Sunday, March 4, 2007

Reagan Bombs Libya, Soviet Union Crumbles

I'm posting this from a Mexican restaurant in the Las Vegas airport. Had a coed softball tournament this weekend, and we didn't do too badly. Went 2-2 and got knocked out in our last game by a 26-25 score by a team that was probably a level or two above us. Our only other loss was in extra innings, so we made a pretty good showing.

Twilight Struggle

USA: Eric
Ambiance: Family Guy and American Idol (courtesy of Jodie), and the XM Fine Tuning stream.

Tim and I played Twilight Struggle again this week, this time at his request. As he wasn't all that sure about it last time, he wanted to play again to see if he likes the game or not. He was a bit ambivalent last time.

We decided to log the hands we were dealt as the game progressed. I also tracked who had the China card, the score at the beginning of the turn, cards held from the prior turn, and what was played for the headline. Forgot to log the DEFCON status each turn, but I can remember some of them. I'll mark the Soviet events with asterisks so you can get a quick feel for the relative ugliness of a given hand.

Turn 1 – Score 0
*Socialist Governments
*Arab-Israeli war
*Korean War
*Fidel - Headline
Duck and Cover
Formosan Revolution
Asia scoring
Middle East Scoring

Yuck. Two scoring cards, and I don't have the China card to spend in Asia. Headlined Fidel as Central America scoring doesn't come up for a long time, and it gives me time to mitigate damage there. Tim's not going to be able to exploit Fidel for a while as there are more critical things to work on. I believe I Space Raced Korean War, and Socialist Governments was discarded when Tim played blockade. Not a good start, but it could have been a lot worse.

Turn 2 – China Card – Score -6
*Romanian Abdication
Truman Doctrine
Indo Pakistani War
Red Scare/Purge – headline
Olympic Games

No scoring cards in my hand here, and I know Europe is coming. Headlined Red Purge to keep Tims ops down for the turn. This is one very noticeable change in the 2nd edition. Making Red Scare/Purge a 4 Ops card really makes you think twice about how you use it. Used the China card, and held Containment and Decolonization. Space Raced De-Stalinization. Things fell my way a bit this turn, and I was feeling somewhat okay about where I'd be when the Mid War started.

Turn 3 – Score -3
Held – *Decolonization
Held – Containment
US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact
Truman Doctrine
Nuclear Test Ban – headline
Red Scare/Purge
Olympic Games

You have to like being in the Early War and not drawing any Soviet cards. I think I even poked my nose into positive scoring territory. However, Europe was not going my way and Tim stretched his lead. The good part about it was that I knew European Scoring was not going to come up again for a long time. Held Decolonization again, and I didn't Space Race anything.

Turn 4 – China Card – Score -10
Held – *Decolonization
*Flower Power
*Arab-Israeli War
*Brezhnev Doctrine
ABM Treaty
Grain Sales to Soviets
Marshall Plan
Ussuri River Skirmish – headline

As I held the China Card here, I headlined Ussuri River Skirmish to get the influence in Asia. Taiwan was starting to become a hotly contested space (I think it ended with 9 influence to 7 in Tim's favor). Space Raced Flower Power and held Brezhnev until my last play of the turn. Using the China Card allowed me to hold the other Soviet events off until next turn. I used a lot of Ops points this turn working on the Middle East, SE Asia, and South America in that order. Didn't do much for events. Tim inched the score his direction.

Turn 5 – Score -13
Held – *Arab-Israli War
Held – *Decolonization
'Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You...'
*Cultural Revolution
*Liberation Theology
*Muslim Revolution
*South African Unrest
Middle East Scoring – headline
Alliance for Progress

This was ideal for me. The Middle East was in good shape so I scored it in the headline. Tim's first play was Lone Gunman. I showed him a hand full of Soviet events, and promptly discarded them on my first play with Ask Not...

*Arab-Israeli War
*South African Unrest
*Liberation Theology
*Cultural Revolution.

Puppet Governments
South America Scoring
Nuclear Subs

I think I space raced Quagmire. South America started falling away from me, so I scored it before it could get much worse. I was starting to dominate the equator (Asia, Middle East, Central America) and Tim had the rest, for the most part. Africa was a bit of a tossup at this point. Score was a wash this turn with South America and effects balancing out the Middle East. I'm just trying to hang on until the Late war at this point.

Turn 6 – China card – Score -13
Held – *Muslim Revolution
*U2 Incident
Cuban Missile Crisis
Camp David Accords – headline
Arms Race
Indo Pakistani War
Sadat Expels Soviets
Central America Scoring
Africa Scoring

Headlined Camp David for the VP and the influence. Also, I didn't want Arab-Israeli War to bite me again as I never controlled Israel the entire game. Tim did. Africa ended a point or two in my favor, and I scored big points with Central America and Asia (which was in Tim's hand. SE Asia was scored here as well, IIRC, for a couple points in my favor. At least that's how I remember it going.) I held Cuban Missile Crisis as the time wasn't quite right to play it that turn, and I space raced Muslim Revolution.

Turn 7 – China Card – Score 5
Held – Cuban Missile Crisis
Duck and Cover
UN Intervention
ABM Treaty – Headline
Indo Pakistani War
Middle East Scoring
Arms Race

Played ABM treaty as a headline for the ops in the Middle East, and played Middle East Scoring early on for big points. Got rid of Quagmire with UN Intervention, and Tim had a scoring card that went my way as well. The late Mid War was really decisive as the score went from -13 to 16 in two turns. I played Cuban Missile Crisis right away to keep Tim from coup attempts, and the Indo Pakistani War gave me the milops I needed to score a couple more points there. I held Duck and Cover to take advantage of it at the beginning of the next turn.

Turn 8 – Score 16
Held – Duck and Cover – Headline
*Brezhnev Doctrine
*Iranian Hostage Crisis
*De Gaulle Leads France
John Paul II Elected Pope
Iran-Iraq War

Duck and Cover got me 3 VPs, and my first card play of the turn could have won me the game had my space race play succeeded. It failed, however. Tim was unable to do much about the score, and I held Chernobyl for next turn, just in case my hand fell into a position where I needed to score a region for the win. Again, I played Brezhnev as my last card play. I actually look forward to drawing that card as I can completely neuter it nearly every time I get it.

Turn 9 – China Card – Score 19
Held – Chernobyl
Reagan Bombs Libya – Headline
Latin American Death Squads
Star Wars
Soviets Shoot Down KAL-007
*Marine Barracks Bombing
*Ortega Elected in Nicaragua
*Warsaw Pact Formed

I had two choices on my headline card to win the game, but went with Reagan Bombs Libya as there was no possible DEFCON mishap. The game was won in the headline phase as Tim had 2 influence in Libya, giving me the 1 VP I needed to hit 20.

This game was won for a couple reasons. I dominated the equator and had the good fortune to have scoring cards in those regions come up two straight turns. Also, the turn I had the ugliest hand of the game, I had a huge escape hatch in Ask Not. The 2nd worst hand I had was in turn 9, and it didn't matter as the game was over before they ever saw the light of day.

Tim said he enjoyed this playing a lot more than the previous one even though he was in bad shape the entire last half of the game. Probably because of the anti-climactic way in which the previous game ended, this one felt better to him, and improved markedly in his opinion. It's always a challenge to play the US, and I felt a lot better about how I managed my board position. I'm still trying to get a feel for how to play South America and Africa, though. Also, Tim's been killing me on the space race, constantly running out ahead. Got to work on that, too.


This week's game will also be on Wednesday. It's my turn to choose this week, and we're going to go with Crusader Rex. We'll be using the most recent revision of the rules (1.4) which apparently mitigates the balance issues that hampered prior versions.

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