Ideology: The War of Ideas
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The conflict of political ideas spawned the conflicts of the 20th Century. More than any other era in human history, nations defined themselves not merely by their military or economic might, but by the ideals that inspired their ambitious achievements.
Ideology: The War of Ideas is an exciting new strategy game by Z-Man Games. During the game, each player symbolizes one of the 20th Century's most powerful Ideologies: Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Imperialism, Islamic Fundamentalism.
Beginning with one global region completely under its sway, each Ideology attempts to influence and control the independent regions of the earth. The Ideology that acquires the highest level of global influence will dominate the world for generations to come!
Very Brief Summary
In Ideology the players represent one of the major ideologies of the 20th century: Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Imperialism, or Islamic Fundamentalism. Each ideology has a set of special abilities that affect how they are able to act and a starting region of the world that is fully under their influence. From there they attempt to expand their influence (cultural, economic, and military) into independent regions hoping to increase their total (global) influence. Once a player achieves a global influence of 12 or higher, the game is over and the player with the highest global influence at that point is the winner.
The game play consists primarily of playing various influece cards from your hand. You use these cards to develop those regions you control, influence independent regions in order to bring them under your control, build advancements to improve your ability to exert influence, and conduct conflict against your opponents. The type of conflict you can engage in is limited by the diplomatic state between yourself and the ideology you are attacking. These states are negotiated each turn in a simple but effective diplomacy phase.
There are many other elements to the game, but this is the crux of what each player is trying to accomplish.
Thick paper map, thin cardboard counters, and thin (but coated) cards. Nothing to get excited about, but nothing to complain about either. They are quite functional and reasonable given the price of the game.
I like the theme of the game and how well the mechanics reflect the theme. As the game evolves it really does feel like you are a major political power trying to secure control for your interests. I like the decisions that face you regarding how to spend your limited resources. Do you build up regions you already control, or do you instead try to gain control of an independent region? Or do you increase your technology level instead of expanding? Or do you forego growth in order to attack your opponents in key regions to keep them from gaining strength? Since the same resources (influence cards) are used for all of these things it really makes for some interesting and challenging decisions.
Where Ideology falls a little short for me is in the fun factor: it is a fairly dry, calculating game. The relatively low level of randomness combined with the fairly limited number of choices you can make each round make for a quiet, tactical game. This is sure to be seen as a boon to many players, but for me, I like a little more levity in my games. The game also has a diplomatic element to it, which is necessary in this type of game and very well executed in Ideology, but not something that I find particularly enjoyable.
If the theme appeals to you and you enjoy tactical challenges with a bit of negotiating thrown in, give serious consideration to picking up a copy of Ideology. It is a fresh look at the area-influence style of games with good, solid mechanics and a simple but effective diplomatic system. If your preferences tend more towards the lighter side of games this may not be a perfect match for you, but it is still worth giving it a play or two if you get the chance!