Each Party member is either a Reformist, a Repressionist or a Nationalist. To win a ”Faction victory” for the Reformists or the Repressionists, you must name all your faction members (no more, no less). Failure to do so give the other faction a chance. Too many failures (depending on the player count) awards the Nationalists the victory.
If the game ends before a Faction victory, Party Members score VP for resolutions according to their personal preferences instead, e.g. Yeltsin wants to repress Economy and reform Security. The Party members with the most VP share a ”Personal victory”.
The players take turns to play the following phases:
Seat: Play a seat token next to two Crises.
Vote: If all seats are occupied, play a secret vote for a resolution (Reform/Repress a department).
Purge: If the vote is not unanimous, simul-taneously point out a Party member to purge and have his or her seat token removed.
Coup: Optionally stage coups by naming your faction members.
The game ends either through a Faction victory or if all seat tokens are played and/or all crises resolved, in which case a Personal victory decides the winners.
Glasnost features not only two secret teams with opposite goals but also a third team that wants both to fail. There is also a spatial element, whereby players may observe and draw conclusions from which crises the other players choose. Lastly, the victory condition to name all other team members offer rich opportunities for bluffing and double-bluffing.
1.0: First edition
The complete rules are available in the PDF file to the right. In the following sections,
I will describe how they came to be.
There are many ideas that came to live in Glasnost. On this page, I would like to present some of them and explain the reasoning behind them.
Unless ended by a coup, Glasnost ends when no more seat tokens can be placed. But how many
seat tokens should enter the game for a balanced game length? The minimum number should be 18,
since this is the number of total seats in the game. 36 seat token would most likely fill all
seats, since this allows each of the first 18 seat token to be purged but is it necessary to
fill all seats? Probably not, because if the players could rely on that, they would simply
leave "their" crises to last and make the first half of the game chaotic and meaningless.
Eventually the total number of seat tokens was set to 24. This number allows purges to take
place at half of the crises (6 out of 12) and still fill all seats. A less bloody game will
resolve all crises while a more bloody game won't. It's then up to each player to anticipate the game
length and plan their strategy based on that.
The main source of deduction in most social deduction games is the outcome of the votes,
that is the perceived vote patterns of the opponents. The purpose of the votes is often less
important and the crises could have entered the game through card plays, drafting etc. However,
the seating mechanic used in Glasnost not only gave the players more control of which crises to
vote for (two crises and four state departments) but also provided another source of deduction
visible to all players (which crises do the opponents choose and what was the outcome there?).
Three is a magic number and it works very well in Glasnost. The arrangement of the crises and
the special seat rules ensure that there are always three votes at each crisis. This is the
minimum required to avoid a tie but not so large that unanimous votes get too difficult.
Besides being a thematic mechanic, purges also add more tactical opportunities. If you don't
get a unanimous vote, you could purge the dissident to get less opponent votes at future crises.
Or you could get a dissent vote by purpose to blame an opponent and spread confusion.
The core game of Glasnost encourage players to vote according to their goals to win when the
game ends. However, is this would have been the only path to victory, some players would be out
of contest after half the game. The coup mechanic not only offers another victory path but
also provides thematic tension. No matter how well your faction is doing, there is also a risk
that the other faction reveals you and stages a successful coup. In addition, the coup act as
a natural game balancer - the smaller your faction, the less your chances of winning votes but
the greater your chances of identifying all your fellow faction members and staging a coup.
... and Rejected Rules
Restrictive rules are seldom fun and the initial rules didn't prevent from placing more than
one seat tokens at a crisis. However, even if such placement was rare due to tactical reasons,
they made votes and purges less interesting.
The flip of a seat token after a successful purge naturally left the crisis unresolved but
how about failed purges where no single player is pointed out? One idea was to resolve the crisis
according to the majority, but this created gamey situations where the players had to choose
whether to purge the dissident and leave the crisis unresolved or let him get away to get the
crisis resolved. The option to purge all players if they pointed out each other was too harsh
so the simple solution was to let the crisis remain unresolved.
This turned out to add tension to the game since leaving strategic crises to last could leave
them unresolved. (Early crises that get fully occupied and unresolved may still be "opened" again
if adjacent crises see purges.)