Global Dilemma: Guns or Butter, The Download (1990 Simulation Game)

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Following Balance of Power, designer Chris Crawford stuck to the big-picture approach but shifted the focus from power politics to macroeconomics. In a grassroots simulation of industrial production and allocation, players balance a country's military and social spending to survive in an environment of fictitious nations competing for land and resources.

Key element in the turn-based The Global Dilemma is a basic tree of industries such as coal mines, lumber mills or gunpowder factories. The entire production chain culminates in only two results: an increase in either military strength or population. Guns or butter.

The careful balancing and channelling of the industrial production, stripped down to the most basic mechanics, is The Global Dilemma's fundamental challenge. A growing worker population is vital for the economy. A strong military is vital for conquering neighboring provinces, their resources and population.

At the same time, rivalling countries threaten the borders, and troops must be deployed to the vulnerable spots on the map. Superiority in numbers wins the abstract clashes of armies. The expert difficulty level adds a diplomacy system in which nations form short-term economic alliances.

The Global Dilemma sees Crawford refine his particular brand of socio-global simulations, reducing complex issues to basic cause-and-effects chains that have a distinctly educative edge. As usual, a well-written manual details the game's mechanics. Crawford continued with Balance of the Planet (1990).

In The Global Dilemma, your task is to manage the "global dilemma" --the conflicting needs of the military and industry-- by allocating the production of various commodities (e.g. using the iron ore to produce more weapons will decrease the amount of iron available for industrial goods) and managing the army to defend against/conquer the opposing kingdom. It was the first "wargame" I recall that focuses on the tradeoffs between war and peace that arises from limited resources (and in this sense the game is much more "realistic" than games like Civilization in which resources are unlimited). The computer AI on hard level is also one of the best for its time. Highly recommended.

How to run this game on modern Windows PC?

This game has been set up to work on modern Windows (11/10/8/7/Vista/XP 64/32-bit) computers without problems. Please choose Download - Easy Setup (1.65 MB).


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