by Graeme Ackland, Mario Huys and Manus Hand


This is a two player variant, with one Capitalist and one Marxist in charge of the "International brigades". Broadly, the Capitalist orders all the units, but one city from each nation (two for Russia) and the unit on it is secretly controlled by the Marxist, who can change any order given to them at the risk of exposure. The Capitalist wants to create a single power monopoly, while the Marxist wants to spread his ideology to every city in Europe.

City control:

  1. At the start of the game, with the standard starting position (7 powers, 22 units in their home centers), the Marxist selects one home center (or city) from each power, two for Russia, and declares them under his control. This information is not revealed to the other player (the Capitalist), but only to the GM, who serves as an umpire to guarantee that the Marxist complies to the rules and never changes an order that he's not allowed to. In sum, the Marxist now controls 8 cities/provinces/home centers, the units on it and any subsequent units built in it, for as long as the center remains under his control, without the Capitalist knowing which.

  2. The Marxist may increase his number of controlled cities by having a foreign unit he controls capture a home center that he does not yet control.

    Example: Say Trieste is capitalist, and Venice marxist, then getting army Venice in Trieste in Fall will place Trieste under Marxist control. Of course without the ability to build there, as Trieste is now Italian, not Austrian, but that may still change (see further). The Capitalist may not even know that the other gained control if he himself ordered the Venetian army in, but the Marxist and the GM will keep track of the fact.

  3. The Marxist may lose control of a city if a capitalist unit of any power (not just the original power) that has previously held the center recaptures it.

    Example: (continued) If in the next year army Vienna, a capitalist army, retakes Trieste, Trieste returns to the bourgeois, I mean capitalist, stable. On the other hand if the marxist army Budapest liberates the city, the city remains marxist, and moreover the Marxist may build units there in the following years. If next the army from Rome, Italian and capitalist, recaptures the city, it becomes capitalist, because the Italians have previously held it, if even for one year.

    The underlying reasoning is that capitalists are not that frantic about spreading their ideology to other nations as the marxists are, instead focusing on expanding their own (business) empire. But national borders change. Captured provinces become part of the nation. Nationalists will therefore view a subsequent loss as a national catastrophe, to be blamed on an international (marxist) conspiracy. When recapturing the city, they will make sure this time around to thoroughly clean the streets and the government of any marxist elements. Marxists on the other hand organized themselves internationally, starting with the International Workingmen’s Assocation, also known as the First International, to unite all workers for the realization of justice on earth through revolution (a marxist tenet) or by other means. Karl Marx himself, who drew up the statutes, was elected to each General Council during its short existence. This sharply contrasts capitalist nationalism to marxist internationalism.

Friendly fire:

  1. Powers may dislodge their own units, and support given by a unit for an attack against a unit owned by the same power will be valid and will be counted towards causing a dislodgement.

  2. Additionally, even an unsuccessful attack made by a unit against another unit owned by the same power will cut any support being offered by the attacked unit.

  3. This rule does not distinguish between capitalist or marxist units. Even if all units concerned (attacker, supporter and target) are of the same power and the same creed, the target unit will be dislodged, or its support cut. This ensures that the Capitalist cannot detect marxist units simply by the way they react when under attack from their fellow countrymen.

    Marxists frequently organized strikes to force concessions, even in wartime and among soldiers, in extreme cases leading to revolutions and Civil War. In the case of Russia, the communist October Revolution even forced Russia prematurely out of the war. But even on the Western front, strikes among the French soldiers stalled offenses or debilitated the French resistance against German attacks. Moreover in WWI the officers were mostly of high nobility and the soldiers were peasants, more used to the local dialect than the standard language. In Belgium for example the officers spoke French exclusively, while their Flemish subordinates could only speak (some form of) Dutch. These internal struggles and poor means of communication led to frequent losses due to, or akin to, friendly fire.

Turn processing:

  1. Each turn the Capitalist issues orders for all units, then hands his sheet to the Marxist. The Marxist, after seeing the orders the Capitalist gave, may choose to overrule orders given to those units that he controls, thereby revealing their identity. Then the turn gets processed.

  2. The same procedure is followed for retreat orders. For adjustment orders, again the Capitalist orders first and the Marxist corrects. If the Capitalist disbands a marxist unit, the Marxist may overrule that and elect a capitalist unit to disband. If the Capitalist builds in a capitalist home center, the Marxist may move that unit to one of his own open home centers for the same power, thereby converting it to a marxist unit. Or if the Capitalist builds in a marxist center, the Marxist may move it to a different coast or another marxist home center. If the Capitalist waives a build, the Marxist may build a unit of any allowed type in one of his available home centers. He cannot however move a unit after waiving a build of his own, or move it to another capitalist home center, or change its type, or move a fleet to a non-coastal home center.

    This illustrates Marx' maxim that the Capitalist controls the means of production (the capital), but not the work force (the people). When the government decides to build a fleet, it depends on the (capitalist) industry leaders to provide the funds and the materials. Workers can revolt and claim these for themselves, but it's hard to see how bows and sterns and no rifles can be turned into an effective army.

Victory conditions:

  1. The goal for the Capitalist is to create a monopoly by making one power own more than half of the board (18 centers). Whether there are any marxist controlled home centers among them doesn't matter.

  2. The goal for the Marxist is to bring two thirds of the cities or home centers (15 home centers, for only home centers have city names) under his control, in the manner explained above.

  3. If both reach their goal in the same turn, the Marxist achievement trumps the Capitalist's.

    All fine to gain a monopoly, but the real power lies with the politicians and the public; and if they decide to create Utopia on earth, the Capitalist just paved the way for a big, united, communist empire. Marx and Engels foresaw in their treatment of dialectic materialism that the absolute monarchies of their time would first be overthrown by a bourgeois (capitalist) revolution before the final victory of the proletariat, ending the class struggle. What a perfect illustration, not?

Some considerations:

  1. For the Marxist it's crucial to choose the right timing to expose any of his units. If he does it too quickly, the Capitalist may use his numerical superiority to isolate and lock out the marxists.

    He could for example block the home center it came from with a capitalist unit in the same color, thereby assuring that any builds made by that power are capitalist. Or capture it first with a foreign unit (of any creed) and in the next year with a home-bred capitalist unit to eradicate the marxist ideology in and control of the city (the existing units produced in that city remain marxist however). Or corner and destroy the marxist unit with outside help, but that may be tricky.

  2. Neutral supply centers are in the first place a bonus for the Capitalist to reach his goal quickly. Capturing all of them with the same power will bring that power to 15 centers, only 3 shy of victory.

    Even if a third of his units are marxist, and if he captures the last 3 home centers with marxist units only, the Marxist will still only have 11 cities under his control, far less than his 15 cities goal. The Marxist can thus not wait until the last year to start using his units. This is less of an issue if the victory criterion is higher. For a bigger challenge in the face of a passive Marxist, the goal might be changed to own more than two thirds of the board (23 centers).

  3. Neutral centers however can be an aid to the Marxist as well, as it allows him to create more troops loyal to his cause, provided his build centers are open.

    Example: Let's say the Capitalist chooses all French units to hold in Spring and Fall 01. The Marxist, who controls Marseilles (quite appropriately), may overrule its Fall order and move it to Spain, thereby gaining a build that, with his control of the adjustments phase, he can build in or move to Marseilles, so that there are now two marxist units versus two capitalist ones.

  4. At the start of the game, with no knowledge of the marxist controlled cities, it's in the Capitalist's interest to capture at least as many centers as there are home centers, or none at all, so that he maintains his relative numerical advantage. Conversely the Marxist will strive to capture only 1 or 2 centers to alter the balance. This may lead to situations where marxist units refuse to capture a center, but do get to build a new unit.

    Think of Chiang Kai-shek accusing Mao that the Communists, notwithstanding their numbers, hardly contributed to the war effort against the Japanese during WWII, but were more busy preparing for the showdown with Chiang's Nationalists once Japan was defeated.
  5. When choosing his starting cities, the Marxist should consider coastal home centers first, as any fleet builds cannot be moved inland to make them marxist. This must be weighted against the desire to keep his choices unpredictable and the usefulness of the starting unit in the opening moves.

    Example: The army in Budapest may be more useful for the Marxist than the fleet in Trieste, as it has better access to neutral centers, can block a Viennese move to Galicia and support foreign armies into Vienna and Trieste.

  6. An active Marxist player may choose to reveal his units early, calculating that he can overcome his initial inferiority (8 units versus 14) by his ability to play with perfect knowledge of the opponent's moves, something the opponent doesn't have. This initial number can be varied if it proves to be too easy for either party to win the game. The Marxist could for example start with only 6 units instead of 8, or reveal all his units before starting the game. Once all marxist units (and cities) are revealed, the Capitalist can just fill in orders for his own units, then pass the sheet to the Marxist to add orders for his followers.

  7. To bring more secrecy to the game, a variant may be to let the Marxist choose in secret every odd years at the start or end of the Winter season to relinquish control of a certain city or cities and take control of a different city in the same color as the former one. He can however not move from a non-build center to a build center or vice versa.

The Authors,
c/o Mario Huys

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