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Subject: Our first campaign game rss

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Ananda Gupta
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Last weekend I sat down for the Campaign Game with two colleagues, one of whom, Seb, was new (and not much of a wargamer) and one of whom, David, I had played the Introductory Scenario with the prior week. We decided that David would take the Fascists, Seb the Democracies, and I the Communists (as I wanted to see how their special rules worked).

The scenario got off to an interesting start when, on an early counter pull, the Chinese Civil War ended with a GMD victory (a 6 vs 2 die roll result converted the sole ChiCom army, in Hubei, to GMD and that was that). As a result Germany was the only power with Influence in China; this would eventually lead to 4 German cubes in China(!) once Germany and Japan had allied, extending German interests to China.

The 2nd turn featured a lot of diplomacy attempts, with provocation flags generated all over the place - but not in Eastern Europe, as the Fascists worked to keep the Soviet Union flag poor. The French deployed an army to Poland to act as a tripwire and guard against political instability. Seb's dice were hot early, and he was able to form the UK/France alliance on only two tries. Moreover, his US dice were great too; by 1938, US/Japan trade was over and Lend Lease had been passed. This meant the UK/France/USA alliance was unblocked very early, and Seb formed it before anyone went to war.

At this stage David was feeling desperate. He'd failed to get to Rearmament on turn 1 with either Germany or Italy, *and* at the end of turn 1 the only two counters in the cup were the final Crisis and one German flag; of course the Crisis was drawn and the turn ended without the Rearmament attempt he'd been counting on. Germany faced a fully allied Democratic bloc and had only three units on the map. Italy's invasion of Abyssinia had failed and David was loath to spend further flags on it given the military situation. His only hope was that the time it might take for all the Democracies to mobilize would be enough for him to rearm, build, and knock out France.

And this was more or less precisely what happened! Seb went into turn 4 with the US and UK at mobilization, but didn't buy enough offensives. Germany was able to take out France on a shoestring (and a surprise attack) and force a collapse (but not surrender); the ensuing armistice gave him further time to build up his forces. Meanwhile, Seb's hot dice went ice cold as three separate attempts by the US and UK to invade the Continent went bust. Seb lost three separate air and naval battles, all of which would have given him some advantages in the invasions.

And what was the USSR up to all this time? Stuck in Military Reforms (an error on my part) and starved of flags, the USSR had a lot of trouble getting to Mobilization and preparing to invade the very weak Germany, almost all of whose forces were tied up in France and guarding that coast. There was a yawning window where a Soviet attack could have rolled Germany over entirely, but the lack of flags killed it. In desperation I started to invade countries, including the newly neutral Poland (once France finally surrendered), but ultimately it was too late; David was able to build up a much larger army, including three tanks. In the Pacific, the end of the Chinese Civil War had also left a huge opening for Japan to run amok there; Seb had invested a lot in naval support for the Pacific, but Japan was able to take Java and its permanent resource nonetheless.

We had to call it a little early but I think the writing was mostly on the wall; David's Fascists were in the mid-teens on the scoreboard, France had surrendered (and retained no home spaces), and the USSR was now vulnerable to a deadly German counterstroke. The game would have come down to whether Germany could knock out the USSR before the US could recover its force pool and use +1 augmented invasions to regain the Continent.

Things I'll be more careful about next time I play the Communists:

- The Soviets NEED that automatic flag every turn. Stability is a real challenge and Soviet interests don't extend far enough to rely on provocation flags.
- The early end of the CCW really hurt; the Soviets can get offensives more easily than flags, and getting more aid into China is crucial because it will increase your sphere of influence and potentially generate more provocation flags.
- If the Democracies are desperate for Soviet help, they should use Pressure to give more flags to the USSR. (Like the "Second Front!" calls, but in reverse.)

Some quotes (with a little paraphrase) from the players:

David (Fascists): "I love how Offensives can lead to explosive changes in the board situation, especially at Total War."

Seb (Democracies): "All the tools are there and the decisions about which ones to use are tough."

Seb: "You warned me it'd be random and different from history... you weren't kidding!"

David: "It feels like anything can happen, but it's all still plausible."

Seb: "I don't play a lot of these boardgames, but this felt easy to learn. There's a lot to keep track of, especially making sure you get all the flags you should, but I felt like I understood what decisions I was making."

Thumbs up from everyone! Looking forward to the next one. I expect I'll try to get one of them again to try Eagle and the Sun, just to get a better sense of how all the islands and bases in the Pacific work, and then we might try another Campaign Game.

Final board state (remember, we had to call it a couple of turns early):
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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That sounded like an amazing game. Many thanks to you and your friends for the kind words.
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Kevin Bernatz
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You write: "The French deployed an army to Poland to act as a tripwire"

Maybe Scott can correct me, but I thought France couldn't get units to Poland (at least under Status Quo??). Its late and my coffee hasn't kicked in, so I'm wondering if I'm remembering a GORP (Ghost of Rules Past)?

-K
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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It depends. If Denmark is friendly, they can pass that way. Otherwise, if the French minor allies held on, they could go through the Med, Yugoslavia, then Rumania, to Poland.

I’m not saying nobody’s never done it, but one less army in France is one less army in France... whistle
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Ananda Gupta
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Why does Denmark have to be friendly? I thought a unit could deploy through a mixed area unless it has an enemy naval or strategic air unit. And the path seems to pass the naval range distance rules.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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ASGupta wrote:
Why does Denmark have to be friendly? I thought a unit could deploy through a mixed area unless it has an enemy naval or strategic air unit. And the path seems to pass the naval range distance rules.

See the IMPORTANT box in 7.2 Movement:
IMPORTANT: Moving units can only enter a land or mixed area if it is friendly (1.1) or it is the target area of an operation (9.1).
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Adam Ruzzo
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sdiberar wrote:
ASGupta wrote:
Why does Denmark have to be friendly? I thought a unit could deploy through a mixed area unless it has an enemy naval or strategic air unit. And the path seems to pass the naval range distance rules.

See the IMPORTANT box in 7.2 Movement:
IMPORTANT: Moving units can only enter a land or mixed area if it is friendly (1.1) or it is the target area of an operation (9.1).


Oh snap we missed that. Neutral Denmark will fire on peaceful troop transports passing through it's straights? Seems odd to me.
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Kevin Bernatz
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It isn't that they will fire on them, but that they will block military goods (read: units) from passing through.

Abstractly this represents the fact that the Allies would not have sailed into the Baltic (many wargames actually just prohibit this outright) or sailed through Turkey into the Black Sea, etc.

-K
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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Bridger wrote:
sdiberar wrote:
ASGupta wrote:
Why does Denmark have to be friendly? I thought a unit could deploy through a mixed area unless it has an enemy naval or strategic air unit. And the path seems to pass the naval range distance rules.

See the IMPORTANT box in 7.2 Movement:
IMPORTANT: Moving units can only enter a land or mixed area if it is friendly (1.1) or it is the target area of an operation (9.1).

Oh snap we missed that.

We missed that too. Was glad to see it in the session report because I figured that meant we'd done it right, ha ha.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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kuhrusty wrote:
Bridger wrote:
Oh snap we missed that.

We missed that too. Was glad to see it in the session report because I figured that meant we'd done it right, ha ha.

IMPORTANT boxes are IMPORTANT.
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Adam Ruzzo
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sdiberar wrote:
kuhrusty wrote:
Bridger wrote:
Oh snap we missed that.

We missed that too. Was glad to see it in the session report because I figured that meant we'd done it right, ha ha.

IMPORTANT boxes are IMPORTANT.


Oddly enough my mind tends to skip over boxes like that because they so often contain examples/extensions of the rules and not important rules in and of themselves. It's just the way my brain has been trained by other rulebooks I guess.

I believe I would be much more likely to notice if the text itself was in Red, instead of simply being surrounded by a red box. But that's just me and my weird brain
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Bridger wrote:
I believe I would be much more likely to notice if the text itself was in Red, instead of simply being surrounded by a red box. But that's just me and my weird brain

That's how I wanted it (well, orange actually) but I was overruled...
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marc lecours
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Bridger wrote:
sdiberar wrote:
kuhrusty wrote:
Bridger wrote:
Oh snap we missed that.

We missed that too. Was glad to see it in the session report because I figured that meant we'd done it right, ha ha.

IMPORTANT boxes are IMPORTANT.


Oddly enough my mind tends to skip over boxes like that because they so often contain examples/extensions of the rules and not important rules in and of themselves. It's just the way my brain has been trained by other rulebooks I guess.

I believe I would be much more likely to notice if the text itself was in Red, instead of simply being surrounded by a red box. But that's just me and my weird brain


Same here. If I forget a rule, it is likely to be the one in the box. My mind is trained to skip over boxes. I have met other people like that too.

I suspect that this is because of advertising. Since childhood, I have trained myself to totally ignore advertising. And advertising in newspapers, magazines and the internet are often in boxes (especially side boxes). Advertising boxes often have bright colours and are screaming for attention. This signals my brain to ignore them even more. So rules in boxes, especially sideboxes, with bright colours, bold font and images are just telling me to ignore them.

If you write "IMPORTANT" in the box, you are giving my subconscious a signal to ignore the box.
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Marc Hanna
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I think that ignoring boxes marked IMPORTANT is more a subconscious reflection of your anti-authoritarian personality traits laughlaugh
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Barry Kendall
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Being at a time of life where my "cognitive functionality" is likely measured in two more decades at most, with many unplayed games on my shelves, I've been trying mightily to resist the lure of this game.

You people are making that VERY difficult!

And if anyone tells me it can actually be played solo, you will cause my remaining resolve to crumble catastrophically . . . .
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Barry Kendall wrote:
And if anyone tells me it can actually be played solo, you will cause my remaining resolve to crumble catastrophically . . . .

It depends on your definition of solo There are no "bots" or "automa" (although we are not against trying to build some...) but the mechanisms of the game are very friendly to solo play. Since everything is run by chit-pull, even perfect plans are subject to surprise and upset.

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Adam Ruzzo
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Barry Kendall wrote:
Being at a time of life where my "cognitive functionality" is likely measured in two more decades at most, with many unplayed games on my shelves, I've been trying mightily to resist the lure of this game.

You people are making that VERY difficult!

And if anyone tells me it can actually be played solo, you will cause my remaining resolve to crumble catastrophically . . . .


No reason it can't be. There is no hidden information at all (no private cards, etc.).

Unless you're asking if it has a "bot" which will play against you. In that case, the answer is no. But I imagine it's quite good for solitaire.
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Wendell
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Bridger wrote:
Barry Kendall wrote:
Being at a time of life where my "cognitive functionality" is likely measured in two more decades at most, with many unplayed games on my shelves, I've been trying mightily to resist the lure of this game.

You people are making that VERY difficult!

And if anyone tells me it can actually be played solo, you will cause my remaining resolve to crumble catastrophically . . . .


No reason it can't be. There is no hidden information at all (no private cards, etc.).

Unless you're asking if it has a "bot" which will play against you. In that case, the answer is no. But I imagine it's quite good for solitaire.


I've played Cat solo (during playtesting), and IMO it works really well.
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Ananda Gupta
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I haven't played solo but I expect the counter pull system would make it especially well suited for solo play.
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Mike White
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An interesting read, many thanks.

I was on the fence whether to jump on the p500. The game looks really interesting but (1) I know I struggle to get anything resembling a war game tabled and (2) the player count range put me off and (3) even at discounted p500 prices it gets expensive to ship here to the UK.

Regarding the second point I find most games that show 2 to 5 tend to mean 4,or 5. Now I see community votes trending towards 3, and this session report at 3.

What was the play time with 3? And did it feel like the ideal player count? Would 2 players be any good or wasting much of the game?
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Ananda Gupta
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The game seems designed for 3 players, but there might be more game situations where the Communist player has somewhat less to do than the rest. And there are three scenarios for 2 players.

In this session our Fascist player definitely felt a tiny bit overwhelmed playing Germany, Italy, and Japan; but our newbie Democracies player felt fine running US/UK/France. So I'm generally inclined not to play with 5, and with 4 I'd split up the Fascists (albeit not sure whether it's better for Italy to go with the German or Japanese player).

The playbook labels the campaign game as 4-10 hours; I think this is accurate, maybe a little longer if someone, preferably the Communist player, is doing a lot of teaching and rules lookup.

Edit: To be precise, our first campaign game with relatively new players went from 2:30pm to 10pm and we had to call it two turns, each of which probably would have taken us an hour, from the end. This included setup and initial rules discussion.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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ASGupta wrote:
with 4 I'd split up the Fascists (albeit not sure whether it's better for Italy to go with the German or Japanese player).

I recommend pairing Italy with Japan; it’s what the rules suggest.
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Barry Kendall
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Well, Scott, Adam, Wendell, and Ananda, now look what you've done.

Thanks for clarifying that there is no AI/bot system but that doesn't matter, most of my wargaming has been solo since I started in '70.

Your answers were very helpful to my understanding of the game's "conventional solo" potential, and not at all helpful to my gaming budget! Will have to do some shekel shuffling, but thanks to you my resistance has proven utterly futile.

Seriously, thanks for verifying that "Cataclysm" is indeed accessible to my usual playing mode. It sounds like a very original, creative and enjoyable design.
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Adam Ruzzo
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Barry Kendall wrote:
Well, Scott, Adam, Wendell, and Ananda, now look what you've done.

Thanks for clarifying that there is no AI/bot system but that doesn't matter, most of my wargaming has been solo since I started in '70.

Your answers were very helpful to my understanding of the game's "conventional solo" potential, and not at all helpful to my gaming budget! Will have to do some shekel shuffling, but thanks to you my resistance has proven utterly futile.

Seriously, thanks for verifying that "Cataclysm" is indeed accessible to my usual playing mode. It sounds like a very original, creative and enjoyable design.


yes...yes...all my plans are coming to fruition. Now the game will sell out quickly and I will finally get....MY MOUNTED MAP!
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Barry Kendall wrote:
Seriously, thanks for verifying that "Cataclysm" is indeed accessible to my usual playing mode. It sounds like a very original, creative and enjoyable design.

Thanks to you too, Barry, and welcome to the party.
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