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Posted on Feb 14, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Making History: The Calm and the Storm – Recon (PC)

By Jim Cobb

Diplomacy is a major part of the game as countries can be asked for treaties, military access, alliances, territory, to be embargoed or, of course, be a subject of a declaration of war. Players can also declare war on alliances in a similar fashion.

The domestic panel shows the government’s ideology, budget, culture and population. The population is broken down into labor groups. This information is important when players start to build up their industries and armed forces. The last panel shows subservient territories that can be ceded or granted independence.

The most important activity available in the domestic panel is Research. Three research projects can be under way at any time. Players chose from five major categories: the three armed forces, industry and advances topics. Opening one of these tabs leads to a series of nested topics. For instance, the land force category leads to infantry, armor, artillery and support. These topics, in turn, have sub-divisions such as improved small arms and advanced weapons for infantry. Rocketry and nukes as well as better tactics can be researched under the Advanced category. Research costs not only money but research points. The number of research points available is a function of the country’s technological acumen: pre-industrial, industrial or advanced.


The most active panel is the economy. Displayed here are world trade, production, infrastructure, expenditure and income. World trade revolves around arms, consumer goods, metals, coal, oil and food. A country’s own production of these is shown as stockpiles, surpluses or deficits. Trade negotiations to buy or sell specified amounts of these resources at set process can be done with individual countries or can be put on the world market at first-come-first served basis with demand dipping and rising. If a friendly country is in trouble, it can be given aid. Conversely, a player can go hat in hand if he needs something badly enough. Production of these resources can be increased domestically if the right kinds of laborers are unemployed.

Another tab brings up production. Each region has a production capacity and can be ordered to produce consumer goods, arms different industrial levels or military units. Switching to new production requires not only more resources but also time. Moreover, switching from goods to units can hurt production by taking workers out of the labor force.

Infrastructure is a means of improving transportations, defenses and food supply. Any improvement requires the correct technology and costs money. Payback can occur either with increased trade, better production or improved military capability.

Improvements, research, infrastructure and military maintenance and supply all cost money. Countries may go on a spending binge early when the treasury is in good shape but no borrowing is possible here. Players must either keep a sharp eye on the bottom line of the economy panel or grab resources to remain liquid. An empty treasury is as damaging as a lost campaign.


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