Friday, August 22, 2003

SuperPower - Brilliant but Buggy

SuperPower is a brilliant-but-buggy global political, economic, technological, military simulation game. You pick any of the 140 countries and run it for a few weeks or years. The game runs on top of huge databases of information containing the 140 countries, 3500 plus cities and military bases, and tens of thousands of military units with related tables of capabilities.

I think the way I play - creating many new cities and bases, coming up with lots of new military craft, constantly updating my technology, and having trade arrangements involving dozens of countries - causes the databases to get out of sync resulting in persistent problems.

In one game as Brazil I quickly become a technology and military power, partly by the taxes generated from liberal trade. Unfortunately I had, almost accidentally, also got into a war with France.

OK, I liberated French Guinea which brought about the war and annoyed France to no end. When I say say liberated I mean eventually I gave it independence. Well, I only took it because France had only 250 poorly armed troops there. I will also admit I framed France for a political assignation that helped justify my invasion. France even after being unsucessful in trying to invade several of my cities just wouldn't forgive and forget. For turns and turns there is no more military action but France won't respond to my cease fire offers.

Since France is a nuclear power I develop my own nuclear weapons in my underground secret bases and research facilities and worry a bit.

I also worry about two other things, the NATO alliance and France's military base in Ghana containing Short Range Ballistic Missiles. NATO looks like it will only get involved if I attack France, my neighbor French Guinea didn't count. I don't want to invade France except to knock out any nuclear weapons which could even be out of range. I am stymied there because of my worries about NATO and we just have some small naval engagements in the north Atlantic. At least I have a plan to take care of the SRBM's in Ghana.

I invade Ghana. I am then surprised that France rushes a huge army there and so I reinforce and we have a huge battle. Technically, I lose the battle but France suffers massive losses and withdraws and I takeover Ghana in the next two weeks. All of Ghana is mine except for the French base which the game will not let me attack except strategically - perhaps it is meant to be secret and underground?

Several turns later after I have built my own underground secret strategic base in Ghana and as a hard-charging Brazil I decide to see what will happen if I lobbed two cruise missiles at the French Foreign Legion SRBM base. I also bring a few nuclear missiles out in the open in Brasilia to let the world know what I have. I save the game and push the button to launch two cruise missiles that happen to be in Ghana with the French base.

From my satellite view I see nothing coming back at from that base or from France. But what is this? From the Caribbean, at sea and Panama and Gitmo and Puerto Rico, missiles are headed toward not only Brazil but all of my allies and even secret allies like Chile. And it looks like two more sites in the UK have joined in the fun.

Rather than lose my missiles stationed in the open I retaliate but only at the sites attacking. More missiles began responding and appear to be headed for my secret bases, As my capital, and all my strategic arms could be about to go up in fireballs I launch my nukes, this time adding Washington and New York to the hit list as well as some other big US bases and a couple of military bases in France since they started this war.

The missiles stop and I wait awhile and then emerge to see what has happened.

It looks like the UK and the US had only launched non-nuclear cruise missiles at me for attacking a NATO member base. Most of my airports and naval bases are devastated but the cities are fine. Overall this isn't too bad for Brazil and my allies. It's a shame about New York and Washington but how was I to know?

The diplomatic situation is interesting, there are over forty countries breaking relations with me for launching cruise missiles at a French base. Then about the same number breaking relations with the US and the UK for attacking Brazil, Chili, Bolivia, Guyana, French Guinea, Uruguay and Ghana, my allies and supposedly secret allies. Then some more breaking with me for attacking the US and the UK or for using nuclear weapons.

A few countries like Canada and Sweden seem really offended by the nuclear weapons. Surprisingly, I now have better relations with the rest of South America and a few other countries, how dare NATO attack much of South America for Brazil defending itself! The US political situation gets interesting as support for the government drops from over 90% to 50%. Losing New York and Washington for hauling France's ass out of the fire isn't universally supported.

Because only a few nukes were used the game continues except now Brazil is at war with all of NATO.

Until the next time the game crashes... SuperPower brilliant but buggy. SuperPower 2 is coming late next year.