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Subject: 2 Player Session w/ Bots rss

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Zach Berly
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Kremlin is one of my favorite political games, for so many reasons.
It’s unfortunate that I can’t get it to the table more with more people. This session is with two players, but I created rudimentary bots to increase the count to four. Basically, they rolled dice to determine who they had influence on (it was all declared rather than hidden) and on if they should take an action or not, if they had the chance to. With this in mind, I present for you a thrilling tale of political intrigue set in Soviet Russia!

Here’s the board condition at the start of the start of the game:



Soviet Russia: 1984... Party Chief Victor Aparatchik sits another day in his office overlooking Red Square. For years he’s watched over Mother Russia and the Communist Party; HIS Communist Party. At 80 years old he knew it was unlikely he’d be in office much longer, but what he had no clue of, was the plotting going on in the hallways of the Kremlin. His two possible replacements were friends and all veterans of the war. KGB Head, Ian Dir: A cold, calculated commie know for his ruthlessness in the interrogation chamber, and in the Politburo. Defense Minister, Karel Krakenbals: as a Soviet advisor in Afghanistan his compassion had dried up in the deserts. Despite all this, the three had immense respect for one another; if it was up to them, they could civilly transfer power in the case of Victor’s death, but it wasn’t up to them. The power of promotion lay with the sprightly 56 year old Foreign Minister, Mikhail Strychnin. Fresh off the flight from DC, the former Ambassador to the US was viewed as an outsider’s choice to the old guard. After spending his days in the west living lavishly with movie stars and Senators, he didn’t have the same rough edges that the triumvirate gained from freezing winters in Siberia. Nonetheless, Mikhail was no charmer; in fact he was quite the bore, but the future of the party was in his hands.

Dir couldn’t let that stand. Within months of arriving in Moscow, Strychnin was being carted off to a labor camp in Siberia for suspicions of capitalist corruption. His replacement was a much more sensible selection- Ludmilla Patina- from inside the Foreign Ministry that, while conflicted politically, had allegiances to Dir due to his role in her promotion. Krakenbals saw this favoritism as an attempt to unilaterally bypass his chance at party chief. He hadnt fought for Mother Russia all those years to be undermined by some glorified secretary. He opened investigations into Ludmilla and even the Party Chief himself, as he feared the plot to preempt his rise might go all the way to the top. The year came to a close and Victor waved patriotically at the parade, showing the strength of communism to the world

Board state at end of turn 1:


To the surprise of many, Victor’s demise would come not in a hospital bed, but rather in a court room. Krakenbals compliled dossiers of evidence (even if fabricated) against Victor’s ability to rule for the best of the party. The jury was not sympathetic of the long time Party Chief’s struggle to remain in power and gifted him a free trip to the icy east. Krakenbals wouldn’t be rewarded for his service, as Dir was selected as the successor only moments after Victor was on his way out. The once revered respect held between the three elder statesmen was well and truely gone. The parade came and went, but the new Party Chief was too sick to attend.

Board state at end of turn 2:


Krakenbals’ efforts to end Victor’s career came at a high cost. The stress had aged him immensely and sickness set upon him. Soon the cold hand of death swept him away and Dir stood atop the mountain, uncontested, surrounded by his handpicked replacements. He had not come out unscathed either though. His sickness had gotten worse, but he still managed to make it out for the parade and wave to his fellow comrades. He and his green-backing party were 1/3 of the way to victory...

Board state at end of turn 3:


For five years Dir was at the helm of the party, but was never able to wave again given that he spent most of his time in the Sanatorium. His sickness only worsened his physic, and after a bleak term, he passed away in his bed. The struggle to fill the void would leave the politburo nearly empty. Newly promoted KGB Head, Alexi Goforbrok had brought a cold with him from his long, chilly days in the Economy Ministry offices and decided to visit the Sanatorium in hopes of getting better. With the office vacant, the Ideology Minister, Vasili Alexseyev, seized the opportunity to purge off his comrades. Dir had plotted to secure his succession and Goforbrok was not in the plan. As long as he remained in the picture, there was a chance he could end up as Party Chief. Vasili, as instructed, shipped Goforbrok off to Siberia, but sealed his own fate in the process. The same sickness that had claimed Dir was circling through the halls of the Kremlin and took Alexseyev, and the Industry Minister -Andrej Purgemov- in one swoop. That meant that four offices, including the Party Chief, were left vacant. To complicate things further, Ludmilla Patina, the chairman of the funeral commission, was also in the Sanatorium, which left the duties to the Economy Minister, Yuri Turnenkov. Turnenkov nominated the only possible candidate, Defense Minister, Sergei Eatstumuch and given that he and Sports Minister, Leonid Pistov were the only voting members remaining, the motion passed unopposed. Promotions were made to fill the rest of the Politburo as the shadowy hand of Ian Dir still seemed to hang over Moscow. Once the aftermath cleared, the situation was much more bleak for Dir’s Green Party: the yellow party surrounded the Party Chief with known control over both the KGB Head and the Defense Minister. Fear spread through the Kremlin as it was assumed Eatstumuch would be disposed before he even had a chance to wave...

Board state at end of turn 6 (Pre Dir death):


Board state at end of turn 7 (Post Dir death):


As the decade came to a close, the Eatstumuch regime had done little. The Party Chief preferred to eat pirogies and drink vodka than rule. There was little that the others could do get rid of him though, as they spent most of their time in the Sanatorium. Towards the end of his time in office, Eatstumuch was put on life support, as the Green Party tried to hold on to their assets as long as possible, knowing the yellow party was in the wings, waiting for him to die. They would hold on long enough as it turned out and in the end their hold on the Party Chief would grant them the win.

Board state at end of turn 10:


From the depths of Siberia, in a ruthless labor camp, former Party Chief Victor Aparatchik learned of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. He had kept up with the plights of his comrades in the Kremlin, had watched as they purged and prosecuted themselves. He had lived while his once friends died in office and took some comfort in that. The camps were closing and he would be going home. Already he had been contacted by old acquaintances in Moscow, asking him to come back. “Things were never this bad while you were in office,” “You held the Union together comrade,” they said. How ironic that his usurpers aged and died in the warmth of the capital while the grew stronger and thrived in the wilderness of the east. It was a Russian’s true home anyways, Siberia. It made you stronger and wore away the impurities. After a ten year hiatus, Victor was ready for a comeback...

FIN

This game is so much fun. Even though this game was a bit more dull than normal, you become attached to your characters and find yourself rooting for them to get better in the hospital of make a comeback from Siberia. So many fun narratives form from the game naturally and make for a really awesome experience. As far as the bots go, they were very strong, given that they had so much declared influence, but they weren’t very intelligent. As is said they are very rudimentary, but with some tweaking, they could be entertaining. Feel free to ask any questions on how they worked! In the end my girlfriend (green) won on the 10th turn. I was red and had no luck. All of my people were purged off early or died so I had no chance of rehabilitation and was mostly a bystander. Disease kept green at bay for most of the game and few lucky die rolls kept things interesting. Overall it was tons of fun. I’ll post again if I give the bots another run! Thanks!
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Mark J
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Yeah I have a hard time getting this game played as well. I guess I should try harder. Nice session report.

There is a way to play online over vassal. I've done it PBEM style and it works alright. I can try getting another one going. Maybe you'd be interested?
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Björn Harzer
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Hi Zach,
My version of Kremlin has been collecting dust since the Wall came down in 1989... I might give your bots a go, if you could publish them to BGG? I would be interested in that and revive my love for this game. As you say, it is difficult to find the right kind of players for this one, so it might be got to have them handy, backstabbing about...
Thanks
Bjorn
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Michael Bowker
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Don't forget Avalon Hill's General Magazine Article, Black Tea for Two. http://www.vftt.co.uk/Games/Avalon%20Hill/00%20The%20General...

I have only ever played the AH version of the game, but it should, maybe with some adjustments, work with the new version.

My brother and I played with these rules all of the time, and lost a lot to "the dummy". I remember once where everyone was purged except for his people and we didn't stand a chance.

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Zach Berly
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Beejer2000 wrote:
Hi Zach,
My version of Kremlin has been collecting dust since the Wall came down in 1989... I might give your bots a go, if you could publish them to BGG? I would be interested in that and revive my love for this game. As you say, it is difficult to find the right kind of players for this one, so it might be got to have them handy, backstabbing about...
Thanks
Bjorn


Try the link below your post. Its variant is actually really well made. You could easily extend it to two bots, making for a 3 player game if you’re going solo, or a 4 player game if you have a live opponent. I don’t think anything I could create would be better than that. Hope this helps so you can rekindle your love for the classic!
 
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Zach Berly
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pvi99th wrote:
Don't forget Avalon Hill's General Magazine Article, Black Tea for Two. http://www.vftt.co.uk/Games/Avalon%20Hill/00%20The%20General...

I have only ever played the AH version of the game, but it should, maybe with some adjustments, work with the new version.

My brother and I played with these rules all of the time, and lost a lot to "the dummy". I remember once where everyone was purged except for his people and we didn't stand a chance.



These are really good! I’ll give them a go soon and maybe do another report. Appreciate you posting this!
 
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Björn Harzer
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SouthernProud wrote:
Beejer2000 wrote:
Hi Zach,
My version of Kremlin has been collecting dust since the Wall came down in 1989... I might give your bots a go, if you could publish them to BGG? I would be interested in that and revive my love for this game. As you say, it is difficult to find the right kind of players for this one, so it might be got to have them handy, backstabbing about...
Thanks
Bjorn


Try the link below your post. Its variant is actually really well made. You could easily extend it to two bots, making for a 3 player game if you’re going solo, or a 4 player game if you have a live opponent. I don’t think anything I could create would be better than that. Hope this helps so you can rekindle your love for the classic!


Thanks guys. I will try that.
Love the article on page 22 on computers. Times HAVE moved on..
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