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Subject: I can't win as the US! rss

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Todd Woodward
United States
Bowling Green
Ohio
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I'm a very new player who has only played the app. I can win as the USSR most of the time, but have never even made it to the Late War as the US. I've read the entire Twilight strategy article, and I've read the US strategy article in the files section. If I critique myself I would say that my biggest weakness is understanding proper board control. Secondly, I try to follow the advice of playing scoring cards immediately and that just tends to make me lose by VP quicker. Besides a buttload of practice, what can I do? Please help!
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Ben Kyo
Japan
Osaka
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Forward 1, Forward 2, Forward 3... siege attack 5?
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Why for this life there's no man smart enough, life's too short for learning every trick and bluff.
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I think one key concept for beginners is to recognise how limited OPs are. Play every OP you can into battlegrounds neither of you control and never squander a surplus (if you are lucky enough to ever get one!).

Other than that? Familiarity with cards, recognising that most coups into a 2-stability country are -0.5 OP plays (average roll 3.5 - 4 = -0.5, a little different for 1 OP cards) and that adjacency really affects the viability of coups. Put a little more thought into when you play scoring cards, and work out when your opponent *knows* you have one and vice-versa. The space race is important, not just a safety valve.

If you've read Twilight Strategy you already know a lot of other basic stuff, so I've tried to confine my comments to things I don't remember reading there.

It took me about six games to really start understanding TS, and those were six games against a skilled opponent, not six games against a terrible AI that you can't really learn anything useful from.

EDIT: Oh, and do get used to looking at your hand at the start of each turn and working out exactly how many "free" OPs you have, after getting your mil ops, spacing, dealing with the fallout from any bad events, etc. Is it a high or low number? How many "0" OP ARs do you have? That dictates the rhythm of your turn, and how defensive/offensive you can afford to be.
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Haytil Reivesman
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It's hard to advise you without seeing your games and what your specific mistakes are.

Don't just play scoring cards right away. In the Early War, try to play them when they don't score highly for USSR. Be happy if USSR doesn't have domination (but make sure you at least have presence!).

-Europe: Easy to prevent USSR domination, by scoring before they get France. Stop them from taking it by moving in on it yourself (De Gaulle and Suez Crisis suck but aren't devastating - don't let them stop you from moving in at all). If USSR does get France, then the Mediterranean countries can help you have more countries total to prevent Early War domination.

-Asia: You'll probably get Japan and either India and Pakistan or Thailand. (If playing for Pakistan fails, then move in on Thailand). If you have to go for Thailand, then think about making moves on South Korea, because you'll need 3 battlegrounds to stop domination. It's always scary because of Korean War, but again, don't let fear stop you from even trying - otherwise you've already lost it.

If that fails, proliferation into cheap southeast Asian countries can increase your country count to prevent domination.

-Middle East: USSR will probably dominate this region for most of the game. Accept that, but don't concede presence. Domination here is worth less than in Europe or Asia, but presence is still significant. If you don't get Iran, then settle for at least Lebanon (followed later by Israel).


In the Early War, if you see an opportunity for a fast and quick domination as US, then go for it. Otherwise, be happy if you can score regions while only conceding 1 or 2 points (i.e., not being dominated) - if that opportunity presents itself, play the scoring card right then. If you end the Early War as US with around 6 points behind, then you're doing fine.
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ray donovan
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Remember that every turns, the most important round as USA is the last one (ar6 or ar7).
Try to mitigate/counter every ussr ar1 by playing aggressively during your ar7. You can break control of an important battleground (N korea is an excellent target) or you can move into country that give you access to a battleground country (colombia for exemple).
Try to keep your highest ops card for your last play everytime, as a general rule play your lowest ops/opponment event 1st during the round. If you have a card that you need to space (or a scoring card in a region that cannot improve) do it as soon as possible.

 
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Christopher Hill
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When playing the US, especially in the early going, I like to take advantage of any card events giving the US victory points. Also, I try to 'save' US events by not playing them for the event. This will put more US events back into the deck during a re-shuffle and increase the chance that the USSR player will have them in their hand, and obviously those events will have to be played.
 
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Luc
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Some basic stuff I have learned over the course of 4 plays and battling the AI. I beat the AI most of the time. I'd be interested, actually, if any veteran players have some feedback on my personal learning.

1) Access and positional play.

There are limited ways to get access to a region:
a) By adjacency to a country with your influence or your home power
b) Couping a country
c) By events (e.g. Decol)

I try to play as positionally as possible. If I can cut someone out of a region, I do it. The classic example being USSR T1H Suez Crisis followed by a T1AR1 coup in Iran (yes, that's a USSR example). Likewise, I will never, ever give my opponent access to areas that they do not have access to, if I can possibly help it. This involves holding and spacing their events (e.g. Decol) at the best time possible (ideally rounds 3 and 7), and if I need to control a non-battleground in the Americas or Africa (i.e. a country that can be couped at any Defcon), I'll try to choose one that is 2, or even better, 3 stability to make couping harder. If I have a choice to put influence into a country my opponent could also take, or a country far away from them, everything else being equal, I will take the nearby one as it denies them, and the other one should still be there later.

2) Opportunity cost. This is a biggie. In my experience, it is almost never a good idea to spend 2 Ops to try and break control of a country while battlegrounds are still up for grabs. (One exception might be a US AR7 play.) The reason is that there is an opportunity cost (OPportunity cost!) for everything you do in TS - 2 Ops spent breaking control are nearly always better spent trying to secure 1) control of a different battleground, 2) make access to a different battleground, 3) control of a non-battleground to gain domination(you need at least one), 4) control of a non-battleground to prevent domination (by having an equal number of countries, so that they don't have more).

3) Increasing the toll. Similarly, think about how you can jack up the Ops price for an opponent. If an opponent is trying to get into an area, and you can easily control a chokepoint country (that you were planning to control at some point anyway), you can force the opponent to pay 2 instead of 1 to place that influence. Overcontrol really hikes the price. Controlling Thailand 2:0, it can be flipped with the China card (2:4). Control it 3:0, it requires 4 ops just to break! One thing about overcontrol though, be wary of Brush War.

4) Scoring. One thing about Twilight Struggle is that you can be doing well in a region for 90% of the game, but if you are not doing well when the scoring card is played, it doesn't matter one bit. Know when scoring cards come out. Know which ones have come out. Look through the discard pile if you have to. If you have not seen an Early War card in turn 1 and 2, and you do not draw it in turn 3, your opponent has it.

5) Tracking other important cards. Like scoring cards, and in addition to Defcon suicide cards, I will watch to see if the following have been played or not: Blockade, Defectors, the three cards that steal the China card, and I am going to start keeping an eye out for Missile Envy because that can lead to some nasty surprises. I haven't played enough games that go into the Late War to know the key ones, other than the infamous Wargames.

6) The China card. I like to hog it as much as possible in the Early war, one for a safety valve, and two to deny my opponent a safety valve. I like to give it back just before turn 4, because of the sneaky China card theft cards. Once those have gone, I'll hog again.
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