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Video Game / Shattered Union

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"A house divided against itself cannot stand." -Abraham Lincoln
Shattered Union is a turn-based strategy game on hex maps, released on PC and Xbox in 2005, on Steam 2006. The game is set in 2014. Six years prior to the beginning of the game, David Jefferson Adams is elected as America's 44th President, and a highly unpopular one at that, resulting in high levels of domestic unrest, terrorism, and armed resistance that leads to the instituting of martial law. After he gets himself a second term in a blatant sham election, domestic terrorists detonate a low-yield nuclear device over Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day, killing Adams and most of the United States federal government, breaking the line of presidential succession. In the interest of maintaining trade relations, The European Union dispatches detachments of armed peacekeepers into the ruins of Washington to help rebuild the city, maintain order, and eventually reestablish the original government. They are less than popular with the locals.

In fact, they are so unpopular that, soon after their arrival, California and Texas declare home rule and secede from the Union. Many other states soon follow; within months, the only states still pledging loyalty to the original government are the ones under European Union control. Sooner or later someone's nerves get the better of them and a shot is fired, and the Second American Civil War is officially underway, with every single faction fighting every single other faction for control of the nation. Meanwhile, Russia, under an ultranationalist government, invades and annexes Alaska, claiming that it was rightfully theirs to begin with.

Gameplay-wise, Shattered Union is divided into a strategic map in which you control higher-level decisions at the country level, and a tactical map in which you fight the actual battles, both turn based. Each faction gains money every turn based on the number of territories they control and the amount of resources in each territory. In each turn, factions can buy, scrap, or repair existing units and attack territories; when attacking or being attacked, the game zooms down to the tactical map level and combat occurs. Combat is stat-based, with each unit type having a number of effectiveness ratings against different other unit types, modified by things such as range, terrain, weather condition, etc. Each faction also has a number of special abilities that can be deployed in combat, some of them positively affecting friendly units and others negatively affecting hostile units; these abilities typically have a lengthy cooldown.

It is stated that a movie adaptation of the game would be made by Disney with Jerry Bruckheimer producing and written by J. Michael Straczynski, but nothing has come of it since.

This work provides examples of:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: The year Washington was nuked is 2013, and the news that featured it was News Channel 13.
  • 0% Approval Rating: The EU, according to loading screens. Of all the heavy tanks, EU's best tank, EU Goliath, has the second highest collateral damage score of all heavy tanks. Goes a long way explaining that approval rating and could count as Fridge Brilliance. It never shows in gameplay - the EU can even have partisan units fighting alongside them if they maintain a positive reputation.
    • David J. Adams, who is described as the most unpopular president in United States history.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Each side can have a total of 42 units at any time.
  • Artificial Stupidity: By modern standards, although in 2005 it was passable.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Bombers, though incredibly effective against nearly any target, are ludicrously expensive, difficult to replace, and easy to shoot down with even inexpensive, obsolete anti-air units.
    • This is mainly at the beginning of the game. Not only that, but bombers can destroy most AA if they are caught in the open, since they do attack first, and AA is quite squishy. Plus, they are great when paired with helicopters or Pacifica's All Seeing Eye ability.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Bradley IFV. Much cheaper than tanks, and almost as effective, while causing much less collateral damage. Its only real weakness is its lack of anti-air capabilities. Spamming Bradleys is arguably one of the most effective combat tactics in the game.
  • Civil War: The Second American Civil War.
  • Colour Coded Armies: Pacifica green, Great Plains Federation yellow, Texas Republic red, California Commonwealth orange, Confederacy grey, New England Alliance teal and EU blue.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: All US factions use the same units, with the exception of experimental units. Justified for obvious reasons — a scant two years ago they were all part of the same country. On the other hand (and by the same logic), the European Union uses its own completely unique unit tree, as do the Russians.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted in that units become less combat-effective the more damaged they are.
  • Cyborg: Can be recruited by certain factions, and can also be obtained from the Russians on occasion. They are the most effective infantry type in the game.
  • Divided States of America: The continental US is divided into 6 factions plus EU. Hawaii decides to sit out, and Alaska gets invaded by Russia.
  • Decapitation Strike: In the backstory of Shattered Union, the entire US government is wiped out by an atomic bomb during a highly unpopular president-elect's inauguration speech, triggering the Second American Civil War.
  • Dual Mode Unit: European AA-units. Due to their range and power, they can serve as light artillery.
  • Easy Logistics: Played with. Units needs to refuel at cities/towns, but everything else is automatic.
  • Every Bullet is a Tracer
  • Evil Versus Evil: If both factions have not-so-good reputations.
  • Failed Future Forecast: Nobody named David Jefferson Adams ran in 2008, Washington D.C wasn't nuked in 2013, and the European Union didn't deploy troops to the United States in response and inadvertently kickstart a Second American Civil War.
  • False Flag Operation: The Russians were behind the attack on Washington.
  • Fog of War: Played straight and subverted. You can see entire battlefield, but you can only see enemy units if your own units see them. However, if you use helicopters, the game will show you every square you can move to, even ones outside of the current fog of war. This trick will also show you squares you can't move to because they are occupied by unseen enemies. And yes, you can bomb squares you can't see and if an enemy or a bridge occupies said square, it will take full damage, but be careful of AA. This trick can also be used with land units but its less effective.
  • Fractional Winning Condition: When a region is attacked the battles take place on a geographic map with several cities designated as having worth a certain number of points, with the attacker needing to control enough cities to reach some preset goal within fourteen turns. In most cases the goal the attacker needs to reach is less than the total sum of all the points available on the board, meaning the attacker doesn't need to take every city to win. The big exceptions are North Texas (because Dallas/Fort Worth is the only city on that map) and Alaska (because you can't go halfsies when it comes to kicking the Russians out there for the Final Boss).
  • Good Versus Good: Quite possible if America is owned by two factions who both have good reputations while at war.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Even if your army is just a single jeep, as long as you can capture that last point you win.
  • Invaded States of America: The EU's presence in America gives this vibe to the populace. And again with Russia when it invades and occupies Alaska.
  • Karma Meter:
    • Referred to as 'political reputation'. Based on collateral damage caused, civilian casualties, number of enemy units killed, and aid accepted from the Russians. Wanton destruction lowers your reputation, clean, precise surgical strikes raise it. Lower reputation causes you to earn fewer partisan units (and may result in your own people actively fighting against you as partisans), but is balanced out by unlocking powerful special abilities. A positive reputation results in far more partisans joining the cause, but the abilities unlocked are slightly less potent.
    • Shattered Union is also one of the few games in which attempting to keep your Karma Meter neutral actually has a benefit; although you'll be locked out of powerful endgame abilities, neutrality does get you access to the basic special abilities of both the good and evil paths, while going too far in one direction or the other will lock you out of certain powers after a while.
  • La Résistance: Partisans, who will join the more popular side in a battle, or the defending side if both are equally popular.
  • Monumental Damage:
    • Nearly every map has one or two monuments on it, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Space Needle or the CNN Center. Blowing them up causes a much greater hit to your political reputation than normal destruction.
    • It works in your favor, too, though, since enemies will be more reluctant to bomb your tanks if they're currently stationed in, say, Disneyworld.
  • Multiple Endings: Has 6 in total. Generally has Total Victory, when the player succeeded in uniting the union again; and Minor Victory which you failed to do so. It is split into 3; Good, Evil or Neutral.
  • President Evil: U.S. President David Jefferson Adams and Russian President Vladekov both count.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: The campaign map has the continental US divided into 24 territories, with most of the American factions holding four at the start (the N.E.A. starts with only 3, as the EU moved into the Chesapeake). Each turn, each faction may choose to attack a territory neighboring the ones they control, with victory meaning that territory and its cash income (plus any local modifiers like a bank boosting your total income or an auto shop giving discounts for vehicle purchases) come under the control of the attacker.
  • Russia Called; They Want Alaska Back: The Russian General Vladekov took advantage of the unrest in the US and the hostilities with the EU to invade and occupy Alaska so attention would be diverted from Vladekov's election tampering.
  • Second American Civil War: The entire game is set during a six-way Second Civil War following the nuclear annihilation of President David Jefferson Adams (along with Washington D.C.) during his inauguration for his second term and subsequent dissolution of the Union. Further complicating matters are the Russian Federation and European Union intervening and offering "aid" to the various factions to produce an outcome that favors them.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Can be tossed around willy-nilly without worry of nuclear winter, although they cause so much collateral damage that it's not generally a good idea. Unless you're going for the evil super-abilities. Or just really hate Disneyland for some reason.
  • Slave to PR: Inverted with evil factions, who must work to maintain their negative reputation in order to retain their high-powered evil abilities. Players need to constantly destroy random targets, even if the enemy consists of a single partisan unit, to keep up their evil reputation. Even dropping a nuke is forgiven in few weeks. Or they need to mass artillery.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: The Confederacy and the Republic of Texas have the most high tech heavy units in the game. The FCS Lee of the Confederacy utilizes a powerful (albeit very destructive) laser cannon and the Republic of Texas' FCS Hood uses an equally effective plasma cannon.
  • Support Power: Good powers tend to boost your own units and do field repairs. Evil powers, on the other hand, debuff enemy troops and cause damage. Oh, and evil guys get the nuke.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Somewhat. Jets beat choppers, choppers beat tanks, tanks beat AA and AA beats aircraft. There's some variation thrown into the mix, such as different types of light armor and other vehicles, various types of infantry with their own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, artillery units for long range fire, and the like.
  • Tank Goodness: With the exception of the Great Plains Federation who still use M1 Abrams tank (they get a heavy artillery unit), each faction's unique unit is a superheavy tank.
  • Theme Naming: Every American faction's unique unit is named after a Confederate general, apart from the Great Plains Federation's Grant artillery, which is named after a Union general.
  • Units Not to Scale: Because they're not supposed to be, as the 'units' represent large formations rather than individual soldiers.
  • Washington D.C. Invasion: Can be done by anyone, although instead of the White House players finds a huge crater.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Nicholai Vladekov, the Russian president who nuked Washington and invaded Alaska. Player never personally fight against him, and after the final battle the game only tells you that he is wanted by Interpol. His fate is never elaborated upon, although the news report before the battle implies that the Russian people were orchestrating massive protests against him, and his political reputation depended on whether or not the Russian invasion of Alaska was repelled - if the Americans kick him out, it's possible he eventually loses power in Russia, whereas if the Russians hold Alaska, he may consolidate the military victory to bolster his political status (and considering the "Minor Victory" video has US soldiers shooting at offscreen targets, it's possible he used the Russian army to invade America after keeping Alaska).
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: The intro has a news reporter giving a live report from Washington during the nuclear attack. Cue to trope.
  • Weaponized Car: Partisans drive civilian vehicles covered in armor and machine guns.
  • You Nuke 'Em: This is the "ultimate evil power" for several factions.


Video Example(s):


Shattered Union

After a succession of crises ravage the nation a second American Civil War begins.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DividedStatesOfAmerica

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