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Stalin's Dilemma

Recently I was asked about what strategy games I have enjoyed and I remembered playing this one in my High School years (During my very brief Socialist period, I blame reading Animal Farm).

Stalin's Dilemma is a turn-based economic strategy game. Beginning in the 1920s, you, as Joseph Stalin(!) have to lay out three five-year plans to turn around the backwards Soviet economy, end starvation, improve standard of living and resist the pending German invasion.

You have direct control over the various sectors of the Soviet economy. Agriculture is needed to keep your workers fed. Energy produces fuel for all the other sectors. Mining produces metal for Industry. Industry produces tractors, trucks, oil rigs, mining equipment, weapons, consumer goods and additional factories, though these can also be purchased with surplus food, fuel and metal through foreign exchange. Transport is needed to shift items between the sectors.  Finally, the military is needed to protect the USSR from Operation Barbarossa.

I'll note that even though the game may possibly be advocating planned economies, it does not advocate Stalinism. The very goal of the game is to do a better job then Stalin did, by turning the USSR into a superpower without the associated barbaric loss of life (The lack of a 'purge dissidents' button or a 'Gulag' sector are conspicuous by their absence).

Each game lasts for only three turns, making this the only historically based strategy game I know of that can easily be played through in a single coffee break. The game is free to download from The Home of the Underdogs. Anyone who has an interest in history, economics, politics, socialism or dictators should definitely spend a few minutes checking this one out.