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"The Curse of South Spratly Island" game teaches students how an infectious disease operates in the real world. It gives context to a study of diseases, demonstrating how social and economic forces shape the human environment that diseases live in. Plus, it's a pretty fun simulation. Sharpens up your practical math skills!

HOW MANY CAN PLAY?
Probably from 5-16 people, plus a moderator. We had 6 players, but more would have worked well. Here's how I would handle larger numbers of players:

  • 5 - 8 players: 1 player for Hotel, 1 player for Curse, and the other players are Village Leaders (up to 6 villages).
  • 9 - 16 players: have 2 people cooperatively play each role, beginning with the Curse (up to 6 villages). The players may want to divide up the duties (in a village, one player may be the Master of Hunt and Farm, and the other the Master of Work and Trade, for example). A Moderator's Assistant or Co-Moderator would help too, if there are many players.

WHAT YOU NEED:
A large paper sheet or whiteboard, for displaying a big map of the island; sticky dots or Post-Its of various colors, to record the animal and human populations of each village on the map; five decks of playing cards; pens and pencils. You also need to download these worksheets:

  • VILLAGE WORKSHEET (Excel or PDF format)
  • HOTEL WORKSHEET (Excel or PDF format)
  • CURSE WORKSHEET (GIF format)

You may also print out each player's instructions, or send players to the appropriate URL:

You should read these instructions also, to understand what each player knows (and doesn't know). Parts of the game are secret (especially all info about the Curse!), so don't let the players access any other info or URL but their appointed one.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
Each year takes about 2 hours; a whip-crackin' moderator, however, could easily reduce this to an hour. Four or five years makes a good game, but you can go longer if you want!