The Podcast Challenge: Tropico 3


When Wesley dictated that Rickismo Afrikanus be the most beneficent dictator he could possibly be in Tropico 3 (a management sim in which you play the bumbling dictator of a tropical paradise), he thought he was giving him a challenge. He thought that Rickismo – author, velvet revolutionary, multi-award winning Noble (sic) Laureate* and the people’s greatest but most humble servant — could not possibly achieve peaceful rule of the like not experienced since the Renaissance.

But there are two things you must know about Rickismo: he refers to himself in third-person — always — and that whilst his humility is second to none, it’s an undeniable fact that he single-handedly thwarted eighteen increasingly convoluted assassination attempts (the last involving a silky llama, a whip, and a promising cabaret invitation).

Rickismo is no stranger to adversity: indeed, he welcomes it as a common-but-no-less-valuable Tropican may welcome air to breathe, or decent living wages, or rights. And while the challenges were great, he succeeded where lesser men and women would have failed, thanks in minor part to his peoples’ tireless efforts but largely due to his eleemosynary [I’ve just Googled this word, and it is not at all what I was expecting. Make of that what you will. – Ed.] gaze.

What follows is Rickismo’s extensive, detailed and objective account of his leadership, insights, wisdom and fiscal acuity, as documented by that most competent and impartial biographer: himself.

Before you begin, however, please rise for the Tropican National Anthem.

The early years of El Presidente (1950-1953)

Within Rickismo’s palace – which is overlooked by the ziggurat of his forefathers – it was up to Rickismo to heat up Tropico’s rise to power at the start of the Cold War, and to do that he would need to build. Build roads, build farms, build infrastructure, build all the things. Of course, the first order of business was to enact the Building Edict of 1950, which would require El Presidente’s personal seal of approval on all new facilities to ensure national prosperity within five years.

Can a price be put on having Rickismo’s personal involvement in every construction project? Most would say it’s invaluable, but Rickismo, with startling acumen, pinned the value as an increase of 20% on project costs. If that means a farm completely depletes the national budget, and half must be paid directly to him for his labours, well, is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?

Rickismo immediately started fostering diplomatic relations with the Americanos, Russicanos and the Bank of Switzerlandicanos, foreseeing a time of national debt global economic decline when their aid would be crucial. Fortunately, the island of Tropico had extensive iron reserves to exploit; iron he would forge into the sword of economic deliverance.


Practice is over (1954-1960)

While slanderous historians may posit that I intended to achieve economic prosperity in five years, this is the work of revisionists and foreign agitators; I clearly recall saying a 10-year plan. What? “I always spoke in third-person”? I never spoke that way; it’d be a real chore if I did. Not a single ton of iron ore had been mined, having trusted, against my better judgement, my construction advisor’s insistence to build the mine right on top of the mineral deposit, which is totally logical. Less distance to walk, eh?

I did a lot of walking in those early days, as I’m a man of the people and not because I failed to build any garages that prevented me and my citizens from using vehicles, which might be the reason why no exports had made their way out of the island in three years but probably not. Fortunately, thanks to extensive foreign aid from my communist comrades, Tropico remained afloat in defiance of the Western capitalist understanding of concepts like  “success”, “failure”, or “embezzlement”.


While I planted the seeds of industry and commerce, my fellow Tropicans lacked my entrepreneurial spirit and inherent intellectualastisication. I was dismayed that despite the fact that several clinics, churches and financial institutions had been built, not a single Tropican had rolled up his sleeves and taken up position in those posts. They require college graduates? High school education? I got by on crib notes of Das Kapital, but I suppose building a high school and college couldn’t hurt for my less gifted charges.

Overall, however, everyone seemed happy with the extensive progress that had been made; Leonardo attests to this. And with the elections coming up, I decided to give praise where praise was due.


Tropicans, of course, agreed wholeheartedly, and I soundly beat my political opponent (whose name is now lost in the annals of mediocrity) by a sound 70%. Only sore dissidents would suggest it was because I instituted an edict which doubled the food allowance for every citizen.

Russian assassins, earthquake assassins (1961-1965)

Having invested heavily in education, my 15-year economic plan was finally beginning to pay dividends in having a budget that was in the black more than half the time. So it was only natural that I would become the target of terrorists and communist fascists — concerned with the mass immigration of their own people to my humble island — intent on destroying me and, through me, the hopes and dreams of every Tropican that placed their unwavering trust in my guidance. Funnily enough, this was all in the course of a year; clearly in a concerted attempt to wear down my iron resolve, but they underestimated my deep reserves of courage and fortitude.

Firstly, I was targeted by a USSR assassin; I should know, I spoke personally to my military advisor, who seemed surprised that anyone would dare attempt a bid on my personage.

tropicochallenge_assassinationNext, a communist earthquake struck the capital. You might ask how an earthquake could be communist, or why I’m personifying impersonal natural forces, to which I say that’s exactly what a Red would say. Fortunately, thanks to my peerless supervision of all of Tropico’s construction (see: Building Edict of 1950), only two buildings collapsed as a result of this attempted coup d’état, and the considerable aid funds from the United States (who you’ll recall are my long-time allies against the Kremlin threat) was enough for me to begin construction on an oil rig.


A rebel leader also appeared, but didn’t do anything. I assume he got lost in the jungles of Tropico and came to a bitter end, lacking my own considerable survival skills. They called me Rambino in my earlier rebel years, you know.

“My Humble Life” (1966-1972)

But I had other concerns now. Like that misinformed rebel, there were some that were beginning to question the effectiveness of my 20-year plan, and had begun “peaceful” protests against me in the zero-cost free market start-up incubation housing that had sprung up on the city’s outskirts. They were protesting a lack of worthwhile accommodation and entertainment, as if I had promised those things. While you may have heard of mass protests in this informal sector of the economy, instead consider this photo of a protester shouting at tropical fern like the troubled and illogical individual that he is.


However, let it not be said that El Presidente doesn’t take an active interest in each and every rebel concerned citizen, even the smellier and crazier ones like Bogdan. I’m deeply aware of the impact of inadequate housing — why, just the other day, I was informed by my health experts that there is no such medical condition as a “poverty allergy” and that it would be wasteful to coat every piece of furniture in my palace with gold! This was one of the more subtle assassination attempts on my personage, but I persevere.

Clearly, there are two problems here. The one is that there isn’t enough adequate housing: a problem easily remedied by instituting a building development programme with my always-faithful allies, the Russians. A ton of tenement blocks at zero rent is surely the quick solution and couldn’t possibly have any economic ramifications further down the line.

The more pressing issue was that it seemed most weren’t aware of my greatness.  Of course, this was easily remedied by several entertainment venues, including a new radio station (“El Presidente, all day!”), a museum (in which one may observe my most simple beginnings, as example to all those that would set themselves on the path to greatness), and a movie theatre showing only the most cutting and critical films as directed by Rickismo Notafrikanus (such as the deep dive documentary digging into the man behind the legend of Rickismo, “My Humble Life“).

Juanito disagrees, but that is because he hates competition.

I also began developing the tourist industry – on the other side of the island, of course, because it’s beautiful there and conveniently far away.

Unforeseen consequences (1972-1980)

I’m going to have to skim over the next couple of years, but fear not as my incisive summary is as good as a whole political analysis on the latter days of my rule. With a booming tourist industry and local llama and coffee industry as the result of my 30-year economic plan, it seemed plain sailing for El Presidente. Until…


No fear, Rickismo had no need for those interfering colonialists anyway! Surely local industry should be able to pick up the slack. It couldn’t hurt to start implementing some of those reforms that Rickismo promised would be implemented as soon as we had a firm financial base, and what better time than now to increase all the wages by 300% and make all housing free? That should stimulate spending in the economy with adequate power. That was, until the power grid was overloaded and rolling blackouts were implemented across the island. (Aside: I really can’t make this stuff up. This completely happened, and I couldn’t be happier. Power outages in the later years of a long-ruling party’s career? Where have we heard that before?)

It was under such trying times that Rickismo encountered his most powerful political opponent yet. I’d weathered numerous election candidates, including a policeman and a homeless person, but they weren’t Bishop Baptisto Chavez.


I mean, look at him. Ballin’ to the max, rolling with his Latina crew, laying down the word of God who had, Baptisto had decreed, selected him as the successor to the Tropico fortunes. I just couldn’t compete. I thought it was all over, but the people still believed in the frugal policies of Rickismo Afrikanus, and I managed to scrape a victory. While I may have voted for Baptisto (in my heart), my voting mark pen was made of more prudent stuff and went with the conservative choice.

And so the final days of my rule and Tropico’s treasury played out, and despite a negative budget now exceeding the combined debt of the USSR and USA combined, I unfortunately had to cut my rule short in 1980. This had nothing to do with the maturation of my Swiss investments; it clearly states in the consitution that a ruler may hold power for a max of 5 10 30 years. It’s hard to tell under all the blackout ink.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with a llama.

* The Noble Piece Prize, created, instituted and chaired by Rickismo Afrikanus.

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