Vez A
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Kiel
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We played yet another trans-continental live playtest of All Bridges Burning the other day. This time yours truly took the Senate, Ron was the Moderates, and Lino the Reds. This was Lino's second game of ABB (excluding solo play), Ron's 8th or 9th game ---and me, I've lost count! The images you see below are from my Twitter posts I sent out in the course of the game.

Little did we know at the time but some of the most consequential decisions of the game were made during the first two cards. These cards were the two Armored Train capability cards included in the game. The Senate picked one and the Reds the other card. Soon the Senate also picked up the Jaeger capability. I had therefore put together a mean military machine and felt good about my prospects of restoring law and order in the country.

Lino did an excellent job laying the foundations of the Red Revolt in the Finnish country side while Ron's Moderates seemed to be all over the place in the Southern towns making it hard for the other factions to establish a foothold there.



By the time of the first Propaganda, however, the Reds were having a bit of a lift-off. The country side was firmly behind the upcoming Revolt now and even the capital Helsinki rallied behind the socialist cause. Meanwhile, the Senate had established strong presence and a base line of support in the Northern provinces (outside of view in the above image). Some way into the second campaign, the Red Revolt pivotal event got auto-triggered.

And then it happened. I had moved my jaeger and armored train enhanced main army from the North down to the front lines and made a brave push into the province of Hame in central Finland. I took out a bunch of Reds there without much effort. However, my earlier intensive propaganda efforts had left my finances in ruins and so, just as we ought to have hit the Reds fast, hard, and repeatedly, I was forced to pause the offensive to shore up some resources. Lino was on top of his game, spotted the opportunity, and made a counter-attack using his aforementioned armored train!

Lino threw all his military hardware and will power at that attack ---the attack command cost him all his resources. He proceeded to roll a 1d6 needing something in the range of 4 or 5 for maximum impact... and he rolls a 1!



Now, the Reds, however, still got a second chance while the Senate was spending some more time in the ineligible box (talking about disasterous military planning on my part!). Only, Lino had absolutely no resources. At this moment, of all people the leader of the non-violent Moderates, Ron, steps up and gifts the Reds the resources needed for a second counter-attack. I think the Moderates must have been spreading some anti-bourgeoisie propaganda that so riled up the Reds giving them that extra bit of will power to launch a second attempt against the Senate. This time Lino's rolling was solid and the entirety of the Senate main army, capabilities and all, went up in smoke. I had experienced similar attempts by the Reds in previous games but this was the first time I saw it getting pulled off succesfully.



Undoubtedly the Senate had suffered a serious set-back, but I was not down and out just yet. Ideologically most of the North was firmly behind the Senate, so I enjoyed a plentyful supply of resources. Around this time a strong contingent of Germans made landfall as well, and I was counting on their superior military power to help us plow our way into Helsinki.



Meanwhile, the Reds went to consolidate a formidable level of opposition on the map. The Moderates, too, did a great job at building up their Networks as well as continuing to disrupt the Reds build up in the towns. As another first in my time playtesting this game, the Moderates came very close to winning the game on the third Propaganda. In a calculated pair of moves, the Reds and the Senate managed to avert that.



We headed into the final campaign with everything still up in the air. The Moderates found themselves in the receiving end of terror activity teetering on the brink of extiction for a while. Still, Ron had built up a solid pile of resources (one element of Moderates victory) and nothing could take that away from him, and so the Moderates remained a threat all the way through.

The Reds were also in a solid position due to the high level of opposition they had built up. Helped by some coordination by the Senate, the Germans pushed the Reds aside cutting a way through the Reds heartlands for the Senate to maybe ---just maybe--- go and take Helsinki which would probably have stacked the odds quite heavily for Senate victory. Once again, however, the Reds flexed their military muscle where it mattered ---coupled with the Senate military leadership once again failing to think things through. The Reds easily destroyed an exposed Senate contingent just as the latter was about to step into Helsinki.

The end game was heavy with careful tactical maneuvering from all factions, long pauses taken to ponder the complex situation from all angles, and futile attempts to try anticipate the arrival of the final Propaganda card for maximum preparedness. In the end, the final Propagand came early, and while we did not see a victor at the start of the Propaganda Round yet, the Reds emerged victorious at the end being the best positioned for maximum Propaganda Round effect. Ron's Moderates came frustratingly close at winning instead, but the toll his men had taken in an earlier terror wave meant that he was not in the position to turn the game in his favour during the final Propaganda. Even the Senate got a final surprise chance at victory as one of the last events of the game suddenly enabled a major forces reorganization that looked to allow us to move into Helsinki after all. I did terribly at rolling the reorganization die roll, however, so that opportunity came to nothing.


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Ron A
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Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet-Gen. Mattis
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This game shows that in ABB, Attacking is almost always better than defending. Because a player can use Resources to increase the combat differential, even 1 attacking cell can wipe out a 5 cell defending army-- it takes a bucketful of Resources and a good die roll, but it can be done.

The power of having the Armored Train capability was also shown. Without a Train, you can Move or Attack, Trains allow an Attack Command into an adjacent space. Without their own Train, the Reds would have been sitting ducks (or they would have had to move away from the Senate train). If you are ever playing the Reds or Senate, do whatever it takes to acquire a train AND deny trains to the enemy.

If you are a Moderate player, it is probably best to deny trains to either side if you have the chance. Without trains, the development of the board slows down, allowing more time for the Moderates to reach the 15 Resources needed for victory.

It was a no brainer for me to finance the Red Attack. If Vez had gotten off his attack the Reds would have been finished and the Senate would walk to victory long before the last Prop card.

The Senate has the widest, deepest Resource base, and can come back from multiple disasters. Vez's Senate survived multiple attacks which wiped out 2 armies and he still almost won. I was 1 point away from victory, but the Senate was only 2 population points from victory. If the Senate relocation die roll was a even a 3 or 4 vs the 1 he got, a Senate victory was all but inevitable.

By contrast, it is highly unlikely that the Reds and the Mods can come back from a severe setback. Their Resource bases are more more fragile, making it harder for either side to reconstitute.

As Vez said, the full game took slightly less than 3 1/2 hours. It was the 8th game I've played with Vez, so far, the victory count is Senate-4, Reds-3, non player Germans-1, and the Mods have yet to win. I would like to think Vez is going to work on balance before the game is released (and trust me, I remind him of this EVERY time we play).
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Vez A
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Hi Ron, let me address a couple of your comments briefly.

SBGrad wrote:
This game shows that in ABB, Attacking is almost always better than defending.


Yes, with the caveats that the Mods cannot attack nor be attacked, and that the Reds ought to make sure they don't get carried away with the military affairs and forget to win the hearts and minds.

Quote:
If you are a Moderate player, it is probably best to deny trains to either side if you have the chance. Without trains, the development of the board slows down, allowing more time for the Moderates to reach the 15 Resources needed for victory.


True, but on the other hand, with fewer attacks happening on the board sans trains, there'll be fewer News for the Mods to make use of.

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It was a no brainer for me to finance the Red Attack. If Vez had gotten off his attack the Reds would have been finished and the Senate would walk to victory long before the last Prop card.


Well, that's certainly a statement that can be contested.

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The Senate has the widest, deepest Resource base, and can come back from multiple disasters.


My Senate DID have the widest and the deepest Resource base, but only because I had worked for it early on in the game. The Senate does not start with that resource base.

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and the Mods have yet to win. I would like to think Vez is going to work on balance before the game is released (and trust me, I remind him of this EVERY time we play).


The Mods have won games, just not the ones we've played together. I am not worried about balance as such. The Mods have a rocky road to travel and timing is so crucial to them achieving victory. In our game, had your Mods moved one more guy to deny control somewhere during your last move, the Mods would have won the game. The problem was, you could not know when the Propaganda hits, so it's a timing issue.
 
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