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Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Staying soft all game - Benefits vs costs rss

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Steven Dolges
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I recently got to play Labyrinth:WOT with a friend this past weekend, my second game with my first being a stumbling game many months ago with my wife.

I managed to win a 12 Good Resource victory as the US, by getting Iraq, Gulf States, and Arabia to Good governance followed by a timely Oil Spike card. During the game, my friend and I talked a bit to the posture of the US and the difference of trying to be Soft all game. I won my victory by staying Hard (we used the typical 2001 start) all game, as reassessing was just too expensive. At one point I found a neat thing to do as Soft, but I'll describe that a bit later. So this post is my thought analysis on trying to stay Soft all game and what that does for you compared to being Hard for the duration of the game.

As a disclaimer it is probably worth mentioning that always staying one Posture all game isn't necessarily the right thing all the time. I imagine it is often the skill to recognize when to switch in order to meet the opponent's actions that makes a good player.

Additionally, it seems the 'Hard' and 'Soft' postures roughly seem to equate to the administration policies of the US Republican and Democratic parties respectively. The scenarios in both the base game and expansion seem to support this design choice. I would venture that no matter the political party, the US might have had to switch postures due to multiple factors, so Soft shouldn't automatically mean Democrat President or vice versa from a flavor perspective.

In looking at this strategy, I'm going to also go forward with the assumption that the alternate 'Al Gore' scenario is being played where the US starts at Soft. I'm a proponent of Butterfly effect and Chaos Theory, so I'm not entirely sure the events of September would have taken place with certainty if Gore was President, but that is what the game gives us as the scenario.

World Posture:
As opposed to the standard start, a Gore start has the US suffering a GWOT penalty (from Israel being hard). A typical game starts well for the US but as countries are tested the Global posture will trend Soft due to the 66% chance die roll. Instead, US starts off worse but it more likely to have the same Posture of the world once the game gets going. An early WOI push in Europe can swiftly change the penalty into a +3 Soft rating, allowing for Prestige boosts more easily than trying to keep countries Hard. Even if plots force a posture roll, they are more likely to be Soft than Hard. So in a Soft posture game, the Global opinion becomes more of an advantage than a liability. The US can easily get the +1 prestige boost, which at worst will cancel out the -1 shift from any IR country existing.

Prestige:
Perhaps the greatest strength of the Soft strategy is Prestige. Keeping the world posture soft will allow for regular Prestige boosts, but conducting WoI rolls will also be more likely to cause +1 boosts due to that 66% chance of Soft occurring on any non-Muslim country. A Soft US, when needing a Stability boost, can more likely rely on WoI Posture rolls to get the boost needed to get the +2 bonus for later WoI Governance rolls, which will be critical when working to get countries to Good governance.

Governance:
Once the US is sitting pretty with high prestige (and the +2 bonus) their WoI rolls for Governance will become quite potent. An initial ally country being turned to Good from Fair will have a 50% chance of success, and once it has done so, the adjacency bonus will mean giving nearby Poor countries a 83% chance of success while Fair to Good is 66%. Since a Soft US will be more likely to be able to keep the high prestige bonus, WoI will tend to be more successful across the board as the game goes on.

Adversaries:
Poor Adversaries can be a tough things to deal with in any game of Labyrinth. Once it goes IR it can be Regime Changed, other than relying on the WMD card for Iraq, when following history. A Soft player can make use of cards in the deck to make up for the deficiency. In my recent game, I lamented the fact I had Back Channels in my hand (as well as the Iraq WMD card). Had I been Soft or managed a reassessment, I could have started working on Iraq diplomatically instead of invading. Alas I had Bush and could not afford a reassessment so Historical I went. There are few cards that impact alignment, but Back Channels is a key one and would certainly be a good pick when playing an Oil Spike (though I believe the Election card which gives a free Governance improvement is better overall).

Regime Change:
The only operation a Soft US cannot perform is Regime Change. Perhaps the most powerful Operation the US has, it also brings with it costs. The swapping of Postures would advertise being Hard to RC and then go Soft to withdraw as needed. Certainly keeping Soft all game excludes this, and requiring RC to stop a rampant opponent may mean a costly reassessment to go in and another to get out and back to business as usual. This is really the weak point of the Soft strategy. In order to mitigate this weakness the Soft US Player must make sure to Deploy/Disrupt where possible in order to keep IR Countries from cropping up. Once a IR country is on the board, it isn't the end of things, but it can increase the pressure to reach a game victory condition before the opponent can reach one of theirs.

Summary-TLDR:

Overall a Soft strategy gives up Regime Change in exchange for better Prestige and WoI rolls. Without RC it opens up opponent victory conditions more easily in some cases, but provides increased likelihood of hitting the two main US victory conditions (12 Good resources or 15 Fair/Good countries). To be very specific, since WoI are more likely to be successful the opponent will likely have to be going for a IR Resource win or a WMD win, as more countries will likely be Fair/Good than Poor. It is certainly worth trying in a game to see how well it works. I'll need to test it myself next chance I get to play this game.

Welcome any thoughts or experience on playing Soft for discussion.
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Jacob Williams
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I only briefly skimmed but I typically have more success in the game with a soft posture as opposed to hard. I'm definitely going to read this whole post when I get time. There's definitely a lot to what you are saying.
 
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Paul Schorfheide
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The last game I played as US I was Hard for about the first half of the game until US election was played. I went Soft at that point and lucked into an event (can't recall which) which reduced Jihad funding by 4. Then I was able to withdraw enough troops to draw 9 cards to his 7, and keep my 3 op cards to Alert plots. I did the occasional WoI to get some countries to Good and won when we drew out the deck. With the low funding he was never able to concentrate enough cells to perform a major jihad.
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Stephen Aslett

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There's simply no right answer here if your opponent is playing well.

You are correct that long term, it's best for the US to remain soft to increase its chance of successful WOI. The jihadist counter to this is to get to major jihading to create IR regimes and rush for 6 adjacent before you get to 12 good. If done before it's too late, you'll need to reassess to hard (if you even have two 3s to do it), regime change with another three, and likely take a prestige hit in addition to dealing with the negative modifier for the world being soft for future WOI. If the jihadist has any WMDs by this point, he'll also be threatening to WMD those troops with future plots, forcing you to burn even more 3 cards to alert them to avoid a drop to 1 prestige. Let's not forget nasty jihadist card effects like Quagmire that take effect in regime change countries. It's tough to up your prestige from that situation.

So though keeping US soft all game can lead to a quick victory, it can also lead to a quick turnaround and eventual defeat. As US, I only try to go ultra soft if I think I have an amazing start hand to quickly create some good countries on the board and control cell proliferation. Otherwise, going all in soft really destroys your flexibility later on when you may need to regime change to prevent a jihadist win.
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Steven Dolges
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saslett wrote:
There's simply no right answer here if your opponent is playing well.

You are correct that long term, it's best for the US to remain soft to increase its chance of successful WOI. The jihadist counter to this is to get to major jihading to create IR regimes and rush for 6 adjacent before you get to 12 good. If done before it's too late, you'll need to reassess to hard (if you even have two 3s to do it), regime change with another three, and likely take a prestige hit in addition to dealing with the negative modifier for the world being soft for future WOI. If the jihadist has any WMDs by this point, he'll also be threatening to WMD those troops with future plots, forcing you to burn even more 3 cards to alert them to avoid a drop to 1 prestige. Let's not forget nasty jihadist card effects like Quagmire that take effect in regime change countries. It's tough to up your prestige from that situation.

So though keeping US soft all game can lead to a quick victory, it can also lead to a quick turnaround an eventual defeat. As US, I only try to go ultra soft if I think I have an amazing start hand to quickly create some good countries on the board and control cell proliferation. Otherwise, going all in soft really destroys your flexibility later on when you may need to regime change to prevent a jihadist win.


I agree that ultimately any game comes down to how well your opponent plays. It is still a game, with varying strategies to pursue. I can imagine many scenarios where the US can't keep up with multiple IR countries popping up. It certainly puts a timer on. The US has to leverage their WoI bonuses quickly lest their opponent exploit the lack of RCs. Realistically, a player will reassess per the requirements of their situation.
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Humulus Lupulus
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I never would make it a goal to attempt one posture for the entire game. In fact, with cards like US election and Leak, it's sometimes out of the player's control which posture the US takes. I find it best to work with what you're given and adapt to that with the caveat to consider reassessment if the loss of 2-3 Ops cards (and 2 actions) is less painful than adapting.

In addition to not being able to Regime Change, one other drawback I would add to the Soft posture has to do with disrupting. That is with the Disrupt action in non-Muslim countries. With the US and rest of the world at Soft, it's harder to dislodge those cells from the US and other countries (Disrupt only affects one cell rather than two). This could be particularly painful if the Jyhadist player manages to get cells into the U.S. and has WMDs. I would find the Soft posture highly restrictive in that case.
 
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