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Subject: Unorthodox Strategy rss

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Michael Patnik
United States
Pennsylvania
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I've recently been playing a lot of TS via Playdek. Several times I've played against an opponent whose handle is a string of Chinese characters. This opponent has the highest rating that I've ever seen. (2200+) He plays in a way that I find to be quite strange and hard (for me) to play against, beating me soundly every time.

1: He spaces everything. He's spacing two cards per turn on turn 2 as USSR if he wins the space roll on turn 1. Often he's discarding his held card in the mid-war.
2: He never seems to play events that can grant VPs for ops. He always goes for the VPs.
3: He never plays the China card, even when it seems obvious to do so. (flipping Thailand)
4: Despite the fact that I'm playing so many more ops than him due to his strategy, he seems to find a way to score the regions that he's ahead, and avoid many of the regions that he's behind. (5yp as USSR, JFK or Tehran as USA) I feel like he must be holding 5yp turn after turn waiting to discard a scoring card.

Is there anyone who understands some of the core fundamentals of this strategy who can shed a bit more light on it? I've attempted to mimic it a few times against random opponents, but I don't think I quite get it. I'm not doing terribly, but I don't feel that I'm doing better than I would with a more "standard" strategy.

That said, I do feel that after playing this opponent I have improved quite a bit. Although I don't space everything, I am now better at hitting the VP awards first. I used to ignore the space awards and only use the space race to get rid of unplayable events. I'm also a bit better at managing the VP track vs managing board position.
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Alex delenca
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Ahah, we know exactly who that is. He also frequently attacks Italy instead of Iran, right? That's Kris Wei (sankt) - top player. Go to the Play by Forum - we played him recently and he destroyed us. He also frequently comments on ongoing PbF games. His unorthodox style is fascinating - at the recent world tourney he was the only guy to beat the winner of the 2016 world championship.
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King in Green
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It will be interesting to see if the 'Sankt style' becomes influential as other players try copying it a little. Another stage in the evolution of TS strategy.
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Wayne Walker
United States
Chuluota
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I am a TS novice, but I find the prospect of a successful alternative strategy like this riveting.

Tuned in.
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Eric Booth
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Cary
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Net Decking TS. I love it. I really need to get more plays in of this.
 
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Alex Drazen
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Quote:
1: He spaces everything. He's spacing two cards per turn on turn 2 as USSR if he wins the space roll on turn 1. Often he's discarding his held card in the mid-war.

I like to do this as USA, but not quite as aggressively. Often by the Late War, I'm only able to space 3's. As the Soviets, I'll space when strictly necessary (Grain Sales, Colonial Rear Guards, Voice of America, Tear Down This Wall). I do like to burn off CNS for the 2 VP swing (2-1 scoring) and maybe space one card to prevent opponent from double space race power.

Quote:
2: He never seems to play events that can grant VPs for ops. He always goes for the VPs.

There is a lot of sense to this. The USA gets stronger as the game goes on, so getting VP early is good for them. The USSR wants to push to 20 VP as soon as possible. I usually mix it up: at 1 VP per Op, I'll almost always take the points. 1 VP card? Only if I'm pushing for the win or desperately trying not to lose. Score the right regions first or discard the wrong ones, and being behind in a couple suddenly doesn't matter so much.

Quote:
3: He never plays the China card, even when it seems obvious to do so. (flipping Thailand)

As USSR, I almost never play the China Card until the Mid War, because of all the bad USA events. As USA, I will play it if I have Cultural Revolution and/or don't have Ussuri - though if I am behind in VP or the Soviet hand looks bad, I'll hang on to it to give them problems. I actually think the "don't give your opponent an easy out in hand management" is sound theory. If I get China in Early War as USA and can take Asia Domination with it, I'll totally play it to do that, because why not?

Quote:
4: Despite the fact that I'm playing so many more ops than him due to his strategy, he seems to find a way to score the regions that he's ahead, and avoid many of the regions that he's behind. (5yp as USSR, JFK or Tehran as USA) I feel like he must be holding 5yp turn after turn waiting to discard a scoring card.

Holding 5YP as Soviets is often smart, especially if you know you're behind in a region. I do this myself from time to time: if I can get up in Asia and Middle East early, might as well hold 5YP and see if I can ditch an unfavorable Europe Scoring, since USA has an edge in Domination there (that's probably why sankt coups Italy - and if I am playing against US +2 or higher that went to Iran, and hold Defectors, SocGov, and a 4-Op, I would basically always headline SocGov on Turn 1 and coup Italy myself - if I can grab France/Spain/Greece/Turkey, Soviets are golden in Europe and even have an off chance to cause max pain and panic with a timely Blockade).

The VP style is interesting, and thematic - it's a lot of brinksmanship. Personally I think if the Soviets can go into Mid War at -8 VP or better they have excellent prospects. If the USA can hold the Soviets to -3 or better and dominate a region or two, their cards should turn it around by Final Scoring.

One thing I try to do is take three countries in Middle East as USA because of Muslim Revolution and OPEC (as USSR I have gotten a lot of 4-7 point OPEC which is fantastic, especially if you can combo it with We Will Bury You). Hurts to lose influence but it hurts more for the Soviets to get a huge bonus scoring (and it REALLY hurts if they can SALT it back!)
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Fluff Da Sheep
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What happens if you draw a live CIA Created while holding 5YP as USSR?
 
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King in Green
Japan
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CIA AR1 usually.
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Alex Drazen
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Paul Harding wrote:
CIA AR1 usually.

Other methods for circumventing CIA/Lone Gunman:

* Headline it (hope opponent doesn't drop DEFCON - in Early War this is safe as long as you account for Containment and Olympic Games and D&C, or at DEFCON 4+) - had someone headline Containment when I had CIA a couple games ago, it really stunk!
* UN Intervention
* Nuclear Subs (on AR6, play CIA on AR7)
* SALT Negotiations (DEFCON 4, then play CIA before it drops to 2)
* Nuclear Test Ban (rarely)
* How I Learned to Stop Worrying
* Cuban Missile Crisis (only if opponent lacks 2 in WG/Turkey)


Worst case scenario, play 5YP early, hope you don't get unlucky.
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King in Green
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alexdrazen wrote:
Paul Harding wrote:
CIA AR1 usually.

Worst case scenario, play 5YP early, hope you don't get unlucky.

That doesn't work because your handsize is cut. I usually forget that I'm holding the China card as well if I make that mistake.
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Alex Drazen
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Paul Harding wrote:
alexdrazen wrote:
Paul Harding wrote:
CIA AR1 usually.

Worst case scenario, play 5YP early, hope you don't get unlucky.

That doesn't work because your handsize is cut. I usually forget that I'm holding the China card as well if I make that mistake.


If you get a random non CIA discard and then play China, you can hold CIA to the next turn (China normally allows 2 hold cards, but FYP's reduction makes this one).

And of course there's always spacing 5YP and holding CIA, if your hand/space race allows.

I think in another thread I worked out that it is theoretically possible, though extraordinarily unlikely, for the USSR to have as many as 5-6 suicide cards in a single hand (Grain Sales, CIA, KAL-007, Duck and Cover, Tear Down This Wall, and 5YP if any others in hand), but the USA can only have 2 (Lone Gunman and WWBY). The USA also has more "outs" from suicide cards - in addition to all the ones I listed above besides Nuclear Subs, they also have Ask Not, Aldrich Ames Remix, and even Blockade (discards WWBY - again, China required if you have both Lone Gunman and WWBY).

Of course all this presumes your opponent doesn't play a China Card stealing card for the event
 
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Carlo Patek
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alexdrazen wrote:
Paul Harding wrote:
CIA AR1 usually.

Other methods for circumventing CIA/Lone Gunman:

Headline it (hope opponent doesn't drop DEFCON - in Early War this is safe as long as you account for Olympic Games and D&C, or at DEFCON 4+)

Even with Olympic Games, it's safe if you don't boycott it
 
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Michael Patnik
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One play that seemed particularly strange was on T2AR6 as US, he played US/Japan for the event. (not under RS/P) I understand that we both knew that Asia would be scored next turn, but why would he play the event rather than ops there. You can take Japan and have a free op for elsewhere.

My only guess is that a goal of sankt's (I guess we are assuming we know who I was playing) strategy is to minimize total ops that are available to both players. By playing it for the event, he removes US/Japan from the deck, which would be a 4 op with no drawback for either player once US controls Japan. This also seems consistent with never playing China and not worrying too much about Western Asia (extremely ops intensive). If there aren't a ton of ops to go around, your opponent is less likely to be able to bury you in board position while you go after space / VPs.

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King in Green
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I have seen other US players doing that, there are several US events e.g. NORAD, Our Man which are far less painful towards the end of the game. So getting rid of them makes the deck more unfriendly for the USSR.
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Michael Patnik
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Paul Harding wrote:
I have seen other US players doing that, there are several US events e.g. NORAD, Our Man which are far less painful towards the end of the game. So getting rid of them makes the deck more unfriendly for the USSR.

That makes a lot of sense. Occam's razor.
 
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Kris Wei
China
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I have to explain this, it's a misunderstand on me, actually I don't have an ID with Chinese characters on Playdek..(I use Pietrzak, and apology to Wojtek , it's just a little joke. )

Meanwhile, 2 players I know might be whom you met(2200+ rank, Chinese string) , consider it happened recently, the player's id should be 炉溪, right?

And, I have to say, so called 'Sankt style' is basic for 70%+ Chinese high rank (2000+, I mean) players. You might see many USSR T1-AR1 space with terrible hand in Chinese high-level match and we consider Capture Nazi Scientist a card locked as event.

Welcome mail me if you want to know more,

Kris
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DominiGeek
Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo
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Out of curiosity, what´s the standard set-up in Chinese tournaments for balanced gameplay?

Regards
 
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Kris Wei
China
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rubendario5 wrote:
Out of curiosity, what´s the standard set-up in Chinese tournaments for balanced gameplay?

Regards

Before 2012 : US+3, with optional,
After 2012 : US+2, with optional.

Both rules have a less than 10%(55-45) win rate difference.,
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Michael Patnik
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Thanks for responding Kris! It's pretty crazy that there are such dramatic regional differences in play style.

Could you answer a few questions on playing the Chinese style against the standard American/European style that seems to have grown from twilightstrategy.com? (I'll call these the theory style and the sankt style for clarity) I'm very interested in how the strategies match up.

- Do you play differently vs someone playing theory style than you would vs another sankt style player?
- Are there any weaknesses in the theory style that you find easy to exploit?
- Are there any strengths of the theory style that you find difficult to play against?
- Have you ever tried playing the theory style yourself? If so, how did you feel about it?
- People on this board have at various times tried to describe the sankt style. Are there any key strategies that you feel these descriptions consistently miss or get wrong?

Also, FYI, I have attached a screenshot of the player handle in question. (I can't figure out how to copy the text on Playdek) The characters look very similar to the ones that you posted, but slightly different. It could just be the font.

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Kris Wei
China
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Generally, we consider twilightstrategy.com a good ABC-TS book, but most of its strategies are obsoleted in high-level match.

mpatnik wrote:

- Do you play differently vs someone playing theory style than you would vs another sankt style player?
- Are there any weaknesses in the theory style that you find easy to exploit?
- Are there any strengths of the theory style that you find difficult to play against?
- Have you ever tried playing the theory style yourself? If so, how did you feel about it?
- People on this board have at various times tried to describe the sankt style. Are there any key strategies that you feel these descriptions consistently miss or get wrong?

1. A little bit, e.g. I might space in AR3 against Ziemowit, but often space in AR1 against the player you met
2. They control Greece, Jordan, and unnecessary Turkey/Burma; they sometimes give up W.G./France; and, they play CNS for operation
3. As a defensive tactic, it's harder to breakthrough.
4. I did when I was an amateur, but it's more than 4 years ago so it's hard to describe what I feel then..
5. Everything is Victory Point / Space Scoring is the seventh region.

For example: you play de Gaulle headline in T3, Europe scoring already appeared once, it's France 1/1, Angola 1/0, Zaire 1/0, Cameroon 0/0.
1. You control France with a 3op: you gain 6 for Europe, lose 2 for military operation, (and probably 2+ for a battleground switch)
2. You control France with Duck & Cover: you gain 6 for Europe, lose 3 for D&C.
3. You coup Angola: you gain 2+ for battleground switch, 2 for military operation, and 2 for priority of South Africa + Zaire flipping.

The player you mentioned is the same with mine(just font difference), while he's more radical in vp grabbing. One of his view is: When Flower Power is in effect, and Egypt/Israel now US-controlled, if you have to event one white event as USSR, you should event VOA instead of Camp David. Sadly, my level of playing was decreasing continuously these 2 years, so it's hard for me to judge if he's right now.

At last, a great honour to Ziemowit, a real Master, he showed that the classical moves aren't totally obseleted yet
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Carlo Patek
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With the chinese strategy at what turn does the game ends on average?
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Ziemowit Pazderski
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Thanks Kris, but after all you did beat me during this championship quite decisively.
In the official version there is also a significant difference - 3 of 4 Chinese players I am aware of are above the 2100 rating, whereas none of the non-Chinese have managed the same - I'm usually close to 2100, but not quite there yet. Admittedly, there are only few of the strong WGR players there, with titans like Riku, Jędrzej, Bill or Charles absent.

Still, until we step up our game, it's a bit like Pizarro against the Incas - clash of cultures like that kind of hurts :-)
Well, we will have our last stand in the YATSL finals, the last struggle in the name of theory's school of TS.
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Kris Wei
China
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Ziemowit wrote:

In the official version there is also a significant difference - 3 of 4 Chinese players I am aware of are above the 2100 rating, whereas none of the non-Chinese have managed the same - I'm usually close to 2100, but not quite there yet.

Actually only 3 - Aragorn, me and the one Patnik mentioned(his ID means a little stream near his hometown - hard for me to translate), and as I know, they both think playing with you is competitive.

And it's very easy for a new account to get over 2000 - only need 4 str. wins against 1800-1900 players, but not that easy to keep the situation. I'm sure you'll get over 2100 with a new account - funny ELO glicko system

Edit: not ELO, thanks for remind me
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Gary Weis
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sankt wrote:
And it's very easy for a new account to get over 2000 - only need 4 str. wins against 1800-1900 players, but not that easy to keep the situation. I'm sure you'll get over 2100 with a new account - funny ELO system
Not ELO. We use glicko.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glicko_rating_system

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Haytil Reivesman
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Is this strategy much more effective for the Russians than the Americans?

Reasoning: 5-Year Plan affects the Russians and comes out more often than "Ask Not".

War cards are Soviet (rather than American), increasing the chances of Soviets getting early points.

Early War regions also skew towards Soviets more, don't they? So an auto-victory win is more likely to be Russian.
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