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James Webb
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This is PART THREE of a session report for a game of Twilight Struggle played with the optional cards and no other variants.

Influence in countries is written as (USA/USSR), with the totals being in bold if the country is controlled.

VPs are written as a positive total followed by the side that is leading, (e.g. 7 - USSR)

My own thoughts on the game are in italics, and are from the perspective of the USA player.

-------------------------------------------------------------


Turn Eight – Late War

My Hand: The China Card, Indo-Pakistan War, The Reformer, Kitchen Debates, Che, Africa Scoring, UN Intervention, OPEC, Missile Envy, Latin American Debt Crisis.

Ah, Missile Envy, good to see you. That will be my Headline, as I suspect Quagmire is coming and Missile Envy gives me the chance to do something constructive in the Headline phase as well as limit the USSR on its first turn. Unfortunately most of my high Ops cards are nasty USSR events. Between UN Intervention, Quagmire discards and the Space Race I have no doubt I can avoid triggering all of them, but it will leave me with few Ops to spend.

Headlines

USSR: Quagmire. NORAD discarded.
USA: Missile Envy. Draws Red Scare/Purge and plays it for the Event.

I dodged a bullet here. Quagmire and Red Scare/Purge is a vicious combo. Not only did I avoid that, but I got to hit the USSR with the event. The bonus of getting NORAD discarded makes it more important for the USSR to see Quagmire played.

AR 1

USSR: Missile Envy, for a coup in Mexico. Rolls a 1. No change.
USA: The Reformer discarded to Quagmire. Rolls a 2. Quagmire is discarded.

Under Red Scare/Purge, Missile Envy is only worth 1 Ops. A successful coup was unlikely. The USSR could have spent the 1 Ops on something and then couped with the second card (seeing as I wasn't going to get anything in my first Action Round), so they must have a shortage of suitable coup cards. Maybe they're all low value, or they have good USSR events.

AR 2

USSR: Decolonization, for the event. South Africa (3/1), Ethiopia (0/1), Sudan (0/1) and Algeria (4/2).
USA: Indo-Pakistan War. Influence in Algeria (5/2) and South Africa (4/1).

Must...keep...African...Battlegrounds...

AR 3

USSR: Marine Barracks Bombing, for the event. Lebanon 0/0 and Egypt 0/0.
USA: OPEC with UN Intervention. Influence in Lebanon (1/0) and Egypt (2/0).

Must...keep...presence...in...Middle East...

AR 4

USSR: ”Tear Down This Wall”, on the Space Race. Rolls 5. No advance.
USA: Che, on the Space Race. Rolls 6. No advance.

AR 5

USSR: Formosan Resolution, for realignment in Angola (+1 modifier to USA). Results in (4/0)
USA: Latin American Debt Crisis, for realignments. Event triggers. Venezeula (1/6) and Argentina (0/4). Realignment rolls in Argentina (No modifiers) result in (0/2).

I guess that the USSR is trying to weaken Angola enough to make a coup attractive, or just to be able to flip the country with regular influence. Sub-optimal play from me here, because I let the USSR have the event before I'd thought through where I wanted to realign. In the end I chose Argentina, where the USSR had just doubled their influence. If I'd realigned before letting the event trigger then Argentina would be empty.

AR 6

USSR: Summit, for a realignment in Mexico (+1 modifier to USA). Mexico remains (2/0).
USA: Africa Scoring. USA +1. VPs: 2 – USSR.

AR 7

USSR: Olympis Games, for realignments in Mexico (+1 USA). Again, Mexico remains (2/0).
USA: Kitchen Debates, for a realignment in Argentina (No modifiers). Results in (0/0).

End of Turn Eight. USA -2 VPs from Military Ops. USSR -1 VPs from Military Ops. VPs: 3 – USSR. DEFCON up to 3.

Although I had Africa Scoring, I spent a lot of time in responding to the USSR plays. I may have missed an opportunity to sneak Domination here, but I really couldn't afford to lose my footholds in the Middle East.


Turn Nine

My Hand: The China Card, ABM Treaty, East European Unrest, Iran-Contra Scandal, Star Wars, Special Relationship, Ortega Elected in Nicaragua, Arab-Israeli War, US/Japan Mutual Defence Pact, Cuban Missile Crisis.

This is a nice hand. A good lot of Ops and easily manageable USSR events. I am not currently leading on the Space Race, so I'll try and hold Star Wars until I am. Other than that, with NATO in effect, Special Relationship looks like a great Headline.

Headlines

USSR: Muslim Revolution. Egypt (0/0) and Libya (0/0).
USA: Special Relationship. VPs: 1 – USSR. Finland (3/5).

Muslim Revolution is a good Headline if you can bear to part with the 4 Ops. With one card my position in the Middle East is in tatters, and I need to decide whether to respond to that or get on with whatever else I'd planned (like taking advantage of breaking control of Finland).

AR 1

USSR: Socialist Governments. Influence into Argentina (0/3)
USA: US/Japan Mutual Defence Pact to coup Brazil. Rolls a 2. (0/0).

The dilemma I left the USSR at the end of Turn Eight (what to do about the empty Argentina) takes preference over a coup. I leave the holes in the Middle East for a turn to sneak in a coup in Brazil. The role is not quite high enough.

AR 2

USSR: Reagan Bombs Libya. Influence into Brazil (0/2). No USSR Influence in Libya, so the event does nothing.
USA: ABM Treaty, for the event. DEFCON up to 3. Coup in Brazil. Rolls a 4. Brazil (2/0).

The USSR thinks it's safe to move back into Brazil. I get a second bite at the cherry and get the result I wanted the first time.

AR 3

USSR: South America Scoring. USSR +2. VPs: 3 – USSR.
USA: East European Unrest, for the Event. Poland (1/3), Finland (3/3) and East Germany (0/4).

With me stealing Brazil from under the USSR nose, South America Scoring comes out. I play East European Unrest. In the first seven turns of the game, it's a minor irritation to the USSR player. In the Late War it's an absolute killer.

AR 4

USSR: South African Unrest. Influence into Poland (1/5).
USA: Ortega Elected in Nicuragua. The event triggers. No influence in Nicuragua. USSR coup in Honduras. Rolls a 3 which results in (1/0). USA places influence. Honduras (2/0) and Egypt (1/0).

The USSR has to respond to East European Unrest, and uses a good USSR card to do it. I finally turn my attention to the empty spaces in the Middle East.

AR 5

USSR: Colonial Rear Guards, on the Space Race. Rolls a 4. No advance.
USA: Cuban Missile Crisis. Influence in Egypt (2/0), Libya (1/0) and Japan (5/2).

I'd forgotten about Japan. With me finding it difficult to turn down the 4 Ops from US/Japan Mutual Defence Pact, it's been in limbo for most of the game. I make up most of the damage from Muslim Revolution, while the USSR dumps a troublesome card.

AR 6

USSR: Glasnost, for the event. DEFCON up to 3. VPs: 5 – USSR.
USA: Arab-Israeli War, for a coup in Panama. Rolls a 5. (1/0).

Playing Glasnost for the Event looks like an odd decision. I discarded The Reformer last turn, so all it does is give him 2 VPs and allows me to get another lucky coup roll.

AR 7

USSR: Grain Sales to the Soviets. Influence to Panama (1/2). USA draws Wargames and plays it for 4 Ops. Panama (4/2) and Libya (2/0).
USA: Iran-Contra Scandal. Influence into Colombia (1/0) and Japan (6/2).

The USSR totally misplayed this turn. The plan was to grab VPs and go for the Wargames victory. That's why Glasnost was played for the event, and the plan was to keep Wargames for the next turn. However, the USSR didn't manage the hand well and ended up in a corner where they had to play Grain Sales to the Soviets as their last card. This scuppered everything.

End of Turn Nine. USSR -2 VPs from Military Ops. VPs: 3 – USSR. DEFCON up to 3.

And the final nail in the coffin of the USSR's turn. No coup means a VP penalty for the USSR, and that would have made Wargames harder to play.


Turn Ten

My Hand: The China Card, Star Wars, Duck & Cover, The Cambridge Five, Pershing II Deployed, Chernobyl, “One Small Step...”, Defectors, Liberation Theology, The Iron Lady.

One turn to go. Nothing too troubling in this hand. Of the two difficult USSR events (Pershing II Deployed and Liberation Theology) I can Space Race one and hold the other, or hold both of them if I play The China Card. On the final turn, if I'm going to play The China Card it needs to get me more VPs than if I hold on to it for Final Scoring.

Headlines

USSR: Aldrich Aimes Remix.
USA: Defectors.

AR 1

USSR: Nuclear Test Ban, for a coup in Panama. Rolls a 2. (2/2).
USA: Duck & Cover, for realignments. Venezuela (+1 modifier to USA) (1/4), Panama (No modifiers) (2/0) and Venezuela (+1 modifier to USA) (1/3).

AR 2

USSR: Flower Power, for realignments. Attempts in Panama (+1 modifier to USA) (0/0), Colombia (1/0) and Brazil (+1 modifier to USA) (2/0).
USA: The China Card. Influence into Ecuador (2/0) and Panama (2/0).

The USSR Realigns me out of Panama with the first 2 Ops, and then tries to get me out of Colombia to prevent me getting back in. Then the final Ops is spent on Brazil. I get away with it this turn, and use The China Card. In retrospect it looks like another weak use of The China Card on my part..

AR 3

USSR: Iran-Iraq War, for realignments in Panama (+1 modifier to USA). Results in (0/0).
USA: The Cambridge Five. Influence into Panama (2/0)

The USSR is working really hard to kick me out of Panama. It almost as if the USSR has Central America Scoring...

AR 4

USSR: North Sea Oil. Influence into Panama (2/2).
USA: The Iron Lady. Influence into Panama (5/2).

The USSR tries a different approach. I throw 3 Ops back in as a discouragement. On the side, I end up with an extra Action Round from North Sea Oil. This is worth its weight in gold in the final turn.

AR 5

USSR: AWACS Sale to Saudis, for realignments. Attempt in Panama (+1 modifier to USA) results in no change, an attempt in Algeria (+2 modifier to USA) results in no change and an attempt in Brazil (+1 modifier to USA) results in (1/0). The event results in Saudi Arabia (2/3).
USA: Chernobyl. Influence into Brazil (3/0) and Saudi Arabia (3/3).

I send a clear “Hands-Off Brazil” message, and give the USSR something to think about in Saudi Arabia.

AR 6

USSR: Soviets Shoot Down KAL-007, on the Space Race. Rolls a 6. No advance.
USA: Liberation Theology, on the Space Race. Rolls a 2. VPs: 1 – USSR.

The USSR have no choice but to Space Race a tricky card. I take advantage of the breather to do the same. I get the roll, and the VPs.

AR 7

USSR: Central America Scoring. No change to VPs.
USA: Star Wars, for the event. I take ABM Treaty for the event and coup Iran. Rolls a 5. (3/0).

The reason for the USSR's relentless assault on Panama is revealed. Unfortunately, it ended up being Much Ado About Nothing. Now that I lead on the Space Race I can play Star Wars for the event and steal Iran. This is bad news for the USSR.

AR 8

USA: “One Small Step...”. Influence into El Salvador (1/0) and Saharan States (1/0).

I use my bonus Action Round to give me two more countries. El Salvador gives me Domination in Central America, but the Saharan States makes no difference. I just needed to put the 1 Ops somewhere.

End of Turn Ten. No penalties from Military Ops.

Final Scoring

Europe: USA +5. VPs: 4 – USA

Central America: USA +2. VPs: 6 – USA

South America: USSR +2. VPs: 4 – USA

Africa: USA +1. VPs: 5 – USA

Middle East: USA +5. VPs: 10 – USA

Asia: USA +6. VPs: 16 – USA

The China Card: USSR +1. VPs: 15 – USA

So despite the VPs being on the red side for the vast majority of the game, it ends with a fairly sizeable victory for the USA. The USSR messing up their Wargames gambit was significant, as was the amount of wasted effort they put into Central America in the final turn. I had some nice die and card luck in this game, but of course it was my superior strategy that won the day. Plus, my opponent was a clueless idiot. Well, he would be, wouldn't he, as this was actually a solo game.
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Alex Brown
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What a twist!
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J C
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Great annotated game session!

But I have a doubt, Why did you not use Grain Sales at this time (DEFCON was at 2)...
Quote:
Turn Nine
[...]
AR 7
USSR: Grain Sales to the Soviets. Influence to Panama (1/2). USA draws Wargames and plays it for 4 Ops. Panama (4/2) and Libya (2/0).
USA: Iran-Contra Scandal. Influence into Colombia (1/0) and Japan (6/2).


to perform a coup (in Panama, for instance) and instantly win by DEFCON 1? Draw Wargames blinded you and yourself ?
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James Webb
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KelemvorBGG wrote:
Great annotated game session!

But I have a doubt, Why did you not use Grain Sales at this time (DEFCON was at 2)...
Quote:
Turn Nine
[...]
AR 7
USSR: Grain Sales to the Soviets. Influence to Panama (1/2). USA draws Wargames and plays it for 4 Ops. Panama (4/2) and Libya (2/0).
USA: Iran-Contra Scandal. Influence into Colombia (1/0) and Japan (6/2).


to perform a coup (in Panama, for instance) and instantly win by DEFCON 1? Draw Wargames blinded you and yourself :p?


I must have subconsciously felt sorry for my opponent.
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Christopher Yaure
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and your opponent could have instead played Wargames, used the OPs from Wargames instead of Gran Sales, and not given you the OPs for Wargames.

Thanks for an entertaining write up.
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Joe Stude
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I enjoyed this quite a bit. Thanks for posting.
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