lengthened considerably on Turns 2 through 4. Why?

I believe that the Soviet Union involved itself in too many adventures and did not have the resources to make its plans work. The primary cause for this lay in their repeated unexpected failures in crises. My conservative strategy insured that I won many crises and lost very few. This not only enhanced my prestige, it increased my pugnacity in the eyes of the world. This in turn created a considerable tendency to Finlandize to the United States during Turns 2 through 4. The Soviets had already committed themselves to extensive operations in Africa, and suddenly their own allies were starting to waver. At various points in the game almost every single Eastern bloc country showed an inclination to Finlandize to the USA. To counter this, the Kremlin had to rush troops and weapons to the threatened countries to bolster their confidence. Unfortunately, these troops and weapons were desperately needed to follow through on the various adventures in Africa, India, and Iran. For example, the Soviets shipped enough weapons to the government of Ethiopia to earn the enmity of the insurgents who beat that government, but they were not able to ship enough weapons to throw out those right-wingers or, later, protect the left-wing government that eventually came back to power.

The Soviet shortages continued as long as I kept up the pressure, but by midgame things were calming down and I was having few confrontations with the USSR. I thought that I was preserving my lead, but in fact I was taking pressure off the Soviet allies, and hence the Soviets. They were able to commit more resources to cement their gains. Thus we have the large Soviet weapons shipments to Ethiopia in 1991 and the huge invasion of Iran in 1992. The impact of this Soviet freedom to act shows in the score display: After bottoming out in 1989-90, the Soviet score starts to rise sharply.

I made several mistakes. Obviously, I should have kept up the pressure through the middle of the game, although there is no way of knowing whether this might not have driven the Soviets to desperate measures. I should definitely have developed my Indonesian initiative sooner. It also might have been possible to take some action in Iran sooner. A friendly gesture to the Iranians might well have brought them into my arms as their savior. Finally, I should not have surrendered Africa so easily at the beginning of the game. Granted, the Soviets began with a large advantage; I could have developed my position in Kenya and possibly Tanzania. I was just not thinking in terms of a long-term strategy for that region.