Twilight Struggle

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Jow
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Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:06 pm

Figured I'd start another post here for general discussion, AARs, etc so the other thread just contains Vassal-related stuff.

As a bit of an introduction, here';s a blurb from Boardgamegeek about the game:

"Now the trumpet summons us again, not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle..."
– John F. Kennedy

In 1945, unlikely allies toppled Hitler's war machine, while humanity's most devastating weapons forced the Japanese Empire to its knees in a storm of fire. Where once there stood many great powers, there then stood only two. The world had scant months to sigh its collective relief before a new conflict threatened. Unlike the titanic struggles of the preceding decades, this conflict would be waged not primarily by soldiers and tanks, but by spies and politicians, scientists and intellectuals, artists and traitors. Twilight Struggle is a two-player game simulating the forty-five year dance of intrigue, prestige, and occasional flares of warfare between the Soviet Union and the United States. The entire world is the stage on which these two titans fight to make the world safe for their own ideologies and ways of life. The game begins amidst the ruins of Europe as the two new "superpowers" scramble over the wreckage of the Second World War, and ends in 1989, when only the United States remained standing.

Twilight Struggle inherits its fundamental systems from the card-driven classics We the People and Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. It is a quick-playing, low-complexity game in that tradition. The game map is a world map of the period, whereon players move units and exert influence in attempts to gain allies and control for their superpower. As with GMT's other card-driven games, decision-making is a challenge; how to best use one's cards and units given consistently limited resources?

Twilight Struggle's Event cards add detail and flavor to the game. They cover a vast array of historical happenings, from the Arab- Israeli conflicts of 1948 and 1967, to Vietnam and the U.S. peace movement, to the Cuban Missile Crisis and other such incidents that brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. Subsystems capture the prestige-laden Space Race as well as nuclear tensions, with the possibility of game-ending nuclear war.


The best way to describe this game is "tense". Once players become familiar with the cards that come and go during the various stages of the war, every single play seems to take on great significance. Trying to successfully play through an entire turn when your hand is full of your opponent's events while still maintaining board position is probably the most intense, yet satisfying things I've ever done in a boardgame.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:12 pm

Brandon and I sat down for our third game last night. We are now 3/3 in games unfinished unfortunately. However, this one was so solidly Soviets (at least on the VP track) that Brandon conceded at the beginning of turn 7 so we'd have time to play something else before we split.

As always, here's a photo of the final board:

http://faunaphile.smugmug.com/Other/Ran ... 061-X3.jpg" target="_blank

Unfortunately there's a little motion blur on this one and a lot of the text is unreadable. Sorry about that. If you're not familiar with the game and are actually curious, here's a high-res image of the board (sans our pieces) that's much more readable:

http://www.gamesparadise.com.au/media/c ... light2.jpg" target="_blank

One of the strengths of this game is that, even with the same events moving through your hands over the different stages of the war, things play out completely differently almost every time. In our previous two games, Brandon was out of the Middle East very early while he fought hard over Europe, eventually venturing into Central and South America alone while I fiddled elsewhere. As you can see from the photo,things went quite differently here. After I used my first action to coup Iran, Brandon responded by dumping 3 influence into Israel, taking control there. With the Arab Israeli War in my hand, I was sorely tempted to follow with that card and try to take Brandon out of the Middle East entirely again, but with the lessened odds (due to Brandon controlling Israel), I decided not to risk a bad dice roll and lost tempo and instead went for control in Iraq, planning to later venture into Saudi Arabia. With 6 battlegrounds in the Middle East and Israel not going anywhere soon, it seemed important to me to lock down half of them to prevent Brandon from achieving dominance without a lot of work. As you can see, this is how it played out.

I also drew the Asia scoring card in my opening hand. Preparing for this but trying not to telegraph my intentions, I used a high ops card to drop enough influence in Afghanistan to take control and also place one or two elsewhere. BRandon was more worried about the Middle East and spent his next action round mucking about there, so on my subsequent action I dropped the Asia scoring card and picked up a quick 5 VP. What was interesting about this is that I wouldn't draw another scoring card until turn 7, when I drew SE Asia, but the game was ended before I could play it. That was really the main plotline of this game: I jumped into an early lead and then shifted into counter mode. With only a couple of exceptions, every time Brandon attempted to work an area so he could dominate, I'd play safely to counter, not dominate, and regions would end up in a dead heat. Meanwhile I kept nickel and diming Brandon on VP and the lead kept growing.

You'll also probably notice Asia. Brandon put a ton of effort into the Middle East but left S. Korea for the taking, so after some of my own meandering in the Middle East I obliged and gobbled up S. Korea, following up by grabbing Taiwan and really giving myself a strong foothold in Asia. Aside of some tickytack influence placements in very SE Asia and some coup play which saw Taiwan and Vietnam change hands into the position you see, that's pretty much the end of what happened in Asia.

Europe: Aside of a small amount of early play and events like DeGaulle and Marshall plan, virtually nothing happened here the entire game. I think the scoring card appeared once, but like so many of the other regions, it too was a dead heat. Good for me!

Play in Central and S. America was actually some of the most interesting in the game and not only shows how tense the game can be, but it also served as a microcosm for how the whole game played out. A big coup sometime around turn 4 allowed me to set up shop in Panama and gave me a foothold there. On turn 5 I headlined 'The Lone Gunman', which allowed me to view Brandon's entire hand. The timing of this was extremely fortutious as Brandon had drawn both the Central America and South America scoring cards. Turn 5 was entirely dedicated to the play and counterplay I talked about earlier, with Brandon trying desperately to swing something into his favor. A round or two in, with all the battlegrounds in his favor and only lacking a non-battleground country for domination, it was obvious Brandon was going to score domination in S. America. Meanwhile, I had Panama locked down and a single influence in Costa Rica to give me a head start there and allow me to break into the rest of Central America if need be. My goal, then, was to force Brandon to work his ass off for his points in S. America and then score Central America myself completely unmolested.

The coups that allowed this to happen (and coups over the course of the game in general) were also a huge departure from our first couple of games. In game 2 especially, a ton of failed coups due to 1 rolls resulted in a lot of nothing going on for parts of the game. in this game, the coups came hot and heavy and there were some BIG rolls. After Brandon made a grab for Columbia to secure domination, I countered big with a 4 ops card to coup it and rolled 6, wiping Brandon out and placing *7* of my own influence there. Considering Columbia is THE gateway into South America, I expect that would have probably given me a solid foothold there the rest of the game. The next round Brandon instead went for Ecuador (I can't remember how honestly but it must have been via an event because he couldn't have placed there normally). True to form, I couped there as well and again another non-battleground switched hands and delayed Brandon's scoring. Finally, on the next round Brandon took control of Uruguay. Unwilling to risk another coup roll in a situation that was deteriorating down south and knowing I'd get an extra round to bolster my position in Central America when Brandon played South America scoring, I took control of Nicaragua. Thanks to Lone Guman, I also knew that Brandon was holding Fidel and since he'd already Space Raced that turn, Cuba was mine. Brandon scored domination in S. America, but as his last action round of the turn he was forced to play Central America scoring, where he had no presence at all. The overall net to Brandon after all this was one measly point.

The Space Race was also hugely in my favor and contributed a lot toward the VP nickel and diming I mentioned earlier. Near the end of turn 6 I played Arms Race and OPEC, scoring 7 VP and putting myself right on the cusp of victory with 17 VP. Brandon was ready to concede at this point, more excited about getting to play a game of something else before we quit for the night than delaying what he thought was inevitable, but since it was so close I asked him to hold off and see how the first few plays of turn 7 went. One space short of the 3 vp for the Space Race, I just had to get through the headline phase before being able to roll the die for the win. However, after what appeared to be some meaningless Africa play the round before Brandon had a little luck of his own this time and headlined the Africa scoring card, netting himself 5 vp back and putting the win out of reach for me that round. However, he still decided he'd made too many mistakes and was ready to concede anyway. It would have been a rough turn 7 for me as I'd been dealt a mittful of US events.

This game led to a question, though. Obviously there are some areas on the board which are REALLY locked down, especially the Middle East. When something is that built up, is it usually best to look for counterplay elsewhere or are realignments a realistic option for cracking that nut? I would have had to make grabs for Jordan and Lebanon to even have a fighting chance to realign Israel without coming in from below in Africa. Thoughts?

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NickAragua
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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by NickAragua » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:46 pm

If an area is really built up, and you really need to get in there, coups are your best option, as having a bunch of friendly neighbors really affects realignment rolls badly. Of course, a coup can fail entirely anyway, but if you've got one of those +1 ops cards played early enough you can do a lot with them, especially since the Middle East has plenty of low-stability countries. Of course, the opponent can just lock the place down with Defcon so that has some limitations.

There are also some cards like "Sadat Expels Soviets" which let you crack open an otherwise tough nut "for free", so to speak.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, in the table top version, it's a lot easier to keep track of what scoring cards have been played - if you've played Middle East Scoring, for example, you know it's not coming up until the next time the deck runs out and gets shuffled, which could be a while if you're about to switch from early to mid or mid to late war. If you can invest your resources keeping the opponent out of other strategic areas and leave the middle east (or whatever) to its own devices, then you're good to go.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:22 pm

In my case, with a hefty lead, I only really needed to protect my battlegrounds and not be too concerned about breaking into the rest of the Middle East. We also did a pretty good job prioritizing - when a scoring card left play, possibly never to be seen again, we were on to newer and better (shinier!) things.

One of these days I at least need to take a look at the Late War cards so that I can get an idea what's coming in the vein of Fidel, Nasser... i.e, cards that can change things in a hurry in specific regions. We still have yet to play long enough to get into the later stuff.

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El Guapo
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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:52 pm

Jow wrote: With the Arab Israeli War in my hand, I was sorely tempted to follow with that card and try to take Brandon out of the Middle East entirely again, but with the lessened odds (due to Brandon controlling Israel), I decided not to risk a bad dice roll
This may be a typo, but as written that's not true - controlling Israel has no effect upon Arab-Israeli War. The war cards only give a penalty for controlling *neighboring* countries of the target country; the target itself is irrelevant. The idea, as I understand it, is that Israel is going to defend itself no matter who is controlling it; the only question is whether its neighbors aid the Arab coalition or stay neutral (or silently aid Israel). So if Brandon controlled Israel but no neighboring countries, there are no penalties to that roll.

It does reflect the crazy assumption that Lebanon matters just as much to an Arab-Israeli War as Egypt, of course, but in the end it's just a game mechanic I suppose.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:55 pm

Damn, swear i read that you lost one if Israel was U.S. controlled. At the time he literally only had Israel and no influence anywhere else. Needless to say it would have been a huge swing, but ... blargh. I'll know next time. :)

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Remus West
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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Remus West » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:34 pm

Didn't someone say something about a computer version of this? Anyone have a link?
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” - H.L. Mencken

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by AWS260 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:12 pm

Remus West wrote:Didn't someone say something about a computer version of this? Anyone have a link?
Thread.
2 Kings 2:24

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Remus West » Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:35 am

AWS260 wrote:
Remus West wrote:Didn't someone say something about a computer version of this? Anyone have a link?
Thread.
Thanks. :D
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” - H.L. Mencken

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El Guapo
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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:10 am

Also for playing against humans the Vassal module is a plenty good "computer version", though one person should also buy the actual game for that, I suppose.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:03 pm

Jow wrote:Damn, swear i read that you lost one if Israel was U.S. controlled. At the time he literally only had Israel and no influence anywhere else. Needless to say it would have been a huge swing, but ... blargh. I'll know next time. :)
By the way, it still boggles me that you guys end the game without influence in India or Pakistan. :)

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:55 am

In one of the earlier games I posted about in the other thread, I had both India and Pakistan firmly under control. At the time, Brandon wanted to play the Indo-Pakistan war event but I didn't think he could since he didn't control either country. I actually asked about that in the other thread - turns out he could have and he had rolled successfully he would have knocked me out of one of them and what was originally a solidly-mine Asia would have suddenly been pretty precarious.

So in the game you're referring to, I avoided going to either country because A. I had pretty solid control of Asia and B. I was waiting for that event to hopefully disappear forever before I went for either of those countries.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:36 am

Indo-Pakistani war never disappears forever - it's not a unique event (much like the wars it refers to).

Here's a screenshot from the game that NickAragua and I had last night on Vassal, which ended in a U.S. victory on turn 7:

Image

I'll write up more of an AAR later.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:14 am

When I said disappears forever I meant the shuffle that potentially buries it after it's seen once or twice. I get what you're saying though - probably better to take the risk and get yourself in either or both if you can for the extra VPs when Asia scores?

Looking forward to the AAR. That's an ugly-looking map for the Soviets.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by baelthazar » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:31 pm

I love this game so much, but nobody here plays it! I can't wait for the PC version! How well does the PBEM vassal system work?

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:33 pm

baelthazar wrote:I love this game so much, but nobody here plays it! I can't wait for the PC version! How well does the PBEM vassal system work?
It's not PBEM. There are online servers, and you and your opponent both log-in, and you play real-time like you were in front of a board. I.e. the Soviets play a card, it's resolved, you add/subtract influence, then the U.S. plays a card, etc. Notwithstanding significant bugs in earlier versions, the current module seems to work well - Nick and I didn't have any problems this game.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:41 pm

Yeah. It locks down Asia further, and gets you extra VPs every time that Asia scores. Plus there's always the risk that the other side can get in there via events - for example in your game the U.S. could play "Puppet Governments", which lets them add one influence in three countries that do not have any influence, and would let them drop into India and Pakistan. You just want to be sure to control at least one country bordering India/Pakistan to minimize the risk from the war.

As for the game with Nick - it started with him headlining Korean War. Which was probably the right move, but it failed (he rolled a 3), and the downside of that was that I could then lock up South Korea right away without having to worry about taking Taiwan or Japan first. However, Nick also promptly launched a successful Arab-Israeli War, followed by adding enough influence to take Israel. I managed to hold onto Iran through the first year during counter-coups - which was important in that it let me spread unopposed into Pakistan and India - but otherwise the Middle East was pretty much lost to me during the first year or so. By taking an equal number of countries Nick was able to deny me domination there during the first playing of the Europe scoring card, but in the long-run I was able to consolidate control of a majority of Europe and get domination.

The core problem for the Soviets is that they were never able to make serious inroads into South America or Asia before I was able to get a solid grip there. He was finally able to get Chile when I had to play Allende, but by then I had been able to take every other battleground country in South America (which made Alliance for Progress a big scorer). Similar thing in Asia. While he was able to heavily dominate the Middle East and Africa, and get a solid presence in Central America, it wasn't enough to offset my advantages in Europe, Asia, and South America (and I was able to get a battleground edge in Central America).

In Europe I held onto Italy. Given that, and that I drew De Gaulle Leads France, I was able to consolidate W.Germany / Italy / France, which gave me the battleground edge in Europe. We scrambled for control of non-battleground countries in Europe as the Soviets worked to deny me control of more total countries to keep me from dominating (hence the control of Benelux that you see, which only happens rarely; also you can't see it in this screenshot, but the Soviets also took Finland)

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:22 am

Finally actually finished a game of this tonight, quickest game ever. I headlined SE Asia scoring at the beginning of our first turn of Mid War to end it. It was a game where just about everything seemed to go right for me, even the coups I was only attempting to affect DEFCON.

My buddy got behind the 8-ball early after I headlined Suez Crisis and kicked him out of Iran (and the Middle East) on the first action round and things just went kinda downhill from there. After he followed up by locking down South Korea and Japan, then Taiwan when I played Formosan Revolution for ops, I all but gave up on Asia to assure I maintained a lock on the Middle East and remained competitive in Europe. However, a timely Decolonization let me sneak in the door. Over a couple of turns I locked down Taiwan, Pakistan, and India before finally playing the Asia scoring card on the last round of turn 2. Unlucky for Brandon, he redrew the Asia scoring card for turn 3 and was forced to play it without being able to make any kind of progress there, scoring a bunch of points for me again. Interestingly, West Germany remained entirely empty of influence until late in turn 3, when Brandon finally jumped in there and locked it down.

Here's a pic of the map:

Image

Some interesting things:

--with good control just about everywhere except Europe, I decided to make a serious push to lock down France hard on turn 3. I headlined Socialist Governments, knocking U.S. influence down to 2, then opened turn 3 with Nuclear Test Ban for 4 ops, dumping all four into France. My plan was to use DeGaulle on the following turn either for either the ops or the event, but Brandon followed up with a 4-opper and placed all four in France, retaking the influence lead there again 6-4. I played something for 3 ops the following turn, dumping one more influence into France just to make him dance a little more. He responded by dumping 2 more ops into France, retaking control with a final count of 8-5. I don't think I've seen that much influence in a single country before.

-Decolonization is possibly my favorite early war card for the U.S.S.R, and this game I got it twice in the first three turns. The first time gave me my inroads into SE Asia when Asia looked all but lost, the second allowed me to establish the presence you see in Africa.

Mistakes aside (and there were a few), getting booted from the Middle East before you even get a turn, coupled with the Soviets getting Decol twice seems like an incredibly difficult position to manage for the U.S.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:35 am

Here's the final map from a game that NickAragua and I had over Vassal a couple weeks ago:

Image

I won / narrowly lost the game, playing as the Soviets. The split is because at one point during the start of the Late War Nick played "Five Year Plan", drawing a card from my hand and playing it if a friendly (U.S.) event. The problem for him was that he drew "KAL-007 Shot Down", which has amongst its effects reducing Defcon by 1. Since we were at Defcon 2 at the time, it dropped Defcon to 1, causing nuclear war and resulting in a Soviet win (since it was his turn). But we decided to undo that and finish out the game to see what would happen.

Basically I got completely hammered in South America. While I got an initial beachhead there in Venezuela, that was overturned by coup, and I wasn't able to break back in until he had already taken all of the battleground countries, which allowed him to score there once with "control" (I did subsequently get Argentina back through "Iron Lady", but a lot of damage had been done already). Fortunately I was able to hammer him in Asia, where I had domination for most of the game. He initially had Pakistan, but I took Afghanistan, seized Iran via coup, and then realigned him out of Pakistan. In Europe I had an early edge via getting Italy in a first turn coup. I was able to score there, but he was able to take Italy and then Spain back via brush wars (damn insurgents), which gave him an edge in there in the mid-late war. Africa / Middle-east went back and forth throughout the whole game.]

In the end we made it through all 10 turns, and he squeaked out a 1 point victory. I realized afterwards that had I put my last influence point into Haiti I woud've dominated there and won it. But ah well, I still had my thermonuclear victory from before anyhow.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:07 pm

Definitely the closest game I've seen. Did C. America score late? That's the only scenario I could see where dropping into Haiti (or El Salvador) would have changed it around.

Italy first turn: I've fallen into the same predictable pattern of couping Iran first turn because, if I hold Suez Crisis, it allows me to boot the U.S. outta the Middle East entirely on the first turn. Looks like Italy is pretty important though as the "swing state" for dominating Europe. Have to keep that in mind. How many influence did he start with there?

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:34 pm

Jow wrote:Definitely the closest game I've seen. Did C. America score late? That's the only scenario I could see where dropping into Haiti (or El Salvador) would have changed it around.

Italy first turn: I've fallen into the same predictable pattern of couping Iran first turn because, if I hold Suez Crisis, it allows me to boot the U.S. outta the Middle East entirely on the first turn. Looks like Italy is pretty important though as the "swing state" for dominating Europe. Have to keep that in mind. How many influence did he start with there?
If you make it through the full ten turns without someone winning, then at the end of the game you score every region as if a scoring card were played there. In Central America I had the lead in battleground countries (2-1), but we were tied on overall countries (3-3). Had I added an influence to Haiti I would control it, giving me a 4-3 lead in countries controlled. Leading in battleground and overall countries would have bumped me up to domination in Central America, which would've given me a couple more points in the final scoring.

He started with 3 influence in Italy, which has become pretty standard in the games we've played due to it offering extra protection against a first turn coup of Italy. I started off with a coup there using the China Card, and IIRC I rolled a 5; that's 5+4 = 9 - 4 = a five point swing, giving me 2 influence there and control. That was a fairly lucky roll for me though, since had I even rolled a 4 I would only have 1 influence, which means just a 3 point card could've allowed the U.S. to put three influence in and immediately restore control.

A first turn coup in Italy is a pretty good option for the Soviets generally. Without Italy it is borderline impossible to dominate Europe (the Soviets' only other shot is France via Du Gaulle and other cards). And while the Soviets will have other opportunities to coup in Iran, it's rare for Defcon to reach 5 for most of the game.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:59 pm

i had no idea about the last turn everything-scores. Can you tell we haven't even entered late war in any of our games yet?

Italy play just seems really risky for a dice roll that's not statistically in your favor. You risk losing a ton of tempo plus the China Card and allowing the U.S. to bolster themselves in the Middle East. Risk vs. reward, I guess, but I have learned the hard way not to allow dice to play a bigger role than they need to. :)

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:22 pm

Jow wrote:i had no idea about the last turn everything-scores. Can you tell we haven't even entered late war in any of our games yet?

Italy play just seems really risky for a dice roll that's not statistically in your favor. You risk losing a ton of tempo plus the China Card and allowing the U.S. to bolster themselves in the Middle East. Risk vs. reward, I guess, but I have learned the hard way not to allow dice to play a bigger role than they need to. :)
The thing is that the Middle East really isn't all that important. It's not hard to maintain presence (i.e. at least one country, battleground or no), and the difference between presence and domination is only two points, plus maybe one or two for battleground edge. In Europe the difference is four, plus if you can get control (which can happen in the early game for the Soviets and the late game for the U.S.), you, uh, win. Plus it's opportunity cost, as I said - if you don't do it right away then you may never get the chance due to Defcon. Whereas if you get shut out of the Middle East, you wait until Defcon hits three and launch a coup in one of Egypt, Iran, Libya, Syria, or Lebanon. Or via an event card.

Actually, the better reason to do an early Soviet coup in Iran is that it gives you an entryway into Asia, and shuts the U.S. out. It lets you snap up Pakistan and possibly India too right away before the U.S. has a shot. And it can be very tough to dislodge someone from India/Pakistan (especially India).

So I'd do the Italy coup every single time (almost) as the Soviets if the U.S. puts 2 influence in Italy (less than two you just put influence in to take control, I suppose). With 3 influence it is a bit of a gamble, to be sure.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:18 pm

Good points. Didn't realize there wasn't much of a domination bonus for the ME. In addition, I've always viewed Europe as this nearly impregnable zone. Have you ever seen a win by Europe control before? I imagine they're even rarer than wins by nuclear war.

That said, even with the point disparity between Europe and the Middle East, I think i'd still find it hard to turn down the first-turn punch of Suez as a headliner and a 4-op coup in Iran. Not only does it get you into Asia as you mentioned, but it virtually guarantees you an adjacent entry point into Africa and a re-entry point into Eastern Europe if things get dicey.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:45 pm

Jow wrote:Good points. Didn't realize there wasn't much of a domination bonus for the ME. In addition, I've always viewed Europe as this nearly impregnable zone. Have you ever seen a win by Europe control before? I imagine they're even rarer than wins by nuclear war.

That said, even with the point disparity between Europe and the Middle East, I think i'd still find it hard to turn down the first-turn punch of Suez as a headliner and a 4-op coup in Iran. Not only does it get you into Asia as you mentioned, but it virtually guarantees you an adjacent entry point into Africa and a re-entry point into Eastern Europe if things get dicey.
I haven't seen a win that way yet, but I've seen a few times where it's come very, very close to that. I actually did get control of Europe in the late war as the U.S. once, but the Soviet player then played "War Games" on me (resulting in a tie, as he was exactly six points ahead at that point). But for War Games, though, that would've ended with a win via control of Europe.

In general Europe is a tough nut to crack, but events can push things one way there. For the Soviets the most direct route is this: (1) get Italy, probably via early game coup; (2) get France by headlining Du Gaulle and following it up with a high point card to dump influence into France; possibly assist with Suez Crisis and/or Socialist Governments. Both of those take some favorable bounces, but nothing crazy. The tough nut is West Germany; if you get France and Italy, you have a shot at West Germany via Blockade, Willy Brandt + high influence card, and/or realignments. If this is going to happen it's probably going to happen in the early war.

In the late war the U.S. gets tons of events to help it in Eastern Europe. It's not hard to get Poland via John Paul II + Solidarity, plus other events. If you've held on to France and Italy, that just leaves East Germany. Plausible via some combination of late war events and/or realignment rolls.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Zarathud » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:39 am

Now I am eyeing VASSAL longingly and tempted to drag hepcat into trying a remote session.
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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by hepcat » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:58 am

I've always wanted to try Vassal hosted games. I've got it installed and the TS module loaded. I'll look over it and give you a shout in the next week or two.
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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:42 am

Vassal's pretty easy, and at least as regards TS they seem to have worked out most of the kinks that happened with earlier versions. I'm generally up for Vassal TS games if anyone wants.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Boudreaux » Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:35 pm

The VASSAL module for TS is really well done. I've played a few games using it and it's almost preferable to the actual board game just for ease of setup and bookkeeping.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by NickAragua » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:45 pm

There are two things I prefer about the tabletop variant over the VASSAL module:

1) It's much easier to count cards in tabletop. You can see the discard pile, and once a scoring card (or whatever) goes in there, it doesn't come out, so you can construct your plans having much more information.

2) In the VASSAL module, you still run into the occasional bug with cards randomly appearing out of your hand and on the table. Thankfully, they fixed the "Missile Envy" bug, which made the game unplayable if you headlined Missile Envy.

Still, if you use VASSAL, I recommend saving your game every turn. All that being said, it's awesome and saves you a lot of bookkeeping.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:45 am

Final map from a Vassal game with Nick yesterday evening (U.S. victory in Mid-War, I think year 7 maybe):

Image

So I think this game sold me a bit more on the value of the USSR doing an immediate coup in Iran. Not so much for the Middle East, which isn't so important, but for Asia. I was able to spread my influence from Iran into Pakistan and then India, which let me get a foothold there. I then took control of Pakistan, and while the USSR was able to spread into India, I then used Indo-Pakistani war to take India. Once I had control of Pakistan and India, that gave me strong control of Asia, which was huge (the two Asia scoring events netted me something like 16 points, IIRC).

As the U.S. I never really made serious inroads in the Middle East. I got punted out via a coup in Iran and a successful Arab-Israeli War. While I tried to break in via a Syrian coup, that didn't really go anywhere. The USSR got some good points in via scoring the region when he had dominance and I didn't even have presence, but otherwise the region isn't worth so many points so it didn't really cost me much. I did eventually get in to the region in the mid-war via the Camp David Accords and via Sadat Expels Soviets, but that didn't amount to much.

What's interesting is that during the past couple games South America has been brutal to the Soviets, with the U.S. able to get in and take most/all of the battleground countries before the Soviets can really respond. Here the USSR was able to respond somewhat via the Cambridge Five (giving them one influence in the region) followed by a successful coup in Venezuela. That almost succeeded in preventing me from scoring dominance there, but an ABM Treaty fueled counter-coup in Venezuela was able to restore dominance for me.

In Europe early use of the Marshall Plan helped me solidify Western Europe. An early Soviet coup in Italy only took out my influence there, which I then just immediately restored. So I was able to get and maintain early dominance there. Interestingly this is the only game I've seen so far in which the U.K. was neutral (uncontrolled) for most of the game. The USSR took out a couple influence there early via the Suez Crisis, and I always had more pressing priorities than restoring it.
Last edited by El Guapo on Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:31 am

Who played the U.S.?

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:40 am

I did. I also just added the AAR.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by NickAragua » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:29 pm

Don't forget the part where you played that JFK card to draw a last-second scoring card, thus preventing the game from dragging out for one more turn.

Also, nothing says stalemate like "Ussuri River Skirmish" followed by "Cultural Revolution" to swap the China Card back and forth.

Also, the early incompetence in the space program was astounding.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:35 pm

Yeah, "Ask Not..." produced the Asia Scoring Card, which netted me the final victory points. That was definitely a nice draw.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:04 pm

Haven't played this in a while, but...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RREGJxtL ... r_embedded" target="_blank

The large influence numbers in each territory are a little jarring but they work. Otherwise looks cool overall. I'd consider pickin this up.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by El Guapo » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:18 pm

Jow wrote:Haven't played this in a while, but...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RREGJxtL ... r_embedded" target="_blank

The large influence numbers in each territory are a little jarring but they work. Otherwise looks cool overall. I'd consider pickin this up.
Yeah, I'm not sure why they wouldn't use icons that resemble the influence pieces in the game, like the Vassal module does. Maybe this is an early version and they're planning on adding that graphic later?

Still, I'll probably get this for solo plays here and there.

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:43 pm

Been a while since I played this, but I whipped it out last night to teach to a new player. I'd never played the U.S. before, so I chose them and much to my chagrin and embarrassment I got run over. Or rather, probably would have. After my buddy scored control of Africa while I watched helplessly, I was so flabbergasted at the 11 points he gained that I forgot to give myself presence points until after we'd thought the move gave him the win and packed the game up. He would have been at 19 VP, which I could have gotten to 14 for dominating Central America when I played that scoring card on my next action round... so while things weren't pretty, it was not over.

So we ran it back today, this time with me playing the Soviets, and I won pretty convincingly on only the first turn into mid war. Unlike the previous game, I had the advantage in all three early war scoring regions and my buddy could never get anything going. The game ended when I successfully scored domination in Europe to get to 18 VP, then hit 20 when my buddy lost two VP for lack of mil ops.

So to date, I've yet to see a U.S. win. Come to think of it, in the 7 or 8 games I've been involved in I've yet to even see the End War cards in play. It just feels like the U.S. is besieged on so many fronts in the early war that any mistakes at all can set you permanently behind. In the first game, I actually managed to score an early Europe domination to forge ahead and dump both the middle east and asia scoring cards for no net loss despite hurting in both areas. I dodged a lot of big Soviet bombs as well, allowing the Soviets one go-round at Decolonization and avoiding other annoyances like Suez Crisis and Nasser altogether. However, one big mistake occurred in Israel, my only real stronghold in the Middle East. On one turn my buddy managed to take me from five influence there down to none using 3 realignment rolls. I got frustrated and instead of playing smart, I followed up by dumping four more influence there... which were all the very next turn in another series of realignments. The dice were not my friend. :) Anyway, ultimately there were too many bullets to dodge and I fell catastrophically behind first in SE Asia (which scored my buddy 11 points) and then in Africa right at the end. Really lopsided space race results didn't help that - I failed the 1-4 roll for first animal in space 4 times in a row and my buddy finished 3 spaces up on that track.

Anyway, having played the Soviets so many times I'm familiar with their important events and how to manage things, but am clueless about the U.S. side. What are considered crucial events and how do you generally go about playing the U.S.? (directed mainly at Guapo and Nick, but anyone else can chime in)

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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Zarathud » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:00 pm

My next game with hepcat will be me on the U.S. side. I think knowing about the scoring is key.
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Re: Twilight Struggle

Post by Jow » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:17 pm

whatchu be talkin' bout willis?

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