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Twilight Struggle» Forums » General

Subject: Explain the real world logic behind these TS mechanics? rss

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BobbySoFamous .
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I understand the real world logic behind some mechanics and not others:

Influence: Bribing politicians, creating propaganda
Coups: literal
DEFCON: Too many assassinations gets people hot on the nukes

But what about these mechanics...what are the real world situations they are trying to represent?

Military Ops: Why does it have an inverse relationship with the DEFCON? Why are you required to do more in peacetime?
Realignment: A confusing enough mechanic, what does it represent in the real world? Why do both sides risk decreasing?

Note that I'm not asking why the game designers wanted the mechanics from a gameplay perspective, I get that they wanted to balance or incentivize different actions. I'm asking why they're called what they're called what the real world parallels are. I think that will help me explain the rules to newcomers, otherwise there are a lot of things that don't make sense off the bat.
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Jason Bush
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Military Ops: you have more liberty to push the envelope and your hardliners expect you to as it shows your nations power.

Realignment: a powerful, but dangerous diplomatic act such as a trade deal, funding, sanctions, or other political pressure.
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Ben Kyo
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Military ops gets asked about a lot. I've always explained it as dick-waving. The US and the USSR are engaged in a pissing contest, and the premiers on either side can't be seen to be "soft", or they lose public/political support. The closer the world seems to be to disaster, the less important this becomes, but it can never be ignored.

Realignments are attempts to remove political influence, to disentangle from a region and restore whatever power structures the country had before either side started meddling. Preferably you only remove what the other side had in place, but there is the potential for the country reject the meddling from your side too, to get back on an even keel.

EDIT: Or maybe realignment simply refers to political action - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realigning_election - which can obviously backfire.
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BobbySoFamous .
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Thanks for the responses. On a similar note - thematically why do you win if your opponent started nuclear war? Wouldn't that mean they blew up your country?

It seems odd that much strategy involves keeping the DEFCON close to nuclear annihilation, while many advanced strategies revolve around "tricking" and manipulation your opponent's hand with DEFCON suicide cards to force them to send nukes at your country.
 
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Lawcomic
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It's a game, not a simulation. So the mechanics are to make for a more interesting game.
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Ben Kyo
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BobbySoFamous wrote:
Thanks for the responses. On a similar note - thematically why do you win if your opponent started nuclear war? Wouldn't that mean they blew up your country?

It seems odd that much strategy involves keeping the DEFCON close to nuclear annihilation, while many advanced strategies revolve around "tricking" and manipulation your opponent's hand with DEFCON suicide cards to force them to send nukes at your country.

Well, that's explained by the designers in the rulebook.
Quote:
One very notable difference between Twilight Struggle and other
Cold War games is that we assume nuclear war would be a bad
thing. Many other designs make the whole idea of letting the
nuclear genie out the bottle irresistible. From our vantage point
of hindsight, nuclear war was unthinkable, and that is why it did
not happen. Yes, we came close, but we believe that rational actors
would veer away from the button. Once the button was pushed,
nuclear war would have taken on a grim logic of its own, and human
extinction might have been the result.

I agree that "tricking" your opponent into triggering nuclear war is a slightly weird side-effect of this, but if you are going to make triggering nuclear war a lose condition, how else could it work? Thematically, it is always your opponent playing the event that causes DEFCON 1, not the card manipulation you pulled off that drove them into triggering the event (or the event that led to the coup that...)
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foksieloy
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I always assumed getting to defcon 1 doesn't mean actual nuclear war, but being forced to resign due to bad decisions that got too close for comfort.
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Alex
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BobbySoFamous wrote:
Thanks for the responses. On a similar note - thematically why do you win if your opponent started nuclear war? Wouldn't that mean they blew up your country?


DEFCON 1 means nuclear war and the end of the world as we know it. It is not one country being nuked by the other. Both sides lose.

As for the game purpose, think of it as the loser being identified as the country held responsible for the mess. Remaining living human beings over the world will be pissing on your flag for eternity.
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Haytil Reivesman
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-Realignemnt: I always saw this as covert actions - attempting to sabotage your opponent surreptitiously, using propaganda and other, dirtier techniques.

As the history of the CIA will show, often covert actions will not only fail, but they'll backfire. This "blowback" can actually steer countries and populations AGAINST you, as you'll be seen as interfering with a sovereign government maliciously (see: The Shah of Iran and the eventual Iranian Revolution). Hence, the potential to lose your own influence during your realignments.

-Nuclear War: Although the opponent's event or action might cause you to go to nuclear war, it is ultimately your responsibility because it's your turn. The way I see it, both world leaders have a responsibility to prevent nuclear war - and this includes limiting their own belligerence and not "boxing in" the opponent into a position where, realistically, they have no choice BUT to go to nuclear war.

So even if they thematically "chose" to go to nuclear war (via their event), it's YOUR fault because you didn't manage the situation - your aggressiveness forced them into a position where they had no realistic or political choice BUT to go to nuclear war.

Imagine if the Soviets had invaded West Germany. The US would have gone to nuclear war for sure. Even if the US launched nukes first, most would agree it would have been the USSR's fault for acting so belligerently and FORCING the US to respond with nukes.
 
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King in Green
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foksieloy wrote:
I always assumed getting to defcon 1 doesn't mean actual nuclear war, but being forced to resign due to bad decisions that got too close for comfort.


One good example of this is Khrushchev. His quote We Will Bury You degrades DEFCON and can lose the USSR the game- in combination with Missile Envy for example. Khrushchev was forced from power due to his erratic behaviour and consistent brinkmanship, most famously leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is good to remember that mechanics such as mil ops & DEFCON represent internal as well as external struggles, and that losing can be interpreted in several different ways thematically.
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Guy Rodgers
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I don't interpet Victory by DEFCON to be representative of some alternative history in which one side "wins" the Cold War because one side was "held responsible" for a nuclear exchange.


Who cares where the blame rests? The world is a nuclear wasteland. Are the survivors even going to remember who the US and USSR were in a few generations time? Who fired the first nuke and for what purpose?


What Victory by DEFCON is supposed to do is provide both players with a strong motivation to avoid nuclear war at all costs. You might win the game of Twilight Struggle, but your country certainly doesn't "win" the alternate history DEFCON 1 represets.

It's a strange game. The only winning move is not to play

You lose when you start nuclear war, not so much because it allows the other side to win, but because as a world leader you have failed the human race.

 
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