RockyMountainNavy, 18 November 2021 ~ #UnboxingDay
Designer Dan Bullock apparently has a thing for the Axis. No, not Germany or Italy or Japan in World War II, but the “Axis of Evil” taken from President George W. Bush in 2002. In 2019, Dan published the first leg his Axis of Evil games, No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and War from Compass Games. In 2021 he added 1979: Revolution in Iran from The Dietz Foundation. To be clear, Dan doesn’t call his games part of any Axis of Evil Series—I invented that term—but I like it and that’s what I’m calling these games.
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1979: Revolution in Iran describes itself as, “a national-level strategic game covering the events leading up to the 1953 coup, the Islamic Revolution and the turbulent period in between” (Rulebook, p. 1). Dan describes this two-player game this way:
“Players will take the role of either the Royalist or the Coalition. The Coalition player represents the factions pushing to nationalize the oil industry in 1951-1953 (Early Era, turns 1-3) and any of the same forces that rose to oppose the shah and remove him from power during the Islamic Revolution. The Royalist player represents the interest of the shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as well as American and British oil interests.” (Rulebook, p. 1)
Component-wise, 1979: Revolution in Iran is a fairly simple game coming in a standard 1.5″ deep box. Inside the box one finds a mounted mapboard, a Rulebook and Playbook, 101 standard event cards, four oversized leader cards, about 60 colorful small wooden tokens, and a handful of wooden cubes. All components are of good quality. In some cases, people noticed the die cutter went a bit too deep on the stickers and some copies have them falling out. For the record, my copy was deep cut but none fell out until I went to apply them to the tokens. Granted, it took a bit more effort (and better fingernails than I had that day) to get it all done but we are only talking about around 120 stickers—far less than your average Commands & Colors game takes.
When folded out the mapboard for 1979: Revolution in Iran is a smallish 24″x18″. The small footprint of the game means it is playable even on that 3’x3′ card table you stashed away when you bought those folding 6′ tables for your wargames. 1979: Revolution in Iran is played out over seven turns with a play time of 90-120 minutes—very playable in an evening.
Learning 1979: Revolution in Iran means you must read the 24-page, digest-sized Rulebook. The rules are covered in about 13 pages with an extended Example of Play taking another eight pages. Dan also created a video tutorial to guide your learning if you desire.
The Playbook for 1979: Revolution in Iran is more “history” than “play.” Two pages of Design Notes are followed by two pages of Strategies that are then followed by 17 pages of historical notes, the majority being explanations of the event cards. Taken as a whole, the Playbook for 1979: Revolution in Iran delivers superior historical context for the game.
It should be clear to you by now that 1979: Revolution in Iran is NOT a wargame. Instead, 1979: Revolution in Iran is a political influence game. In the Design Notes, Dan goes out of his way to distinguish 1979: Revolution in Iran from “other political influence games like Twilight Struggle.” How well he does is up for you to discover.
One final note: 1979: Revolution in Iran is published by Jim Dietz of The Dietz Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is “making a difference in American society by helping teachers learn alternative means of education in the classroom” and “teaching the general public through the play of games.” The Foundation is a non-profit organization. The money to publish 1979: Revolution in Iran was raised in a Kickstarter campaign that originally planned delivery in September 2021. Alas, due to production and shipping delays, my copy did not arrive until mid-October, a whole two weeks behind schedule. Along the way Jim sent near-daily updates on the progress of the games during shipping. His Kickstarter campaign was easily the best one I ever supported.
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