Annotated Game #1: Early War

This is an analysis of a game against a strong opponent where the US emerges triumphant despite poor luck and no influence adjustment.  Contrary to popular opinion, it is my firm belief that between experienced players, the Deluxe Edition of Twilight Struggle is adequately balanced with Optional cards and no additional adjustments. And although luck shapes the course of the game—sometimes unevenly—it is exceedingly rare that bad luck cannot be overcome with skillful play.

The game is played on Wargameroom. Optional cards are included. The save game itself can be downloaded here, if you wish to replay the game on Wargameroom.  As an alternative, there is a complete record of play here as well.

Because this is such a long game, this post has been split into three sections.  Part I, the Early War, is published below.  Part II, the Mid War, can be found here; Part III, the Late War, can be found here.

Wargameroom.com Presents:

Twilight Struggle 6.0
Game by Ananda Gupta, Jason Matthews, and GMT Games
Program by Bruce Wigdor

** The Server chooses to use the following optional rule: **
     Optional Cards
  The server chooses to have the sides selected randomly...
The server will be playing the USA
The client will be playing the USSR
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**              The  deck is being shuffled.              **
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My opening hand:

BlockadeWarsaw Pact FormedUN InterventionIndo-Pakistani WarOlympic GamesSuez CrisisSocialist GovernmentsNORAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first question is how to deal with Blockade. When you discard to Blockade, you end the turn with no cards held in your hand. This is bad if I am holding Decolonization or De-Stalinization, because those are the two cards the US desperately needs to keep out of the Turn 3 reshuffle. But since I have neither of those cards, assuming I don’t get Red Scare/Purged, this will be a good turn to trigger Blockade and discard freely.

The card I will discard to Blockade will be Socialist Governments, which is preferable over the other two USSR cards because Warsaw Pact and Suez Crisis can be eliminated from the deck this turn at relatively little cost. This is the same reason I do not want to use UN Intervention with Blockade: I would rather Blockade to be gone permanently, rather than deal with it later under possibly less-advantageous circumstances.

I normally love the NORAD event, which meshes nicely with my play style, but given the scarcity of Ops in my hand I will almost certainly play it for Ops. (This is generally true of NORAD on Turn 1 or 2. On Turn 3, you are more likely to be able to spare the Ops.) Indo-Pakistani War might end up getting used for the event, if I’m desperate to get into western Asia. As discussed earlier, I do not want to use UN Intervention with Blockade, and there is nothing else that I would consider using UN Intervention on, so that will also be played for Operations. Olympic Games is a poor event and will lose me the game if I play it at DEFCON 2. So as is typical for US in the Early War, it is almost certain that my entire hand will be played for Operations.

      4 USSR influence added to Poland, now at 4
      1 USSR influence added to East Germany, now at 4
      1 USSR influence added to Yugoslavia, now at 1

      3 USA influence added to Italy, now at 3
      4 USA influence added to West Germany, now at 4

Standard setup, nothing special.

I have poor options for my headline. As stated earlier, I want all my cards played for Ops instead of Events: the only event I may be interested in is Indo-Pakistani War, and obviously that’s a pointless play right now. So normally, in situations like this, you headline your lowest Op card, because that gives up the fewest Ops. But headlining Blockade here would be devastating if he headlines Red Scare/Purge, as Red Scare/Purge would trigger first and then I would have nothing to discard to Blockade. UN Intervention is not allowed as a headline play, and so I have no choice but to play Olympic Games for the event. It is an awful event, but I have no better option.

** Turn 1 Headline Phase **
Soviet Headline Card: #3: Middle East Scoring
American Headline Card: #20  Ops 2: Olympic Games

USA Headline Event: #20  Ops 2: Olympic Games

The Americans play the following card as an Event:
  #20  Ops 2: Olympic Games
  ** American Die Roll: 1 (+2 for hosting) = 3 **
  ** Soviet Die Roll: 5 **
       The Soviets win the Olympics!
VPs down 2, now at -2

USSR Headline Event: #3: Middle East Scoring

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #3: Middle East Scoring

*** Scoring in Middle East ***
  USSR: No score.
  USA: No score.

Well that was unlucky. I am mildly surprised to see him punt Middle East Scoring, since it’s relatively easy for USSR to pick up an Early War domination there. I assume this means he has a low-Ops hand.

** Turn 1 Action Phase **

 Turn 1, USSR action round 1

The Soviets play the following card for a coup attempt:
  #34  Ops 4: Nuclear Test Ban
    Coup attempt in Iran (stability 2):
      ** USSR die roll = 2 (+4) = 6
    The modified roll exceeds the doubled stability by 2.
      American influence in Iran reduced by 1, now at 0
      Soviet influence in Iran increased by 1, now at 1
DEFCON Level lowered to 4
      Soviet Military Operations for this turn increased to 4

As is standard on Turn 1, the USSR coups Iran. The point of this play is to eliminate US access to western Asia, far more critical than control of Iran itself.

However, short of a totally failed coup (not possible with a 4 Ops card), this is the best possible result for the US. If he had rolled a 1, then Iran would be empty and I would have nothing to coup. But with a 2, he puts in 1 influence and I can coup Iran back. I will do so with the highest op card in my hand. Warsaw Pact is a good candidate, as it is a fantastic USSR Late War event that I wish to get rid of as soon as possible, and in addition its early play may expose him more to Independent Reds.

 Turn 1, USA action round 1
The Americans play the following card for Ops
  #16  Ops 3: Warsaw Pact Formed * (USSR)
     They elect to have the Soviet event occur first.

** The Warsaw Pact Formed card is permanently removed. **

      2 USSR influence added to Yugoslavia, now at 3
      2 USSR influence added to Finland, now at 3
      1 USSR influence added to East Germany, now at 5

The Americans use the Warsaw Pact Formed card for a coup attempt:
    Coup attempt in Iran (stability 2):
      ** USA die roll = 1 (+3) = 4
    The modified roll does not exceed the doubled stability -- no effect.
DEFCON Level lowered to 3
      American Military Operations for this turn increased to 3

Well that was unlucky. I am unable to restore access to western Asia with my coup, and my opponent is unlikely to allow me a second chance at couping Iran.

 Turn 1, USSR action round 2

The Soviets play the following card for a coup attempt:
  #18  Ops 1: Captured Nazi Scientists *
    Coup attempt in Panama (stability 2):
      ** USSR die roll = 4 (+1) = 5
    The modified roll exceeds the doubled stability by 1.
      American influence in Panama reduced by 1, now at 0
DEFCON Level lowered to 2
      Soviet Military Operations for this turn increased to 5

This is the ideal coup result for him. Any higher and he would have gained influence in a Mid War region, meaning he would be exposed to DEFCON suicide by CIA Created. As USSR I generally do not coup Panama in the Early War for that reason.

Now that I am out of Iran and cannot enter western Asia, my priorities shift. The number one US game board priority on Turn 1 after DEFCON drops to 3 or lower is to get to Thailand. My top hand priority is to take care of Suez Crisis while it costs me only 3 influence (instead of 4). I can address both with one play: two into Egypt (two instead of one so that even if he plays Nasser, I still have 1 influence left, influence in the Middle East, and access to Libya), and one into Malaysia. I will trigger the event after my Operations, because after my Israel influence is gone I will have no more access to the Middle East. (This is why Suez Crisis is such a fantastic headline for the USSR on Turn 1, because coupled with a strong Iran coup, the US will be wiped out of the Middle East and have an extremely difficult time contesting the region.)

 Turn 1, USA action round 2

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #28  Ops 3: Suez Crisis * (USSR)
      2 USA influence added to Egypt, now at 2
      1 USA influence added to Malaysia, now at 1
The Soviets use the USSR event played by the USA

** The Suez Crisis card is permanently removed. **

      American influence in United Kingdom reduced by 2, now at 3
      American influence in Israel reduced by 1, now at 0

 Turn 1, USSR action round 3

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #30  Ops 2: Decolonization (USSR)
      Soviet influence in Algeria increased by 1, now at 1
      Soviet influence in Burma increased by 1, now at 1
      Soviet influence in Thailand increased by 1, now at 1
      Soviet influence in Indonesia increased by 1, now at 1

Well, that was unlucky (that he drew Decolonization). Now he has a dominating position in Asia as well as access to France.

Thailand here is more important than France. France will suffer more from De Gaulle, and I have other options to fight for it later (as you will see shortly). Thailand, on the other hand, scores for both Asia and Southeast Asia. Because he has locked me out of western Asia by knocking me out of Iran, he is likely assured access to Pakistan and India. Coupled with North Korea, it means I cannot allow him to take any more battlegrounds in Asia or else he will score Domination easily.

Ordinarily, I would use a 4 Op card to take Thailand, because at 3/1 he can play the China Card to flip it back. Since I have no 4 Op card, I must play NORAD and hope he is not good enough to know about the China Card trick.

 Turn 1, USA action round 3

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #106  Ops 3: NORAD * (USA)
      3 USA influence added to Thailand, now at 3

 Turn 1, USSR action round 4

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #6  Ops 4: The China Card
      4 USSR influence added to Thailand, now at 5

Oh well. Hoping your opponents are bad does not get you very far in Twilight Struggle (or life, for that matter). At least I forced him to give up the China Card.

My hand is now: UN Intervention, Indo-Pakistani War, Blockade, and Socialist Governments. I wish to hold Indo-Pakistani War as late as possible, to see if I can make use of the event, so that means I’m playing one of the 1Ops now. I choose Blockade, and use it to take Laos/Cambodia, a 2VP swing when Southeast Asia scoring comes out as well as threatening play into Burma and then India.

 Turn 1, USA action round 4
The Americans play the following card for Ops
  #10  Ops 1: Blockade * (USSR)
     They elect to have the Soviet event occur first.

** The Blockade card is permanently removed. **

The US player discards the following card to avoid losing all Influence in West Germany:
  #7  Ops 3: Socialist Governments (USSR)

The Americans use the Blockade card to place influence:
      1 USA influence added to Laos/Cambodia, now at 1

 Turn 1, USSR action round 5

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #31  Ops 4: Red Scare/Purge
      3 USSR influence added to France, now at 3
      1 USSR influence added to Burma, now at 2

Saw the France takeover coming, but not much I could do about it there. He also wisely seals me off from access to India.

Since I’m still saving Indo-Pakistani War, I am playing the 1 Op of UN Intervention here. My best option is to return to the Middle East, and play into Libya while I still have access. I would not want him to do something like headline Nasser and then take both Libya and Egypt before I can react.

 Turn 1, USA action round 5

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #32  Ops 1: UN Intervention
      1 USA influence added to Libya, now at 1

 Turn 1, USSR action round 6

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #12  Ops 1: Romanian Abdication * (USSR)
      1 USSR influence added to Pakistan, now at 1

When you are behind, you gamble. Triggering the Indo-Pakistani War here is about as good a gamble as I’ll get: 50/50 shot of 2VP and access to three critical battlegrounds (Iran, Pakistan, India).

 Turn 1, USA action round 6

The Americans play the following card as an Event:
  #24  Ops 2: Indo-Pakistani War
  India invades Pakistan...
     USA success on a modified die roll of 4-6;  USSR modifer is -0
  ** Die roll: 6 -- USA victory!
VPs up 2, now at 0
      Soviet influence in Pakistan reduced by 1, now at 0
      American influence in Pakistan increased by 1, now at 1
      American Military Operations for this turn increased to 5

Well that was lucky. This is the first truly gamechanging moment.

Events Played: Warsaw Pact Formed

USSR battleground countries controlled = 5
USA battleground countries controlled = 3

DEFCON Level raised to 3
** Turn 2 Headline Phase **
Turn 2

The board at the start of Turn 2 (click to enlarge)

My hand:

Asia ScoringNasserTruman DoctrineArab-Israeli WarFidelFive Year PlanEast European UnrestDe-StalinizationThe China Card

I am very glad I drew De-Stalinization. I will not be discarding it this turn on the Space Race; I will do that next turn instead so that it doesn’t go in the Turn 3 reshuffle. Everything else in my hand is best played for Ops. None of the USSR events are truly dangerous: Nasser is the worst, but I can manage that as long as I take Libya before he has a chance to. Fidel is typically played for Operations by the US on Turns 1-2, and sometimes sent to space on Turn 3.

Like Turn 1, I have no 4 Ops cards. On average, the Early War cards are 2.2 Ops (including Scoring Cards), so in each Early War hand you should expect about 17.7 Ops on average. Of course, you can’t actually play all 17.7 Ops, since you headline one card, hold another, and discard some more. This turn I drew 15 Ops; Turn 1 I was at 18 Ops. Not great, but not terrible.

Also like Turn 1, I have nothing worth headlining. Again, I will therefore headline the lowest Op I can get away with. Certainly not Asia Scoring, as I have a chance to contest the continent still. Certainly not Nasser, since that would allow him to take Libya before I can. Certainly not Truman Doctrine, as that would be a colossal waste of the card. Between Fidel and Arab-Israeli War, it is basically a tie. I go with Arab-Israeli War, because while I still have control of Egypt, his chances of “victory” and 2VP are reduced.

Soviet Headline Card: #2: Europe Scoring
American Headline Card: #13  Ops 2: Arab-Israeli War (USSR)

USA Headline Event: #13  Ops 2: Arab-Israeli War (USSR)
      USSR success on a modified die roll of 4-6;  USA modifer is -1
  ** Die roll: 6 (-1) = 5 -- USSR victory!
VPs down 2, now at -2
      Soviet Military Operations for this turn increased to 2

USSR Headline Event: #2: Europe Scoring

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #2: Europe Scoring

*** Scoring in Europe ***
  USSR:  7(domination) +3(battlegrounds)  = 10
  USA:  3(presence) +2(battlegrounds)  = 5
VPs down 5, now at -7
** Turn 2 Action Phase **

 Turn 2, USSR action round 1

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #21  Ops 4: NATO * (USA)
      1 USSR influence added to Thailand, now at 6
      3 USSR influence added to Pakistan, now at 3
The Americans use the USA event played by the USSR

** The NATO card is permanently removed. **

USSR player may no longer make Coup or Realignment rolls in any US Controlled countries
in Europe. US Controlled countries in Europe may not be attacked by play of the Brush War event.

May not be played until Marshall Plan or Warsaw Pact Formed (either one) has been played.

Presumably he wanted to coup, but this is one of those situations where there are more important things on the USSR agenda than lowering DEFCON. He wisely overprotects Thailand so I can’t flip it with the China card (like he did). Pakistan, on the other hand, is vulnerable to such a play right now, but the empty India is a more important target for me right now. Maybe I can flip Pakistan after I secure India first.

 Turn 2, USA action round 1

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #29  Ops 3: East European Unrest (USA)
      3 USA influence added to India, now at 3

 Turn 2, USSR action round 2
The Soviets play the following card for Ops
  #27  Ops 4: US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact * (USA)
     They elect to have the American event occur first.

** The US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact card is permanently removed. **

      USSR may no longer make Coup or Realignment rolls against Japan
      American influence in Japan increased by 3, now at 4

The Soviets use the US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact card to place influence:
      2 USSR influence added to Afghanistan, now at 2
      1 USSR influence added to Vietnam, now at 1
      1 USSR influence added to Pakistan, now at 4

Even though he doesn’t know I have Asia Scoring, Asia’s the only Early War region yet to be scored, and so we’re both playing heavily into it. Given that he’s now shored up Pakistan too, there’s only one way for me to stop his Domination: take South Korea. This is a huge risk considering Korean War is yet to come out, but I have no better choice. Since I have the China Card, I can take Taiwan too, to further reduce the risk of losing the Korean War.

 Turn 2, USA action round 2

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #6  Ops 4: The China Card
      3 USA influence added to Taiwan, now at 3
      2 USA influence added to South Korea, now at 3

 Turn 2, USSR action round 3

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #102  Ops 2: Defectors (USA)
      2 USSR influence added to Malaysia, now at 2
The Americans use the USA event played by the USSR
VPs up 1, now at -6

I think this was a mistake. Domination in Asia is not going to happen so long as I have 3 battlegrounds, so better look elsewhere rather than fight for Asian non-battlegrounds. More importantly, this is a move I do not have to react to, thus allowing me some time to do what I need to do.

What do I need to do? I could play Asia Scoring. But Iran is wide open. Why not coup it? I have a 3Ops, DEFCON is at 3. But there is a pretty decent chance I will fail, since anything short of control and he will just take it on his turn. I’d have to roll a 4 or higher with my 3Ops to control it. Rather than risk the 50/50, I simply take the country with the 3Ops card instead.

 Turn 2, USA action round 3

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #5  Ops 3: Five Year Plan (USA)
      3 USA influence added to Iran, now at 3

 Turn 2, USSR action round 4

The Soviets play the following card for a coup attempt:
  #105  Ops 2: Special Relationship (USA)
    Coup attempt in Iran (stability 2):
      ** USSR die roll = 1 (+2) = 3
    The modified roll does not exceed the doubled stability -- no effect.
DEFCON Level lowered to 2
      Soviet Military Operations for this turn increased to 4

That was lucky. And also why I didn’t gamble on the coup.

There being no immediate threat or opportunity on the board, I take this chance to play Asia Scoring, now that I’ve ended his domination.

 Turn 2, USA action round 4

The Americans play the following card as an Event:
  #1: Asia Scoring

*** Scoring in Asia ***
  USSR:  3(presence) +3(battlegrounds)  = 6
  USA:  3(presence) +3(battlegrounds)  = 6

 Turn 2, USSR action round 5

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #23  Ops 4: Marshall Plan * (USA)
      2 USSR influence added to Turkey, now at 2
      2 USSR influence added to Spain/Portugal, now at 2
The Americans use the USA event played by the USSR

** The Marshall Plan card is permanently removed. **

      American influence in Finland increased by 1, now at 1
      American influence in Canada increased by 1, now at 3
      American influence in United Kingdom increased by 1, now at 4
      American influence in Benelux increased by 1, now at 1
      American influence in West Germany increased by 1, now at 5
      American influence in Italy increased by 1, now at 4
      American influence in Greece increased by 1, now at 1

A wise way to get rid of Marshall Plan. As the US, Marshall Plan is a near-guarantee that you won’t get Dominated in Europe if you can get it into the three 2-stability Mediterranean countries. But if you can’t, then it’s not very helpful at all. Accordingly, 4 Ops of the card make it easy for the USSR to dramatically limit its efficacy by taking two of the Mediterranean countries first.

Now seems like a good time for me to take care of Nasser as well. As stated before: the primary threat here is that I’d have lost Libya, not that I’d lose Egypt. I’m content losing Egypt because I will get it back later with Sadat Expels Soviets. Also, I have a plan for my remaining cards.

 Turn 2, USA action round 5
The Americans play the following card for Ops
  #15  Ops 1: Nasser * (USSR)
     They elect to have the Soviet event occur first.

** The Nasser card is permanently removed. **

      Soviet influence in Egypt increased by 2, now at 2
      American influence in Egypt reduced by 1, now at 1

The Americans use the Nasser card to place influence:
      1 USA influence added to Libya, now at 2

 Turn 2, USSR action round 6
The Soviets play the following card for Ops
  #22  Ops 2: Independent Reds * (USA)
     They elect to have the American event occur first.

** The Independent Reds card is permanently removed. **

      American influence in Yugoslavia now at 3

The Soviets use the Independent Reds card to place influence:
      1 USSR influence added to Egypt, now at 3
      1 USSR influence added to Iraq, now at 2

My hand is De-Stalinization, Truman Doctrine, and Fidel. I am holding two cards this turn because I played the China Card. Clearly I am holding De-Stalinization. I can either hold Fidel as well, and get rid of him next turn, or use Fidel to do a sneaky Truman Doctrine play. I go with the latter, because I don’t want him to play Truman Doctrine for Ops and then watch him draw it later.

 Turn 2, USA action round 6
The Americans play the following card for Ops
  #8  Ops 2: Fidel * (USSR)
     They elect to have the Soviet event occur first.

** The Fidel card is permanently removed. **

      Soviet influence in Cuba now at 3

The Americans use the Fidel card to place influence:
      1 USA influence added to France, now at 1
The Americans are 2 military operations short of the DEFCON requirement of 2
VPs down 2, now at -8

Events Played: Warsaw Pact Formed, NATO, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, Marshall Plan

USSR battleground countries controlled = 7
USA battleground countries controlled = 7

Now that he doesn’t have control of France, a Truman Doctrine headline will wipe out his French influence and force him to choose between retaking France or couping on AR1.

DEFCON Level raised to 3
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**              The  deck is being shuffled.              **
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** Turn 3 Headline Phase **
Turn 3

The board at the start of Turn 3 (click to enlarge)

My hand:

Truman DoctrineThe Cambridge FiveFormosan RevolutionVietnam RevoltsDe Gaulle Leads FranceNORADDe-StalinizationNuclear Test Ban

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Ops in hand: this is going to be a good turn. I see no particular reason to deviate from my Truman Doctrine headline plan. I plan to send De-Stalinization to space, or hold it if I can’t spare the Action.

As for the rest of my cards, they are all being played for Operations as usual. However, NORAD might be a decent event if I find myself with some breathing room, because the way the board is shaping up there are many USSR-controlled countries that I have influence in.

There are a couple of specific play considerations. Vietnam Revolts will be played at the end of the turn to minimize its effect. De Gaulle is easy to manage if I end up controlling France, and a nice punt if I don’t. The Cambridge Five is ideally played as late as possible in the turn: I don’t have any scoring cards, but this way I can minimize the amount of information he receives.

I know that he has the following cards in hand: Korean War, Comecon, Duck and Cover, Containment, CIA Created. (I know this because these are Early War cards that have not yet been played and are not in my hand, so therefore I know he must have drawn them.) If he is good, he will predict my Truman Doctrine move and play Duck and Cover (or maybe CIA Created) on the headline in order to drop DEFCON to 2, so that he can recover France on AR1 without worrying that I will coup a battleground in response.

Soviet Headline Card: #4  Ops 3: Duck and Cover (USA)
American Headline Card: #19  Ops 1: Truman Doctrine * (USA)

USSR Headline Event: #4  Ops 3: Duck and Cover (USA)
DEFCON Level lowered to 2
VPs up 3, now at -5

USA Headline Event: #19  Ops 1: Truman Doctrine * (USA)

The Americans use the Truman Doctrine card as an Event:

** The Truman Doctrine card is permanently removed. **

      Soviet influence in France now at 0
** Turn 3 Action Phase **

 Turn 3, USSR action round 1

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #6  Ops 4: The China Card
      4 USSR influence added to France, now at 4

Nicely played by him. I might as well dispose of De Gaulle, then, and resign myself to a USSR Europe Domination. Before I trigger the event, though, I should take Algeria before he does. I currently have access to it, and will no longer after De Gaulle.*

*It should be noted that in-game, I mistakenly played the De Gaulle event first, and my opponent was kind enough to allow me to take back the move and play my Ops before playing the event.

 Turn 3, USA action round 1

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #17  Ops 3: De Gaulle Leads France * (USSR)
      3 USA influence added to Algeria, now at 3
The Soviets use the USSR event played by the USA

** The De Gaulle Leads France card is permanently removed. **

      American influence in France reduced by 1, now at 0
      Soviet influence in France increased by 1, now at 5
     France is not affected by NATO for the rest of the game.

 Turn 3, USSR action round 2

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #14  Ops 3: Comecon * (USSR)
      1 USSR influence added to Saharan States, now at 1
      1 USSR influence added to India, now at 1

A difficult choice. Do I coup the Saharan States to stop him from getting to Nigeria? Or do I shore up India? I decide to coup the Saharan States, since if I succeed and replace his influence with some of mine, then if he fights for India I take Nigeria as a consolation prize. Plus I’ll need the Mil Ops anyway. I use a low Ops card as Saharan States has a stability of just 1. (Small mistake here: I should have used Formosan Revolution instead of Cambridge Five, for the reasons discussed earlier. Oh well.)

 Turn 3, USA action round 2
The Americans play the following card for Ops
  #110  Ops 2: The Cambridge Five (USSR)
     They elect to have the Soviet event occur first.
No scoring cards in the USA hand: no effect.

The Americans use the The Cambridge Five card for a coup attempt:
    Coup attempt in Saharan States (stability 1):
      ** USA die roll = 1 (+2) = 3
    The modified roll exceeds the doubled stability by 1.
      Soviet influence in Saharan States reduced by 1, now at 0
      American Military Operations for this turn increased to 2

Well that was unlucky.

 Turn 3, USSR action round 3

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #7  Ops 3: Socialist Governments (USSR)
      3 USSR influence added to India, now at 4

At least he didn’t play 4Ops into the country, which means I can use my 4 Ops to take it back.

 Turn 3, USA action round 3

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #34  Ops 4: Nuclear Test Ban
      4 USA influence added to India, now at 7

 Turn 3, USSR action round 4

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #11  Ops 2: Korean War * (USSR)

** The Korean War card is permanently removed. **

      USSR success on a modified die roll of 4-6;  USA modifer is -2
  ** Die roll: 6 (-2) = 4 -- USSR victory!
VPs down 2, now at -7
      American influence in South Korea reduced by 3, now at 0
      Soviet influence in South Korea increased by 3, now at 3
      Soviet Military Operations for this turn increased to 2

Well that was definitely unlucky.

I’m going to go ahead and expand out of South Africa now, as the Early War regions are pretty safely locked up. I need to expand to both Angola and Zaire, because if I only take Angola, he’ll coup me there next turn and block me from Zaire. (This is incidentally why Decolonization should try to drop an Op into Angola if possible.) I also plan to play NORAD for the event, so I should control Canada by the end of the turn as well.

My hand: Formosan Revolution, De-Stalinization, NORAD, Vietnam Revolts. I will play Vietnam Revolts at the end of the turn, I want the NORAD event, I don’t want the De-Stal event, and so I play Formosan Revolution.

 Turn 3, USA action round 4

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #100  Ops 2: Formosan Resolution * (USA)
      1 USA influence added to Angola, now at 1
      1 USA influence added to Canada, now at 4

 Turn 3, USSR action round 5

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #20  Ops 2: Olympic Games
      2 USSR influence added to Greece, now at 2

Not a great play, since he already dominates Europe and this is unnecessary. Again, it places no pressure on me and is something I don’t have to react to.

I know he has Containment, and he’ll likely play it at the end of the turn, which means my last AR will get a +1 Ops boost. I plan to play Vietnam Revolts at that point, since the end of the turn is the best time to get rid of that card. So this means that I can now either trigger NORAD or space De-Stalinization. I choose to play NORAD so I can have its effect next turn, and I have plenty of good NORAD targets.

 Turn 3, USA action round 5

The Americans play the following card as an Event:
  #106  Ops 3: NORAD * (USA)

** The NORAD card is permanently removed. **

 Turn 3, USSR action round 6
The Soviets play the following card for Ops
  #25  Ops 3: Containment * (USA)
     They elect to have the American event occur first.

** The Containment card is permanently removed. **

All further operations cards played by US this turn add one to their value (to a maximum of 4).

The Soviets use the Containment card to place influence:
      1 USSR influence added to Iraq, now at 3
      1 USSR influence added to Algeria, now at 2

As predicted. Since he returned the China Card to me, I will threaten Thailand (to try and fix Asia for myself) by removing his overcontrol, and I will move into Zaire (as discussed above). If he coups on AR1, a combination of NORAD and the China Card will flip Thailand for me. Algeria can wait for later. He can coup Algeria on AR1, but he cannot coup Thailand. If he repairs Thailand, then I can coup Algeria myself.

 Turn 3, USA action round 6
The Americans play the following card for Ops
  #9  Ops 2: Vietnam Revolts * (USSR)
     They elect to have the Soviet event occur first.

** The Vietnam Revolts card is permanently removed. **

      Soviet influence in Vietnam increased by 2, now at 3

The Americans use the Vietnam Revolts card to place influence:
      1 USA influence added to Thailand, now at 4
      1 USA influence added to Zaire, now at 1

Events Played: Warsaw Pact Formed, NATO, US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, Marshall Plan, De Gaulle Leads France, NORAD

USSR battleground countries controlled = 10
USA battleground countries controlled = 8

** The Mid War cards are added to the deck **
Turn 4

The board at the start of Turn 4 (click to enlarge)

To continue to Part II, the Mid War, click here.

To skip to Part III, the Late War, click here.

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14 Responses to Annotated Game #1: Early War

  1. SnowFire says:

    Easy to play backseat Premier when I can see the opposition’s hand, but I have to question what the Soviet player was thinking on round 1. Red Scare is a good headline anytime, but it’s possibly the most devastating on turn 1 when it massively slows down the initial influence creep. There certainly are times when you want the 4 ops more, but usually only when you have a good alternative headline *and* are generally short of ops.

    He or she didn’t know this, but Red Scare would have been extra-horrible against your hand: since you opened with 4 in West Germany, you’d have had to hold Blockade. And the general lack of ops would have made you have to pick between the Thailand race and presence in the Middle East – and of course, if you didn’t have presence there, even the lack of a domination would have made Middle East Scoring better later.

    A very interesting game regardless, and the other player does seem to be pretty good, so maybe I’m missing some angle here that would make the ME Scoring headline better. (Not going to hold not card-counting Voice of America and knowing the counter against them too much, which is the big mistake you call them out on.)

    • theory says:

      Based on this record of play, his hand, as best I can tell, is:

      0: ME Scoring
      1: Romanian Abdication, Captured Nazi Scientists
      2: Decolonization
      3:
      4: Red Scare/Purge, Nuclear Test Ban

      And two hold cards. The best I can assume is that his hold cards were very weak, like, say, Defectors and CIA. That would put his hand at 15 Ops, which is extremely low, made even worse by the fact that Decolonization has to be played for the event. Given this hand, I think playing RS/P was a good decision. If he knew I had Blockade, then I think headlining would be correct, but given that he didn’t, it’s hard to give up over 1/4 of your Ops on the headline. This also explains the ME scoring headline, since if he headlines RS/P he’s really not in a position to contest the Middle East given his lack of Ops or Nasser.

      What I would have done is headline Captured Nazi Scientists or Romanian Abdication, and then gamble that your Iran coup + a quick Syria/Lebanon play can get you a fast ME Domination. His play is a bit more conservative and Asia-focused, and he was going to be dominating Asia were it not for the fact that he lost the Indo-Pakistan War.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This was VERY insightful. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything you’ve put up on this site. Thanks so much.

  3. Zachary Zhang says:

    In turn 3, the Soviet made a critical mistake by headlining Duck & Cover. Knowing that you have Truman at hand, he should have headlined Socialist Governments to eliminate your influence in France rather than spending China Card to take it back in AR1. He could then use Duck & Cover to take Algeria and lower DEFCON in AR1 or he could space Duck & Cover this turn and play CIA in AR1 without holding it to midwar where US have several ways to reduce Soviet handsize. Player’s hands are almost known to each other in turn 3 and turn 7 anyways so it won’t matter a lot to reveal his hand at that point. By playing China card and holding CIA at hand (which your opponent knows) he exposes himself to huge DEFCON suicide risk.

  4. Pingback: Annotated Game #1: Mid War | Twilight Strategy

  5. Pablo L says:

    As newbie as I am to the game, the explanation is quite clear so I can understand the decisions behind the choices. Thx a lot to the other commenters as well.

  6. Rick S says:

    The saved game .wgr file will not load on my 6.9 version of TS. I think I need and older version. Anyone know where I can find an old copy? I’m guessing v6.0 would work. I’ve been searching but can’t find anything.

  7. max says:

    Hey,

    Just learning the game and this has been a great resource.

    One thing I noticed in this game was the middle east scoring headline on turn 1, which feels like a mistake to me. Dropping middle-east scoring when USSR could have easily dominated it seemed like a waste.

  8. Andrew says:

    On turn 1, why not headline NORAD? The Olympic Games event is essentially valueless, and even during the early-game influence rush I think having NORAD out is worth 1 OP.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I do not understand why the coup on “Turn 3, USA action round 2″
    did not lead to the loss at DEFCON = 2?

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