Hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, meteor strikes… what’s the greatest threat to mankind? In the world of Tomorrow, we are our own greatest enemy. Overpopulation is taking its toll on the earth, and resources are running low. Leading scientists have convinced world leaders that the only way to prevent the extinction of the human species is an orchestrated depopulation program, bringing the total number of humans on the planet to a manageable level.
Released by Conquistador Games in 2013, Tomorrow casts you as one of the world leaders burdened with the messy responsibility of depopulating the planet. Through biological attacks and nuclear warfare, you will bring the overall human population down to manageable levels- but do the ends justify the means?
Out of the Box
- Rule Book
- World map game board
- 100 population markers, in various colors.
- 1 6-sided die
- 54 marker tokens (turn order, nuclear weapon, military, cyber, victory tracker)
- 36 action cards
- 12 event cards
- 6 player aid cards
- 30 disease cards
- 39 strategy cards
- 1 cyber-control card
How to Play
Setting up the game takes a few minutes, but one you are familiar with the game it is fairly simple. The game board goes in the center of your play area, so that your players can comfortably sit around the map. The colored population markers are placed in their respective territories. Each territory on the map is labeled with the color and number of pawns you should place, making this part of set up incredibly easy.
The disease, event, and strategy decks should all be shuffled and set alongside the game board.
Place the death marker- a small, round token marked with a skull- on the death track. This is how you will track your success or failures through the game.
Each player will be assigned a world power for the duration of the game. Each World Power has a deck of six standard actions, plus one special ability unique to that power. The available world powers are the United States, Russia, China, The European Union, India, and the Arab Caliphate. In a five player game, remove India. In a four player game, remove both India and the Caliphate. Assign the world powers to players in any manner you choose, though rolling for selection order seems to work well.
When players have their world powers assigned, they will collect the associated action deck, nuclear markers, military markers, cyber token, and turn order token. The player controlling China also receives the Control of Cyberspace card. Players also receive three disease cards, which they keep secret from other players.
Play the game
Tomorrow takes place over the course of nine rounds. Each round is broken down into five phases.
- The event phase begins the round. This is when players find out what twist of fate has befallen the world. Players will consider the event when planning their actions for the round, and the player assigning turn order should keep the event in mind when deciding the order of play. Events are determined by turning over the top card on the event deck and reading the event that corresponds to the current threat level, as indicated on the death tracker. Some events may require players to take control of minor territories, while others simply prevent the wanton use of nuclear weapons.
- The Cyberspace phase is when the controller of the Cyberspace Card is able to use the special abilities granted by this control. The player who controls Cyberspace may choose to assign turn order, taking this power away from the European Union, draw a card from the strategy deck corresponding to the current threat level, or steal an unused strategy card from another player. China has a one-time special ability to claim the Cyberspace Card from another player during this phase.
- After the Event has been declared and the Cyberspace Phase is complete, players select the actions they wish to take during the turn. Each player will select two of the five action cards available. The Arab Caliphate has an additional, sixth action available. Players choose from the following actions:
- Biological: the player may either draw two additional disease cards, to a maximum of five, or may declare a Biological Attack. The player is not required to reveal which disease will be unleashed or which territory is targeted. He may do so if desired, but it is common for players to keep this information discreet. Players may negotiate to convince the active player to target an area someone else controls, but no agreements are binding. <insert disease card photo here>
- Nuke: the player unleashes a nuclear attack against a territory on the board. This automatically removes one pawn from the territory, and an additional pawn for every five remaining. A nuke token is placed in the territory and the death tracker is moved backward three spaces- nuclear war is bad for everyone. At the end of the game, this will have a detrimental effect on the scores of the aggressor and the victim.
- Cyber: the player attempts to claim the Cyber Card from the player who currently controls cyberspace. The active player selects one of two encryption tokes- a gold or red key- and presents it to the current controller of the Cyber Card. If the correct encryption was selected, the active player claims control of cyberspace.
- Military: the active player commits any number of his available military tokens toward invading a minor power on the board. If the number of tokens committed exceeds the number of existing tokens in the territory, the active player successfully takes control of the territory. Players who also selected the Military action card may choose to use their Military in response to the active player and attempt to defend the minor power being attacked.
- Espionage: the player responds to the use of a Biological Attack or Terror Attack by revealing the Espionage card. This effectively cancels the attempted attack. Espionage can be countered by another Espionage card, if a player has one available. Espionage may not counter the use of Biological to draw cards or the use of Military or Nuke.
- Once all actions have been selected, the European Union assigns turn order. If the controller of Cyberspace chose to take that power for the turn, he sets turn order instead. The player may assign turn order one player at a time, or may choose to assign the entire order before play begins.
- The player given first action reveals one of his selected cards and completes the selected action. This continues in the order assigned by the European Union or controller of Cyberspace. Once all players have had their opportunity to carry out an action, the turn order repeats a second time. If players chose not to take action during the first pass of the turn, they may not then play two cards on their action step. The exception is if an Espionage or Military card are being used in response to another player’s action, and this may be done at any time appropriate for the chosen response, such as when another player declares that he will unleash a biological attack or will invade Australia.
If the players have not successfully reduced the population by the end of the ninth round, the game ends. Everyone is dead. There is no Tomorrow.
If the death marker reaches the victory icon on the threat tracker, the game immediately ends, even if other players have not taken their turn during the round. Players proceed to scoring and determine which nation has become the new superpower in the world of Tomorrow.
Scoring is based upon the remaining population in the player’s capital, the number of pawns removed by the player’s biological attacks, the number of pawns in a controlled minor power, and the number of nuclear weapons used by and against the player. Additional points may be gained or lost from strategy cards that have been played or remain in the player’s hand or from Event cards the player received during the course of play.
Tomorrow’s Troubles Today
Tomorrow is a very, very dark game. Tomorrow is not politically correct. The subject matter is not for everyone, and that is understandable. The entire premise revolves around mass murder, genocide, and inflicting biological horrors on (presumably) innocent people. The game casts the players in roles not unlike the one President Truman played in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As leaders of their respective nations, the players would be hidden in bunkers or flying in a well defended aircraft, issuing orders and imposing their will upon the world. It’s a hard pill to swallow.
Somehow, Tomorrow became one of my favorite games. The amount of negotiation I have experienced in all plays of the game has been immensely satisfying. The cunning player can play others against one another, while a strong personality can simply use her commanding presence to “encourage” opponents to focus their attacks elsewhere. Table talk is heavily encouraged, as is negotiation, lying, and backstabbing. One of the most satisfying aspects of the game is that actions really can have consequences. If a player unleashes a devastating disease on a neighboring territory, it could very well spread into the player’s capital. If someone unleashes a nuke, it could well result in a string of nuclear attacks that doom everyone. And if a player lies to convince his neighbor to attack elsewhere, that lie could come back to haunt him.
The designers of the game estimate that play should last approximately two hours. My experience is that the more satisfying games have lasted at least three, due to the amount of negotiation and browbeating that occurs. This is a game you want to play with people who aren’t afraid to talk at the table- the more chatter, the better the experience.
The game is also beautiful, despite its ugly premise. The game board is visually appealing, yet incredibly simple in design. The monochrome scheme of the game environment successfully illustrates the bleak nature of the game’s theme, while the brightly colored population pawns call attention to the rich, vibrant people and cultures the players are massacring during their turns.
There is some poorly phrased content in the materials, unfortunately. Some of the Event cards describe conditions that required discussion with others on an online rules forum for the game. Some effort in clarification prior to printing might have prevented this issue. These issues are easily remedied and are few compared to other games on the market.
This is a game I continuously want to come back to. As written, the game is exciting and challenging. When the standard rules begin to feel exhausted, it is easy for players to implement house rules to change the way the game plays, breathing new life into Tomorrow with minimal effort. Fortunately, this is hardly necessary, as the game stands on its own game after game.
- Easy to learn and teach.
- Heavy negotiation and in-game politicking.
- Beautiful materials.
- Actions have consequences.
- Application of each action is easy to understand and carry out.
- Clear win and loss conditions.
- Some poorly written Event cards cause confusion during play.
- Disease variety is limited, and eventually the novelty of disease names wears thin.
- No current expansions to refresh the game and increase replayability.
- Strangers overhearing the table talk might think you’re a monster.
all photos courtesy of Devon Weir | www.devonweir.com