Pre-play review of Hedgemony, part 1

23 March, 2021

Professional wargames and simulations are games used for educational and training purposes in both the military, academia and the business sector. In that sense they are quite different from the hobby wargames we play, but there is an overlap, I expect, since I’m assuming I’m not alone in being a hobby gamer that is also interested in the broader use of games. Most professional wargames are purpose-built for the organisations that are using them, but a few have been further developed towards a consumer product available to the general public. Back in 2015, PAXsims developed and published Aftershock: A Humanitarian Crisis Game, which is a print on demand product from The Game Crafter and closely resembles a consumer game from a mainstream publisher.

Enter Hedgemony, a Game of Strategic Choices

Last year, the RAND Corporation decided to develop their own strategic game to teach “U.S. defense professionals how different strategies could affect key planning factors in the trade space at the intersection of force development” and publish it to the wider public. The game is called Hedgemony – the title is an amalgamation of the terms “hedging” and “hegemony”. Hedging meaning how to engage around the world with economic and military means without direct conflict on a large scale, and hegemony is, well, world domination. The game is about how the US Department of Defense can keep its influence around the globe, using its resources in an optimal way, depending on the chosen strategy. Much more about that later.

I will be taking a look at this from a consumer’s point of view – as a gamer who purchased this game and would like to invite some friends over to play it. The first major stumbling block for it as a wargame in the market place, it the hefty price tag of 250 USD. And since it’s printed by The Gamecrafter, it’s only possible to buy it from the US, so add to that an equally hefty shipping charge and possible customs fees. Very expensive game indeed, and right off the bat I think it will be a major hurdle for people, even if the price would be cut in half. Even 125 USD is not far from getting you a copy of Twilight Imperium 4, World in Flames CE Classic or Stellar Horizons, just to name a few huge games with lots and lots of components and in the more expensive bracket of the market.

That said, Hedgemony is a meaty product, coming in at nearly 4 kilos of paper and cardboard.

You get what looks and feels like a quality product. The game has a big mounted board, showing a world map with the different US areas of interest. It comes with two huge stacks of bridge-sized cards and a smaller stack of oversized (tarot-sized?) event cards – the type is quite small on all the cards, but it’s all crisp and clean and beautiful. Then there are player boards in folded A3 (or something close to that) for each of the factions, with space for cards and tracking faction levels, except resource points. Resource points are tracked on two separate boards, one for blue (US and NATO/EU) and one for red (China, North Korea, Russia and Iran). This all means that Hedgemony eats a good chunk of your table space. Included are also six 10-sided dice.

Then we get a name tag for each faction, with the game’s setup and winning conditions printed inside each, and a meaty rulebook, a player guide and a book listing all game terms and abbreviations. Not shown on the picture above are seven player aid sheets, thick and laminated, with the different resolutions tables and calculation procedures the game uses.

Then there are over 700 cardboard chits with game pieces for each faction to keep track of military forces and several different levels in the game. Those chits are my major beef with the quality of the game since they are thick cardboard and laser-cut like other Gamecrafter product, which unfortunately leaves a thin layer of soot on all the sheets and, even worse, on every single chit. I spent a couple of evenings wiping the soot off every piece with paper tissues, and after each session my fingers looked like I’ve been shovelling coal all day with my bare hands. This has nothing to do with the design as such, just the production.

Apart from that, as you can see on the closeup above, the chits are nice with rounded corners, albeit tiny and with even tinier print on them. This blue chit here signifies that NATO have 5 force factors (FF) of modernisation level 3 (M3) in this map area.

More details on the game and how it’s supposed to be played in part 2.



  1. […] Stories we create in play. « Pre-play review of Hedgemony, part 1 […]

  2. […] Pre-play review of Hedgemony, part 1 […]

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