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Solidarnosc

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:

GAME DEVELOPER:California Dreams

GAME PUBLISHER:California Dreams

Copyright 1991, California Dreams

One of the most obscure political sims ever made, Solidarnosc is an intriguing strategy game based on the workers’ movement of the same name between 1956 and 1981 that brought about the establishment of free trade unions in Poland and played a large part in the demise of the Polish Communist Party. Your job as leader of the movement is to win popular support from all 7 regions of Poland away from the Communist Party, while at the same time dealing with two superpowers: the U.S. (to which Poland owed billions in debt), and the U.S.S.R (which supported the Community Party).

The game is played similar to Shadow President in presentation: you are presented with the map of Poland, which shows the level of support for you vs. the Communist Party, and other regional information such as the number of prisoners the government holds, food shortages, etc. You have to click on each region to give specific commands for that turn, which are geared towards increasing popular support to the Solidarnosc, including make protest banners and speeches, inciting a hunger strike or demonstration, radio broadcasts, seeking financial support for the cause, and so on. Each task requires a specific number of activists, whom you can recruit and train from novice to veterans to pros. The key in winning the game lies in an effective management of your activists, as well as using your budget in the most effective manner. Some actions, such as distributing leaflets, have long-term effects that you can’t immediately see, while others such as jamming the government’s TV stations have an immediate impact.

In addition to making strategic decisions, you also have to pay attention to the nitty-gritty of the movement itself, such as buying enough copiers and xerox machines for the activists. This makes the game as much a lesson in how to manage a campaign (albeit a primitive one) as it is a simulation of a historical political event. The scope of Solidarnosc may be too limited for some, but for anyone who’s interested in a simulation of Communist/workers’ uprising, it’s one of the few games in town, with a solid engine and a uniquely interesting gameplay that can hold its own against bigger hits like Virgin’s Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator. Highly recommended!



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