The official social platform for ConsimWorld
So I just recently bought GMT's Labyrinth: The War On Terror and played a few solo games. This is my first card-driven strategy game and I'm really enjoying it. The events are interesting and I find myself gaining new perspectives on modern geopolitics. A few people on BGG have written some fairly scathing reviews about the realism of the game and although the game does really simplify many aspects of the GWOT, I think I've learned something new while playing the game, so in that respect, it's been really worth my time.
So what have I learned? First of all, it's much easier to destabilize governments than it is to build them up and give them stability. The game simulates this idea by giving the US player only 1 roll per card to try and prop up that besieged regime, while the terrorists can use several dice in their rolls to worsen governance or posture. When I think about America and NATO's huge efforts to stabilize Afghanistan (regime change) and the sudden withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq after the Madrid terrorist attacks (non-Muslim country posture), these seem to be loosely simulated by the game designers and it really gave me a sense of chills to see events like this unfold on my game board.
There are some things that the game does not simulate, such as US public opinion (outside of the random result of the American Election card for Soft or Hard posture), which would play a huge aspect in determining U.S. strategy. I don't think the game should have tried to simulate such an aspect of the GWOT, mainly because it would have diluted the game's strategic elements by adding in political aspects, which would have bogged things down considerably. Still, it would be interesting to think about how to center a game around the twin aspects of domestic politics and geopolitics in the GWOT.
Having said all that, most of the negative reviews about Labyrinth seem to focus on what the game is not, rather than what the game actually is. I think Volko Ruhnke and Joel Toppen should be applauded for even attempting to model such a complex conflict, which is interesting, informative, tense, and yes, very fun. I absolutely recommend giving the game a try if the subject matter even slightly interests you.