Fighting the Islamic State was researched and designed to show why the war in Iraq and Syria is causing so many refugees, who is fighting and why, and what outcomes may occur. The game covers the period 2014-2017, and so projects into the future. In order to accommodate that, we'll update the rules and charts periodically online to reflect what is happening in the field.
The game counters (playing pieces, 179) include combat units for: the Islamic State ("ISIS," "ISIL," "Daesh"), the Syrian Regime (including Russians), the Syrian Rebels, the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Iranian-backed forces (Shia Militia and Hezbollah), and the US/Coalition forces (USA, France, Britain, Turkey).
The map covers all of Syria and Iraq and the border areas. Depicted are the power plants, dams, oil fields, refineries and archaeological sites that the Islamic State exploits for cash. The map is color-coded to reflect the primary religious sects that divide loyalties there: Shia and Sunni Muslims, plus "Tolerants." Fighting in an area that matches your Faction's religion helps you; fighting in the other areas helps your opponents.
The game is for 2-6 players. "Momentum" is a key concept - the player with Momentum starts and ends each turn. The Islamic State (IS) also commits "Acts of Terror" every turn that increase the likelihood for Intervention, mostly from the U.S. The terror acts are key to the IS's recruiting, while the US's actions are limited by the demand for intervention as reflected in the Intervention Level (the higher, the more the coalition can do). The IS has to collect resources and cash to support its army, while the forces with air strike capabilities hold them at bay and attempt to destroy their principle sources of income: oil wells, refineries, dams and power plants (from which the IS sells electricity).