This is a game that Mike and I recently picked up; it’s from the company Z-Man Games, which also made Pandemic. This one’s a competitive game, however. How could it be anything else, with a name like Ideology?
The basic concept is that you play as one of the ideologies – Capitalism, Communism, Imperialism, Islamic Fundamentalism, Fascism – and attempt to influence a bunch of hapless little countries, thus eventually taking over the world. Of course, the entire time, you’re sparring with the other ideologies, sometimes declaring war on them, sometimes pretending that you’re friends, and occasionally just blowing them up with a Weapon of Mass Destruction.
It’s a very entertaining game. It can get a little bogged down because of how many phases occur in each turn (most of which must be done in turn order and take several loops around the table to complete) but the charm of being an ideology and vying for world domination does a lot to balance that out. Also, it helps to have a plethora of inappropriate jokes to make about Communism trying to take over Cuba or Fascism going after Argentina or Israel.
The game claims that it’s good for two to five players. We’ve played it with three, four, and five players. The fewer players you have, the less conflict there seems to be. Four is alright; three sees very little conflict and there’s a tendency for players to just keep to themselves and fortify their own countries. I’m not sure why the dynamic works that way, but that’s how it’s gone in the games that I’ve observed. Ultimately, I really think it’s a game best played with four or five. When you max out the number of players, the diplomacy phase of each turn becomes a lot more interesting, and there are more opportunities to engage in conflict with other players – which is a big part of what makes this game fun and is a source of endless amusement if you have even basic historical knowledge and a sick sense of humor.
And of course, we picked up the game because Mike wanted to play Imperialism. If you don’t find that immediately hilarious, lose 500 geo-geek points for missing every time I’ve mention that my husband is British.