Covert Operations

Rules of Play

By Chuck Gaydos

Last updated Sept 20, 2008

Introduction

Covert Operations is a Play by EMail game. Each player represents the head of an extremely wealthy family, international corporation, political movement, or secret society. The object of the game is to take control of the world through bribery, assassination, terrorism, military action, and revolution.

The Map

The playing area for this game is a map of the world. Each named space on the map will hereafter be referred to as a 'country'. Any two countries that share a common border are considered to be adjacent to each other. Note that the islands (Australia, Britain, Japan, and Micronesia) are not 'adjacent' to anything and cannot be invaded.

Countries

Each country has a name and an abbreviation. The abbreviations are used when you write your orders and will hereafter be referred to as 'country codes'. Each country can also have an influence level for each player, industry, troops, and a security level.

    Influence Levels

Each player has an influence level in each country which starts at zero at the beginning of the game. Players can increase their influence levels by bribery. The player with the highest influence level in a country can give orders to that country. A player's influence level in a country can be reduced by terrorism and is wiped out if the country's leader is assassinated, a successful revolution occurs, or the country is conquered by one of its neighbors. A player's influence level is also reduced when the country's troops ordered to enter an adjacent country.

    Security Level

The security level of a country defends it against revolution, terrorism, and assassination. It also protects the country against enemy spies. Security is raised by spending money on it and is reduced by terrorism.

    Industry

Each industry in a country produces $1 million per day for the player with the highest influence level in that country. One industry can be built in a country for $4 million and sold for $3 million. Industry can be destroyed by terrorism. Income received from industry can be temporarily reduced by terrorism. A country's industry produces no income on a day in which it's conquered by invading troops.

    Troops

Troops are a country's military forces. Troops in a country are increased by smuggling arms into the country and are reduced by combat losses. Troops can be used to defend their own country, defend adjacent countries, and invade adjacent countries.

Players

When signing up for a game, you should choose a name for your position in the game. The name can be up to 40 characters long. Since this is a game of world domination, names of large, greedy organizations and conspiracies from history or fiction are appropriate, but any name that is not obscene or offensive can be used.

Each player has a cash income, cash stockpile, a number of available orders, and one superspy.

    Income

The cash income is a flat amount of cash that each player receives each day. This is a fixed amount and is received in addition to the cash received from industry in countries. It represents normal profits earned by the player's organization in its day to day business. It is a fixed income and cannot be change nor affected by other players.

    Cash

The cash stockpile is the amount of cash that a player has available to spend. Unspent cash remains in the stockpile until used. It cannot be seen, stolen, or destroyed by other players.

    The SuperSpy

Each player has one superspy. The superspy is a player's top secret agent. The superspy can be sent to any country in the game and tells the player everything that is there, including the influence levels of all players whose influence level is greater than zero, all players' spies and their values, industry, troops, combat reports, security level, and other players' superspies. A superspy can never be caught or killed and can be transferred to a different country every turn if desired.

    Orders

The available orders represent the number of secret couriers and trusted agents that are available to deliver your orders and cash to their destinations. Since most of the orders are illegal in most countries, they cannot be sent over insecure channels. Each player starts with ten orders and gets seven more orders per day. Unused orders can be saved for future use, but a player cannot give more than ten orders per day. Orders given in excess of ten will be saved and used on future days. Meaningless orders don't count against these limits. Orders that make sense to the computer but fail due to a lack of cash, troops, industry, or influence do count against the ten orders per day limit but don't use up any of your seven new orders for that day. That is, you can't give an eleventh order for the day if one fails but the failed order can be reused on some future day.

As mentioned above, you can send more orders per day that you're allowed to have processed. The excess will be saved and used the next day. You might want to do this if you're going to be away from your computer for a day or two and want to give your orders for those days in advance. However, it is probably not a good idea to play too many days ahead. The game situation might change and your orders could become inappropriate. Also, the computer won't accept more than one hundred new orders per position per day.

We recommend that you use our Online Form to submit your orders.

If you are unable to use the form then you can email your orders to co at flying buffalo dot com The program that processes the turn checks ONLY this mail box. If you send your turns to any of our other EMail addresses your orders might not get processed. Do not send anything else to co at flying buffalo dot com. Mail sent to this address will be read ONLY by the Covert Operations program, and it recognizes only Covert Operations turn headers and orders. If you want to send us anything else, such as a request for a new game, an order for merchandise, or a postal address change; send it to games at flyingbuffalo dotcom

Writing Orders

You give orders to your position in the game by sending an EMail message to us listing what you want to do. Each order MUST be on a line by itself. Don't forget to press Enter or Return at the end of each order.

    Indentification

IMPORTANT: To process your orders, the program MUST know which game they're for and who you are. You must give it the game number, your Flying Buffalo account number, and your access code. We don't want other players submitting orders for your position, so an access code is required. Do not tell anyone else what your access code is. Before putting any orders in your game turn, put in the following three pieces of information:
  1. The game number, including the 'CO-' at the beginning of it. This tells the computer which game your orders are for. Examples:
        CO-1
        CO-15
        CO-12345
    The game number MUST be on a line by itself.

  2. Your Flying Buffalo account number. This tells the computer who you are. Each player who plays any of our games has one account number. If you're in more than one game you'll have the same account number in each game. Examples:
        4321
        9999
        13579
    Your account number MUST be on a line by itself and cannot contain commas.

  3. Your access code. This proves to the computer that the orders are really from you. You'll get a new access code for each game you're in. Access codes can be changed if you wish. An access code can be up to ten characters long and can contain only letters and numbers. Examples:
        ACCESS1234
        PASSWORD
        R2D2
        AEIOU
        007
    Your access code MUST be on a line by itself.
Example: If you're sending orders for game CO-175, your account number is 20408, and your access code is ALPHA789 then the first three lines of your turn would be:
    CO-175
    20408
    ALPHA789

    Changing your personal information

There are five orders that you can give that enable you to change the EMail address to which your turn results are sent, change your access code, discard any unprocessed orders that you have on file, stop processing orders (saving the rest, if any, for the next day), and drop out of a game. None of these five orders counts against the seven orders that you receive each day nor the ten that can be processed each day.

    Game Orders

This is a complete list of the orders that you can give to your position in the game. If you want to do something that is not listed here then it cannot be done.

Each order starts with a single letter followed by one or two country codes and possibly a number, all separated by commas. The number part of an order must be an integer (whole number). Do not put commas in your numbers. Since commas separate parts of orders, a comma in a number would make the number look like two parts of the order.

VERY IMPORTANT: The game number, account number, access code, and order lines MUST be in the text of your message. The Covert Operations program does not read the subject line of a message and does not read attached files.

Sequence of Events

  1. Transfer superspies. Superspies that were ordered transferred are moved to their new countries.
  2. Liquidate assets. Each liquidate assets order reduces the industry in the target country by 1 and adds $3 million to the ordering player's cash stockpile. The cash can be spent on other orders on the same day.
  3. Arms smuggling. Smuggling arms into a country creates new troops for that country. 1 unit costs $1 million, 2 units costs $3 million, 3 units costs $6 million, 4 units costs $10 million, and 5 units costs $15 million. The new troops can be used on the day they're created.
  4. Guard orders. A guard order increases the security of the country for which it's ordered, 1 level for each $1 million spent. The new security level takes effect on the day the guard order is given.
  5. Send spies. Each $1 million spent on spying increases by five the value of your spy in the target country. It takes effect on the day the order is given.
  6. Invest. Giving an invest order builds one industry in the target country at a cost of $4 million.
  7. Withdraw troops. Troops that are in foreign countries that are ordered to withdraw return to their homelands. They can be sent out again to defend or conquer on the same day.
  8. Defend. Troops ordered to defend adjacent countries are sent to their destinations.
  9. Conquer. Troops ordered to conquer adjacent countries are sent to their destinations.
  10. Kill leaders. Assassination attempts are carried out. The security level in the target country protects the leader. Spending more cash helps to overcome the security. It also helps to have a spy in the target country. It helps even more if you have your superspy in the country. It also helps to have troops from a country under your influence in the country and helps even more if you have more troops than the defenders. It also helps to have countries adjacent to the target country under your influence. If the leader of a country is assassinated then all influence levels are reduced to zero as a new leader takes over.
  11. Terrorist attacks. Terrorists attempt to disrupt commerce, reduce the security, and reduce the leading player's influence in the target country. Spending more cash increases the effects of terrorist attacks. The security level of the target reduces the effects of terrorism. It helps to have spy in the target country. It helps even more if your superspy is in the country. It also helps to have troops from a country under your influence in the target country and helps even more if you have more troops than the defenders. It also helps to have countries adjacent to the target country under your influence. A successful terrorist attack can reduce the income received from industry in the current day and can possibly destroy an industry. The country's security and leading players influence are reduced by terrorism even if the terrorist are caught.
  12. Revolutions. Attempts to overthrow governments are made. Spending more cash helps the revolutionaries to take control of the country. The security level of the target country protects the current government. It helps to have a spy in the target country. It helps even more if your superspy is in the country. It also helps to have troops from a country under your influence in the country and helps even more if you have more troops than the defenders. It also helps to have countries adjacent to the target country under your influence. If the revolution is successful then all influence levels are reduced to zero and the player who financed the revolution gets an influence level equal to the amount spent on the revolution.
  13. Combat resolution. Conquering troops fight defending troops. Foreign troops defending a country are added to the country's home troops and fight as one combined force. Conquering troops from each invading country fight as separate forces. The largest force losses one troop unit in combat. Each force that is outnumbered by the largest force by less than 50% also losses one unit. Forces outnumbered by at least 50% but less than 100% lose two units each. Forces outnumbered by at least 100% lose three units each. If all of the defending troops are wiped out then the largest remaining force conquers the country. If two or more invaders are tied for most troops then none of them conquers the country. If the country is conquered, all of the influence levels are reduced to zero and the player with the greatest influence in the conquering country get an influence level of ten. The conquering troops become the home troops of the conquered country. The industry in the conquered country does not produce income on the day that the country is conquered.
  14. Bribes. For each $1 million spent on bribery in a country the spending player's influence level goes up one point. If a country has had a change of government due to assassination, revolution, or being conquered then all bribe orders for it on the same day are canceled. If a bribe order is canceled then the cash is not spent and the order can be reused on some future day.
  15. Spies caught. Each spy in each country has its value reduced by one point. When a spy's value is reduced to or less than the country's security level the spy is caught and eliminated.
  16. Income. Players now receive their incomes. The players' fixed incomes and incomes from industries in countries under their influence are added to their cash stockpiles.
Note: The values of the bonuses for having spies, superspy, troops, more troops than defender, and adjacent countries in some of the above orders are not public information. Please don't ask us such questions as "How much does it help to have a spy in a country where I'm assassinating the leader?" Also, these bonuses might change from game to game, so something that worked in one game might not work in another. The difficulty in accomplishing terrorism, assassination, and revolution is also not public information; however, assassination is more difficult than terrorism and revolution is more difficult than assassination.

Winning the Game

A game ends when one player has the highest influence level in more than half of the countries on the map for two consecutive turns or when there is only one player left in the game. If there is only one player left in the game then that player is the winner. When a player has the highest influence in more than half the countries everyone will be told who it is. They'll then have one turn in which to break up the winning position.

Turn Results

Each day, each player will be sent a turn results by EMail. You'll get a turn result even if you sent no orders for that day. The turn result shows the current status of your position and whatever information about other players' positions that you're entitled to know. Each turn result contains the following sections: Click here for a sample turn result.

Signing Up For a Game

To sign up for a game of Covert Operations, we need to know your name and Flying Buffalo account number. If you don't have an account with us then we'll need your postal mailing address, EMail address, and method of payment. We also need your choice of name for your position in the game. Please send second and third choices of name in case more then one player sends the same choice. We also need to know the EMail address to which you want your turns sent. If you omit this we'll use the address we have on file for you. If we don't have an EMail address on file for you then we'll use the address your signup request came from. (If you sign up using our online order form then you MUST include your EMail address).

It costs $5.00 to join a new game and 50 cents per day while you play it. We accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. If you don't have a credit card you can send us checks or money orders to pay for a few turns in advance. If you pay by check or money order we'd prefer that you send at least $10.00 at a time. Our postal mailing address is:
    Flying Buffalo, Inc
    PO Box 8467
    Scottsdale, AZ 85252-1467
To sign up using a credit card you can use the secure order form on our website, FAX us at 480-994-1170, or call 480-945-6917 to talk to a human.

Summary of orders

In the following list, ccc and kkk are country codes and nnn is a number.
A,ccc,nnn
Arms smuggling, smuggle nnn units of arms into ccc which creates nnn new units of troops.
B,ccc,nnn
Bribe the leader of ccc with nnn million dollars.
C,ccc,kkk,nnn
Conquer, send nnn troops from ccc to conquer kkk.
D,ccc,kkk,nnn
Defend, send nnn troops from ccc to defend kkk.
G,ccc,nnn
Guard, spend nnn million dollars to increase the security of ccc.
I,ccc
Invest, build one new industry in ccc for $4 million.
K,ccc,nnn
Kill leader, spend nnn million dollars to assassinate the leader of ccc.
L,ccc
Liquidate assets, sell one industry in ccc for $3 million.
M,ccc
Message, sends your real name and email address to the player who had the highest influence level in ccc at the beginning of the turn.
R,ccc,nnn
Revolution, spend nnn million dollars to cause a revolution in ccc.
S,ccc,nnn
Spy, spend nnn million dollars to create or reinforce a spy in ccc.
T,ccc,nnn
Terrorism, spend nnn million dollars to finance terrorist attacks in ccc.
W,ccc,kkk,nnn
Withdraw nnn units of ccc's troops from kkk back to ccc.
X,ccc
Transfer your superspy to ccc.
EMAIL,eee
Change your email address to eee.
CODE,aaa
Change your access code to aaa.
DISCARD
Discard unprocessed orders.
STOP
Stop processing orders, save the rest for future days.
RESIGN
Drop out of the game.

Country list:

Twice a Week Games

In case a game with daily turns is too fast for some players, we are also offering games in which turns are run twice per week. This gives you more time to communicate with the other players and the turn fees cost only $1.00 per week. If you want to be in a twice a week game instead of a daily game, please say so when you sign up.