Recommend
18 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

A Distant Plain» Forums » General

Subject: Great Game! rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
sloop hmsstarling
United States
South Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, we finished our first live game of A Distant Plain, and what a great game it is! Even though as chief of the Warlords, I went down to defeat as the Coalition abandoned us, and left us quibbling among ourselves as to whose fault it was that "they" won on the third Propaganda card, abandoning Afghanistan to its fate. As Warlord, I was critiquing the Government for eradicating in Konduz, definitely an end-game strategy, but not mid-game, and getting me too tangled up with blue Troops, when he should have been looking the other way giving me a chance to sneak into Kabul and conduct a terrorist act, as I had done to prevent the Coalition winning at the second Prop card last week. The Government was critiquing the Taliban for not ambushing in Kandahar, Paktika, and Kabul, taking out Coalition troops and inflicting some permanent losses to raise the stakes on Support, making it harder to get to the Coalition victory threshold, plus spread the terrorism opportunities around a little to make these easier to do. I mean it is a little difficult to get into Kabul, stay underground, and then do a terrorist act … And of course the Taliban were critiquing me for hoarding resources, rather than sending some their way to facilitate some more marches and ambushes … quibbling all around and that was only the start of it after the so-called end of it!

We played the game over two Wednesday evening sessions getting through a total of 36 Event action cards up to the third Propaganda card. We were playing the extended scenario so that no one could win quickly as we learned the game. In the first session we played 19 Event action cards in reaching the second Propaganda card before calling it a night. In that first session we Afghans suddenly realized that the Coalition is always on the threshold of victory if concentrated with no losses and two provinces with support, e.g., Kabul and Kwost, one surge away from victory with an imminent Prop card. Tension mounted as Warlord and Taliban managed to sneak a couple of underground guerillas into Kabul, the Government turning a blind eye, and after the dust settled on the next card, I committed a terrorist act in Kabul knocking out the carefully garnered support, even the Government was pleased, but don't anyone tell that to the people! No win for the Coalition now, so instead of surging out, he surged in making a big presence in Kandahar as the second prop card came up, we tallied up the status and called it a night.

Then as elections go, for the second session there was a new president of the Coalition, when a new player who thought he was attending to observe and had not read the rules yet, discovered that the first player couldn't attend at the last moment, and surprise, won the election Truman-like and there he was, greatness thrust upon him! This session played out in endless quagmire fashion going through 17 Event action cards before that third Prop card appeared around 11pm. There was a lot of ebb and flow, move and counter move, rallying and trafficking, marching and easing onto Lines of Communication, trying to build up some resources to use in the mid-game portion for bribery and operations to position for a big push in the end game … but alas it was not to be, the Government decided to engage in a campaign to thwart the Warlords in Konduz and Badakhshan rather than quietly undermining the Coalition, and the Taliban husbanded their guerillas to fight the end game assuming that there would have been one, at least that's the Warlord version of events … meanwhile the new president, enjoying the lack of attacks and ambushes on his troops, gained support in Kandahar, Kwost, and Kabul, and then surged out abandoning two outlying bases altogether, with the third Prop card next to play for 24 pieces Available plus 7 Support for 31 victory points and the win. And while I was able to get one guerilla into Kabul underground in the hopes of at least one more Event action card and terrorism before the Propaganda card, it was not to be, it was a long slog to get through those 17 cards, but one more, and we could be going on for another week! As it was I finished well out of the running with only 8 uncontrolled population, and 29 resources, not too bad a position for Warlords at mid-game, but definitely not a good position with the Coalition on the verge of victory at every surge opportunity. Now let me squabble with my fellow Afghan brothers some more over who's to blame!

I really enjoyed playing the Warlords, and really enjoyed the game, it is so engaging, and as a government junkie having been in government service for many decades and also a consultant to government after that, with a fondness for quagmires that only a government junkie could enjoy or endure, I have to say that this is a great game, on a theme that I really like. And speaking of quagmires that a government junkie could truly enjoy and endure, I'm eagerly anticipating Fire in the Lake!

And here's another thought. The rulebook elegantly characterizes Coalition wins as: "Fundamentalism Denied! The invaders have exhausted the Taliban, reduced to negotiating their place in an Afghanistan ruled by laws of man not God.," and also as: "Surge Vindicated! Confounding the skeptics, well-resourced counterinsurgency has enabled modern Afghan institutions to gain popular support. National reconciliation is underway."

Well, after the new president surged out winning the game, I can tell you that I didn't feel like there was any national reconciliation about to happen! In fact, I wanted to attack and suborn Government and Taliban alike, plus terrorize, and of course traffic to bolster my position among the three of us now that the dreaded westerners had at last, and thankfully, left us.

So the new thought is, could there be a three-player game variant in here with only Afghan players, and not three live Afghan players with a Coalition non-playing robot, but no Coalition at all, no Coalition troops, no bases, no ops or special activities, nor any other presence, perhaps providing aid to the Government on a sliding scale depending on Government "accomplishments," but no actual Coalition player? As a quagmire enthusiast government junkie, I would happily have played on in our next session with the rest of the 36 Event cards and three more Prop cards, without a Coalition player at all, but then it will a ton of fun to start a new game over again with four live players and go at it hammer and tongs, card play after card play!

Great game Volko and Brian!!
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Train
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks very much!
I'm glad you like playing in muddy quagmires.

As for Three Afghans And a Baby No Coalition, that's a thought that might be implemented for a possible post-2014 game, as the Coalition combat mission comes to an end.
I think it could possibly be made to work, but as the game is constructed right now it would not work very well.
Like if you take one leg off a chair, you can still perch on the edge of the seat but don't lean back....

First off the top of my head, a lot of the Event Cards would now be inapplicable.
Would players vote to skip Event Cards that they agreed were irrelevant?
Maybe not, but perhaps a lot fewer Events would be taken.
Also, only the Taliban would have Capabilities - unless you agree to let the Government gain Coalition Capabilities which is not really reasonable, unless you want to imagine that Coalition troops who are still there on the map but not represented by markers are responsible.
The respective victory conditions might now become unbalanced.
Hm, have to think about this...

Brian
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sloop hmsstarling
United States
South Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Brian,

I like it when you're thinking about things, good things are bound to come of it! I was browsing through the Event cards as I was repacking the game for next play, while contemplating an all-Afghan variant, and there are definitely some that wouldn't apply, and with one leg off the asymmetrical stool it might be one leg too few, but on the other hand, with some tweaking, adjusting, and a surgery or two, there might be an interesting and playable all-Afghan variant in there. I quickly exhausted my knowledge of the possibilities, but as I said, I like it when you're thinking about things!

Jan
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Volko Ruhnke
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the readout!

I wonder if you could get some of that 3-way Afghan-Afghan-Afghan feeling by playing with just three players and having the Non-Player chart run the Coalition? The Coalition would still be there but would not be nearly as slippery as a human player...

Volko
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sloop hmsstarling
United States
South Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Volko,

I was thinking of giving that a try in our next three player session. We usually have four, or occasionally more players, but sometimes only three, and an all-Afghan three player game with a Coalition robot might give a post-Coalition feel to the game, plus it would avoid having to peer at that Cheshire cat like grin the whole game while the three of us are calling him the most vile names! That's one of the great things about contemporary headline games, you can really get into the spirit of things! And even if it's not so contemporary, I can vividly remember every headline from the 60s and 70s to this very day, and Fire in the Lake is going to be another great game!

Jan
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Volko Ruhnke
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent, if you do end up trying a 3-player, please let us know how it turns out!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Train
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks Sloop!

The problem with trying to get a balanced three-way is that someone always... naw, I can't finish that sentence in a family-friendly way, so let's carry on with the chair metaphor.

The simplest way to deal with things is often to make as few changes as possible before play, and decide during repeated plays what works... if you are playing with the right people this is easier than it sounds. Otherwise it tanks.

So, for a post-Coalition scenario, perhaps these few changes:

- Set up as for the Short scenario, but without Coalition pieces and put that third Govt base in Kabul. I have a feeling the denouement for the existing regime in Afghanistan will come fairly promptly.
- Set up the deck as for the Short scenario, root through any cards that are not used and Govt gets any Capabilities that Coalition would; this assumes a certain amount of Coalition involvement still on the ground in Afghanistan. However, there are only 2 of these that would be useful: #1, "ISR", and #5, "Aerostats". Use your discretion; it might be better to do away with Capabilities completely as this could unbalance things too far for the Taliban, because all of his Capabilities are still useful, except for $34, "Accidental Guerrillas".
- For simplicity, leave the cards as they are otherwise - at worst this means that fewer Events will be taken, which is by players' choice anyway.
- My main concern here is that the victory conditions are perhaps unbalanced, since only the Taliban is primarily seeking Support/Opposition - Government might want to build Support but only as an inefficient way to add to Patronage, or to turn an Opposition space to Neutral. Meanwhile, Govt and Warlords are primarily seeking Control or not-Control, while it's a secondary concern for the Taliban.

Hm, perhaps there is better asymmetry here than I thought.
And the Warlord player, if he was discounted before in 4-player games, certainly won't be now.

Anyway, these are just a couple of thoughts coming to me at the keyboard.
Play the 4-player game a few times and get used to the system before trying this out, though!

Brian

(Why isn't there a "pensive" emoticon?
There's just shis snarky one )

Oh, and as for Fire in the Lake, they say if you can remember the 60s you weren't really there... (snicker)
4 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sloop hmsstarling
United States
South Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Brian,

Ah yes the 60s, I vividly remember every headline and I never forget a face, but some of the other details remain, shall we say, "fuzzy" …
Thanks very much for the advice on a prospective all-Afghan post-Coalition game variant. I'll definitely try a few more 4-player games before giving the all-Afghan variant a go, and while waiting for our next live game, I'm embarking on a solo as Taliban using the three non-player bots to explore my theories on ambushes and why the Coalition would always want to travel with a couple of Government cubes in tow …

Also, off topic, I have recently rediscovered PTAH, can't actually spell it out, that first arrived in my mailbox with my S&T subscription in the 70s, and it looks like a prime candidate for a COIN-like update, four factions, area movement, control and opposition, not exactly COIN, but perhaps something COIN-like might be interesting. And as you say, there aren't many coup games out there.

Thanks again for a great game!

Jan
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Train
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks Jan, get a few games in before trying any of these changes... you won't regret it.

I hope you enjoy PTAH, there were some ideas in that game that should have gone places, but it was the wrong time and place for it.

Right now I'm working on some coup games (or games with coups in them) that feature some player asymmetry, and have some of these elements in them, but you build your factions on the fly.

Brian
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sloop hmsstarling
United States
South Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Coups, player asymmetry, COIN-like elements, and especially build your factions on the fly, now there are some ideas a government junkie could really enjoy! Would like to see something like this on P500!

Jan
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Train
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Heh, you and 74 other people... not enough I'm afraid.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.