Gorbachev: The Fall of Communism
In Gorbachev: The Fall of Communism you are thrust into the Soviet leadership, trying to push your immense country into democracy amid the collapse of socialism and the wild mood-swings of Gorbachev himself in the period from 1985 to 1991.
This fast-play, fun, and educational solitaire game uses a system created by Darin Leviloff. "People" markers on five converging paths represent the political awakenings of the Russian people, the Baltic Republics, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Communist Party itself. The paths all meet in Moscow, where the danger of a coup exists if any of those People markers makes it that far. In addition, three tracks representing the Soviet economy, media and culture greatly impact the overall situation. A card draw determines which paths and tracks move against you this turn, and the number of "Efforts" which you earn that you can use to move them back in your favor (if the Effort die roll succeeds). The presence of Gorbachev himself gives you additional Efforts -- but he is often on vacation!
Managing Efforts is key to the game, and you never have as many as you want. You can obtain more by calling in the KGB or gambling away your army in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe, and your nuclear missiles, in disarmament deals: a short term strategy that can cost you victory points in the end. You can even abandon your Warsaw Pact allies to win Western goodwill (and more Efforts) as the Cold War comes to an end. Your success at disarmament will depend on how the US President views your policies, making the 1988 election -- George H.W. Bush vs. Michael Dukakis -- important.
Each risky gambit is aimed at averting a military coup against you, which can end the game suddenly. Your success (or failure) in controlling the five paths of public opinion helps determine how many individual Politburo members are still on your side when a coup plot is hatched, so the better you play the game, the less chance the coup gets off the ground.
Can you hold the Soviet Union together long enough to achieve a treaty with your restive Republics and win the game?