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Subject: Map vs. Andean Abyss, A Distant Plain rss

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PC Principal
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I own Andean Abyss and I'm waiting for my copy of A Distant Plain to arrive. I'm definitely very interested in Fire in the Lake. Cuba Libre is the one game in COIN series that isn't thematically nearly as interesting to me, personally, as the other titles. Playing around with the CL VASSAL module, however, I can't help but wonder if I'm missing something. So am I?

Opening the module, the first thing that hits me in the face, is the map. It's so small - as in there are so few areas! No divisions vertically. How does this, in broad terms, affect the gameplay experience? How would you veterans, in fact, compare the gameplay experience of CL to AA or ADP? The theme is what is, I guess, and you either are interested or not so much.
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Chuck Tewksbury
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This game has been described to me as "a knife fight in a phone booth" - the map *is* constricted and plays faster than the other two games in the COIN series in my experience... so you're not missing anything
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PC Principal
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ctewks wrote:
"a knife fight in a phone booth"


That's a lovely image... That's exactly what it looks like
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Gordon J
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Zelroy wrote:
ctewks wrote:
"a knife fight in a phone booth"


That's a lovely image... That's exactly what it looks like


It's a great game. One I thought wouldn't get as much play as it seems more simple and maybe not as challenging. But I was wrong. There is a lot of tension in this game because there is much less real estate than the other games. It has a different feel than the rest, and his the best of the 3 right now to teach newbies to the COIN system. I first thought of CL as Andean Abyss lite, boy was I wrong. Everyone should own all three of the COIN games, each has their own feel. And this one I have played more than the rest mainly because of the playing time being a little shorter.
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Troy Creamer
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I had your same concerns and then i played it and now i totally agree with Gordon its awesome and a very good place for new people to get into the system. Its also offers a very different feel then the rest. When i first got into to the COIN system i never thought i would own all three let alone four now I will be owning all four and I love all four because each one offers new exciting things to explore. Some people like it the best but I think ADP is the best right now but cuba might be in second place. ADP is the heaviest though and the hardest to wrap your head around but has such a relevant and interesting theme. There is also a lot of tension and focus in Cuba. Its the easiest to get to the table because you can play through it quickly and because of the small map it doesn't seem as overwhelming to people. Every COIN player should have it merely because its the best way to get your friends into playing COIN games.

Less space on the board make every decision that much more brutal and the negotiations between players that much more critical.
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"L'état, c'est moi."
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Zelroy wrote:
ctewks wrote:
"a knife fight in a phone booth"


That's a lovely image... That's exactly what it looks like


And plays like...

[Roger's Reviews] Cuba Libre: A Knife Fight in a Phone Booth
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PC Principal
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All these praises for the game are convincing, for sure. But isn't there going to be any comments from those players who dislike the tighter map (or the game for any other reason)?

I'm still trying to decide if I should put my prejudice and bias aside and cough up the cash to buy this COIN title, too.
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Hubert AMG
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they (we) are not prejudiced against CL mostly due to time of play call it a "slap in a tool booth or knife fight in the toilet" - it is still one of the quickest COIN in the series And the map is also very nice
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Jared Inc.
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I first got interested in A Distant Plain only to have it sell out a few days before ordering it. I made a post in the ADP forums with the same concerns as yourself. I bought CL on the back of everyone's recommendations. While CL is my first COIN game, it sure doesn't disappoint. With its shorter length and smaller map, it is likely to see the table more often and be a little less intimidating for the more Euro-centric players in your group. After playing a few games, the map doesn't feel "a little cramped" as I had initially dismissed it to be.

Sometimes, its good to be wrong.
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MightyBattleMushroom wrote:
I first got interested in A Distant Plain only to have it sell out a few days before ordering it. I made a post in the ADP forums with the same concerns as yourself. I bought CL on the back of everyone's recommendations. While CL is my first COIN game, it sure doesn't disappoint. With its shorter length and smaller map, it is likely to see the table more often and be a little less intimidating for the more Euro-centric players in your group. After playing a few games, the map doesn't feel "a little cramped" as I had initially dismissed it to be.

Sometimes, its good to be wrong.


I fully support this! CL is a very good game. I have ADP and CL and are interested in AA and FTL as well.
 
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Hubert AMG
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I expect from FitL a bit more than AA and ADP already have shown and from what I have read - it should be it. Not a revolution but minor tweaks compared to these two.
 
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Juha, I love the avatar!
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I forgot to post a conclusion to this thread - I'll do it now in case of subscribers etc.

I ended up ordering the game. I'm not a big fan of the theme, but I like the COIN system so much that I didn't want to pass. Also, the players in my group can certainly use a lighter/shorter/easier introduction to the genre.

Like everywhere else right now, availability is an issue in my country. I had to recruit an online friend - a person I have never met - to buy me the only copy on the other side of the country :-)

Looking forward to that sharp edged melee combat in an obsolete piece of communication facility :-P
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Troy Creamer
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After your first play would love to hear your thoughts again.
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gecko1919 wrote:
After your first play would love to hear your thoughts again.


I finally played my first game.

I played all the factions, one after another, as well as I could. Before you laugh, I think it's a super fun way to play any COIN series game (as opposed to the cumbersome bots, that take more of your brain power than your own strategy). It creates a cool narrative AND it's the best way to learn the nuances of any of these games.

So, my thoughts. Let's just say that ALL the three published COIN games (it's way too early to see FitL in this side of the planet) so far are the only ones I have rated "10" in BGG. Yes, including Cuba Libre.

My concers about the tighter map AND the theme are so far gone that I can hardly remember what I said. Can you? CL plays the fastest not only because of the smaller deck or the tighter map, but because of more straightforward events and faction interactions, too. The thought of a socialist revolution as a subject of game could still make me bite my own fist, but there are anti-communist student groups, money laundering mobsters and fascist dictators to win my heart.

All in all, an excellent game and a worthy member of the COIN series. Now my eyes are fixed towards Viet Nam!
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I'll just add that Castro the old bastard and El Che won that one. Mainly because Batista the Idiot had left Havanna without any troops for the final propaganda round.

In the beginning of the revolution, Batista was winning. Then it was a tough competition between the Syndicate and Directorio. Then they took a dive and Castro ended up with the only positive number victory margin. Well played, Comrade, well played.
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Joel Tamburo
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To me each COIN game scratches a different itch.

If I want something that is short and really gets to the point Cuba Libre is it. It is also the one for seeing the Government player go into a death spiral when the US Alliance falters.

If I want to see a Government that starts out sort of inept but as the game progresses gets very good at what it does then Andean Abyss is my choice. I also choose it for when I want a slower experience where the factions have to build up first.

When I want to see a game with two COIN factions in play that really don't get along but nevertheless have to or they both lose A Distant Plain is perfect. It also yields the longer build up game but the Coalition and the Government are like two scorpions tied together pulling the same wagon.

Fire in the Lake will be interesting to see what itch it ultimately scratches as it has elements of A Distant Plain and also Andean Abyss in it plus a lot of stuff entirely unique to it. For example, it is the first COIN game with no "crime" faction in it (CL has the Syndicate, AA the Cartels and ADP the Warlords). It is also the first COIN game with two conventional military factions on opposing sides involved (US and NVA). I play tested it and still am figuring out what itch it scratches.
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Also worth mentioning is that, unless I'm mistaken, FitL is the first COIN game where COIN has irregulars - or "guerrillas".

If I had to pick one favourite, it would be Andean Abyss. I just like the factions in that one best. They just all have some manner of not even hidden sarcasm and irony to them. It's hard to explain. It's also the one reason to watch the otherwise lame movie Clear and Present Danger...
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I played another game, this time a solo against the bots.

I was delighted to learn that the bots are least cumbersome of all the COIN games so far. At times, pretty smart, too. Tough opponents.

On the other hand, they suck in that they kingmake each other and will kick the faction with the smallest victory margin with no regard to if someone is going to win in the next Propaganda round.

As 26 July, I didn't get to make too many moves through the whole game. All the enemies were all over me like flies on shit. They drove my resources to zero, kept removing my pieces etc, until Directorio won on the third Propaganda.

On the plus side, I saw proof that Directorio can really win.
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