Playing the game
The goal of War on Terror, the boardgame is to liberate the world, ridding it of fear and terrorism forever. Naturally, only the biggest and strongest Empires are up to this task and so a certain amount of dominance needs to be shown. Alternatively, you can play as the terrorists, fighting for a world without empires.
Everyone starts the game as an Empire, with a couple of free villages and they can settle anywhere in the world. Although peaceful (we had to ban fighting in the first round) the 'politics' of the game already start to form, depending on what oil is discovered and how 'aggressive' the initial settlement choice is.
Rapid expansion and the 'oil grab'
Send secret messages; fund terrorism; make deals; renege on deals; wage war; expand your empire; forge secret alliances; fund regime changes; kidnap politicians; be the terrorists
Empires then spread over the planet grabbing all available land, searching for the best oil and the most strategic borders. Some go for towns and cities, other spend their cash on extra empire cards, building up their political options. Maybe, if they're lucky, they'll get an early nuke.
The 'first strike'
Sooner or later someone takes a pop. Maybe the Axis of Evil has declared an Empire evil, giving them a few terrorist cards which are just too tempting not to play. Maybe someone is looking too strong already. Maybe you've got a grudge from a previous game or maybe you just want to win. Either way, war is declared or the terrorists strike!
The rise of terrorism
Axis of evil
What's the War on Terror without an Axis of Evil? Handily located as a spinner in the middle of the board, the Axis of Evil decides who the baddies are with its random finger of suspicion. Then you get a nasty little subsidy in the form of Terrorist Cards: If you weren't evil before, you are now.
Empires soon strike up alliances and the propaganda war is in full flow - secret messages have been sold for over 100m in previous games. The games sway between paranoid pacts and all out war. Nukes get dropped and Empires soon find that sometimes you need to fund a bit of terrorism in order to eradicate a greater threat. Terrorists start to spread across the planet ... dirty bombs are detonated ... oil gets destroyed ... the world slowly becomes a dangerous, radioactive mess.
The end of Empires
Although it is possible to finish the game with all players still playing as Empires, the more likely outcome is that at least one Empire is destroyed, bankrupted, or simply caves in and becomes a terrorist player. As more empires fall they work together as a single terrorist player. With each new influx of terrorist cards and cash for the terrorist cause, the remaining Empires begin to wish that maybe they shouldn't have funded quite so much terrorism as they did. But no one learns.
The end game
There are a few possible endings to the War on Terror...
1. An empire liberates the world
They grab enough land, they build enough cities, they drop enough nukes, they manage to keep the terrorist threat under control and they liberate the world! This is the most common ending.
2. The terrorists claim the planet for their own
Through cunning use of political kidnaps, plane hijacks, terrorist attacks, suicide bombers - and all the other vicious strategies available to them - the terrorists destroy all the Empires and the world has no governments. Perhaps.
3. World peace
A rare but strangely satisfying end to the game. When there are no terrorists on the board, all remaining Empires can claim world peace, give each other a hug and go home knowing that they've learnt something special. This has happened once so far.
4. Never ending war
The game descends into chaos and the players sacrifice finishing it to save their minds. Luckily, after two years of development and an unhealthy disregard for our own sanity, this doesn't happen too often anymore.