Those of you who have played Empire, either on a PC or on a mainframe, have some idea of what Dan Bunten's game Global Conquest is about. Empire was (and Global Conquest is) a game where each
player starts with a few traditional wargame pieces, such as infantry, armor and planes, and a limited view of the world. As the game progresses, the players maneuver their units out into unknown territory,
trying to gain cities and search out the enemy. As cities are gained, they can be put into production, creating additional units with which to wage war. Alternatively, they can sit idle, gaining money for the
player's Treasury. Global Conquest is not a military simulation, nor does it attempt to be. The enjoyment of this game comes from the simple rules of play and the degree of customization.
The setting is a world being invaded by four alien forces. The natives (always played by the computer) will attempt to defend their cities and Capital, while the four opponents attack each other and the
natives for control of the world. Each opponent can be played by a human or the computer, so the number of sides in each game is always five. If more than one human wants to play, an option exists for
playing at the same machine.
Each player begins with a Metroplex (a big city) in his or her corner of the world. There are only four Metroplexes in the game, and conquering all four, plus the native Capital, is a victory condition.
Additionally, each player has a Comcen. The Comcen (or Command Center) is a powerful, quick unit, which controls that player's operations. Loss of the Comcen puts the player out of the game.
Additionally, each player starts with a certain number of cities and units depending on the startup options. The player usually sees only the territory immediately surrounding his or her units, although the
game can be played with full visibility as well.
The goal of the game is to either destroy all enemy Comcens, or to occupy all the enemy Metroplexes (and your own) along with the native Capital city. In games with time limits, there are additional ways
to win. If no player has succeeded in meeting one of the above two criteria for winning, players will be ranked on score, as determined by the Scoring Method. The Scoring method can be based on
income, property (through the number of cities you own) or destruction (based on the number of enemy units attacked during the game.)
Orders are given in a two-level format; each player enters their orders during an Order Phase. If you are playing with multiple people on one machine, the program prompts each player in turn to enter his
or her moves. After the Orders Phase the players can watch the implementation phase, when units execute their orders simultaneously. There is nothing more frustrating than watching your submarine
busily pursue an enemy infantry, only to see his Comcen slip behind your sub and into your home center.
The game is mouse-driven, and has very attractive graphics for the time. The designers chose an extremely easy-to-read font for the text, and made good use of the colors available. The interface is
sensible, and all the information you need is easily accessible. In an era of 16.7 million TrueColor games we must remember that a clear lucid display and solid interface makes all the difference.
Because of this Global Conquest is just as enjoyable today as it was in 1992.
My favorite feature has to be the Wild Card. Wild Cards are somewhat beyond the realm of traditional wargames. These cards represent the vagaries of chance, and include such possibilities as monsoons,
earthquakes, labor strikes (no production for five turns!) and time warps (bringing the game to a point five turns previous!) These events are categorized as Tame or Wild, and games can be played with
the cards turned off entirely, with Tame cards only or with Tame and Wild Cards. Tame Cards are realistic, while Wild Cards are silly. All of them are aggravating. However, they do represent an element
of chance which serves to separate the excellent players from the merely good.
Part of the enjoyment of this game comes from the variety of choices available for the scenario. You can change the scoring
option, the turn limits and lengths, the visibility, the kinds of units allowed (infantry only, or with some combination of
seacraft, or with all units), economic options which dictate whether a game will have many or few units, and whether it will
be a war of attrition or one of aggression. You can also tailor the world to be large or small, land-rich or ocean-rich, rich or poor in resources, and so on.
Additionally, you have the option of custom-creating the icon used to represent your forces to the other players. This could
be a big feature among players who battle over the modem; the use of such a "call-sign" is an additional way of personalizing the game.
In summary, Global Conquest is entertaining and pleasant to view as a solo game. The computer opponents are good enough to give you a workout, and to give you practice for human opponents, either
through the modem connection or through the swivel-chair approach of using the same machine. If you're interested in classic strategy games with some unusual twists, give Global Conquest a try.