Published on November 9th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich1
Review of Security Council- Now on Kickstarter
The remaining leaders after the great nuclear war find themselves in an important seat of power and control. The last of the land is up for grabs and leaders have the option to build their forces and take the land by force. With heavy competition for land and the threat of nuclear retaliation, leaders will also look to form strong alliances and work together to conquer or eliminate their opponents. In the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt “Speak softly and carry a big stick” are rules to live by while playing Security Council.
Modular Board, Minimal Choices
Security Council brings simplified territory control and building to an easy-to-learn war game scenario. The game also offers players the ability to build and deploy nukes which drastically changes the board state very quickly and can take away momentum from a dominating player or alliance. The simplified gameplay feels like combining Risk and Settlers of Catan, but with a few different gameplay changes.
Security Council allows players to build the board they will be fighting over. There are only 4 tile varieties: Uranium, Oil, Food and Blank tiles. Uranium, Oil and Food are all resource tiles and the Blank tiles are the territories where players can build factories, deploy troops and store nukes. To start the game all players are randomly dealt a number of these tiles (based on the number of players) and in turn order place one tile on the board until all tiles have been placed. The only restriction is after the first tile has been placed, all the tiles placed after that must touch at least one other tile.
Including this modular set up and choice gives players the ability to change where the areas of contention will be on the map. This option solves the main problem I have with Risk- the map is always the same and certain control points are always more valuable in game. Security Council allows players to build a different map each game and offer a variety of territory control strategies.
Controlling the different tiles are important to win the game and collect resources needed to build troops, nukes and additional factories. Resource tiles are points that players constantly fight over to ensure they are always collecting resources to build and grow their influence. Players will also fight over Blank tiles as those are the only places to build factories. Owning more factories is the only way to increase production of forces (besides using the Surplus card) and use the food resource more efficiently.
Reliance on Randomness
The only issue I had with Security Council was the reliance of randomness in the combat and card draws. In a Combat action, the attacking player announces the number of attacking forces against an opponents tile. The attacker rolls a d6 to determine how many enemies are eliminated, up to 6 maximum but not exceeding the number of committed attacking forces. The defending player, should he or she have remaining forces on the tile, also gets to retaliate by rolling the same d6. There were multiple times where Luke put the max of 6 forces to attack my large grouping on a tile, did minimal damage on his roll and then was instantly eliminated because I rolled a 6.
The punishing outcome from a good roll by a defending player only encourages players to attack in small numbers and/or encourages other players to turtle and build up forces in a few areas and not attack. Making any headway with conquering enemy tiles is a lengthy and frustrating process if you just roll poorly, especially when players can easily out-produce any damage done. I do feel Security Council could easily change the punishing randomness by halving the retaliation roll.
Another issue with the random gameplay, especially in the 2 player version, came in drawing cards from the centralized deck. The deck contains all the actions to build, affect opponents, halt aggression and gain additional resources. It is a common situation to have a lot of resources but no build cards that let you build the factories and nukes. If a player doesn’t draw a build card, they cannot use their acquired resources to build with. In the 3+ game the only resolution is to trade cards with opponents and this option doesn’t make sense in a 2 player game. Bartering is a big factor in a game where you receive random cards-but in a game where nukes are really easy to make and detonate, is it worth trading resources to opponents?
Nukes- What Are They Good For?
In Security Council, building and launching nukes is a very satisfying action. A launched nuke will detonate at the start of your next turn which allows all players just 1 turn to try and get out of the danger zone as quickly as possible. The nuke will eliminate any and all troops at the detonation tile and all tiles adjacent to the nuke. Thankfully, no one can launch a nuke until after the Defcon tracker reaches 1. The Defcon tracker starts at 5 and decreases each time a player builds a nuke and when a Defcon card comes up.
I found that completely eliminating opponents by well-timed nukes is the easiest way to win–especially in a game about nuclear warfare. Sure, you can choose to not build nukes and try to take over 70% of the tiles to win but it is a difficult task to accomplish if forces are constantly eliminated or being forced to move out of areas. The lest destructive way to win is an option, but in my humble opinion, it isn’t nearly as fun. The length and brutality of Security Council is completely up to the participating players and their decision to use nukes.
Very Approachable War Game
If you are an avid war gamer or like territory control games with lots of choices, then the mechanics of Security Council are probably too simple for your tastes. Also I personally like games where I can have some reliable control over the production of resources and I found the randomness of acquiring resources in Security Council very frustrating. As I mentioned earlier I did enjoy Security Council’s modular board construction at the start of each game. I feel that casual players, myself included, are deterred from many war games because learning the layout of control points on the board is arduous on your first first play through. With Security Council, that barrier to entry is eliminated. Players build the board at the start of the game and no one has prior knowledge of strategy based on a premade map.
Having a differently shaped board each time you play also gives Security Council a lot of replayability if the map can change so easily and offer some variation. If you like playing Risk or Settlers of Catan, Security Council is a game worth checking out.
The creators of Security Council focused on making a war game that even the most casual players can pick up and play and to that effect it is successful. The game gives players a casual experience in the realm of war games and territory control without the burden of a lot of decisions and rules. Oh and nuking your friends is a LOT of fun.