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Subject: Board overlay/redesign for beginners rss

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Ben Kyo
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One of the greatest challenges in introducing Twilight Struggle to new players seems to be getting beginners comfortable with the huge play space of the map, while giving fair notice of how a lot of key countries are affected by a large deck of cards that a new player has yet to memorise, or even see.

I had an idea that maybe this could be made a little easier by having a visual aid on the board itself, which helped to identify countries that are affected by events.

Of course, this presents a bunch of design challenges, as the problem becomes how to present information that is useful to a beginner without making the information overwhelming and messy, or on the other hand too limited in scope.

Has anyone attempted anything similar before, with a board redesign or plastic overlay?

I'm thinking that information would have to be graded carefully. There's a big difference between how countries like Japan, Cuba, and Romania are controlled by early war events, how Iran is controlled by a late war event, and how South Africa is only influenced by a mid war event.

Perhaps a 3x2 grid for each country that could benefit from one? For example, Japan could look something like:
X--
---
Where X is something representing unconditional control for the US in the Early War deck.

In contrast, Egypt could be:
-2-
11-
Where each number represents the number of cards affecting OPs in the country available to each side.

Angola:
---
-2-

A country like Thailand, for which no specific events exist*, would not need any markers.

Regions like SE Asia and Africa could have something similar, but the decision of whether or not to include such information, and how to mark cards like Muslim Revolution (included in the Egypt example above) is a tricky one, as is whether or not to include neutral card information, effects that require country control to provide other benefits, a way of differentiating single influence placements over more dramatic effects...

Regardless, there are no real shortcuts to learning TS, and anyone who takes an interest in it will just have to learn the deck, but just maybe something like this could make the first few games a little less like playing while blindfolded? Perhaps I have overthought the design, and something simpler like three coloured dots would be more functional?

Japan
○○
Egypt

Angola


Pink, light blue, or split circles could represent less dramatic or split effects.

I don't know, I think I've just talked myself out of making the player aid/board, but I'll post this anyway to see what other people think.


* After all, Brush War can be used in countries other than Italy and Thailand =P
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Len K
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I like the '3 dots' idea too. Keeps it simple. I wouldn't get into neutral cards. Do it for both countries and regions. Then things like Muslim Rev or Alliance for Progress would simply be Mid War region 'dots'.
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Alexandre Santos
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I don't think a payer board overlay is practical, but a player aid would be neat, specially with the dots variant (or dot matrix?).

The player aid needs less design work, and can easily be used by anybody, independently from their board layout, whereas a board overlay would be too dependent on the board design and be more cumbersome to create.
 
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Ben Kyo
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I'm thinking I might go with the dots, but just in the form of small stickers on the board. A player aid would be one more thing to reference and compare, but stickers on the board would provide the information where it is most needed, and would be relatively easy to make.
 
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Ben Kyo
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Europe
Western Europe
○○
Eastern Europe


France
○○
West Germany
○○
East Germany
○○
Poland
●●
Romania
○○

Asia

Southeast Asia
○○

Japan
○○
South Korea
○○
Vietnam
○○

Middle East
●●

Israel

Egypt

Saudi Arabia
○○
Iran
○○
Lebanon
○○
Jordan


Central America


Cuba
○○
Nicaragua
○○
Costa Rica

Panama


South America


Venezuela

Chile

Argentina
○○

Africa
○○

South Africa
●●
Angola

Botswana
●●
SE African States


Some of this is quite subjective, but I've tried to be comprehensive and consistent. Have I missed anything?
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King in Green
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Colonial Rearguards for Africa / SE Asia in the Midwar.
 
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Ben Kyo
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Paul Harding wrote:
Colonial Rearguards for Africa / SE Asia in the Midwar.

I figured the dots would represent superiority in a region, so Colonial Rear Guards and Decolonization effectively cancel each other out from Mid War onwards.

EDIT: For the real thing I might use split circles, which wasn't an option with coloured text, so Africa and SE Asia would get a light red/light blue split for Mid and Late War.
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