If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to rule your own nation, Rogue State from LRDGames, Inc. may be the game for you. Welcome to Basenji; yes, it’s a breed of dog, but it’s also the name of the country you’ve inherited after a recent governmental overthrow. As the leader of Basenji, will you be merciful to your citizens and friendly to the rest of the world, or will you rule as a tyrant for your own personal gain. The choice is yours.
As supreme tyran…er…leader…your first task is to create a cabinet. There are three well-meaning ministers waiting for assignments, as well as your brother Farouk who wants nothing but to take leadership for himself. Farouk is highly charismatic and has the ear of many of the people. Unfortunately, you cannot dismiss your brother; he must be assigned to one of the cabinet positions. The following screen lists these positions, along with the effects of benevolent charge (in green), and the effect of appointing Farouk (in red).
Next on the agenda is reconstruction. Basenji needs a lot of work and it’s up to you to hire nationals, as well as those from the international community to see it through. To which infrastructure will you assign resources first, engineering or medical? These are the kinds of choices that will influence your successes and failures throughout the game.
As with everything in politics, funding is essential. There are actually two forms of currency in Rogue State. One is “Treasury Funds” and the other is “Loyalty of Parliament”. Both must be carefully managed. Also, keep in mind that you are free to govern as you please; even to the people’s detriment. But working for the overall good, while fending off Farouk’s efforts to the contrary seems to me the best way to go.
As with any government, balance is key to pleasing the masses. Basenji’s population is comprised of four political parties known as “factions”; the distribution of which can be seen on the “policies” screen. Use the sliders to set policy that will win the approval of one or more of the parties. Of course as one group becomes happy with your decisions, others may oppose. There is a sort of rock-paper-scissors effect among the people…and with 14 policies to juggle, the game’s replay options are practically endless!
Occasionally, a cabinet minister will have something to say about the way you’re running the country. He will ask you to raise the approval rating of his own faction to a certain level, and within a certain number of turns. If you succeed, that minister’s approval of you rises. If not, it will drop. If your ministers’ approval rating drops too much, they will become “disloyal”, giving Farouk an opportunity to overthrow you.
While managing your country’s interior, it’s easy to forget the international scene. The United Nations will send Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to assist your rebuilding efforts, but at an approval cost. If you are a violator of human rights for example, the U.N. can threaten sanctions. If this happens, allocate resources for immediate reform!
Overall, is Rogue State worth it? Absolutely, yes. It is both humorous and ominous at the same time. As stated, the replay value is very high; letting you test out various styles of rule. My only suggestion would be to add even more content and complexity to this fun geopolitical sim.