Game Review: Conflict (1990, Virgin Mastertronic International, Inc)


In 1997, after the Israeli Prime Minister is assassinated, you are appointed to take his place.  It is up to you to lead Israel and to keep it safe.  It won’t be easy because there are enemies all around.  Not only do you have to deal with America continually pressuring you to surrender the West Bank and not increase the size of your army but Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan all border you and could be either strong allies or potential threats.  It all depends on the decision that you make.

Conflict is a political strategy simulator where the goal is to be the last country standing.  The only way to ensure that Israel is safe is to make sure that the governments around it either collapse or surrender.  That does not necessarily mean that you should go to war with these countries.  Though that is an option, it’s sometimes easier to covertly support an internal rebellion or to wait for those countries to go to war with each other.  Along with the countries bordering you, you also have to deal with Libya, Iran, and Iraq, three countries that can be manipulated to go to war with the rivals on your border.  If you do not want to go to war with bigger and more populated countries, it is sometimes best to just wait for those counties to collapse on their own.  Another solution is to develop a nuclear arsenal and use it on your enemies but that will not only earn you the enmity of the United States but there’s also a chance that it could cause the end of the world.

What makes Conflict so challenging is that each game is randomized.  Sometimes, you’ll start the game with none of your neighbors acting aggressively towards you.  Sometimes, Syria and Egypt will both be aggressively pursuing their own nuclear programs and sometimes, they won’t.  If you start the game with both Syria and Egypt threatening to invade you at the same time, you might as well give up and start over because there’s no way that you’re going to survive.  Just as in real life, so much of succeeding in Conflict depends on getting a few lucky breaks.

Along with the role of chance, another thing that stands out about Conflict is what a pain of the ass the United States can be.  If you do anything to defend your country, the U.S. will condemn you and possibly even declare an arms embargo on you.  (Again, a lot of it has to do with chance.)  If you call out an air strike on the nuclear installations in Egypt or Syria, the U.S. will get upset despite the fact that you really don’t really have any other option.  Losing the race to be the first to deploy nuclear weapons in Conflict usually means losing the game.  After I played the game a few times, I realized it was pointless to worry about how the U.S. felt about anything.  Instead, I had to do whatever I had to do in order to survive.

Conflict is a challenging game.  There is a way to win by declaring war on everyone but you can also win by being a peaceful neighbor and never attacking anyone.  Of course, both of those approaches can also lead to you being led away to be hanged by your enemies.  Conflict can be frustratingly difficult but that just makes it all the more rewarding when you do win.

Play Conflict at the Internet Archive.

One response to “Game Review: Conflict (1990, Virgin Mastertronic International, Inc)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 1/9/23 — 1/15/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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