Thursday, January 19, 2006

Twilight Struggle (Cold War)

Stephen Crane is helping me playtest the Cyberboard gamebox that I created for the game, and allowing us to give this new game our first spin. Stephen is the USSR and I am the USA. When shown, the number of Influence in parenthesis are the total after placement, not the amount placed.

Stephen places his discretionary Influence in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. I place mine in Italy, W. Germany, Denmark, Benelux, and France.

Turn 1

The USSR's headline event is Decolonization, while the USA playes The Marshall Plan. Stephen is going to jump out to a lead in African and SE Asia, while the USA will lock up much of Western Europe. The US places Influence in W. Germany (3) France (2), Spain (1), Denmark (2), Norway (1), Sweden (1), Italy (3). The USSR places Influence in Sudan (1), Ethiopia (1), Vietnam (1), and Loas (1).

The main feature of the USA hand is an abundence of USSR events, with Korean War the biggest nettle. I'll be looking to shore up Asia to try to soften that blow.

Card 1 - USSR Plays De Gaulle, now France has just 1 USSR Influence in it. The USA plays Red Scare/Purge, so the USSR will have 1 fewer Ops for the rest of the turn.

Card 2 - USSR Plays East European Unrest on the Space Race, but the rocket explodes on the pad. The USA follows suit and plays Suez Crisis on the Space Race, managing to put a satellite into orbit (beep, beep, beep).

Card 3 - USSR plays Nuclear Test Ban for Influence: Yugoslavia (1), Bulgaria (1), Czechoslovakia (2). The USA plays De-Stalinization for Influence: Japan (3), Taiwan (1). USSR uses De-Stalinization to move Influence from Africa to Korea (2).

Card 4 - USSR plays Formosan Revolution with UN Intervention to attempt a coup in Spain, which removes the US Influence there. USA plays Defectors for Influence: Japan (4), Taiwan (2).

Card 5 - USSR plays Fidel and takes control of Cuba. USA decides the time will never be much better, so they play Korean War to attempt a Coup in France. In Korea, there is a -1 for control of Japan. In France the Coup attempt is at -4. The USA manages to prevent a USSR Victory in Japan, but unable to make any political changes in France. DEFCON for the two efforts should now be down to 3, but Stephen and I make a mistake and forget to move DEFCON for the Coup in France, so our DEFCON is 4.

Card 6 - USSR Plays Warsaw Pact Formed to attempt a Coup in S. Korea and succeeds brilliantly. When the dust settles, S Korea has 2 USSR Influence and no USA Influence. The US Plays Vietnam Revolts for Realignment rolls; Vietnam now has 3 USSR Influence. Realignment succeeds in France (+1 USA), which now has no Influence in it. Realignment fails in S Korea (+1 USSR).

Had we got DEFCON right, the USSR would not have been allowed a Coup in S. Korea. Had we got DEFCON and known that DEFCON status also prevents realignment rolls, the USA's last card play would not have happened. So we'll call our rules bluders a wash for this turn.

USA loses a VP for Military Operations.

At Turn's Start:
VP: +1
Space Race: USSR - 0, USA - 1
China Card: USSR

Turn 2

Headline -USSR: Nasser. Egypt now has 2 USSR Influence and no USA Influence. USA: Containment. +1 Ops throughout this turn.

Card 1 - USSR: Arab-Israeli War as Event. No victory for the Pan Arab Coalition despite Israel's current isolation.. USA: Socialist Governments on Space Race. Success for the US who may now play 2 Space race cards per turn.

Card 2 - USSR: The China Card for Influence. Afghanistan (2), Burma (2), Thailand (1) USA: Truman Doctrine for a Coup in Egypt, which brings a pro-US government into power (2 Influence for USA, none for USSR).

Card 3 - USSR: Asia Scoring. The situation in Asia can't get too much worse for me, so Steven decides to score it now. USSR has domination, USA Presence. USSR has 2 Battleground countries (N & S Korea), USA has just Japan. Net 5 point shift for USSR. USA: Blockade on Space Race. The +1 Ops allows me to burn this on the Space Race and we succeed, pulling back 2VPs.

Card 4 - USSR: Olympic Games for Influence: Lebanon (1), Syria (2). USA: Duck and Cover for Influence: Iran (2), Libya (2), Israel (2).

Card 5 - USSR: Independent Reds on the Space Race, but the Russian rocket still fails to get off the ground. USA: MidEast Scoring. USSR has presence, USA has domination. USSR has 0 Battleground countries, USA has 3 (Libya, Eqypt, Iran). Net 4 point shift for USA.

Card 6 - USSR: Indo-Pakistani War as Event. results in a Victory for the Indians, and USSR gets 2VP. USA: Captured Nazi Scientist as Event. We have a huge lead in Space and I don't know if it is wise to press further, but at a minimu, this removes the card so the USSR can't use it themselves to catch up faster.

USA and USSR lose 1 VP for Military Operations.

At Turn's Start:
VP: +1 USA
Space Race: USSR:0 , USA: 4
China Card: USA

Turn 3

Headline - USSR: Comecon. Place Influence: Poland (3), Czechoslovakia (3), Romania (3), Bulgaria (2) USA: MidEast Scoring. It's doubtful the situation will get better than it already is, so let's score it early. USSR has presence, USA has domination. USSR has 0 Battleground countries, USA has 3 (Libya, Eqypt, Iran). Net 4 point shift for USA.

Card 1 - USSR: Europe Scoring. USSR has domination, USA has presence. USSR has 2 Battleground countries (E. Germany, Poland), USA has 1 (Italy). Net 5 point shift for USSR. USA: Suez Crisis as Coup. The Government of Thailand is replaced with a wildly enthusiastic pro-USA government (3). Meanwhile the UK cools on the US (3). Israel and France have no USA Influence, so there is no changes there.

Card 2 - USSR: US/Japan Defense Pact for Influence. Japan is already US-controlled. USSR Influence: Pakistan (2), Iraq (3) USA: Independent Reds as Event. Place 3 USA Influence in Romania.

Card 3 - USSR: Space Race (I lost my notes on which card). But Russian rockets continue to blow up on the pad. They must be running out of Cosmonauts by now. USA: Warsaw Pact Formed on Space Race puts John Glenn into orbit.

Card 4 - USSR: Romanian Abdication as Event. USA Influence in Romania is back to 0. USA: NATO for Influence: Taiwan (3), Phillipines (2), Pakistan (1). The situation in Asia is dire for the USA. Had to spend 2 Ops to remove Pakistan from USSR control and give me a path into India. Besides, it will be a while before DEFCON gets back to a place where coups are allowed in Europe anyway.

Card 5 - USSR: Decolonization. Prepping for next turn's mid-war cards, the USSR places Influence in: Saharan States (1), Nigeria (1), Zaire (1), Angola (1). The situation in Africa is now pretty bad also. USA: Defectors for Influence: India (1), Indonesia (1)

Card 6 - USSR: Five Year Plan as Coup in Iran. The Coup fails, but DEFCON is now 2. Five Year plan forces USSR to discard one of their two remaining cards, and they discard CIA Created. When their last card is revealed, it is Duck and Cover. Had the USSR been forced to discard that one instead, DEFCON would have gone to 1 and the game would have been over! USA: Socialist Governments on the Space Race. The USA takes a space walk and is able to discard Arab-Israeli Wars.

USA and USSR lose 0 VP for Military Operations.

At Turn's Start:
VP: +4 USA
Space Race: USSR:0 USA: 6
China Card: USA

Turn 4

Headline - USSR: Quagmire. The US could be bogged down if things go poorly. USA: John Paul II Elected Pope. Poland has 1 Influence for each country.

Card 1 - USSR: Ask Not... on Space Race, but once again, the rocket blows up. The Soviet futility in space is bordering on the absurd. USA: Muslim Revolution is discarded and the quagmire ends with a roll of 4. I considered holding this card for the Space Race's last box, but it wasn't clear I would make it there and my hand has a lot of USSR events, so I don't want to get forced to play this card.

Card 2 - USSR: Duck and Cover with UN Intervention for Influence: India (3). USA: Puppet Governments as Event. Chile (1), Brazil (1), Panama (1).

Card 3 - USSR: Cultural Revolution for a Coup in Iran. The Coup removes all Influence from the country (-1US), and DEFCON is back to level 2. USA: U2 Incident for Influence: Panama (2), Brazil (2), Iran (1). USSR gets 1VP.

Card 4 - USSR: OPEC for Influence: Iran (2), Poland (2). USA: Allende for a Coup in the Saharan States. USSR now has 2 Influence in Chile. The Coup is wildly successful, and the USA now has 5 Influence.

Card 5 - USSR: Sadat Expels the Soviets for Influence: Poland (3). USA: Truman Doctrine as Event. The Poles are just plain uppity, and now the USSR has 0 Influence.

Card 6 - USSR: OAS Founded for Influence: Poland (1). The US Places Influence in Nicaragua (1) and Colombia (1). USA: Bear Trap for Influence: Algeria (2), Pakistan (2).

Card 7 - USSR: (Out of cards.) USA: Lone Gunman, revealing the last card, South African Unrest, which is promptly discarded. Lone Gunman is used for realignment efforts in Cuba, which are unsuccessful.

USA loses 1 VP for Military Operations.

At Turn's Start:
VP: +2 USA
Space Race: USSR:0 USA: 6
China Card: USA

Turn 5

Headline - USSR: Indo-Pakistani War. Indian Invades Pakistan, but the war does not go as planned and they are rebuffed. USA: ABM Treaty, increases DEFCON 4, but promptly dagrades it to 3 when the US attempts a Coup in Iraq. The coup is less than successful, removing a point of USSR Influence, leaving them with 1 in Iraq.

Card 1 - USSR: Colonial Rearguards on Space Race. The USSR finally puts a satellite in orbit. USA: Voice of America as Event: Cuba (2), N. Korea (2), S. Korea (2), Pakistan (1).

Card 2 - USSR: We Will Bury You as Event. VPs for the USSR and a further degradation of DEFCON, which is now at 2. USA: Asia Scoring. USSR has presence, USA has domination. USSR has 0 Battleground countries, USA has 2 (Japan, Thailand). Net 6 point shift for USA.

Card 3 - USSR: Flower Power for Influence: Chile (4), Argentine (4). USA: Central America Scoring. USSR has no presence, USA has domination. USSR has 0 Battleground countries, USA has 1 (Panama). Net 4 point shift for USA.

Card 4 - USSR: SE Asia Scoring. USSR controls Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam for 3 VPs. USA: Grain Sales to Soviets as Event. USSR hands over Formosan Revolution, which is played as an Event.

Card 5 - USSR: South American Scoring. USSR has presence, USA has presence. USSR has 2 Battleground countries (Chile, Argentina), USA has 1 (Brazil). Net 1 point shift for USSR. USA: Camp David Accords as Event. US Influence in Egypt (4), Israel (2), Jordan (1).

Card 6 - USSR: Blockade as Event. USA discards Brush War. USA: Willy Brandt for Realignment. Removes 2 USSR influence from Cuba (0) and 1 from Nigeria (0).

Card 7 - USSR: Cuban Missle Crisis for Influence: Poland (4) USA: Ussuri River Skirmish as Event. US Influence in Pakistan (3), India (2),

USSR lose 2 VP for Military Operations.

At Turn's Start:
VP: +10 USA
Space Race: USSR: 1 USA: 6
China Card: USA

Turn 6

Headline - USSR: Red Scare/Purge. USA: Junta, placing influence in Peru (2) and attempting an unsuccessful coup in Argentina.

Card 1 - USSR: One Small Step as Event, leapfrogging the USSR to the Lunar Probe space on the Space Track. USA: Arms Race as Event, gaining 3VP for the USA.

Card 2 - USSR: Latin American Death Squads for the Space Race, and the USSR puts a man in space. USA: Alliance for Progress on Space Race, but the USA fails in its attempt to make lunar orbit.

Card 3 - USSR: Liberation Theology as Event to place Influence in Mexico (2) and Guatemala (1). USA: How I Learned to Stop Worrying for Influence: Honduras (2).

Card 4 - USSR: Portuguese Empire Crumbles as Event. Influence in SE African States (2) and Angola (3). USA: SALT Negotiations as Event. DEFCON moves to 4 and the USA reclaims The Voice of America.

Card 5 - USSR: Africa Scoring. USSR has domination, USA has presence. USSR has 2 Battleground countries (Angola, Zaire), USA has 1 (Algeria). Net 4 point shift for USSR. USA: Shuttle Diplomacy on Space Race, and the USA manages a lunar orbit.

Card 6 - USSR: Summit as Event. USSR has two regions (Europe, Africa), USA has 2 (Asia, Middle East). Both sides get the same roll, so the Summit ends rather anti-climactically. USA: The Voice of America as Event. Remove Influence from Mexico (0), Guatemala (0) and India (2).

Card 7 - USSR: Panama Canal Returned for Influence: Bulgaria (3). USA gets Influence in Venezuela (1), Panama (3), and Costa Rica (1). USA: Nixon Plays the China Card as Event, for 2VPs.

USSR loses 2 VP for Military Operations.

At Turn's Start:
VP: +17 USA
Space Race: USSR:4 USA:7
China Card: USA

Note: It wasn't until I typed this up that I realized I forgot all turn long about the Red Scare -1 to USA Ops. An evening fell mid-turn and so by the next day I had forgotten. Looking at this, I only got 2 extra Influence placements, but I got a successful roll on the Space Track that I shouldn't have gotten because the card would only have been 2 Ops, and not enough to even try.

Turn 7

Headline - USSR: Red Scare/Purge. This turn I won't forget! USA: Missile Envy. The USSR passes me the Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You... card. But I'm happy with my cards, so I decide to keep playing them. Later I realize there was one card I should have discarded (UN Intervention), but somehow I missed that here.

Card 1 - USSR: Missile Envy for Influence: W Germany (3). USA: NATO for Influence: W Germany (4), Denmark (3), France (1).

Card 2 - USSR: Indo-Pakistani War for a Coup in Italy, which reduces USA Influence to 1. USA: Arms Race for Influence: Italy (3). OK, he's got the Europe Scoring card, that's clear. And I'm at -1 Ops to stave off his efforts. If he can lower the number of BG states I control by 1 on his turn and I can't fix it on my turn, he has domination in Europe. Stupid Joe McCarthy's going to make this difficult for me.

Card 3 - USSR: Socialist Governments as Event. Influence removed from France (0) and Italy (1). USA: Olympic Games for Influence: Italy (2). I'm running out of Ops to be able to respond...

Card 4 - USSR: Cuban Missile Crisis for Influence: France (3) USA: Colonial Rearguards as Event. Influence in Zaire (1), Nigeria (1), S Africa (2), Cameroon (1). Well, the French were the last straw. I can't do anything about France since I have no 3Ops cards left that will allow me to place an Influence in France, now that it is USSR controlled. Time to alter the picture in Africa, so I can score that and reduce his benefit from Europe.

Card 5 - USSR: Europe Scoring. USSR has domination, USA has presence. USSR has 3 Battleground countries (Poland, E Germany, France), USA has 1 (Italy). Net 6 point shift for USSR. USA: Africa Scoring. USSR has presence, USA has domination. USSR has 1 Battleground country (Angola), USA has 2 (Algeria, Nigeria). Net 4 point shift for USA.
Card 6 - USSR: Summit for Influence: Iran (2). USA: Brush War for a Coup in Iran, which is wildly successful: USSR (0), USA (3).

Card 7 - USSR: Kitchen Debates for Influence: Zaire (0). USA gets 2VP for having more BG states. USA: UN Intervention. Ops is reduced to 0 so this is a discard. This card should have been discarded during the headline phase, since I had no USSR events to play and it was a 1 Ops card!

USA and USSR lose 1 each VP for Military Operations.

At Turn's Start:
VP: +17 USA
Space Race: USSR:4 USA:7
China Card: USA

Turn 8

Headline - USSR: Aldrich Ames. This turn I won't forget! USA: Central American Scoring. USSR has no presence, USA has domination. USSR has 0 Battleground countries, USA has 1 (Panama). Net 4 point shift for USA, pushing it to +20 for a USA Victory.


So far I like this game. It plays fast, it has interesting strategy considerations, it seems like it can swing back and forth rapidly so you're never quite out of it. Of course, there were some rules problems here that I think affected the outcome, so we'll see after some additional playing how balance seems.


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