A Board Game Version of Quantitative Realism

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One could take the general ideas underlying quantitative realism and turn them into a simple, multi-player games that can be played with friends and family. We call this game Clausewitz, after the Prussian military theorist known for describing war as "the continuation of politics by other means."

Board Game Version

Rules

  1. Goal: Clausewitz is an accumulation game for three or more people in which players collect stones and eliminate other players’ stones. The object of the game is to have more stones than the other players.
  2. Pieces: There are black stones in a dish or pot in the center of the table. Each player an identified by a shape, such as a triangle, square, circle, etc. Each player has two cards for each of the other players' shapes: one in red and one in black. Each player also has a "pass" card.
  3. Commencement: Each player starts with five stones.
  4. Moves: Players move simultaneously. Each player selects a card and puts it face down on the table. Cards are then revealed at the same time. On each turn, a player can do one of the following:
    1. Give another player black, by putting down the card with the black version of the other player's shape. The player making the move must pay one stone into the pot, and the other player takes two stones from the pot.
    2. Give another player red, by putting down the card with the red version of the other player's shape. The player making the move must pay one stone into the pot, and the other player must pay three stones into the pot.
    3. Pass, or do nothing. This does not cost anything.
  5. Termination: There are a number of possibilities for how the game can end. Players are not eliminated from the game when they run out of stones. Draws are possible, and one could allow two winners per turn. Options include:
    1. Play continues until one player has more stones than all of the other players combined.
    2. Play continues for a preagreed number of turns, and the winner is the person with the highest total of stones over all turns.
    3. Play continues for a preagreed number of turns, and the winner is the person with the total number of rounds won.
  6. Knowledge: Players must keep their stones visible at all times. They can make side deals and communicate with each other privately via their mobile devices.

Commentary

In Clausewitz, players amass stones and try to destroy other players' collections of stones. Piles of stones are analogous to national power or wealth, and players can build up these collections by engaging in mutual exchange with other players. They can also attack other players, reducing their material capacity. These basic mechanics of setting power in motion and consequently affecting the power levels of other agents is arguably the essence of international relations.

Unlike the formal representation of quantitative realism, in which relationships persist over time, in Clausewitz player interaction is based on a series of individual transactions. Nonetheless, players still have to make choices about reciprocity, cooperation, and revenge, forming and betraying alliances as the game unfolds.

Quantitative realism assumes that states want to maximize their absolute and relative levels of power, but it doesn't articulate a terminal game state per se. Board games need some way of ending, and several possibilities are mentioned above for Clausewitz, none of which yet seems like the obvious right choice.

Because players can establish private channels of communication and engage in side deals limited only by their imaginations, it is possible that the most compelling aspects of the game take place "off board" in the diplomatic structures that players create as a result of these interactions.

Computer Game Version

TODO



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