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I continue to toy with the Tropico 3 scenarios, and I’ve yet to crack open Tropico 4.

The latest scenario is based, very loosely, on Jamaica and its independence moves in the late 1950s and final decolonization in 1962. The key, says the scenario description, is to move away from the agricultural and raw materials markets that were controlled by Great Britain and develop a self-sufficient industrial economy. All the while, as is the key to the game, I try to stay in the right place in the middle of the Cold War politics going on around me.

Of course, as the victory conditions point out, my real goal is to stay in office through the duration of the game until 1980.

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Trade has picked up and I have plenty of money. Now, if I can just get those construction workers to actually build something.

As the years advance into the 1960s, more of the game’s “color” becomes evident. Through radio broadcasts, I witness the Cuban missile crisis taking place nearby, as well as the crisis in the Dominican Republic. Perhaps because I’m getting a little better with the game, the Superpower interplay was also more evident this time around. Having secured an independence of sorts from the United Kingdom, I began courting the Soviets through my local Communist party. Although at one point I became a little too closely aligned with the Russians, I managed to shift the balance by allowing development by some U.S. -connected corporations.

I didn’t manage to anger either superpower sufficiently that they sent warships to my seas, nor did I need to align with either one for protection. I triggered (for the first time) a military conflict with a neighbor, but quickly dispatched them with some U.S. military support.

One might speculate about how many smaller countries have attempted to play such a political game, feigning alignment with communism or capitalism with absolutely know fundamental belief in the system, other than the aid and support that it will bring. Is it a reflection of the real world, or just a clever gameplay element.

Moving on to that Dominican Republic crisis, and a scenario that imagines the assassination of Trujillo took place some years earlier, triggering the installation of a communist-aligned government. As Soviet military aid begins building up on the island, the U.S. government decides it must rely on military force. The result far more detail of what it might look like when that U.S. fleet shows up in the harbor.

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Time to send that Soviet equipment to the bottom of the Caribbean, where it belongs. Orange is Dominican ships and air, with the orange square in the lower left being the target of my operation.

This scenario has the player in the drivers seat. We are working with a carrier (plus escorts), a destroyer and a sub. Our task is to use a carrier strike to eliminate the Soviet equipment from our backyard. The primary goal is the airfield where Russian Migs and bombers are stationed. In addition to whatever advantages we have in force, we also have the element of surprise. We can initiate our attack at our leisure with little-to-no expectation that our presence will provoke a first response from the enemy. In the screen shot above, I’ve located what appears to be all of the enemy forces and am positioning my initial strike. I’ve also noticed that the Dominicans are out buzzing my ships and aircraft in waves, so I’d like to hit them when they’re at the end of their fuel.

This scenario has a lot going for it, and satisfies many of my earlier complaints. First of all, the what to do is pretty obvious. No need to spend days hunting for enemies that may or may not be there. Second is the operation from the position of strength. I have the numbers and decent assets, so I don’t feel that I need to solve a complex puzzle to avoid slaughter. Of course, even with all my advantages, I got creamed in the first play-through.

The scenario, at this point, also solved another complaint I’d had about CMANO scenarios. When I lost and lost big, it was glaringly obvious what I’d done wrong. And at the risk of ruining the scenario for my readers, I’ll tell you what I did. I ignored the third dimension, altitude. I left the altitude settings for all my aircraft at the default assuming, I guess, that the game could deal with it. Thus, all my bombing attacks were from high-altitude while the enemy delivered their bombs rocketing in a sea level, both evading radar and being impossible to intercept by that 36,000 ft patrol. Being so obvious what I did wrong, it became pretty easy to tweak my gameplay and vastly improve my performance in a restart.

That’s the way I like it. Uh huh.

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