Operate as the Mexican police force to end the War on Drugs.
NarcoGuerra puts players in charge of the Mexican police force as they fight the War on Drugs against Mexican cartels. Battling for control of regions in a Risk-style game of territory management and dice-based conflict, players are exposed to a significant piece of current-events through a familiar game environment.
As a newsgame, NarcoGuerra attempts a journalistic approach to game creation, using a parallel that it sees between the War on Drugs and Risk as a hook to pull players into the world. It then provides an array of facts about the Mexican War on Drugs — through region bios, messages from in-game police officers, journalists, and political figures, and random event cards — to equip the player with the information he/she needs to be able to engage with the topic beyond the game.
NarcoGuerra innovates on the Risk format through an overlaid economy, which is used to buy units, manage corruption levels within the police force, and buy extra attacks each turn (a process which stops the unrealistic grand-sweeps normally associated with Risk). Players generate income based on the number of regions they control, while the cartels gain money from the fluctuating market price of narcotics.
The price lowers as narcotics become more commonplace on the market and supply outweighs demand, but as the police starts disrupting cartel operations, the price increases, causing more criminals to enter the market and the cartels to have more money to operate with. This system not only implements a terrific method of negative feedback (balancing out the game when one side gets too far ahead), but also makes a powerful statement about the relationship between police action, drug price, and cartel power in the War on Drugs.
Beyond striving to be a journalistically sound newsgame, NarcoGuerra also searches for a truly fun game that players can enjoy over and over again. Toward this end, the developers have implemented a simplified skirmish mode and a local multiplayer mode, so that NarcoGuerra can be passed between several players engaging in the game together. The local multiplayer mode pulls players together to create a roundtable for discussion, increasing the impact of the game as well.