Sunday, April 30, 2006

Moving And Twilight Struggle 4/30

Jon graciously agreed to help me move some stuff using his truck today. So as to not make the day a total waste we also played a game of Twilight Struggle. Before I go much further in this report, I think we also screwed up a couple more rules today. I believe in the space race, as soon as you reach a level, you can immediately use its benefits in the next action round. We were playing it as next turn so that could have made a difference as Jon led the race for the majority of the game. Also in my readings it seems that 5 year plan only triggers US associated events, not neutral events, so the point to make later may be moot, but I still would like to know about the situation replacing the Olympics with Drop and Cover.

I tried my hand at the US this time. Jon jumped out to a quick lead in vps and the space race over the first few turns and I was scrambling to hold on against the overwhelming communist expansion. By midgame, things had stabilized for the US with the scoring situation, but there were some critical issues that were not resolving in my favor. The middle east, which during the early war was a hotbed of activity for both of us, with a constant back and forth between the two of us, shifted dramatically to Jon's side with a flurry of anti US sentiment in the Muslim world. On the flip side though, Asia developed to become a bastion of freedom with nearly all countries south of North Korea enjoying democracy. Similarly Europe had stagnated favorably for me. The other three regions of power remained solidly up for grabs and were the main source of contention between the two powers.

Around this time, Fidel came to power, and the USSR had its much needed entry point to the Americas. Communism established a dominant presence in Central America, while I clung to a tenuous position in South America. Things were looking bad and a few scoring cards brought Jon to around -12 or so. I played a few vp cards, and a well timed "How I learned to..." to stabilize the VP situation, and began to go about the business of freeing Central America. This process took time and led to our late game rules question.

The situation in this example was this. Jon worked his hand down to two cards: The Olympics, and Five Year Plan. We were at Defcon 2, so he played the Five Year Plan, handed me the Olympics and said he was boycotting. The rules about who should be the phasing player are not 100% clear here, and not having an faq in front of us, we could not resolve the issue. Now knowing that the Olympics would not be triggered by Five Year Plan at all would help, but if it had been Drop and Cover, it would be nice to know who will be held responsible for causing the resulting armageddon.

Anyway, we agreed to continue the game with a caveat that Jon possibly had already won the game. I continued to pour resources into Central America, working hard to free Cuba and Mexico from their communist opressors. It was an arduous process, but finally, on the last turn of the game, I was able to install "free" governments in both of the hotly contested states, and thus ensured a victory for all of the God fearing free people of the world.

There were some interesting positions that happened in this game. India of all places was one of our most hotly contested territories throughout the whole game. So when I initiated the Indo-Pakistan war and won in the midgame, I was all of a sudden holding a territory in south central asia with 15 influence on it. The cows are mine!

I also learned that the middle east is just horrible for the US. I invested way too heavily in the muslim states and ended losing almost of my investments due to some very vicious mid game events. Anyway, still looking forward to playing again with some more rules being correctly applied.



At 7:53 AM, May 01, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

The session reports for this game really sound interesting. Whatever problems it may have, this game sounds like a lot of fun. I need to get a game under my belt, and I may need to buy a copy, too.

At 10:03 AM, May 01, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

I'll go ahead and say the obvious. I'm obsessed with this game. I have very high hopes for this game as a possible two player game to try with my wife. The big positives in favor of that possibility are the pretty significant luck factor which would hopefully allow her to compete without too much difficulty, the relative "lightness" of the rules, and the awesome theme.

I am going to be patient and wait for the second edition before I get it though. I'm just kinda holding out hope that Cash and Guns will be released in the US by that time also . Also sorry about no images in this report, the image upload site doesn't seem to be working. I've been trying now for two days.

At 11:23 AM, May 01, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

I noticed that the space race takes effect right away once I got home and was glancing through the rules.

But, I don't think that it affected our game in any way because the only time it could have mattered was that I could discard the held card, but the one round I had that bonus before you took it away I ended with no cards.

At 11:32 AM, May 01, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

One mistake made during the game Jon and I had was due to an errata item on one of the cards: Defectors is actually NOT discarded after play. I'm thinking of marking this out on my card with a black sharpy.

One potential offical major rule change being proposed for testing by the designers is to have realignment rolls unaffected by the DEFCON track. This would actually make sense historically, as realignments still often take place during times of intense saber rattling (e.g., Germany and France during the Iraq War realigning away from Uncle Sam)...

At 1:35 PM, May 01, 2006, Blogger TrimChris said...

Twilight Struggle:

Whose turn is it? That indicates who is the phasing player.

At 3:04 AM, May 02, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I think this game sucks.

-No offense to you all. I feel there are undeniable flaws in the turn to turn card distribution and that, more importantly, the game is overwhelmingly boring (even given the theme). I guess if you're really into "wargames" about adding numbers systematically to a flow chart, then this is the end all be all. Area control has been done much, much better elsewhere with twenty times the level of engagement. I just can't figure out what all the hype is about. I wonder how in the minority I'm in (seems I've been slamming a lot of games recently). Still, I just don't get the draw here...perhaps someone could share my sentiments, or better yet, enlighten me.

At 6:38 AM, May 02, 2006, Blogger Ben said...


For me, part of the draw is the theme. I was born during the Mid-War and grew up during the Late War, so I find the game very interesting.

Evaluating the game purely on it's mechanics, I'm very fond of the card-driven play. Component-wise, I give them a solid B+. The luck-factor is almost a deal breaker here, though. Last night I missed three space races in a row, then got hammered with two straight hands containing only 1-2 friendly or neutral cards.

Still, I have a feeling that good play can overcome most bad draws. I would like to see more Neutral cards added to the Early War deck to help soften the luck factor early on though.

At 1:06 PM, May 02, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

I think alot of the draw of the game for me is having to manage bad luck. Getting a handful of your opponents removed from game events is a double edged sword. Sure the events hurt you as they are played, but from then on the deck will be that much more favorable to you in future reshuffles.

My belief is that the neutral events are what form alot of the uncontrollable luck factor since the person drawing the majority of them has an advantage in most cases.

I could tell that you weren't into it from the very beginning of the game and I didn't know really know what to do to to change that. Maybe a game against Jon would have worked better because I definitely was unskillful and possibly negligent about doing random updating at ends of phases. There didn't seem to be as much tension in our game since we weren't really couping a whole bunch. The defcon hovering around 2 can add another dimension to the game in my opinion and we just didn't get there.

Falling behind in the space race can sometimes work out alright. The one small step card gives you a huge boost but also the safety valve outlet gets less prounounced as you progress down the track. The war cards seem to be the big luck factor that can turn a game on its side, especially the indo-pakistan war.

Simon, I would really suggest giving it another shot with a more skillful opponent. That might solve the boring factor.

At 6:34 PM, May 02, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

I'm definitely cooling on TS, although I'd give it another shot. 3 out of my last four games have been laughably lopsided.

I happen to like the "oops, you each have a hand of your opponents events" in theory.

Somewhere, there's a perfect Card Driven Wargame. But I suspect it's just in someone's head.

At 12:29 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

Well from those who are worried about the neutral card that I feel is way out of whack, "Red Scare/Purge", there is a commend on Brian's blog suggesting two possible house rules. I personally thought the one that said the penalty doesn't apply when playing opponents events sounded great.

That kinda leads into one possible problem with the game. On the neutral events, there is almost no tension on which way to play them. Missile Envy, Red Scare/Purge, Captured Nazi Scientists and Salt Negotiations will almost always be played as events, while the 4 ops neutrals and Olympics will almost always be played as ops. Summit makes the player who draws it sad. I wish there was some sort of real decision with those cards.

Anyway, off to play another game in a few minutes.

At 12:30 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

And yess, commend=comment. Not sure how that one happened.

At 6:50 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

I wish I understood what the heck you are all talking about.

At 8:05 PM, May 04, 2006, Blogger Rick N said...

I have no idea either, but my interest is peaked. If someone is willing, I'd like to check this game out at one of the gaming sessions.


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