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Designer Blog #4 - Having the Right Intel

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

This is a Card Driven Game, in which each action is performed by using cards. You play those cards to execute an event or an action. Actions can be Intelligence, Military, Nuclear, or General. Intelligence actions are performed by agents representing the espionage operations during the Cold War.

Agents are represented by rectangular cardboard tokens. They can be "standard" agents with a strength of 1 for all actions. Or they can be specialized agents, giving you bonuses for specific actions. Agents with a bonus of 1 strength for Stage Coup action are marked with a star symbol. Agents with a bonus of 1 for Infiltration action are marked with a Flag symbol.

Escalation board game - intel operation and agents

Intel operation and agents

When you use an action point to activate an area for Move Agent action, you can move all agents from that area up to 2 areas away. You can split them and move to different destinations. If you don't split them and move them only to an adjacent area, you can also execute another intelligence action there as a bonus. That way, you can move agents to an adjacent area and perform Sabotage there. I wanted to give the player the ability to surprise the opponent while also limiting this surprise somewhat (that is why bonus action can be done only if agents move only 1 area away).

Agents can spread influence around them. I wanted a way to show how espionage and propaganda can affect the population. Secret services can change how people feel by using media, soliciting, and provocation. For instance, when you activate an agent, you can change influence by one point in its current area or one of the adjacent areas. If you activate several agents, you can change several influence points. But there is a limitation, as you cannot change control from one faction to another.

You cannot reduce the opponent's influence to less than a value of 1 or increase your own above the so-called State Level. It would be too easy and unrealistic to change the control of an area in such a way, and I needed some kind of coup action to represent this change. So to change the control to your faction, you need to perform another action - Stage Coup. It allows you to topple the government, but the downside is that it increases the escalation level.

Escalation board game - move agent player aid rules

Move Agent – Player Aid section

To stage a coup, you need an equal number or more agents in the area than the enemy's agents and units combined. Think of the units as forces that protect the government from insurgency, together with security service represented by agents.

If you have the same number or 1 more - you need to roll a beautiful custom die to check if you are successful. If you have an equal number of forces, you have a 33% chance of success, and if you have 1 more - you have a 66% chance. You immediately succeed if you have 2 or more pieces than the enemy. This is easy to remember, efficient, and provides exciting gameplay.

Escalation board game - custom game dice

Custom 6-sided Dice – in the nuclear mushroom style

Another intelligence action available to you is Infiltration. It allows you to move into higher echelons of government and thus take control of the country behind the scenes. This action is executed by activating agents in different areas of the country and comparing them with the opponent's agents. Again, you need to have an equal or higher number and roll a die to check for success.

If you succeed, one of your agents gets moved from the area onto the country's infiltration track. Or it is moved to the next space (if it was already on that track). When the agent reaches the flag space - the country is infiltrated. Now you can reap the benefits - you can either stage a coup in 1 of the areas of that country, or you get bonuses during intelligence and military actions.

The final action the agents can perform is Sabotage. It allows you to damage or eliminate enemy military units, agents, and bases in the area. To succeed, you need to have an equal or higher number of agents in the area. And you need to roll a die for that as well.

I wanted to make this system as easy to use as possible, and these custom dies allow just that. I also needed to represent different intelligence actions, each having unique prerequisites and effects.

That's it for now! Please, subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when we come close to release. You can subscribe on this page:

Have fun! 🖐️😀



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A Davis
A Davis
Jul 22, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for the update! I'm really looking forward to the Kickstarter.

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