NarcoGuerra is Risk applied to the war on drugs; it’s hard, it’s political, it’s really quite good


I’ve sacrificed the south of Mexico to put all my funds into rooting out corruption in my police force, the cartels will take Puebla next turn but at least I won’t lose any more of my squads through defection. Now if I could just shift the cartel holed up in Baja California I’d have all the northern regions under control and could shift my troops to the borders to mount an invasion on the south.

I’ve only been playing NarcoGuera a short while but it’s already making clear that winning the war on drugs is no simple feat.

Using Risk as a model, as part of their Game the News project, Auroch Digital have developed a game which aims to show the difficulty facing the Mexican government in tackling the drug cartels that infest their cities. You’re in charge of the country’s police, directing which regions to attack in an attempt to purge them of traffickers.

Each turn is split into a support phase and an attack phase. In the former you can recruit new squads of assault troops, pay for intel on unfriendly regions, and have Internal Affairs search out corrupt police; in the latter you order your attacks. Combat plays out based on simple dice rolls and occasional bonuses to the attacker or the defender.

Though even after a region is under your control it can form as a new cartel if the level of corruption in your police force is too high.

The campaign map is frequently a spread of colours, with a variety of cartels all vying for power, fighting you and each other in their turns.

As I’ve said before, games are and should be political. They offer a unique set of tools to engage with a person and this can inform them to a whole range of subjects. While this won’t get you schooled enough to win any debates on the War on Drugs it will at least give you an overview of why it’s such a struggle to approach it with straight up aggression.

NarcoGuera is only 99p from the developers.