Balance Of Power (1985)

Balance of Power

Balance Of Power is a turn-based strategy game developed by Chris Crawford in 1985 (screenshot is from the 1990 edition). It has a Cold War setting and theme. The game is single-player, as an AI is used to control the opponent.


The player controls one of two factions, the United States or the Soviet Union, in an attempt to avoid nuclear war. The game is played on a map of the earth and lasts 8 turns, with each turn representing one year.

Each turn, the player has to respond to numerous events that happen. The opposing faction will also respond, by which the player can further retaliate. Although the goal is to avoid nuclear warfare, tactics such as brinkmanship are optional; resulting in nuclear warfare, however, will result in an instant loss. The player has to build up ‘prestige’ for their faction. Certain actions gain prestige whilst others, such as breaking down negotiations, loses it.

As such, game-play is not about dominating or defeating the opponent. Players are encouraged to simply survive and, where possible intimidate the opponent but not open nuclear warfare against them. This makes the political aspects and tactics much more stronger than in many other nuclear warfare strategy games.


Few reviews exist for the game, since it was released in 1985, but reception appears to be mostly positive. On Moby Games, Balance Of Power has a score of 4.0 out of 5 for the PC-88 version. The DOS scored 3.5 and Apple II received 3.6.

Happy Computer reviewed the game in 1986, giving it 82 out of 100. Computer Gaming World reviewed both the DOS and Apple II versions of Balance Of Power in 1991, awarding both versions 4 out of 5 stars. In 1996, Computer Gaming World went on to place Balance Of Power as the 78th best game of all time.

Dragon also reviewed the game positively, praising the political aspects of a strategy game that doesn’t encourage the destruction of the opponent.