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Subject: military ops - what is the point (for mechanics and theme)? rss

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Dave Neale
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Only played one game of this so far, and thought generally the mechanics and theme worked really well.

I was a bit confused by the required military operations mechanic though. In terms of the game mechanics, why is this necessary? It feels a bit like an extra complication for no reason, or perhaps to force players to do coups whether they actually want to or not, but then why force them to do coups rather than give them the choice - what does that add?

I was similarly mystified in relation to theme - why do the two countries need to do a certain number of military ops? Is it sort of 'military posturing' kind of showing off their strength to their opponent? But then why do they need to do less when DEFCON is lower, wouldn't they need to do more at that point, to assert more dominance over their enemy?

 
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Eoin Corrigan
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Thematically, it could be explained as a requirement on each regime to satisfy the hawk / miltary lobby.

As Defcon is lowered, regimes could become more resistant to the hawk lobby, given the dangers of a hot war developing.
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Jack Francisco
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I like the "military posturing" idea as well.
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Max DuBoff
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I agree that mil ops represent the arms race between the two countries. Mil ops might also show international influence (through coups and realignments). Each superpower wanted to have more influence than the other.
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Gareth M.
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whitescar wrote:

I was similarly mystified in relation to theme - why do the two countries need to do a certain number of military ops? Is it sort of 'military posturing' kind of showing off their strength to their opponent? But then why do they need to do less when DEFCON is lower, wouldn't they need to do more at that point, to assert more dominance over their enemy?



When there low tensions and high DEFCON, you can point to these victories to the populace: Here we are, we're winning, we're better than the other side.

However, as tensions rise and DEFCON drops, doing as much militarily could spark off a full on hot war, possibly with nukes and everything. Not something either side wants, what with MAD and all, but not wanting to look completely weak for your people.
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Jim Marshall
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It's a partner of the DEFCON level and gives the players something else to manipulate/think about - remember that having a military ops value lower than DEFCON and lower than your opponent will cause you to lose points at the end of a turn.

Going first, the Soviet will often coup in a battleground country to force down DEFCON (this limiting where future coups/realignment rolls can be made) and gain some military ops. This forces the US player to either coup in a potentially less advantageous area (certaily in the early war before Africa, the Americas and South-East Asia come into play) or accept a VP loss at the end of the turn.

If you manipulate DEFCON/military ops well you can often pick up a VP or three at the end of the turn, especially as there are some sneaky events in the deck that let you change DEFCON. Drop one of these late in the turn with your opponent's military ops and DEFCON are both on two to set DEFCON to five and as long as your military ops is also on five you can gain a nice little VP bonus.

Thematically, I guess it reflects political and military brinkmanship - who's got the best army and the balls to use it, without forcing nuclear war? There was a lot of military chest-thumping in the cold war from both sides.
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Troy W
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The required military ops are also a great reflection of the most important feature of the Cold War, the military-industrial complex (a driver of Western middle class prosperity on the one hand, a central pillar or prop of a command economy on the other). Economic activity drives military activity; both sides were frank about using "little wars" to field-test equipment and drive more political demand for building more equipment, in a wonderfully dizzy loop of logic.

The Soviet side, of course, used arms exports to survive, generating cash or bananas (i.e., trades of materials or goods they had no other way to get, from poor countries with little else to offer). As "Suvorov" points out in one of his books, Soviet export arms were decidedly inferior, with, for instance, no radios or padding in the tanks, manual rather than electronic systems, etc.

These little wars occasionally ran the risk of blowing up the planet. The greatest irony of all? The Cold War might have ended far earlier if top-notch Western equipment had ever faced the Soviet "best"--the utter inferiority of Soviet tanks, aircraft, communications, and control/logistics was only exposed after Communism fell. In other words, American posturing had backup; Soviet posturing, at least when it came to conventional weaponry, was largely posturing.
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