Monday 15 November 2010

Old Boardgames - Superpower

I was digging through some cupboards last night and I found an old game that brought memories flooding back. Superpower was an early (1986) Games Workshop board game, created in the days back before they became the Evil Empire when they still made innovative products. Designed by Bruce Hollands and Daniel McGregor it was a game of political warfare and world domination and was very much a product of the Cold War era. Created before the breakup of the Soviet Union the game was heavily influenced by the power play between the superpowers in the early 80's.

The rather un-PC - but probably very accurate - object of the game is to control as much of the Third World as possible. This is achieved by using economic influence to control countries; by sponsoring (or turning a blind eye to) coup d'etat against a non-fortified countries; or by direct military action. Once a country is controlled it can be fortified against further attacks to prevent it being taken over by a rival superpower. None of this takes place in a vacuum of course and manipulating world opinion by the use of propaganda is a vital element in the game.

The game uses a roll and move game mechanic and utilises small plastic tokens and card decks. I remember the tokens being a pain in the butt during play. They were very small and easily knocked about if the table got jogged and were generally very fiddly to use.

The game can be played by two people but works best with up to six players. This is when the politics, backstabbing and power play truly come into their own. It was the player interactions that made this game fun even if the mechanics were a little cumbersome at times. I'll definitely be pulling this game out into the daylight again and I think its central concept is as relevant today as it was in the 80's. The global superpowers may have changed a bit but some of the tactics and politics of global control haven't changed much at all.


  1. Never even heard of this game but it sounds good especially the backstabbing bit.LOL

  2. I also have that game, still. The components are excellent and probably could be used to construct a very good game. Unfortunately it isn't the game they came up with, which is unfortunately quite tedious. As I remember this was in the last wave of GW's non-Warhammer games, along with Warrior Knights and Blood Royale. The former can be gotten as a redo now from Fantasy Flight (though you also have to buy the extension to get the original game). The latter is a kind of hybrid of Warrior Knights and Diplomacy and effectively tries to run the Hundred Years War in real time.

  3. I had Blood Royale but somewhere along the line I got rid of it. I had several GW boardgames from their early days (including 'Oi! Dats my Leg' and 'Curse of the Mummys Tomb'). Most went to better homes but this game somehow survived in a dusty cupboard for years.

  4. I had that game, it was pretty good, if a little one dimensional. Blood Royale was great, but relates to a generation when we would think nothing of spending 8-12 hours playing a board game!


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