Annotated Game #2: Early War

This is an annotated game I played as USSR against Gabor Foldes, the 2012 Internet Twilight Struggle League champion.  We play with Optional Cards and +1 influence for the US player (to be placed in any country where the US already has influence).

The game is played on Wargameroom. The save game 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 two sections.  Part I, the Early War, is published below.  Part II, the Mid/Late War, can be found here.

  Wargameroom.com Presents:

Twilight Struggle 6.1
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 awards 1 extra starting influence to the US **
  The server chooses to have the sides selected randomly...
The server will be playing the USSR
The client will be playing the USA
************************************************************
**              The  deck is being shuffled.              **
************************************************************

My opening hand:

Arab-Israeli WarNuclear Test BanUS/Japan Mutual Defense PactKorean WarAsia ScoringContainmentDe-StalinizationMarshall PlanThe China Card

I have 22 Ops, which is far above average (17.7) for the Early War.  Even better, I’ve drawn De-Stalinization, the most important starred event in the game.  My Ops strength is somewhat overstated, though, since 3 of my Ops are tied up in De-Stalinization, and 4 in Marshall Plan, which is one of the few very strong Early War US events. Still, I have an extremely strong hand.

Aside from Marshall Plan, I have no particular problem cards to deal with.  Containment will be played on the final Action Round to minimize its effect for the US.  As is usual for the USSR, Turn 1 is going to be about placing maximum pressure on the US and expanding over the empty board as much as possible.  As such I might hold De-Stalinization until next turn, when things quiet down a little bit.

      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
      1 USA influence added to Spain/Portugal, now at 1
      1 USA influence added to Greece, now at 1
      1 USA influence added to Turkey, now at 1
      1 USA influence added to Canada, now at 3
      1 USA extra influence added to Iran, now at 2
** Turn 1 Headline Phase **
Game 2 Start

Opening setup (click to enlarge)

This is an extremely unusual US opening setup, which leads me to believe that he is trying to avoid Blockade. In other words, he wants to be able to play Blockade without discarding to it.  The main reason you would want to do this is either if you have no 3+ Ops cards (rare) or if you are holding either Decolonization / De-Stalinization and would like to hold it to Turn 3.  Since I have De-Stalinization, I assume it’s Decolonization that he holds.

None of my headline options change as a result of his setup, since none of them affect Europe.  (It does mean that I have to be even more careful about playing Marshall Plan, because it will be maximally effective for him.)  My headline will be Arab-Israeli War: as described earlier, it’s one of the best Turn 1 headlines.  Not quite as good as Suez Crisis, but almost as good.

I’m not terribly concerned about Defectors.  As USSR, you should distinguish between bad headlines, headlines that are good because they combo with your AR1, and headlines of “necessary” events.  It is only the last (events like Decolonization and De-Stalinization) where you should be concerned about Defectors: this is one of the reasons I will not headline De-Stalinization right now.  (Others being me not having enough influence to De-Stalinize, and the risk that my influence may get couped out.)  Arab-Israeli War is an example of a headline that can be Defected without much harm to you.

Soviet Headline Card: #13  Ops 2: Arab-Israeli War (USSR)
American Headline Card: #10  Ops 1: Blockade * (USSR)

USSR Headline Event: #13  Ops 2: Arab-Israeli War (USSR)

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #13  Ops 2: Arab-Israeli War (USSR)
      USSR success on a modified die roll of 4-6;  USA modifer is -0
  ** Die roll: 1 -- no effect **
      Soviet Military Operations for this turn increased to 2

USA Headline Event: #10  Ops 1: Blockade * (USSR)

** The Blockade card is permanently removed. **

      The US player does not choose to discard a card to avoid the penalty
      American influence in West Germany now at 0
** Turn 1 Action Phase **

Unfortunately, my Arab-Israeli War does not work out.  Now I have an interesting choice: do I coup Iran (buffed to 2, thanks to the +1 influence adjustment), or do I coup Italy and go for a Europe knockout?  The Asia Scoring card in my hand tilts me towards couping Iran; if I can knock him out with a 4Ops coup (anything other than a 1), then I can hopefully keep western Asia secure for the rest of the game.

 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 = 3 (+4) = 7
    The modified roll exceeds the doubled stability by 3.
      American influence in Iran reduced by 2, 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 5

The worst possible coup result here would have been a 1.  A 3 is the second-worst, because it allows him to coup me back easily.

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

** The Comecon card is permanently removed. **

      Soviet influence in East Germany increased by 1, now at 5
      Soviet influence in Poland increased by 1, now at 5
      Soviet influence in Czechoslovakia increased by 1, now at 1
      Soviet influence in Yugoslavia increased by 1, now at 2

The Americans use the Comecon card for a coup attempt:
    Coup attempt in Iran (stability 2):
      ** USA die roll = 5 (+3) = 8
    The modified roll exceeds the doubled stability by 4.
      Soviet influence in Iran reduced by 1, now at 0
      American influence in Iran increased by 3, now at 3
DEFCON Level lowered to 3
      American Military Operations for this turn increased to 3

Now this is troubling. I could use another 4 Ops to coup, but now I need to roll at least a 3 to deny the US access to western Asia.  Rolling a 1 or 2 would cripple me.

As a result, I decide to pass on this risk, and instead start attacking Asia through other means.  I want to place an influence into Afghanistan, so that I can reach Pakistan, and also place influence into South Korea.  I also want to play into the empty West Germany: I don’t really intend to take it, but at least I am threatening to take it (and also threatening France) with a single 3 Ops.  This may force him to respond.

Unfortunately I don’t have a good card with which to do this.  De-Stalinization and Marshall Plan are out.  I want to save Korean War until later in the turn to deter him from playing into South Korea.  Containment has to be played on the final Action Round.  As such, I have no choice but to use US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, which is rather annoying given that we are contesting Asia.

 Turn 1, USSR action round 2

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #27  Ops 4: US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact * (USA)
      1 USSR influence added to Afghanistan, now at 1
      1 USSR influence added to West Germany, now at 1
      2 USSR influence added to South Korea, now at 2
The Americans use the USA event played by the USSR

** 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

 Turn 1, USA action round 2
The Americans play the following card for Ops
  #17  Ops 3: De Gaulle Leads France * (USSR)
     They elect to have the Soviet event occur first.

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

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

The Americans use the De Gaulle Leads France card to place influence:
      1 USA influence added to France, now at 1
      2 USA influence added to Pakistan, now at 2

He’s now dominating Asia.  I have an opportunity here to use the China Card’s 5 Asia Ops to flip Pakistan, because it is not overcontrolled.  If I can flip Pakistan, then even if he takes India I can still dominate Asia with North Korea + South Korea + Pakistan + Afghanistan before he gets to Thailand.

Normally as USSR I don’t like using the China Card on Turn 1, because that means that if the US draws both De-Stalinization and Decolonization on Turn 2 they can play the China Card and be able to hold both until Turn 3.  But I don’t have to worry about that here since I hold De-Stalinization myself.

There is, of course, one risk to this move…

 Turn 1, USSR action round 3

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

 Turn 1, USA action round 3

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: 5 -- USA victory!
VPs up 2, now at 2
      Soviet influence in Pakistan reduced by 4, now at 0
      American influence in Pakistan increased by 4, now at 6
      American Military Operations for this turn increased to 5

This is a crippling blow to me.  I decide to take South Korea to temporarily stop his Domination; he can take India to regain Domination, but it is cheaper for me to take South Korea than it is for him to take India.  Plus, if I ever do get Thailand, having both Thailand and South Korea will protect me from being Dominated in Asia.

 Turn 1, USSR action round 4

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #11  Ops 2: Korean War * (USSR)
      2 USSR influence added to South Korea, now at 4

 Turn 1, USA action round 4

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #22  Ops 2: Independent Reds * (USA)
      1 USA influence added to West Germany, now at 1
      1 USA influence added to France, now at 2

Since he did not take India, this is my chance to get away with a neutral Asia Scoring.  I think my South Korea move should have tipped him off to playing into Asia now, and waiting to respond in Europe later.

 Turn 1, USSR action round 5

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

*** Scoring in Asia ***
  USSR:  3(presence) +2(battlegrounds)  = 5
  USA:  3(presence) +2(battlegrounds)  = 5

 Turn 1, USA action round 5

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #4  Ops 3: Duck and Cover (USA)
      2 USA influence added to France, now at 4
      1 USA influence added to West Germany, now at 2

Now I’ll play Containment as my final Action.  Asia was just scored, so that’s out. I’d like to fight for European battlegrounds, but not only am I already behind, I run the risk of getting all my influence killed by Truman Doctrine. (This is one of the advantages of the empty West Germany setup: USSR is often so intimidated by the threat of Truman Doctrine that they’re not willing to engage in an Ops war in Europe.) So I look to the Middle East. Because DEFCON is at 3, I could coup Iran with Containment, but then I’d need 4 or higher.  Better to make the safer play and build towards an eventual Domination.  I secure Iraq and take Lebanon, a crucial cheap non-battleground in the Middle East that aids me in future Arab-Israeli Wars.

 Turn 1, USSR action round 6

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #25  Ops 3: Containment * (USA)
      2 USSR influence added to Iraq, now at 3
      1 USSR influence added to Lebanon, now at 1
The Americans use the USA event played by the USSR

** 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).

 Turn 1, USA action round 6

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #19  Ops 1: Truman Doctrine * (USA)
      2 USA influence added to West Germany, now at 4
DEFCON Level raised to 4

Events Played: US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact, De Gaulle Leads France

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

** Turn 2 Headline Phase **
Turn 2

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

My hand:

Red Scare/PurgeFormosan ResolutionVietnam RevoltsSpecial RelationshipNATOCIA CreatedDe-StalinizationMarshall Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

This hand also has 22 Ops, though again, a lot of the Ops are tied up in De-Stalinization and Marshall Plan. Nevertheless, I’ve definitely had the Early War luck in terms of stronger hands.

The headline is clearly going to be Red Scare/Purge.  I have enough Ops that I don’t need its 4 Ops, and I have no other decent headline choices anyway (since I don’t want to De-Stalinize until DEFCON reaches 2 so I am not immediately couped out, and since DEFCON is at 4 I might get couped out if I play Vietnam Revolts).

A couple of play considerations:

  • I need to make sure I play NATO as soon as possible, before Warsaw Pact or Marshall Plan are triggered.  I’d rather not have it in effect, and if the US draws it they’ll never play it for the event.  So if I can punt it away now there’s a good chance it’ll never come back in.  And it’s relevant because …
  • I want to be able to play Special Relationship under any (preferably all) of these circumstances:
    • ideally when the UK is not US-controlled
    • hopefully after he controls Canada, so the influence is somewhat wasted
    • definitely before NATO is in effect (if NATO does go into effect).
  • CIA Created is ordinarily a DEFCON suicide card.  But right now it’s perfectly harmless because I have no influence in a Mid War region.  So as long as he doesn’t play Fidel (and I play it before I De-Stalinize), I can play this late in the turn.
  • Vietnam Revolts is going to get me into Thailand, which can save me from Asia Domination.
  • This is a good time to play Formosan Resolution, while the US has the China Card.
Soviet Headline Card: #31  Ops 4: Red Scare/Purge
American Headline Card: #106  Ops 3: NORAD * (USA)

USSR Headline Event: #31  Ops 4: Red Scare/Purge

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #31  Ops 4: Red Scare/Purge
      -1 to Ops value of American cards this turn (minimum 1 OP)

USA Headline Event: #106  Ops 3: NORAD * (USA)

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

** The NORAD card is permanently removed. **

** Turn 2 Action Phase **

NORAD is going to be a pain.  I must try to minimize the number of countries with both US and USSR influence (easier said than done).

What I’d really like to do is play Vietnam Revolts for the event so that I can start spreading communism in Southeast Asia.  Unfortunately, if I do that, DEFCON 4 means that I might get couped out.  Of course, I’d hold the upper hand in a back-and-forth coup war (both because of Red Scare and Vietnam Revolts’ +1), but the risk is that Vietnam gets couped out exactly, to 0, in which case I have nothing to coup back.

So the first thing I do is drop DEFCON.  Keeping in mind the CIA Created restriction from earlier, I choose to coup Iran, even though Panama offers better odds.  I use Formosan Resolution, so that if the US plays the China Card this turn it’ll be cancelled.  In addition, the 2 Ops card is all I need for Mil Ops at the end of the turn (assuming DEFCON goes to 2).  Using a 4 Ops is a bit of a waste when I’m not actually all that interested in the coup and have influence to place later.

 Turn 2, USSR action round 1
The Soviets play the following card for Ops
  #100  Ops 2: Formosan Resolution * (USA)
     They elect to have the American event occur first.

** The Formosan Resolution card is permanently removed. **

Taiwan shall be treated as a Battleground country for scoring purposes, if the US
controls Taiwan when the Asian Scoring Card is played.  Taiwan is not a battleground
country for any other game purpose.  This card is discarded after US play of The China Card.

The Soviets use the Formosan Resolution card for a coup attempt:
    Coup attempt in Iran (stability 2):
      ** USSR die roll = 6 (+2) = 8
    The modified roll exceeds the doubled stability by 4.
      American influence in Iran reduced by 3, now at 0
      Soviet influence in Iran increased by 1, now at 1
DEFCON Level lowered to 3
      Soviet Military Operations for this turn increased to 2

 Turn 2, USA action round 1
The Americans play the following card for Ops:
  #7  Ops 3: Socialist Governments (USSR)
They also play UN Intervention to cancel the Soviet event

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #7  Ops 3: Socialist Governments (USSR)
      2 USA influence added to Egypt, now at 2

The Americans play the following card as an Event:
  #32  Ops 1: UN Intervention
Play this card simultaneously with another card that has your opponent's associated event.
The event is canceled, but you may use its Operations value normally.  The canceled event
card returns to the discard pile.

It was an unexpectedly good coup result.  Now I will trigger Vietnam Revolts, so that I can gain access to the subregion.

 Turn 2, USSR action round 2

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #9  Ops 2: Vietnam Revolts * (USSR)

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

      Soviet influence in Vietnam increased by 2, now at 2

 Turn 2, USA action round 2
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. **

      1 USSR influence added to Yugoslavia, now at 3
      2 USSR influence added to Poland, now at 7
      2 USSR influence added to East Germany, now at 7

The Americans use the Warsaw Pact Formed card to place influence:
      1 USA influence added to Canada, now at 4
      1 USA influence added to Malaysia, now at 1

So much for punting NATO.  Oh well.  Now I will shore up Thailand — keeping in mind both that I have a +1 thanks to Vietnam, and that I need to overcontrol it to protect against the China Card.

Luckily, he just controlled Canada (in anticipation of DEFCON dropping to 2 this turn), so I will use Special Relationship, which is perfectly-suited Ops-wise.  Now his influence from Special Relationship is mostly wasted.

 Turn 2, USSR action round 3

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #105  Ops 2: Special Relationship (USA)
      3 USSR influence added to Thailand, now at 3
The Americans use the USA event played by the USSR
      American influence in France increased by 1, now at 5

 Turn 2, USA action round 3
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 Iran (stability 2):
      ** USA die roll = 6 (+1) = 7
    The modified roll exceeds the doubled stability by 3.
      Soviet influence in Iran reduced by 1, now at 0
      American influence in Iran increased by 2, now at 2
DEFCON Level lowered to 2
      American Military Operations for this turn increased to 1
*** NORAD -- the US may place 1 influence anywhere they already have influence ***
      American influence in South Korea increased by 1, now at 2

That was an annoying coup result, and the NORAD influence was irritating.  Now I’ll start spreading in Southeast Asia, shore up South Korea, and make a play for India by forcing myself into Pakistan.  I can force him to respond; even if I don’t actually get India, he probably has to use the China Card to defend it.

 Turn 2, USSR action round 4
The Soviets play the following card for Ops
  #21  Ops 4: NATO * (USA)
     They elect to have the American event occur first.

** 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

The Soviets use the NATO card to place influence:
      1 USSR influence added to South Korea, now at 5
      1 USSR influence added to Laos/Cambodia, now at 1
      1 USSR influence added to Pakistan, now at 1

 Turn 2, USA action round 4

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #6  Ops 4: The China Card
      3 USA influence added to India, now at 3
      1 USA influence added to Malaysia, now at 2

My prediction is accurate.  Now seems like a good time to safely play CIA Created, before he plays Fidel and makes it unplayable.  I’ll use it in Southeast Asia, taking advantage of my Vietnam bonus.

 Turn 2, USSR action round 5
The Soviets play the following card for Ops
  #26  Ops 1: CIA Created * (USA)
     They elect to have the American event occur first.

** The CIA Created card is permanently removed. **

The American gets to look at the Soviet Hand:
      1 USA influence added to West Germany, now at 5

The Soviets use the CIA Created card to place influence:
      2 USSR influence added to Burma, now at 2

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

** The Romanian Abdication card is permanently removed. **

      Soviet influence in Romania now at 3

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

I certainly would prefer to play De-Stalinization rather than Marshall Plan, and now that DEFCON is safely at 2, I can start my expansion into the Mid War regions.  Because I don’t have Decolonization (and don’t expect to get it), I will split my De-Stalinization influence between South America and Africa.

 Turn 2, USSR action round 6

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #33  Ops 3: De-Stalinization * (USSR)

** The De-Stalinization card is permanently removed. **

      1 De-Stalinization influence removed from Czechoslovakia, now at 0
      1 De-Stalinization influence removed from Poland, now at 6
      1 De-Stalinization influence removed from East Germany, now at 6
      1 De-Stalinization influence removed from Finland, now at 0
      1 De-Stalinization influence added to Angola, now at 1
      1 De-Stalinization influence added to Venezuela, now at 1
      1 De-Stalinization influence added to Chile, now at 1
      1 De-Stalinization influence added to Nigeria, now at 1

 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 Colombia, now at 1
The Americans are 1 military operation short of the DEFCON requirement of 2
VPs down 1, now at 1
DEFCON Level raised to 3

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

USSR battleground countries controlled = 9
USA battleground countries controlled = 8

************************************************************
**              The  deck is being shuffled.              **
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** Turn 3 Headline Phase **

His Fidel play is a common AR7 move and a good one.  Next turn I will face a bit of a crisis with respect to couping to drop DEFCON and protecting Venezuela.

Turn 3

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

My cards in hand:

Captured Nazi ScientistDefectorsMarshall PlanKorean WarEast European UnrestArab-Israeli WarMiddle East ScoringFive Year PlanThe China Card

For the first time, I draw a slightly below-average Ops hand.  But I have little reason to complain: I drew Defectors, which means that I’ll have worry-free headlines between now and Turn 6, and Five Year Plan, which is a great way to discard unwanted US scoring cards.  Since I have none of those at the moment, I plan on holding Five Year Plan to next turn.

The cards I know he has in hand: Europe Scoring, Nasser, Olympic Games, Suez Crisis, and Decolonization.  I’ll keep in mind the Europe Scoring and Nasser (relevant for Marshall Plan and Middle East scoring, respectively, though I doubt I will contest Europe at this point); I assume he will space Decolonization.

I have nothing especially worth headlining, so I headline Captured Nazi Scientist.  If I didn’t have Captured Nazi Scientist, I might have headlined Defectors to save 1VP.

Soviet Headline Card: #18  Ops 1: Captured Nazi Scientists *
American Headline Card: #2: Europe Scoring

USSR Headline Event: #18  Ops 1: Captured Nazi Scientists *

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #18  Ops 1: Captured Nazi Scientists *

** The Captured Nazi Scientists card is permanently removed. **

      USSR progress on the Space Race Track is now at Earth Satellite
VPs down 2, now at -1

USA Headline Event: #2: Europe Scoring

The Americans use the Europe Scoring card as an Event:

*** Scoring in Europe ***
  USSR:  3(presence) +2(battlegrounds)  = 5
  USA:  7(domination) +3(battlegrounds)  = 10
VPs up 5, now at 4
** Turn 3 Action Phase **

Vaguely risky as a headline, since I could have headlined Socialist Governments, but it worked out all right.  Now my Marshall Plan is rather meaningless, and I may as well let him have the event.

I now have a choice of couping a battleground (probably Libya, given my Middle East scoring card), or couping Colombia to protect South America.  Given said scoring card, and the fact that I would get one of my African battlegrounds couped if I couped Colombia, I decide to go for Libya.  Unfortunately this means that I will not be able to stop him from taking Venezuela.  (The ideal card in this scenario would have been Duck & Cover, which would have allowed me to place influence into Venezuela or coup Colombia while simultaneously dropping DEFCON.)

I don’t need that many Ops for the coup (since I will need to save my Ops for South America influence placement), so I use Defectors.

 Turn 3, USSR action round 1

The Soviets play the following card for a coup attempt:
  #102  Ops 2: Defectors (USA)
    Coup attempt in Libya (stability 2):
      ** USSR die roll = 6 (+2) = 8
    The modified roll exceeds the doubled stability by 4.
      American influence in Libya reduced by 1, now at 0
      Soviet influence in Libya increased by 3, now at 3
DEFCON Level lowered to 2
      Soviet Military Operations for this turn increased to 2
The Americans use the USA event played by the USSR
VPs up 1, now at 5
*** NORAD -- the US may place 1 influence anywhere they already have influence ***
      American influence in South Korea increased by 1, now at 3

 Turn 3, USA action round 1

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #34  Ops 4: Nuclear Test Ban
      3 USA influence added to Venezuela, now at 3
      1 USA influence added to South Korea, now at 4

This was a very fortunate roll.  Now I have two goals: shore up South Korea and take Brazil to stop his southward expansion into South America.  This requires a 4 Ops card, and so I use Marshall Plan.  The event text is powerful but isn’t possibly going to change the scoring any more.

 Turn 3, USSR action round 2

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #23  Ops 4: Marshall Plan * (USA)
      2 USSR influence added to South Korea, now at 7
      2 USSR influence added to Brazil, now at 2
The Americans use the USA event played by the USSR

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

      American influence in United Kingdom increased by 1, now at 6
      American influence in West Germany increased by 1, now at 6
      American influence in France increased by 1, now at 6
      American influence in Spain/Portugal increased by 1, now at 2
      American influence in Italy increased by 1, now at 4
      American influence in Turkey increased by 1, now at 2
      American influence in Greece increased by 1, now at 2

 Turn 3, USA action round 2

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #20  Ops 2: Olympic Games
      2 USA influence added to Algeria, now at 2

I don’t want to move into Uruguay just yet, since that allows the US to coup it and gain Mil Ops to save VPs at the end of the turn.  Instead I will begin to threaten the Middle East.  If I take Saudi Arabia he must take Israel in response to stop Middle East domination, and that is vulnerable to Arab-Israeli War.  Likewise, Nasser in his hand will complicate things for him.

 Turn 3, USSR action round 3

The Soviets play the following card to place influence:
  #11  Ops 2: Korean War * (USSR)
      2 USSR influence added to Saudi Arabia, now at 2

 Turn 3, USA action round 3
The Americans play the following card for Ops
  #28  Ops 3: Suez Crisis * (USSR)
     They elect to have the Soviet event occur first.

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

      American influence in Israel reduced by 1, now at 0
      American influence in United Kingdom reduced by 2, now at 4
      American influence in France reduced by 1, now at 5

The Americans use the Suez Crisis card to place influence:
      1 USA influence added to United Kingdom, now at 5
      2 USA influence added to Israel, now at 2

I’ll play East European Unrest here.  Although theoretically I need to replace the influence he removes, in practice I don’t care about Europe very much any more.  I have much more pressing obligations: first, to take Saudi Arabia; second, to expand out of Angola into Zaire; third, to shore up South Korea against future NORADs so I am not perpetually faced with a crisis there.

 Turn 3, USSR action round 4
The Soviets play the following card for Ops
  #29  Ops 3: East European Unrest (USA)
     They elect to have the American event occur first.
      Soviet influence in East Germany reduced by 1, now at 5
      Soviet influence in Poland reduced by 1, now at 5
      Soviet influence in Yugoslavia reduced by 1, now at 2

The Soviets use the East European Unrest card to place influence:
      1 USSR influence added to Saudi Arabia, now at 3
      1 USSR influence added to Zaire, now at 1
      1 USSR influence added to South Korea, now at 8

 Turn 3, USA action round 4

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #22  Ops 2: Independent Reds * (USA)
      2 USA influence added to Israel, now at 4

The Middle East is now even.  I’m playing Middle East scoring next and holding Five Year Plan to next turn.  Before I play the scoring card I may as well take a gamble on the Arab-Israeli War.

 Turn 3, USSR action round 5

The Soviets play the following card as an Event:
  #13  Ops 2: Arab-Israeli War (USSR)
      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 3
      American influence in Israel reduced by 4, now at 0
      Soviet influence in Israel increased by 4, now at 4
      Soviet Military Operations for this turn increased to 4

 Turn 3, USA action round 5

The Americans play the following card for an attempt on the Space Race track:
  #30  Ops 2: Decolonization (USSR)
    ** Space Race Die Roll (1-3 needed): = 5 **
      No effect.

That was definitely very lucky.  Now I’ll score Domination.

 Turn 3, USSR action round 6

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

*** Scoring in Middle East ***
  USSR:  5(domination) +4(battlegrounds)  = 9
  USA:  3(presence) +2(battlegrounds)  = 5
VPs down 4, now at -1

 Turn 3, USA action round 6

The Americans play the following card to place influence:
  #24  Ops 2: Indo-Pakistani War
      1 USA influence added to Brazil, now at 1
The Americans are 2 military operations short of the DEFCON requirement of 2
VPs down 2, now at -3

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

USSR battleground countries controlled = 13
USA battleground countries controlled = 10

** The Mid War cards are added to the deck **
************************************************************
**              The  deck is being shuffled.              **
************************************************************
DEFCON Level raised to 3
** Turn 4 Headline Phase **
Turn 4

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

Part II, the Mid/Late War is here.

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18 Responses to Annotated Game #2: Early War

  1. Alex says:

    Great read thanks.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Awesome, have been looking forward to a USSR game!

  3. Anonymous says:

    How do you replay the game online? The dropbox file is a bunch of numbers….

  4. ddddddd says:

    Great read so far, thank you! As with your last annotated game, the luck of the dice doesn’t affect the strategic outcomes, and you prove unequivocally that ‘You don’t need good rolls to win TS’.

    So far there have been some serious swings of luck – first to the USA, then to the USSR (Libya coup and Israel-Palestine war) and both sides got big coups into Iran. It is really interesting how you started with two “power hands” but through some bad luck in Iran/Pakistan and having to patch elsewhere they never quite went off for you.

    Obviously this was a rare Europe setup (the “Blockade Block”) but I have been surprised by your lax attitude to Europe domination. Given his assured possession of the 2-stability Europe nations, I would have expected you to push harder for West Germany, but instead you’ve played a nice game playing Ops into other theatres and are in a good position come Mid War.

    Incidentally, I’ve never played in a game where Warsaw, Marshall and NATO have all triggered before Mid War – should make for a less ops powerful Mid War deck.

    • theory says:

      It’s terrifying as USSR to play into European countries when Truman Doctrine is still out. I’m not as willing to fight for West Germany / France unless I know I can secure control with a single Ops play, and it’s really hard to do that in a 3- or 4-stability country.

      Plus, the fact that he locked up all the 2-stability countries also means I won’t get domination, that at best I can stop his domination. And Asia Scoring was in my hand at the time, so I felt that was the priority.

  5. Ash says:

    Just started my first proper game as USSR having pored over your USA game during my last game as USA, really pleased you’ve put this up now!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for writing, I know this must take a while but I always appreciate your game recaps

  7. @theory: Two years ago you wrote about the Turn 1 DEFCON 4 stall at BGG. Curiously both of the annotated games posted here start with a weak Iran coup, which allows the situation resolve itself in a way. I’d link it here but BGG seems to be down right now. The post is very easy to google however when it comes up again.

    It is more than likely that a US AR1 coup of Iran is not feasible. I’d appreciate some input about how Turn 1 might go when neither player wants to lower the DEFCON. I’m aware of the fact that on the last AR coups might happen anyways, but what I’m really interested in is what exactly the players should be pursuing on Turn 1 when advancing in Asia doesn’t seem like such a good idea. I’m finding it hard for me as a USSR player to “keep the initiative” when a lot of the time I can’t come up with moves worth responding to. Should the USSR player just coup Panama early and be done with it?

    • theory says:

      I remember that post. I still don’t really know what to do in that situation. I don’t want to drop DEFCON as US or USSR, so I won’t coup Panama.

      The first play is South Korea, which neither side is usually willing to coup. Alternatively, you can move into Europe, or move through the Middle East. As US, putting 2 into Egypt is a nice move: if he coups you, there’s a good chance he doesn’t knock you out entirely, and so on your next play you can simultaneously play into Libya/Malaysia.

  8. NoNamium says:

    Hi!

    In turn 1, why not use the China card before US/Japan mutial defense pact? Then use the scoring card before US/Japan mutial defense pact as well?

    Turn 2, I see no reason why Vietnam Revolts were so important as to not just use NATO immediately?
    Also, in turn two, I’d headline CIA created, hoping for a Defectors. Comments?

    • SnowFire says:

      theory just needed a vanilla 4 ops at first, so why not use the actual 4 ops in hand? It was wise he held back since as you can see, he uses the China card as a “5 ops” card immediately afterward. US/Japan wouldn’t have flipped Pakistan from 2/0 to 4/2.

      NATO is a terrible event. The USSR should still try and keep it from triggering, but if it does trigger whatever. According to the article, “Using a 4 Ops is a bit of a waste when I’m not actually all that interested in the coup and have influence to place later,” so waiting on NATO was just him biding his time with a 4 ops.

      He didn’t have any influence in CIA-created death zones, so playing CIA Created later in the round once DEFCON was 2 was basically harmless. Headlining it could mean some kind of nasty surprise potentially.

      • NoNamium says:

        I’d much rather prefer Theorys answers to these. You may be right in him giving the same answers, but my questions were not meant for you. Don’t take offense, but I’d like to hear the answers from the one playing the game.

        My questions go towards playing more optimal. I’m not saying he was paying poorly, I’m asking if these things could be improved upon.

        I’m saying he could actually have gotten points in Asia scoring if these were switched in the order I’ve given, and everything else resulting from this, might have been the same exept for the score. The “Wiseness” of playing China into Pakistan is debatable.

        Even though NATO is not the best of events, there is no reason for giving it up for free. These could well have gone into Saudi Arabia amoung others.

        I don’t see the nasty surprise that could have happened with headlining CIA, the same situation would apply no matter when he played it as long as there was no influence in BG countries outside the closed regions. Getting rid of it in the headline was already harmless, faster, and runs less risk of getting stuck with it later in the turn. I also prefer to headline low OPS-value cards.

        • SnowFire says:

          Well, obviously speaking for myself and theory is free to chip in his own two cents.

          * I guess, but eh. When you have Asia scoring in hand, *not* using the China Card to flip a battleground seems questionable. Obviously some bad luck in the US not only having Indo-Pak but also winning with it. With no Indo-Pak (which is the most common case), the US is stuck – they want all of India / Afghanistan / South Korea, but can’t get them all, and that’s if they’ve guessed Asia Scoring is this turn. Taking India is probably the safest play with Korean War lurking, but theory could just have taken Afghanistan + S. Korea on his next impulse, then scored an Asia Dom at 3:2.
          * The most significant buff with NATO is Special Relationship, which was already in hand, so SR could largely be defused anyway by playing it before NATO. The reason for giving it up is to save the 4 ops for when you really need it.
          * If nothing else, headlined CIA would get a free coup on Lebanon. Now that I think about it, I don’t think a defected CIA gets removed anyway, so that’s also setting the USSR up for an angsty turn when they draw it again later, when they can remove it forever at only minor cost right now.

        • theory says:

          Here’s my thinking:

          1) I think your method is fine as well. My thinking is: I want to play an Op into West Germany, so the China Card’s bonus is not very helpful, and I might find it helpful later on. Using US/Japan is not a huge deal, because as long as I get to 4 battlegrounds (which I should, the Koreas + Pak/India) I can get Domination.

          2) If I don’t play Vietnam first, he will play into Malaysia and then after I play Vietnam, he will take Thailand first. Vietnam Revolts is ideally triggered before US has access to Thailand so you can defend it instead of having to attack it.

  9. Shez says:

    Thanks for another helpfully illustrated game – really informative and enjoyable. I just have a rule query. In both of your games NORAD is permanently removed from play after being triggered. On my deluxe edition card it does not say that it is removed from play, so I have just been discarding it which makes a massive difference in the US’ favour.

    Can you please clarify whether NORAD should be removed or discarded after triggering? If removed, why does the card not say so?

  10. Hi, I’m probably missing something blindingly obvious, but in Turn 2 AR 4, how come the USA only place 4 influence with the China card? Given that they placed all the points in Asia, wouldn’t they be entitled to use +1 Ops and therefore place a 5th point of influence in Asia?

    Thanks so much for providing these annotated games!

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