Title Balance of Power Game Type Strategy Company Mindscape, 1987 Programmer Chris Crawford Players 1 Compatibility All Submission Callas Review Balance of Power is set in the 1980's Cold War scenario, with the player acting as either America or Russia. Each turn, the player allocates money, military support, destabilization efforts and so on, to every country in the world. As such, each turn can take a long time, as you read the reports each country and balance your resource allocations (and search round the map wondering where Bolivia is). The up side is after playing for a month you have a map in your head of the location of every country in the world. Once you've decided what to do where, you hit next turn and then go through the stand-off phase; this is where your opponent (played by the computer) objects to some of the actions you've taken. You have to either accept their complaint and stop whatever it was that was objected to, or face them down. If you face them down, sometimes they back down and sometimes they escalate matters - at which point you have to decide if you're going to back down or esclate further. Escalate too much and it's game over, in the 1980's nuclear armageddon sort of way. The score is kept by an international prestige value for each side. Each time you face your opponent down, more prestige goes in the pot. If you lose, you lose that amount of prestige from your total. If you win, you get extra points. The amount of prestige thrown in the pot depends mostly on the country involved. China for example is very sensitive - but no one gives a damn about Namibia. The graphics and interface are good. It's four colours and a wire frame map of the world - but it's all you need, and because there's no need for animation and fancy graphics the interface has aged well; it does its job now just as well as it did when the game came out. You don't need the manual to play the game. If you're patient and you like micro-management there's a lot going for this game. Each turn takes a long time and a lot of effort, but there is a high degree of involvement; a real feeling of satisfaction as you make progress in bringing countries over to your side and a real feeling of tension as your opponent begins to dominate countries you're concerned about, as well as the difficulties of balancing your resource budget and deciding just how far you can go each turn in attempting to subvert - sorry, I mean support - other governments in the face of resistance from your opponent. For a game to generate such feelings and involvement on the part of the player is a sign of its quality, and BOP is indeed a classic strategy game. Note there are two versions of this game. The original was released in 1987 and an updated version in 1990. Ultimately, the game was released free of charge on an Amiga magazine coverdisk.