Moe's Game Table: Cataclysm from GMT Games Unboxing
Cataclysm: A Second World War is a quick-playing game about politics and war in the 1930s and 40s, designed for two to five players. The three primary ideologies of the time contend to impose their vision of order on the world. The Fascists (Germany, Italy, and Japan) seek to overthrow the status quo, which favors the Democracies (France, the United Kingdom, and the United States), while the Communists (the Soviet Union) look for opportunities to storm the global stage.
NOT YOUR FATHER’S PANZER PUSHER
Cataclysm is unapologetically a game of grand strategy. Military pieces have no factors or ratings. The capability of your forces increases as you shift the commitment of your economy from civilian to military production. Land, air, and naval forces all have their role in prosecuting war. There is no Combat Results Table; instead, battles are resolved by opposed die rolls with a limited number of modifiers capturing the most important operational effects. The area map emphasizes political boundaries, drawing attention to strategically critical territory, encouraging players to think in broad terms of resource acquisition, control of border states, and the perception of power as the arms race plays out.
GEOPOLITICS AND THE CLEVER USE OF FLAGS
Flags are the currency of political capital in Cataclysm. Nations earn flags through public mandate or provocation by opposing powers. Spending this political capital is subject to the effectiveness of your power, which determines how easily you can implement your policies. Readying for war requires you to increase your commitment, straining the stability of your government. You can offset this by using propaganda to shore up your position. You can form strong alliances with friendly powers, or use diplomacy to sway your neighbors to your side. You may need to pressure reluctant partners into taking action. Manage your political actions to suit your goals, but be wary of provoking your opponents, allowing them to earn flags in reaction.
Moe’s Musings: Initially, this game sounded to me like it really needed at least three players to be a fun game, so I wrote it off my list. It was my own fault to not dig a little and learn enough about the game to see that it could be played solo. After seeing Joel’s videos of it on Twitter, I found out that my assumption was totally incorrect. Remember, assumption is the mother of all $#^& ups, so don’t assume!
Anyway, the chit pull mechanic makes this a fantastic solo experience, and another interesting epic scale game for wargamers to enjoy by themselves or with friends. There’s a sandbox feel to it that allows the conflict to flow in different ways, keeping things interesting each time. That sandbox aspect means it will take some effort to digest and grok the system, so be patient. My initial impression is that this effort will be rewarded with a deep, fun game that will just get better each time out on the table.
Re-fight the Second World War on all fronts by picking up your very own copy of Cataclysm today.
Note: A copy of this game was purchased by me for this unboxing.