RogerBW's Blog

A Better Statecraft 22 January 2018

I recently played Peter Blenkharn's game Statecraft, and I wasn't terribly impressed. Here are some ideas that I think might improve it.

You can download the rules on the boardgamegeek page above (see under Files). All right, we're using a World's Smallest Political Quiz model, so let's be honest about it and have two axes: economic convervatism and social conservatism. Each one runs from say +7 to -7.

Each voting bloc potentially has a maximum and minimum "happy" level, and a maximum and minimum "tolerant" level, on each axis. (This can easily be shown graphically as long as we stick to two dimensions.) When they're in their happy range, you can acquire them, and other players have a hard time taking them from you; when they're outside the happy range but in their tolerant range, they can easily be taken from you; when they're outside the tolerant range, they abandon you to become floating voters. (In the current game there's just "happy" and "tolerant", and however much you betray a voting bloc they will never spontaneously leave you.)

The tolerance levels of the blocs are not randomly assigned. This will be actual work to sort out. However, they ought to have different voting weights, based on some sort of demographic categories; so there'd be only one card for "lefty students" (high economic and low social conservatism, with a high tolerance for high social conservatism), but it would be worth (say) 400,000 votes.

Of course the current game assumes that winning an election is based entirely on the number of voting blocs you control; if you want to model a constituency system, there should probably be a dispersal factor (a few people in each of many constituencies don't provide as much voting power as lots of people in one), so each card would probably have a precalculated voting weight rather than a specific number of people. You could even have multiple weights calculated for different electoral systems!

The action cards are mostly "take that" to keep the game interactive. In the first cut, they can go (particularly Assassination). The interaction comes as parties manoeuvre to grab each other's voting blocs.

All of this gets away from the relatively clean abstract design of Statecraft and makes it much more thematic (which may be a good or a bad thing depending on how you feel about it). It will also probably be country-specific.

(And now Michael knows why I bought the copy of Statecraft that he was selling.)

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