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San Martín
San Martín
by South Quarter Independent Games (2014)
Player Count
2 to 4

Player Ages

Playing Time
5 hours
  • City Building
  • Designers
  • Jonathan Harrison
  • Mechanisms
  • Simulation
  • Rating: 0/10 from 0 users


    The representational game San Martín uses simultaneous self-regulating play to create an economic crucible for players’ roles as the political heads of archetypical Central American minor island states.

    During a period roughly corresponding to the Cold War, each player rises to power backed by a combination of various political forces, aligning himself or herself to some degree with either a capitalist or a communist superpower and establishing himself or herself as El Presidente: perhaps freely elected, perhaps not. Over the course of his or her presidency, each player not only strives to stay in power, weathering incessant calls for elections and the ubiquitous coup attempts, but also works to build up his or her island to become a powerhouse of commerce, whether through tourism, manufacture, or production.

    But politics always interferes. Political life on the island is torn between the heavyhanded interference of the nearby capitalistic superpower and the activism of neighboring communist nations, and your people aren’t as singleminded in their political views as you are. Factions within your economy will undoubtedly work against your goals, perhaps even against you personally. Political opponents will rise, maybe fall, and all the while you’ll be trying to keep the country afloat when hurricanes hit and embargos hit even harder.

    Better than just afloat, though—profitable. Because without profits, your slush fund will get emptier the longer it sits. Living from foreign aid to foreign aid is no life for a president, even one canny enough to be playing both superpowers against the middle. And if you overstay your political welcome in the region, if you let your economy founder, if things go south for any of a thousand reasons and you find yourself packing your bags, you’ll need something in your pocket when you’re gone. Leaving two minutes ahead of the counterrevolution won’t send your name into history in as flattering a light as you’d like, but it’s better than the firing squad.

    So keep your finger on the pulse of the island. Feel out the Central American economy to find ways to make your country indispensable. Demonstrate suitable social and political progress at the right times, and to the right factions. Hold free elections—and ensure that you win them. Unglove the military fist when necessary. Improve your island’s infrastructure, and raise your people’s standard of living. All in pursuit of one thing: your place in history. The best presidents live long, live well, and live in security. Achieve all three, and you’ll consider it a job well done. Command your people’s admiration while doing it, and you’ll make a name for yourself that won’t fade.

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