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Twilight Struggle» Forums » Sessions

Subject: An inspired trap, and how I made it worse rss

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Jay Sachs
United States
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Despite your hope, there is not even any inherent symbolism; gravity is simply a coincidence.
I recently lost a game as the US. (Sadly, a not so uncommon occurrence for me.) After turn 3, things looked pretty grim. Asia Scoring was gone until turn 7, and I had parity in Europe and the Mid East. However, I was down at -15, the USSR had control of both Cuba and Panama, and the only US influence anywhere outside of Europe/Asia/Mideast was the lonely single starting 1 IP in S Africa.

Turn 4 hands were dealt. I'd held Decolonization from last turn. I got Grain Sales and Sadat, Africa Scoring, and Latin American Death Squads. And then the bad news DeStalinization, Opec (currently worth 4 VP to the USSR), Portuguese Empire Crumbles, and Lone Gunman. Yuck.

I headlined Grain Sales, hoping for something good to drop, and thinking that I'd be able to get at least a couple of points out of Africa. My opponent headlined OAS Founded. Grain Sales pulled CIA Scoring. I thought, "Oh good, his hand is as unpleasant as mine is." I let him keep it, considering I'd be able to coup down to DEFCON 2, and my assumption about his hand made the idea of seeing what I was up against not seem terribly valuable. I used Grain Sales to coup Panama, unsuccessfully, and then used OAS to move into Venezuela. (Yeah, big mistake there).

USSR followed with turn 1 Red Scare. Ouch. No longer would I be able to space Decol, and my not-so-great-ops hand was reduced to a total of 9 points for the turn. Uh-oh. I played LADS to control Angola. USSR then played How I Stopped Worrying to move DEFCON to 4. I finally caught on that this was going to be a bad turn, yet I didn't go into full emergency response. I cashed in Africa Scoring for 2 pts (cursing that I wasn't able to get the 5 I'd been hoping for). Then my opponent successfully couped Venezuela away with US/Japan, DEFCON now at 3.

My recoup attempt in Venezuela via Sadat fails utterly with a 1. USSR moves into and controls Brazil with Willy Brandt. I then sealed my fate by spacing DeStal (should have been Opec), hoping for a bonus VP buffer. Now I roll a 6. USSR responds with the China Card and takes Uruguay and Colombia (and reinforces Panama).

I managed to coup Colombia away with Portugues Empire Crumbles (if the game continues past this turn, Africa is scarier now), rolling a 5, so Colombia is at 2*/0. USSR now plays Junta, controlling Argentina, and rolling a 2(!!!) on the Colombia coup. So Colombia is now 0/0 ... no counter-coup possible there.

So this is US round 6. I have Opec, Lone Gunman, and Decolonization. USSR can't control SA, since he must play SA scoring. But I don't have even Presence. If I coup away Uruguay, he won't have domination, except that Opec will now give him 4 points, and Decol only gives me 1 ops, which isn't enough for me to establish presence. I coup with Decol anyway, and roll a 6, so Uruguay is now at 1/0. So he scores South America for only 5 points (presence + 3 BGs).

And I'm left losing either on playing Opec (I can only realign him out of Venezuela, leaving 3 points), or Lone Gunman.

I certainly made some mistakes (moving into Venezuela on the HL was definitely a big one, so was SR DeStal instead of Opec), and dice definitely didn't work in my favor. But I give a lot of credit to my opponent's headline, which put me completely off-balance in my expectations.
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Alex delenca
United States
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Twilight Struggle » Forums » Sessions
Re: An inspired trap, and how I made it worse
Psyched that my little stratagem worked, especially as this was my first time playing USSR! And thanks for the praise. Of course everything I know about playing USSR I learned from getting my a$$ kicked by you a few weeks ago! ;-)

Anyway, I looked at my hand and saw CIA Created, Colonial Rear Guards, and OAS Founded. Not happy about the first two, but right next to OAS Founded I saw Junta and SA scoring and the plan suggested itself. I was going to try to win the game outright in this turn. Now, your headline of Grain Sales was a nasty surprise. Not only were you going to take away my chance to coup but you'd have a high probability of grabbing an important card: Red Scare, US/Japan Alliance (4 OPs), SA Scoring, Junta, or How I Learned. Luckily you picked CIA created. You made the logical decision to give it back to me, but I'm very glad you didn't take a look at my hand - you certainly would have seen what was coming and bunkered down in SA before I could hit you.

You say that placing in Venezuela was a mistake but I wonder why? You had no way of knowing if I had SA or CA scoring card. In fact, my headlining OAS probably gave the impression SA and CA were not targets of mine for this turn. And you were moving to Defcon 2 before I had a chance to coup. It seemed like a reasonable and safe choice to make. I was fortunate that OPEC influenced your decision but even if you had not placed in SA I still would have gotten in to SA easily with Junta + my other high OPs cards.

Now, I made a couple of mistakes - one was to let you score 2VPs in Africa. I had planned to use my 4 OPs from US/Japan at least partially in Africa to prevent that. You surprised me there by scoring so quickly. My 2nd, bigger mistake was to put the extra IPs from US/Japan in Columbia and Panama instead of just stacking them all high and deep into Uruguay. I was fortunate to get away with the Columbia mistake with that lucky neutralizing roll but then your +6 roll to knock me out of Uruguay is a reminder of the need to overcontrol key states... Luckily for me, OPEC and Lone Gunman sealed your fate anyway... (man, what a rotten hand you got - I thought things got better for the US from the Mid-war on... ;-) ).

Anyway, thanks for the fun game and for the good lessons!
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