Just played a really interesting game of TS, where eventually, in turn 9, I won as the Russians by playing the Wargames card. It's a fairly crafty card- I could see that I was ahead at that moment in time with VP, but wouldn't be for long... at the end of turn 10 scoring I knew I would lose out due to US investment in both Europe, and the Middle East. So I slapped down Wargames, and due to having 8 VP in my favour, won the game. Anyway, my main question is this: what kind of historical event does the card Wargames portray? I did real the bit of info in the book, but didn't quite understand it- it seemed to be all about pushing your enemy right to the edge of nuclear war, but not going over the brink- i.e. the term coined "brinkmanship" What is the card actually meant to represent? And what is the cryptic phrase "How about a game of chess?" mean to signify? Cool card tho, anyway, it pratically won me the game- I don't think i would've scored particularly highly in the endgame stages.
Also as a sidenote, we seem to see there is a shift in this game. The USSR player seems strong early on- but the further you progress- particularly late war, the US gains in power, significantly- they can even make a drive for Europe Total Control if they want at the end- particularly with "Tear down this wall" et al...
I think the term 'brinkmanship' first came in to currency around the time of the cuban missile crisis and it does indeed mean taking events to the edge of the abyss (nuclear war, divorce, resignation etc, depends on the circumstance but it is the point of no return). The idea is to scare the other side into backing down to avoid the terrible consequences for both of you, but it is indeed a dangerous tactic.
The principle has been around a lot longer than the term though, and for the last couple of hundred years it has been recognised that a well timed 'exercise' - say a couple of hundred thousand troops engaging in 'wargames' near the border - is an excellent tool for concentrating another country's mind.
The chess quote is indeed a reference to the movie.
Yes, that is a risk. But only a very desperate player plays Missile Envy at Defcon 2, and the other two only have a 1 in n chance where n is your hand size. Of course, as USSR you might be able to reduce Defcon to 2 in headline, and then play Wargames as first action before anything like that happens.
Also, there is an interesting point about Missile Envy and Wargames. Wargames is a mixed event, so Missile Envy triggers Wargames. The event then occurs with the Misssile Envy player as the active player. So he gives you 6 VPs and then the game ends... Even if you say that you give him 6 Vps, that is what you wanted anyway!
"Brinkmanship" can essentially be understood as bringing both sides to the point where the next step risks an escalation unacceptable to at least one party. It can be crudely likened to a cross between Poker and Chicken ("Chicken" as in teenagers driving cars toward each other at a high rate of speed to see who swerves first).
The Cuban Missile Crisis was an example of Brinkmanship in action. A less widely remembered example occurred in 1973 during the Third Arab-Israeli War when Pres. Nixon ordered an elevation in Defcon status in order to discourage the Soviets from carrying out a threat to send military forces into Egypt to stabilize their proxy's military situation.
"Wargames" might refer to large-scale muscle flexing, which could also be construed as getting a jump on deploying combat-ready forces in preparation for committing them. Particularly in times of tension, large-scale wargames naturally give rise to the question "Maneuvers or mobilization?" They can also contribute to raising the perceived threat level and give rise to unforseen circumstances.
In the early 1980s--I believe it was 1983--NATO carried out large-scale wargames early in the year. In the prevailing climate of the Kremlin, Soviet senior leaders were leaning toward the belief that Pres. Reagan intended to attack the USSR. These wargames contributed to Soviet alarm, and the Soviets reportedly moved to a "Launch on Warning" strategic nuclear posture.
Late that same year, a Soviet air defense facility detected the launch of five U.S. ICBMs toward the Soviet Union. The Soviet AF colonel commanding the installation broke with SOP and did not immediately pass the information up the chain of command because he reasoned that an actual launch would consist of far more than five ICBMs; he suspected an equipment malfunction, which proved to be the case.
His individual initiative and restraint probably prevented a nuclear exchange.
(This information was gleaned from a link provided on the Consimworld Forum related to the game "First Strike".)
I'm such a geek for noticing this, but when the computer in the clip is listing the different nuclear war variants, it mis-spells Argentinean Escalation as "Angentinian." Take that People's Replubic of China! It also puts Palestinian as Palistinian...so there's Chille. I'd say the first edition of TS didn't do too badly after all!
Last edited Fri Feb 9, 2007 4:33 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)