Balance of Power is almost a simulation of the cold war. As one of the two major superpowers (USA or USSR) you try to gain influence without starting a nuclear war.
The rest of the world is serving as a playground for the enemies. Other countries are not directly conquered but you try to get the respective government on your side or to overthrow it.
Depending on the difficulty level there are more or less options for influence. On the lowest level you have only obvious ways (military intervention, financial aid), while later you get things like diplomatic pressure. There are counteractions for every action so that the other faction can actually do something against it. Each action will be noticed by the “enemy” and he will probably protest, which causes so-called diplomatic crises. Of course, you don't have to back down immediately, so that the threats get harder. That goes on until one of the two gives in or the game ends with a nuclear war. Who wins this contest depends on an almost unlimited number of factors. Fortunately, you have your advisors on your side in such situations but you cannot trust them blindly. In these crises most of the points which are finally crucial to win are distributed. The winner gets more points the harder the fight was. Of course the “battle” for an economically powerful country with a big army and a high population is more important than the one for an african developing country. Nevertheless: If you are ready to start a war because of a “minor” country, the enemy will be, too (Quote from the manual: “The question on your lips is, why would those idiots annihilate the world over economic aid to Nigeria? The answer is, because you were willing to annihilate the world over Nigeria. Remember, it takes two to make a crisis.”).
There is much demographic information about every country which can help judging the situation but partly it is just useless for the game. That does not mean it cannot be interesting in another way though. That is done by comfortable menus, just like the the actions described before. Only choosing countries can be nerve-racking if you don't know the names and locations of all countries of the world.
On higher difficulty levels the game is so complex that clarity is sometimes in danger. But luckily the game is only 8 years (turns) long so that you can actually remember all relevant data. Therefore a whole game never lasts very long.
A particular interesting detail (and a change from the original version) is the multipolar level. On this highest difficulty level every small country is active, i.e. it declares war, signs treaties, etc. At least here you can talk of a simulation of the world.
The author Chris Crawford has agreed that I can post the game here! You can also get it from his homepage. That means it is practically freeware, i.e. it is legal to copy it.
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