People Power: Insurgency in the Philippines, 1981-1986


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(From the publisher’s website)

You can say that the story of “People Power” in the Philippines started with one airplane arriving in Manila and ended with another one departing. On August 21, 1983, exiled opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. returned from the United States to his homeland. He expected to be arrested, but also fatefully contemplated, as his plane approached Manila, the possibility that he might not survive the homecoming. Tragically, moments after disembarking, he was shot dead by a conspirator on the airport tarmac.

This episode would embolden and mobilize the opposition to the Marcos regime and set in motion a chain of events that would conclude with the departure of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos some three years later, after more than twenty years of autocratic rule. This is a story of greed and corruption at the highest levels of government, of a dictator who ruled with an iron fist, and of a grass-roots opposition that stood up to him, revolted, and eventually drove him from power in disgrace. It was a revolution that displayed that there is great power in a united, determined group of individuals. Just a few short years before the Iron Curtain fell in Germany, Filipino patriots showed the world the power of a people united to topple a tyrant. At its heart, it is the story of “People Power.”

People Power: Insurgency in the Philippines, 1983-1986 is volume XI of the highly-praised and popular COIN Series originally designed by Volko Ruhnke. People Power features three separate factions, instead of the customary four.

The first faction is the Government, symbolized by the personal rule of Ferdinand Marcos, his wife Imelda, and his political cronies and military forces.
Second are the NPA. Inspired by successful Marxist revolutions in China, Cuba and Nicaragua, these insurgents sought a national uprising from both the urban and rural populace and desired to replace the Marcos government with their own brand of autonomy.
The third and final faction is the non-violent Reformers, embodied by Aquino’s widow, Corazon. She, along with her allies and supporters in that moment of tragedy, revived a platform of social justice and unrelenting momentum that would irrevocably change the Philippine political landscape immeasurably.


For players new to the COIN Series, or for those looking to teach the the series to their friends, People Power will serve as an excellent introductory game. Aiming for a 2 hour playtime and accessible complexity, People Power utilizes many of the basic COIN Series mechanics in new and familiar ways. The 22″ x 17″ map aids in introducing the game to a new player, as it presents only two types of terrain – Cities and Countrysides (where the latter amalgamates the rural settings of the island nation as well as much lightly-habitable terrain of jungles and mountains). Don’t let the fast play and basic systems fool you, though. There are still plenty of strategic puzzles and inter-player backstabbing to be had! Also, People Power includes a new feature for the COIN Series – a Key Personality mini-hand procedure that represents the effectiveness of various generals and power brokers adding a new dimension to player actions and decisions.

As with most of the COIN Series games, People Power immerses players in an unfolding dramatic narrative that pits insurgent forces against a government that seeks to defeat them, while a third party seeks to thwart both. For you COIN Series veterans, here’s a brief synopsis of how People Power presents the inter-faction dynamics:


NPA Victory comes in the form of amassing NPA Bases, and instead of Support or Opposition, NPA “Resistance”. Their Operations and Special Activities are not only indicative of most Cold War era revolutionary movements but also distinct in its application to its domestic agendas.


The Government uses Support and Control to funnel patronage to cronies and the Marcos’ family. Their Operations and Special Activities allow them to operate against the NPA (as in previous COIN volumes) and to subvert the activities and thwart the plans of the non-violent Reformers, as well.


The Reformers (the historical victors) win by having both Reformer Bases and Opposition. Their Operations and Special Activities tools are not as powerful or intimidating as their armed foes but are crafted to provide them with persuasive social impact in a war of ideas.

Here’s a bit more detail on some of the COIN Series modifications and additions that you’ll get in People Power:

People Power is one of the lower complexity COIN games with a much shorter play time, which can be utilized as a primer for those who wish to learn the system as a gateway to the other more complex games in the series.

Propaganda Turns have been replaced by a two-turn Election cycle.

The Personality Cards are representations of political, military and cultural figures; the “Newsmakers” of their time. Each card grants a different ‘momentum’ effect for each campaign.

The Acts of Desperation deck serves to model the chaotic final three days of the People Power Revolution by giving players secret objectives that are scored during the final victory check.

We have crafted People Power to deliver a simple and fast game that will challenge and delight both veterans and newcomers to the COIN Series. It’s designed to be a fast, fun, nail-biter of a game that never plays the same way twice. Like all of our COIN Series games, People Power also transports players to a (perhaps unfamiliar) historical setting and immerses them in the issues and conflicts of that place and time. Although it is first and foremost a competitive game, we believe it also presents great value with its historical insight and analysis about those fateful years that brought a country to the brink of civil war, then resolved the drama with an unprecedented reawakening of democracy, freedom, and hope.


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