Ron A
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This was my 4th overall game of ABB, 3rd time playing with Benni and ABB designer Vez. For this game, I took the Moderates (in earlier versions they were called Social Democrats). For people that have played COIN you can think of them as a 'green' faction, similar to Casinos in Cuba Libre, or Warlords in A Distant Plain. Benni took the Senate, aka counterinsurgent faction, although NOT a full on 'government' faction, as Finland really didn't have a central government during the time frame of the game. However, the Senate has access to German troops, and the Senate IS the faction most able to kill people and break things. Finally, Vez took the Reds, the 'traditional' insurgent faction. This was my first game with the Moderates, after 3 game taking the Senate.

The Moderates are severely hampered by their lack-- of cylinders (6), bases (2) and at the start, resources. I tried to keep the cities out of control of either of the warring factions, but the simple truth is, after I put out all 6 cylinders, the Reds were able to Rally enough to gain control of Helsinki.

The Senate was building up their forces for the later game war phase. In addition to Rallying forces, they also were taking Capabilities-- an armored train, German-trained Jaeger troops and Cannon. The Train allows +1 to attacks AND allows the Attack command to tale place in an adjacent space (the alternative is Move during one turn, Attack the second turn-- the train is far more efficient, and deadly). Jaegers give +1 to attacks and also give an additional bonus, if stacked with a train or cannon, both the Jaeger and the other unit are +2 (so a Jaeger and a train are +4).

The sequence of play allows the first player to take a Limited Command, which denies the current event to both of the other factions. When the first Armored Train appeared on a card, I did in fact take a Limited Command so the Senate could not get it, but then Benni passed to ensure he would have first crack at the 2nd train.

Normally the civil war starts after two of the four 9 card decks are played, but it can break out sooner if 27 cylinders are placed on the map. After Benni got his war equipment he began the maximum amount of Rallying to start the war. They then began their move from Waasa to Helsinki.



You can also see here that I've been adding cubes to the Political Display. The more issues that are resolved, the easier it is for the Moderates to win.

The Reds put up a masterful delaying action vs the Senate juggernaut. Sabotage is a Special Action that wrecks the train tracks. Vez used Sabotage twice to impede Senate movement of their large army. The Reds also used a card action to reduce the size of the German army, and even after the Germans entered the war, the Reds Rallied sacrificial cells to distract the Germans from Helsinki. Unless the Senate uses the Coordinate Special Activity, the Germans move after the closest Red cells. Coordinate allows the Senate player to direct the actions of the non-player Germans.

As the civil war went on, from the 2nd to the 3rd and then the final 4 deck, I was gradually building up Resources (the Moderates need 17 to win). This means the Moderate player takes a LOT of Pass moves.

The Reds were so successful with their delaying action that they reached their victory condition first, and they built up Helsinki so much that military action wasn't going take over the city. The Senate player changed tack and went after the 3 smaller cities he would need for victory. I could spend Resources to try and reduce Red Opposition to get them below their victory level, but then I wouldn't have enough Resources to win. My plan, such as it was, was to race the Reds to victory, hoping to go over the minimum win condition by more than the Reds, while simultaneously rooting for the Senate and German armies to drop Red Opposition.

Right at the very end I had the Resources, and the next card give me even more, but when we flipped the card there was the last Propaganda card, giving Vez's Reds the victory. The Germans had failed in their last attack which would've given THEM control of 4 population centers.



Once you played a couple COIN games, the mechanics of playing become second nature. What NEVER becomes easier is plotting a path to victory. One thing I noticed here, hurt me. In my 3 prior games, I wasn't paying too much attention to what the Moderate players were doing. Now that I had them I wasn't really sure what to to and in what order I should be doing them. This was REALLY bad for me, because the 'green' COIN factions are the hardest to play well. Because of their very limited on-map presence, the Moderate play is more puzzle like than the Reds and/or Senate. Mistakes are not easy to recover from.

Still, a fun game that went down to the final few cards. We played through the 4 decks in just a smidge over 3 hours, making this one of the shorter COIN games.

Can't wait for it to be released.

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Thank you for the report. Can't wait for the game either.
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Vez A
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Many thanks for an excellent report, Ron!

From the game design perspective, I'm quite pleased with the fact that it was possible for a faction (in this case the Reds) to build themselves a lead that the other factions could not easily cancel out again. That shows that the design is capable of rewarding good play and punishing bad play.

One thing that our test game really brought home to me is that I cannot be entirely satisfied with the design of the blue Moderates faction. That Ron feels he has not quite learned the ropes with them yet is probably at least partly a function of that faction still trying to find their final shape design-wise. Since our test, I've been testing some further ideas in this regard and I think they look promising. I look forward to the revanche!
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Luigi C.
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Excellent report. My concern was with your reporting that a very common action for the Moderates was "pass" and that it was part of the design since the building of resources by passing was needed to win. That sounds very unappealing.
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Ron A
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luigicool wrote:
Excellent report. My concern was with your reporting that a very common action for the Moderates was "pass" and that it was part of the design since the building of resources by passing was needed to win. That sounds very unappealing.


First, off I said Passing was very common for ME. As I said, this was my first time playing Moderate faction. I don't know how to play them optimally. In the other games we've played, I did not really notice Moderates passing an unusual number of times. Different people are going to take different paths to victory, some will work, some won't. My choices did not lead to a victory for my side, but my plan was not the only way to play the faction.

When the game was over, Vez commented that he was very surprised that I didn't do 2 things that could have raised additional Resources-- putting a Personality in play and building bases. The Moderate faction has a Publish Special Activity which gains them Resources. They get 1 Resource per Town space where they have forces, and they get EXTRA Resources if they have a Personality (+2 Resources if they activate an underground Cell) and/or bases (+1 Resource if cell activated) in play. So, a Publish SA can gain up to 5 Resources, vs a max of +2 if you do not have a Personality or base.

I've already told Vez I will be taking the Moderates next time we play, and you can be sure my choices will be different.


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Vez A
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The phenomenon of strategic passing is definitely pronounced in the 3-player sequence of play, way more so than in the 4-player version. So I would not put Ron‘s passing entirely down to his personal choice of strategy as much as to strategic passing just being central to this 3-player system.

Let‘s investigate this a little more.

I just ran through the Vassal log of our game that Ron talks about. I counted all the passes played in the game and got:

Moderates 8
Senate 6
Reds 4

So everyone‘s passing some, and probably more than any faction in your regular 4-player game.

Many of those passes played were to preserve first eligibility on the next card for event play purposes. Remember that in All Bridges Burning the cards have no faction symbols at the top, so to make sure you get to pick up a particular event you must pass.

I‘m not surprised to see the distribution of the passes either. The Reds have the fewest must-have or must-block events in the deck. The Senate tend to pass early in the game to pick up some capabilities. In particular the second half of the game contains a mine field of difficult events for the Moderates, so Ron‘s passing is largely explained by that, I think.

Another prominent reason for passing in All Bridges Burning is the situation in which you‘re the last eligible faction and you‘ve been left with the action option that nobody else wanted —which in the 3-player system often is the command + special activity option, believe it or not! This is because that option is the only one that renders the faction ineligible on the next card, so the players tend to avoid it.

Finally, let‘s disperse the impression that All Bridges is a boring game because „all“ you do is pass. In the game there are 9 event cards in each campaign if the Propaganda rounds were spread out evenly. In comparison, in the 4-player system there are 12 events in a campaign, but since you‘re always going to be ineligible on every second card you‘re actually going to get to act only 6 times per campaign. In All Bridges, however, you can get to act up to 9 times per campaign if you always just play a limited command or the event and therefore never go ineligible. That means, you can pass a few times per campaign and still get to act at least as many times as in a 4-player game.

I hope that alleviates any worries out there.
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Luigi C.
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Thank you for the clarification, that makes sense. I was afraid reading the original report that the Moderates were a faction with few choices and forced to often pass, this sounds much better now.
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Ron A
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There are even more things for Moderates to do, something that never completely came off in our game.

There is a mechanic for News. A News marker gets placed when there is a battle and at least one cell on the losing side gets sent to prison. The Moderate player can use a Message command to pick up and move News around the board, and then the Personality Special Activity to trade the News for +3 Resources, with the caveat that you can only get the Resources in a space with the Personality marker (which you can generate via an earlier Special Activity).

Going back to our game, there were cells sent to prison, and 2 News markers generated, in fact I picked up both of them. However, I never had the Personality marker on board, so I could never trade News for Resources.

We also changed the rules. In past playtests, News stayed on the map until the end of the game, and there were only 2 markers allowed in the game. I argued that the news cycle is finite, and more recent events would overtake older events (something that has a real world echo even more in today's times). Vez agreed and now with every Propaganda card all News makers are picked up. That means the Moderate player REALLY has to be on the ball to take advantage of these mechanics, not to mention that the full cycle of getting Resources for News involves 1 Special Activity to create the Personality (who can be used for more than one thing), at least one Message to pick up and move the News to the Personality, and another Special Activity to actually get the Resources. Remember that using a Special Activity makes you ineligible for the next event card, too.

Will all this be worth it to the Moderate player in the long run? Is the Moderate faction balanced vis a vis the Reds and Senate? Personally, I have insufficient data to answer those questions.

I am assuming and expecting that Vez and his developer are tracking those issues.
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Gordon J
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I don't think in all my games I have passed a lot with the Moderates. But what I do a lot of times, is do the bare minimum on a regular action and then take the special ability to get more resources.
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