Hey all, I'm looking for 5 individuals to join me in playing A Horrible One-Sided Deal. This is a "matrix game," meaning it relies on structured arguments and assigned probabilities to determine what happens in the game. You can think of it as sort of like D&D but, in this case, the in-game actors are states instead of individuals. Hopefully, as you read on, the information I provide will make clear what playing this game would be like.
This game explores the contemporary tensions between Iran and the US. The game is set in present day. Pages 2-5 of the hyperlinked document provide a decent summary of recent US-Iran tensions. You can also refer to this Vox timeline which is being updated as necessary. This article does a decent job of explaining where Iran is with respect to the JCPOA.
There are 5 actors in the game: the US, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the European Union. Each player will assume control of one of these actors, and they will roleplay according to the interests and values of their chosen actor. In the hyperlinked document, players can find briefing documents for each actor, which outlines their perspectives and general aims. It is up to each player to decide what their specific objectives will be as we play.
How play works
When it is a player's turn, they declare one action their state is taking. They make an argument as to why this action should succeed. Other players will have 24 hours to make arguments as to why the action should fail. The Facilitator (me), after assessing all arguments, sets percentage chance of success. Using this dice roll lobby that keeps everything on the record, the Facilitator will roll to see if the action succeeds or fails, according to the determined percentage.
Example: It is Iran's turn, and Iran declares their action: "We are going to use mines and limited naval attacks to seriously harass oil tankers moving through the Strait of Hormuz." The Iran player justifies this by referring to their briefing document, which says "Iran has the ability to severely impede oil shipments through shore-based missiles, mines, naval and small boat attacks, and covert operations." The Iran player also justifies this by pointing to recent history, in which Iran was alleged to have performed these types of actions.
The US player argues that since it has a Carrier Strike Group in the region (see hyperlinked document), it may be difficult for the Iranian navy to "seriously harass" oil tankers.
The Facilitator considers both arguments, and decides the odds generally favor Iran. They give Iran 70% of success (which means 7 or higher dice roll with a d20). The Facilitator uses the aforementioned dice roll lobby to roll a virtual d20. The outcome is a 10, meaning Iran's action succeeds. The Facilitator announces Iranian success, adding that global oil prices have spiked by 30%.
Each round proceeds as follows:
- Iran's turn
- US' turn
- Saudi Arabia's turn
- European Union's turn
- Russia's turn
At any time during play, any player can make a statement to the rest of the group. At any time during play, any player can direct message another player to hold confidential bilateral discussions.
The game will go on for as many rounds as the Facilitator (with player input) deems best for the construction of a credible narrative.
More things to know before you agree to play
- A player will have 72 hours to declare an action and provide a supporting argument once it becomes their turn. If 72 hours elapse without an action and argument from that player, the Facilitator will announce that player has passed and move the game onto the next person's turn, at which point the 72 hour clock resets.
- When a player declares an action and provides a supporting argument, other players have 48 hours to submit supporting/opposing arguments
- These arguments should be kept relatively brief. A paragraph at most
- When you are declaring an action and providing a supporting argument as a part of your turn, start your text with "ACTION:" to make clear to everyone what's going on. If you are simply making a statement to the group, start your text with "STATEMENT:". If you want to make an out-of-character statement, just start your text with "OOC:".
- There are no pre-defined objectives or victory points. There will not necessarily be an 'objective' winner. However, when the game ends, players will have an opportunity to discuss their goals, decision-making, and achievements.
- The overarching goal is to collectively construct a credible narrative and have fun doing it. We may even learn a thing or two.
I will accept players on a first-come first-serve basis. When you accept, tell me what country you want.
Please feel free to ask questions.