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Subject: Five Tips for Getting Started in Twilight Struggle rss

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Daniel Val
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megliman wrote:
after playing about 20 TS games to completion,


That's about how many games I have played now (probably more like 25)...

megliman wrote:
I have put together a short list of tips for the beginner from a beginner


I wouldn't say you're a beginer anymore. And in fact I believe your collection of advises says otherwise!


megliman wrote:
TIP 2 – The Cold War Began and Ended in Europe


Yes, specially with newbies, Europe is a big deal. With more experienced players, normally the situation gets blocked pretty early.

megliman wrote:
As such, I believe it is incumbent upon the US player to take whatever steps necessary to protect Italy at the beginning of the game and secure it throughout out Turn 1. This mirrors the actual cold war. There was a huge communist presence in post-war Italy, which the US spent an enormous amount of effort to stem and beat down.


That's always been my strategy, too.

megliman wrote:
TIP 3 – Remember the Ghosts That Haunt the Mid-War

It is easy to for players to focus on the Africa and Americas scoring cards. But there are numerous cards that award VPs in the Mid-War. Particular attention should be paid to Southeast Asia Scoring, OPEC (#61), and Alliance for Progress (#78).


... And don't forget Muslim Revolution, which combined with OPEC can really give the USSR the victory.

megliman wrote:
TIP 4 – Slash and Burn Your Opponent’s Early War Ops

Beginners often see TS as an event driven game. But over time, I have realized this is an ops driven game. Events tend to capitalize on solid ops play.


I totally agree with you.

megliman wrote:
As an example of both, I watched a friend playing the US play the following sequence during Turn 3
- Round X - 1 influence in Cuba
- Round Y - 1 influence in Haiti and Nicaragua
- Round Z - Fidel (#8) played - followed by 2 Ops of realignment (rolls at a net of +2 for the US) which resulted in the Soviets losing all 3 influence placed


Nice play! I had never seen that before.

megliman wrote:
Likewise, avoid being beholden to a scoring card. This is particularly true for the US player during Turn 1. That Europe or Asia scoring card that could have been harmlessly played away during the headline phase or rounds 1 or 2, may be your undoing by the end of the round.


You nailed it again! Bravo!

megliman wrote:
Also, do not let a bad string of rolls get you down. TS is first and foremost a skilled game of well reasoned card play. I once spent almost an entire game turn in the Quagmire (#42), as did the United States, and survived to win the game, as did the United States. Even the slightest ray of hope should keep you going.


Yes, I had a similar desperate situation, where the score had hit -17, with me as the USA, and I still managed to win thanks to the Chernobyl event. ( http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/967636#967636)

So... Never give up!

As another useful help, I would suggest reading this tips for the US players written by Jason Matthews, co-designer of the game.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/95118

And finally Jay, congratulations for these fine tips!

Dan
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Dave Rubin
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I will dissent from Tip #2. The Cold War may begin and end in Europe, but the game is won or lost in between.

As the American player, I often accept Soviet Domination of Europe in order to get a leg up elsewhere, and often do not put much effort into Italy. If the Soviet player tries for *Control* of Europe, so much the better -- I will be the one with the odd influence left over to place elsewhere while he vets the deck of his own events and pays premiums for influence placement. Pressed by unforavorable card deals, if Blockade is gone, I'm willing to let France, go, too, in order to keep up or ahead in other areas, padding West Germany with a few extra IPs as insurance against Willy Brandt. Iran, not Italy, ought to be the Americans' biggest concern during turn 1.

As the Soviet player, I will seek European Domination, but European Control is, at least among experienced players, a chimera. If my opponent will permit me to gain Control of Europe, or if the cards are *so* favorable to me that I can force it, well, chances are victory will be mine no matter which path I choose. cool
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Rob McFadden
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jay.

Regarding your "Bonus Tip" - there is something particularly depressing about the rolls going against you in TS. Remembering that events can quickly change is important!
 
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I think horrible hands are a lot more painful than a series of unfavorable dice rolls. Its possible to get a hand and realize there is little you can do with it.

I also think the strategy of burning opponents events is more dangerous for the US player early. The USSR player should have a decent shot at challenging for an autovictory (20 VP) by the midpoint of the game. If the US player is careless, or overdoes it on playing USSR events...it will tip the scale too far and they won't be able to recover.
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Mark Ernst
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Tip #1 is so true. I've been introducing friends and family to TS the past couple of weeks and knowledge of the deck is a huge leg up on newbies.
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Brad Engels
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I am very new to this game, but I completely love what I see so far. I partook in my first game with a friend of mine using the Wargamesroom.com java client.

I have a question about your tip:

Quote:
Knowing this, burning your opponent’s early war ops through the play of his removable events will help tip the deck in your favor later in game. For instance, if during the Early War the Soviet player had an opportunity to burn Marshall Plan (#23), NATO (#21), and US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact (#27) the following benefits would be received:
- the Soviet player gets those 12 ops
- three out of the four US 4 ops cards are gone for good (and the last 4 ops card does not show up until the Late War)


To get right to it, I'm confused about the wording "gone for good". I am currently under the impression that if USSR uses these cards for the ops points, the cards would get reshuffled back into the deck despite having asterisks.

I appreciate any feedback on this, thanks!
 
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John McCoy
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Severian596 wrote:
I am very new to this game, but I completely love what I see so far. I partook in my first game with a friend of mine using the Wargamesroom.com java client.

I have a question about your tip:

Quote:
Knowing this, burning your opponent’s early war ops through the play of his removable events will help tip the deck in your favor later in game. For instance, if during the Early War the Soviet player had an opportunity to burn Marshall Plan (#23), NATO (#21), and US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact (#27) the following benefits would be received:
- the Soviet player gets those 12 ops
- three out of the four US 4 ops cards are gone for good (and the last 4 ops card does not show up until the Late War)


To get right to it, I'm confused about the wording "gone for good". I am currently under the impression that if USSR uses these cards for the ops points, the cards would get reshuffled back into the deck despite having asterisks.

I appreciate any feedback on this, thanks!


Whenever an event with an asterisk occurs, that card is removed from play afterward. It doesn't matter who played the card. You also shoudl be aware that whenever the Soviet player plays a US event (or vice versa), he gets the OPs points and the event occurs for the other player. So in these examples, the cards would all be removed from play.
 
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Brad Engels
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vynd wrote:
Whenever an event with an asterisk occurs, that card is removed from play afterward. It doesn't matter who played the card. You also shoudl be aware that whenever the Soviet player plays a US event (or vice versa), he gets the OPs points and the event occurs for the other player. So in these examples, the cards would all be removed from play.

Thank you for the the help here. After I select the card to play, the Java client always asks if I want to play it as an Operation or as an Event (or Space Race)...I didn't realize until after you reiterated and after I rechecked rule 5.2 that even if I choose to play the card as an operation the event still occurs. I thought that if I chose to play it as an operation, the event might or might not occur, but it wouldn't be considered "played" and would always go to the discard pile.
 
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Brad Engels
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I debated making a separate thread for this, but since we're still on the topic of the OP's points of advice I hope you don't mind if I ask for one more clarification.

My interpretation of the OP's suggestion is as follows:

* In the context of removable events, if you're USSR and you have the opportunity to "burn" the Marshall Plan, NATO, and US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact early in the game you should do so. This benefits you with 12 Ops points, and these three cards are "gone for good" (or, will never show up again).

I am still confused how I, as USSR, can make this happen, primarily due to the way that I understand the rules. Under 5.2 I find the following bullet point: If a card play triggers an opponent’s Event, but that Event cannot occur because a prerequisite card has not been played, or a condition expressed in the Event has not been met, the Event does not
occur. In this instance, cards with an asterisk Event (marked *) are returned to the discard pile, not removed from the game.


As far as I know there are only two scenarios that can happen in the presented situation where USSR uses these three cards to gain 12 ops early in the game:

Scenario 1: USSR plays Marshall and NATO in proper order, gains 8 ops points; USSR plays US/Japan, gains 4 ops points. The NATO card remains in play, negatively affecting USSR for the remainder of the game. US gets 7 influence. The US/Japan event fires as normal, negatively impacting USSR for the remainder of the game.

Scenario 2: USSR plays Marshall and NATO in the incorrect order, gains 8 ops points; USSR plays US/Japan, gains 4 ops points. The NATO card shuffles back into the discard pile to possibly appear later for either player. The US/Japan event fires as normal, negatively impacting USSR for the remainder of the game.

How, in either of these scenarios, are the NATO or US/Japan events "gone for good"? In one case NATO is shuffled back into the discards because its prerequisites are not met. In the other case it hits the table and stays there. Obviously if I'm USSR I may go ahead and do this for the op points, but I am primarily confused about removing cards for good. At first I was under the impression from the rules that USSR spending NATO for 4 op points before its prerecs appear would rid the USSR player of NATO for good (and reading vynd's post reinforced this). But after reading that bullet point in the rules I'm confused again.

Basically my friend and I are wondering whether the JAVA client shuffled the card back in, or if it removed the card for good, because I played NATO as USSR in turn 1 to get the 4 ops points and because I thought I was ridding myself of NATO for good because it has an asterisk.
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Allen Doum
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This is just a wording mixup. "Gone for Good" was meant to mean "out of the deck", NOT "having no more effect". Cards like NATO or US/Japan, if the event occurs, have effects that last the rest of the game, but they are "gone" from the deck. So in the case of NATO, for instance, the US player will have one less event of his in the deck.
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Brad Engels
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Thanks Allen, I was beginning to drive myself nuts (and probably driving other people nuts as well).
 
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Philip Thomas
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yes, the events persist, but you have still removed the card from the deck, meaning more chance of drawing other cards. Which of course includes USSR events.

Anyway, I wouldn't bother making a coup attempt against Japan anyway, or a realignment roll in most circumstances. Nato is obselete when Defcon is below 5. So the ongoing effects are not that big a deal.
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Steve Bauer
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To add to the discussion of the opening play of the 4 op US cards.

I would avoid playing Marshal plain until Greece and Turkey
have become controlled. If the US gets them both plus spain
it is going to be hard to dominate Europe even if you get Italy.
 
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Geraldo
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The original post is gone, so is its author's user. But the five tips are on the Web Archive:

Quote:
http://web.archive.org/web/20100125173105/http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/169202/five-tips-for-getting-started-in-twilight-struggle

OBS: do NOT click on the link! Instead, copy the whole line on the quote above and paste it on your browser. It is because of some limitations on BGG's formatting language.
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Ian Allen
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OR you could just copy the OP back into the thread:

Five Tips for Getting Started in Twilight Struggle – A Beginner’s Thoughts for Beginners

Last summer I finally purchased Twilight Struggle (TS) after having it stare at me on the BGG Top 10 game list for some time. Several months later, after playing about 20 TS games to completion, I have put together a short list of tips for the beginner from a beginner that may have helped me early on. Hopefully these ideas will spur others to add their own in response.

TIP 1 – Learn the Cards, Know the Cards, Live the Cards

If you want to intelligently compete in this you must learn the cards. What does each one say, which will be removed from the deck when the action is played, and which cards interact with other cards. Without learning the cards, you are playing in the dark.

You must also know the cards. Know when the cards come into play, know them well enough to realize which ones are left in the deck before it is exhausted and shuffled on Turns 3 and usually Turn 7 (so you know what is in your opponents hand), and which ones to bury in the discard pile through play or space race during the early-mid and mid-late transitions (when the new cards are shuffled with the unplayed deck).

Finally, live the cards. I define this as a combination of planning and anticipation. Two basic early examples; one for each side. If Blockade (card #10) is potentially in the Soviet hand, the US player must reserve a 3 ops card to discard. Worse, if Red Scare/Purge has been played as an event by the Soviets, a 4 ops card must be reserved. Similarly, if Defectors (#103) is potentially in the US hand, the Soviet player should be very wary of playing strong cards in the headline phase, but rather reserve them for the first round.

So consider leaving the readers digest outside the bathroom and spend some quality time with the TS cards instead.

TIP 2 – The Cold War Began and Ended in Europe

Neither player wants to see Asia or the Middle East slip away, but unlike any other region, Europe cannot slip away. A significant percentage of my early games with other beginners ended with an automatic victory for controlling Europe. This is probably because Europe has one less battleground country than the other regions.

As such, I believe it is incumbent upon the US player to take whatever steps necessary to protect Italy at the beginning of the game and secure it throughout out Turn 1. This mirrors the actual Cold War. There was a huge communist presence in post-war Italy, which the US spent an enormous amount of effort to stem and beat down.

Also, the US player should pad West Germany with an additional influence point to further secure the region. In the same vein, the Soviet player should be padding East Germany and Poland. Europe tends to be secure for the Soviets early on, but that can turn quickly with US card play in the late war. Again, this mirrors the real Cold War.

The beginner that understands the Cold War began and ended in Europe will avoid the embarrassment of a Europe scoring card ending the game.

TIP 3 – Remember the Ghosts That Haunt the Mid-War

It is easy for players to focus on the Africa and Americas scoring cards. But there are numerous cards that award VPs in the Mid-War. Particular attention should be paid to Southeast Asia Scoring, OPEC (#61), and Alliance for Progress (#78).

These three cards require even greater attention to the areas they affect, and their play can quickly undermine or even end your game. OPEC is of great concern to the US player, since it cannot be removed, but only cancelled in the late war. In a recent game as the Soviet player, I played the OPEC card for 5 points at the end of Round 6 and then after the shuffle received it again in Round 7 for another 5 points. Suffice to say the US player was mortally wounded.

This tip should reinforce Tip 1. Knowing all of the mid-war cards that score VPs will make a huge difference in your play.

TIP 4 – Slash and Burn Your Opponent’s Early War Ops

Beginners often see TS as an event driven game. But over time, I have realized this is an ops driven game. Events tend to capitalize on solid ops play.

Knowing this, burning your opponent’s early war ops through the play of his removable events will help tip the deck in your favor later in game. For instance, if during the Early War the Soviet player had an opportunity to burn Marshall Plan (#23), NATO (#21), and US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact (#27) the following benefits would be received:
- the Soviet player gets those 12 ops
- three out of the four US 4 ops cards are gone for good (and the last 4 ops card does not show up until the Late War)

Two features of TS assist this often unpleasant task (often more unpleasant for the US player). First, you get to choose whether the event takes place before or after you play the ops. Second, you hold the hand, so you can plan how to best order the cards to ease the event's sting – a luxury you do not have when your opponent plays a card for the event.

As an example of both, I watched a friend playing the US play the following sequence during Turn 3
- Round X - 1 influence in Cuba
- Round Y - 1 influence in Haiti and Nicaragua
- Round Z - Fidel (#8) played - followed by 2 Ops of realignment (rolls at a net of +2 for the US) which resulted in the Soviets losing all 3 influence placed

There were a lot of factors that broke in favor of the US to allow this play, but it shows how burning cards can be accomplished without too much grief.

TIP 5 – Twilight Struggle is Like Raising Kids – Choose Your Battles Carefully

My greatest failing as a beginner is putting on the blinders and fighting protracted battles in a single region or country, while ignoring other objectives. Stated differently, sometimes you just have to settle for presence and a battleground country victory point, while you prepare for better scoring opportunities elsewhere.

Likewise, avoid being beholden to a scoring card. This is particularly true for the US player during Turn 1. That Europe or Asia scoring card that could have been harmlessly played away during the headline phase or rounds 1 or 2, may be your undoing by the end of the turn. And the Soviet player holding Africa scoring may find that by the time domination is secured, South and Central America have slipped away.

This is tip 3’s first cousin. Battles should be carefully evaluated during the Mid-War because of the myriad of scoring opportunities.

BONUS TIP – The Six-Sided Knife

Euro-gamers that left dice behind when they graduated from Yahtzee quickly rediscover six-sided hell when playing a game like TS. For me, it has been a return to gaming craps, since my pre-Euro life began in wargames (SPI, AH, and the like).

Space race aside, my only suggestion is to determine your objective and works the odds in your favor. If the objective is to execute a coup in order to both eliminate opponent influence and place your own, your 2 ops card that has only a 33% chance of achieving both objectives is a essentially a blind date with good fortune.

It is true that anything under 100% could lead to a rise in blood pressure, but dice rolling gamers learn through experience that the closer they are to the 100% magic number before tossing the die, the happier they will be in the long run. Leave the long shots for desperation.

Also, do not let a string of bad rolls get you down. TS is first and foremost a skilled game of well reasoned card play. I once spent almost an entire game turn in the Quagmire (#42), as did the United States in the real Cold War, and survived to win the game, as did the United States in the real Cold War. Even the slightest ray of hope should keep you going.

FINAL THOUGHT

God, I love this game. As the 2007 WBC approaches, I am looking forward to giving it a go outside my gaming group, and mostly likely getting spanked.

I hope these tips help out. In reply, please post your own beginner tips. I could use the help.

Jay Fox – Megliman
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I must say, while overall the tips aged very well and are critical insight for beginners, some of the details didn't as much.

One of the big ones that did not is the idea that headlining a scoring card when it's least damaging to you is generally a good idea. I posit that this is definitely untrue and goes against tip #1 (Live the cards).

If I am playing and one scoring card remains before a reshuffle, and I don't have it, I will *aggressively* headline cards attacking that region. Simply because if my opponent headlines it, my events will occur first, potentially turning a neutral score to my domination, a substantial point swing. And hell, what am I gonna do with my ops this turn anyway? Chase the region that I know is being scored soon, that's what. The headline event helps me either way, but if the opponent scores immediately after, it helps me without him being able to counter.

Instead, know the cards. Know what events remain, and if it's possible for the opponent to headline something that could mess with it, don't headline the scoring card. If it's not, and the region won't get better for you, go nuts.

Another, the proposed three-step series for removing Fidel actually kind of runs against Tip #4, since it costs so much of your own influence.

A minimum total of four influence (3 for positioning, 1 for realign) is required and the soviet player must not coup any of the non-BG countries. Realistically, five is needed to deal with the six-sided knife and push success to near-100% chances. That's a lot to expend on neutralizing one card.

OTOH, if the US player waits to use Fidel until containment is active either by his headline or the soviet player's AR6, he can realign three times at +0, which has a similarly high probability of fully removing the USSR player's influence. This requires much less influence commitment and is a more efficient outcome for the US player.

Further...if the USSR player has been denied destalinization and decolonization (as the US player wants to do, anyway), Tip #1 (Live the Cards) applies and you *want* them to have the influence in Cuba, so as to make CIA created and grain sales to soviets unplayable for them at DEFCON 2. Most games are at DEFCON 2 90% of the time, so the Soviet player's position gets used against them. US player rarely has this luxury with respect to Lone Gunman.
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