Have you ever wondered what happened when you rolled for realignment or a coup in Twilight Struggle? The shift in power may represent a takeover by a military junta, or a coup d'etat orchestrated by …

Have you ever wondered what happened when you rolled for realignment or a coup in Twilight Struggle? The shift in power may represent a takeover by a military junta, or a coup d'etat orchestrated by rivals, a retiring leader replaced by a reformer, or bloody rioting in the streets. The game 1989: Dawn of Freedom is a conflict simulation of the events that lead to the overthrow of Communist regimes across Eastern Europe. It is modeled on the mechanics of Twilight Struggle, with the regions such Asia and Europe replaced with countries such as Poland and Hungary, and spaces such as Japan or Israel replaced with segments of society, such as shipyard workers in Gdansk or intellectuals in Prague.

There are some important differences though. For instance, when a player plays a scoring card, instead of scoring that country immediately, the scoring card triggers a “Power Struggle” between the communist and democratic player. The result of the power struggle may be a sudden shift of power from one player to the other like the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, a peaceful transition as in Poland or a violent uprising as in Romania.

These blog posts will explain how the game works and provide some designer notes on the cards included in the game. I am not a professional designer and just make games as a hobby. The first cards are from the Early 1989 deck about Jan Palach week in Czechoslovakia.

Card Notes: Jan Palach Week, Tear Gas and Water Cannon

On January 16, 1969 Jan Palach killed himself by setting himself on fire in Wenceslas Square in Prague. He was protesting the Soviet led invasion of Czechoslovakia the previous year. The Soviets invaded to suppress liberal reforms by Czech leader Alexander Dubcek, who was attempting to create “socialism with a human face.”

On January 15-21 1989, on the 20th anniversary of Palach's death, protesters staged a series of rallies in Wenceslas Square to commemorate the event. The Czech Communist party chairman in January 1989 was Milos Jakes. He was a hardliner responsible for the purges from the party in the late 60s and early 70s of any member considered to have supported the Prague Spring. Jakes ordered the demonstrations to be suppressed using water cannon and tear gas. Many people were injured and hundreds were arrested, including playwright and dissident Vaclav Havel.

These cards represent that event.

The demonstrations of Jan Palach Week failed to bring down the government and left the leader of the opposition forces in jail after a show trial. There is an old adage that the people get the government they deserve. Perhaps this was never so false a statement as describing the government of the Czechs and Slovaks in January 1989.

Here is a brief video of the Jan Palach demonstrations.


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Comment by Ted Torgerson on May 6, 2008 at 11:39am
Hi Jason,

I hope to have a playable version of this game in another couple months. If you e-mail me your physical address I'll send you a copy.

WBC is a stretch for me because the wife is not a gamer and the kids are only 6 and 1 years old.
Comment by Jason Matthews on May 5, 2008 at 11:43pm
Ted, this is the second design of yours that has really piqued my interest. Do you come out to WBC? I'd really like to try the games, but left to my own initiative of cutting and pasting, I am afraid it will never happen.

Comment by Ted Torgerson on April 26, 2008 at 11:31pm
The game will be very similar to twilight Struggle, with a single deck divided into Early, Middle and Late year cards. Cards with the opponent's event will be triggered when played for Ops. Instead of the space race, players can discard cards onto the Tiananmen Square track. Instead of DefCon status, there will be a USSR stability track. If the USSR stability reaches 1 the USSR collapses and the phasing player loses the game.

As far as cyberboard, if a gamebox designer picks it up that would be neat. Another wargame of mine called Free at Last does have a cyberboard game box.
Comment by Manuel P. Ron on April 26, 2008 at 9:50am
Nice post abouy contemporary history. Are you going to publish the game for Cyberboard?
Comment by Jo Bader on April 11, 2008 at 2:46am
will you have any change in mechanic compared to TS ?
btw TS was a real success in germany. All this eurogamers liked it very much.

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