We simulated a Donald Trump presidency in Supreme Ruler

What would happen if Trump won? We play a complex political strategy sim to find out.

In my time with fiddly, complicated strategy games, I’ve pulled off some pretty unlikely feats. I’ve built empires to rival the height of Rome from the most down-and-out, hardscrabble noble houses of medieval Europe. I’ve won the space race as the Iroquois. I’ve ended World War II in the fall of 1940 by marching Belgian commandos into Berlin. But when I heard Supreme Ruler Ultimate’s Trump Rising DLC allowed me to take control of the United States in 2017, after the hypothetical victory of The Donald in this year’s election, I felt I might be facing my greatest challenge yet.

Not only is Supreme Ruler one of the most complex and impenetrable strategy games I’ve ever laid eyes on, the task before me would be a daunting one in the best of circumstances. Leading the United States effectively in the modern day is a feat that makes one long for the comparatively simple court intrigue, assassinations, dynastic blood feuds, and horrible plague outbreaks of the Middle Ages. Even our real-life politicians don’t seem to know how to make it work. Doing it all as a reality TV star with no foreign policy experience is another order of difficulty above and beyond the norm.

Running through the tutorial took me less than a half hour and taught me the bare basics of what I might need to know, which felt appropriate. I was taking the reins with about as much practical knowledge as Trump himself would have with this whole Leader of the Free World thing. Since Supreme Ruler is a very open-ended game, I set some broad goals for my Trumpministration:

  • Build a wall across the Mexican border. (Also probably the Canadian one, too: They come here, bringing their Tim Horton’s, their maple syrup. They make us look bad at hockey…)
  • Destroy the greatest Enemies of Freedom™: North Korea, ISIS, and Switzerland. We’re not buying the whole neutrality thing, you watch-making scoundrels. No one needs that many army knives if they’re not planning to use their army for the downfall of democracy!
  • Maybe if we have time, shrink the national debt and fix the economy.

Cumbersome as it is, Supreme Ruler gives me the option of doing what an actual President Trump would be wise to do: Put cabinet ministers who are more competent than myself in charge of almost every aspect of running the country. I tell State Department head Dan Johnson to focus on trade relations, because The Donald loves to make a deal. George Thompson, head of my Treasury, is given a standing order to increase taxes and aim for a balanced budget. Mostly because I know this wall is going to get expensive. Harold Burton—great guy, just the best Secretary of the Interior, really—is told to focus on profitable commodities. I set my science focus to Military, so we can hopefully invent some kind of terrorist-hunting terminators or something, and my Joint Chiefs of Staff are told to increase military readiness.

Part 1: Crusades and barricades

On my second day in office, work begins on the Wall That Was Promised, stretching from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas. Can the economy really support such a huge engineering project? I haven’t the slightest clue. That’s for my good friend George Thompson to worry about. The under-construction bulwark is represented on the map by a long chain of dollar signs arrayed neatly along the border. I believe this is the icon for all unfinished buildings in Supreme Ruler, but it’s also how I imagine Trump would want his wall to look from space if he had his druthers.

With wall-building underway, it’s time to go after ISIS with the full force of the US military. I ring my good pal Bashar al-Assad of Syria to negotiate for military access. He literally tells me to drop dead. Sad! 

I could try to invade through friendlier Turkey and Kurdistan, but The Donald always deals from a position of strength. We won’t brook that kind of attitude from the likes of Assad. On my third day in office, the United States declares unilateral war on Syria.

I’m not quite sure how military invasions work yet, so I just mobilize all 1,600 of the United States’ inactive divisions, draw a box around them, and right-click on the Syrian capital. That should do the trick, right? Just to be safe, I launch a bunch of nuclear ICBMs. We’ve had those things sitting around for so long. It’s about time we used them for something.

On February 26, the first US ground forces arrive on the beaches. The Navy has been bombarding Tartus for a couple weeks, so they have a fairly clear path inland. It seems like the Syrian air force, for what it was, has already been removed from existence by our carrier-based fighters. Two days later, Damascus has fallen and by March 15, Assad has surrendered. We’re given a choice to Liberate, Colonize, or Annex the country. You know, it’s been a long time since a major, imperialist power set up a colony. I think it’s about time we bring that concept back.

American Syria is already looking to be the best Syria there ever was. By some fluke, toppling Assad also destroyed ISIS (possibly because they are modeled as a rebellion against Syria rather than a proper state), and we own what used to be their base of power. Two birds with one stone! USA! USA! But we’re not done yet. It’s about time to have a chat with our friend Kim Jong Un.

Once again, my very nuanced strategy involves selecting every unit I have and right-clicking on Pyongyang. It worked against Assad, didn’t it? Issuing the order causes the game to hang for a good, solid minute while my units sort out the finer details. It’s as if my general staff are collectively confirming: “Wait, are you freaking serious?” Do I look like a joker to you? Okay, don’t answer that.

As I wait for my troops to arrive for Korean War 2: Korea Harder, I open the geopolitical notification window to find that my imperialism has inspired some copycats. Putin has outright conquered Estonia, and China is simultaneously at war with Japan and Mongolia. Isn’t Estonia in NATO? I think we were maybe supposed to protect them. Did we get a memo about that or anything? I don’t know. Too late to cry over spilled leivasupp at this point. 

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