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1989: Dawn of Freedom» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Card analysis 1 to 10 rss

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Filip Laeveren
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4 years ago, Conor Hickey wrote an early year, mid year and late year card analysis.

Recently, I contacted Conor and asked him if I could use his card analysis to add some personal thoughts and strategy tips.

Therefore, below you will find the card analysis of the cards 1 till 10. To increase readability, I will only post 10 cards each time. My personal thoughts are written in red. The black text is from the hand of Conor.

I am looking forward to your opinions, certainly of the expert players, to add some advanced strategy advice.


1: Legacy of Martial Law (2 ops, Communist, remove if event occurs).

Replace 1 Democratic SP in Poland with a Communist SP and make a Support Check in Poland using the Ops value of this card.

One of the few cards that will help the Communist in Poland, this can be useful to Support Check Gdansk (after replacing an SP in Poznan), as Gdansk cannot be supported by the Polish Catholic Church. Not likely to have huge impact overall, and the Democrat will not usually mind playing this although he may need to use its ops to repair any damage it does.

This card can have impact in combination with Perestroika. If you have a plan – as communist - for Poland, This combination can help, together with Walesa before Solidarity legalised is played, or with Deutsche Marks played as an event on Turn 1 AR1 to fish for Solidarity legalised.

2: Solidarity Legalised (4 ops, Democrat, remove if event occurs).

Place a Democratic SP in every uncontrolled Farmer and Worker space in Poland. The Communist player may no longer make Support Checks in Gdansk. Allows play of 'Walesa'.

Very powerful if the event occurs early, as 5 of the 6 Battlegrounds in Poland are Worker spaces, and Katowice is also useful for the Democrat to get so he can Support Check Ostrava later. Disallowing Support Checks in Gdansk is minor but may be useful if 'Legacy of Martial Law' has not been played yet, and 'Walesa' is another good event. The Communist may well give up on Poland early though, and concentrate on other countries, so he may not be too averse to playing this.

If Poland has not been scored yet, and Walesa is still in the deck, you – as communist – can decide to send it on the TAS-track. At the beginning of the track, it is harder to make progress as communist, because you need to achieve a 6. Sending this card on the track gives you 83% chance of moving on. On the short term, this gives you only a small advantage (+1 modifier on the track or 1+ ops value for 1 op cards), but on the long term the advantages of being ahead (and staying ahead) are increasing.

The other cards in early year that the communist will want to send on the TAS-track are all 1-op cards (St. Nicholas Church and Helsinki Final act). So combined with the advantages of the first and second spot, this can increase your chances of succesfully sending a major card for the democrat on the TAS track in turn 3 from 16% to 50% (for the third spot).

3: Walesa (3 ops, Democrat, remove if event occurs).

Place 4 Democratic SP(s) in any spaces in Poland. Then make 2 Support Checks in Poland using the Ops value of this card. Requires 'Solidarity Legalised' to be played as an event.

A good event for the Democrat as he can break Communist control of spaces around Warszawa and Lodz, then try to Support Check his way in. The Communist will not be overly concerned playing this for ops if Poland has been scored and he has given up Power, but risks handing Control of Poland to the Democrat, rather than the usual Domination.

As democrat, if you draw it before Solidarity legalised is played, you want to keep this card in hand until AR7, so you can prevent the communist from playing it. It is a sort of threat.

If Hungary is already fallen in communist hands, you might consider of holding this card until the next turn. As democrat, you must try to avoid – IMHO – to be way behind after early year, because the best way for democratic victory is the automatic victory after having reached 20 VP. It is harder for the democrat to achieve end-game victory, because of the bonusses given to the communist for retaining in power and because of Romania Scoring, which is almost always a communist country.

Therefore, a good Poland scoring in early year is often a necessary step to democratic victory.

4: Michnik (1 op, Democrat, remove if event occurs).

Place 3 Democratic SPs in the Polish Intellectuals space.

Useful for the Democrat as it gives him another space in Poland (and 2 more cards in the Power Struggle), and means he doesn't have to go through the easily-Support-Checked student space, but the Communist will be happy to play this for the op anyway.

As democrat, when this card has not been played before, it might prevent you of playing intelligentsia in the Polish writers space.

If you have reached the second spot on the TAS-track, and the communist is not there yet, you will often play this card for ops.

5: General Strike (3 ops, Democrat, remove if event occurs).

In his next Action round the Communist must discard a card and roll a die. To end the strike the total of the Ops value plus die roll must exceed 5. The Communist must continue to discard a card and roll a die each Action Round until the strike is over, though he may play a Scoring Card during the strike.

Similar to Quagmire/Bear Trap in Twilight Struggle, this at least offers the Communist a quicker way out if he discards a bigger Ops card to it. I'll usually play this for Ops as Democrat so it may come back to annoy the Communist in Mid Year. The effect is rather better if the Communist plays it himself, as the Democrat is then guaranteed at least 2 action rounds in a row, which is a good chance to carry out Support Checks or catch up in a country.

As democrat, when you desperately want play the first card in the next round, you can play this as an event on AR7. I can imagine this has the most effect in turn 6, when you know which cards are left. This also can be a good combo with Samizdat. Play Samizdat earlier on the turn, put a scoring card aside till the next turn, play General Strike on AR7, and gain tempo in the country you want to score, or better, if the strike continues, break into battlegrounds. Of course, this is very situational, and you will need some luck on the rolls.

Another option to play it for the event as democrat, is when you are under “prudence” – if this ever happens after all.

But most of the time, the free 3 ops as Democrat are too tempting to use.

6: Brought in for Questioning (3 ops, Communist, not removed).

The Democratic Player must randomly discard a card. If it is a Communist event it takes place immediately.

The Communist will usually play this for ops, and it can offer the Democrat a chance to dump a Scoring Card he doesn't want to play by playing this card last and having to discard the Scoring Card. With a hand otherwise clogged with Communist events it can be awkward to manage though.

As democrat, this is your number 1 keep card. In mid-year, you certainly face scoring cards in a region where you are behind. Ditching a bad scoring card is the democratic way for achieving a +20 VP victory before end scoring.

7: State Run Media (2 ops, Communist, remove if event occurs).

Remove four Democratic SPs, no more than 2 per space.

More powerful the earlier the event occurs, be careful when placing initial influence as the Democrat, if you do not have this card in your hand, as it can completely eliminate you from an area.

As democrat, during setup you often place 1 influence in Varna (if you do not have eco-glasnost) or 1 in Magdeburg (if you do not have St. Nicholas Church). When placing influence that way, your hope rests on the fact that the communist does not have state run media, because the communist will not hesitate on playing state run media. If he doesn’t, you must raise your influence as soon as possible till 3, but most of the time, you will not have the ops left for assuring presence in those countries.

8: Prudence (4 ops, Neutral, recurring event).

Opponent -1 ops for the rest of the turn, to a minimum of 1 op.

The lack of a Headline Phase in 1989 makes this less attractive then Red Scare/Purge would be in TS. You have the choice of a risk-free 4 ops (quite hard to come by in this game) or denying your opponent a potential 6 ops.

A little more attractive for the Communist to play for the event in the Early Year, and the Democrat to play in the Middle Year due to the composition of the Event Deck.

In none of my games, I have seen it played for the event. It can be brutal, but for some reason or another, it never gets played for the event. If it is played for the event, I think it can cause the most damage in turn 1, when it gets played by the communist.

As defensive mechanism, you can play as communist when you fear the Monday demonstrations. 5 support checks with a 3 ops value still can be hard, but at least less devastating then 5 support checks with a 4 ops value…

As democrat, if you play it on AR1, already 1 communist action round has passed without being under prudence, so it is hard to imagine a situation where it can be usefull to play it as an event. Maybe if the communist opens with Perestroika, you can counter it on your AR1 with prudence.

9: The Wall (1 op, Communist, remove if event occurs).

Place in front of the Communist Player. In his next Support Check in Germany cancel the modifier for any adjacent spaces controlled by the Democratic Player.

One of several events that make Democrat investing in East Germany unattractive, but he will be hard pressed to get past the Lutheran Church and Leipzig without Monday Demonstrations anyway.

It is often forgotten, but when the Monday demonstrations have been played, it can be usefull for the communist to break into a country next to Dresden.

10: Cult of Personality (3 ops, Communist, remove if event occurs).

Place 4 Communist SPs in Worker or Farmer Spaces in Romania, no more than 2 per space. Has no effect after 'The Tyrant is Gone'.

The Communist will usually play this for ops, Romania is not important in the Early Year, and the Democrat will not have a problem playing this for ops either, yes he is helping the Communist get a start in Romania, but it will not score until Late War (if at all), and it's arguably the toughest country (after East Germany), for the Democrats to be competitive in. Better to use the 3 ops now and worry about Romania later.

When it gets played by the democrat, the communist will definitely place 2 ops in Constanta. This way it provides access to Bulgarian battlegrounds/worker spaces. So Cult of personality does not only affect Romania, it also affects Bulgaria.

That being said, there are a lot better candidates to send on the TAS-track.
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Kris Wei
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My little advice:

5. General Strike*
Like Bear Trap, this should also be considered as a RED card, that means, Communists might event it much more than the Democrats, and, COM might hold this card to T3, in order to dump the cards you are hard to deal with, (Church/Eco-Glasnost/Helsinki/Papal visit/Intelligentsia).

Also, the loss of a headline phase means DEM can't construct a 2-move combo with this, that makes it lose its only usage.

6. Brought for Questioning
Totally a 5-year plan, also maybe make miraculous effect as an event like 5-yp, in Mid/Late Year.

7. State Run Media*
A Great combo card with Honecker*(the most powerful card in the game in my consideration). Used as a T2/T3 AR8 move might give you 10-20 victory points.

8. Prudence
4 ops are precious, don't waste it as an event.

About the game, I think COM is much closer to an auto-victory while Final Scoring is favored by DEM, since the scoring card removal, It's hard for DEM to grab big VPs(such as, 10-vp Poland)for multiple times, but not for COM. Also the Eve is, a RED card.

Through playing it many times, I think this game is totally funny and interesting with events and dices, but not THAT balanced. I think the COM might should have a 60-65% win rate and I'm confident to win at least 6 games in a 10-game series versus any player in the world as Communists. Hope it could be modified a little (though it is hopeless since not many players play it)
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Bruce Wigdor
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Lake Hiawatha
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I think the COM might should have a 60-65% win rate and I'm confident to win at least 6 games in a 10-game series versus any player in the world as Communists. Hope it could be modified a little (though it is hopeless since not many players play it)


When we ran leagues, the play balance results (hundreds of games, with no bidding) were almost exactly 50-50. In the most recent championship best three out of of 5, each player won with both sides and the Democrat won 3 of the 5 matches. At the first WBCs, I know that the Democrat enjoyed a significant advantage, although the sample size was rather small.

If I do resume the Wargameroom leagues, having a 1989 league is the top priority, because I do want to keep my finger on the pulse of any change in play balance information. If compelling statistical evidence demonstrates that the game is imblanced, Ted and I will do something about it. But so far, the statistics suggest that everything is about where it should be.
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