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Subject: 4-player, cooperative invaders rss

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Andrew Nick
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The Northern Knights convened once again this fine Friday evening for a session of the old chestnut Fortress America. As we waited for our fourth, Clayton Baisch, to arrive, we figured we'd start the game by selecting the U.S.A. player from among the three of us who were already in attendance--Colin Woo, Alan Snider (keeper of the flame of the Northern Knights), and yours truly. Both Colin and I had tried the game out a few months ago, so it was fitting that chance chose Alan to be the U.S.A. player, since his relative inexperience would be mitigated by the rumoured unbalance of the game in favour of the U.S.A. player.

Alan set up conventionally, with lowly infantry manning the beachheads to take the brunt of the invasion forces, while more valuable forces waited behind friendly lines, out of the direct line of fire. Clayton arrived shortly after Alan completed his setup, and we randomly determined that I would take the Eastern Invader (Euro-Socialist Pact), Colin would take the Southern Invader (Central American Federation), and Clayton the Western Invader (Asian Peoples Alliance).

Clayton met with little initial resistance, and handily took his West Coast Cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland. Colin was repulsed from one of his intial targets to the South, and neglected to target Houston at all, so he ended-up with just San Diego and San Antonio after his invasion. I went for all three cities that I had immediate access to on the Eastern Seaboard--Tampa, Miami, and special emphasis on Washington, assigning both my bombers there.

On Alan's first turn, he didn't get many reinforcements, as the cards he selected called for some replacements that weren't yet available. He concentrated his forces on defending the Eastern Seaboard, as that is where the highest concentration of cities are. He massed significant forces north of Tampa, as well as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. His attempted counterattack on Washington, however, was a failure, and Alan remarked that perhaps he should be concentrating on defense, and forsaking counterattacks until later in the game when he would inevitably be stronger.

On the second turn, Clayton consolidated his position on the West Coast by taking Seattle, and setting-up for the long journey accross the Western Plains and Rocky Mountains. Colin got his act together, and took Houston and Phoenix on his second turn. Clayton had somewhat cut-off Colin's advance, however, by taking the Coconino Plateau, which slowed Colin down a bit. I saw a beautiful opportunity in the East: Alan had garrisoned Philadelphia, my next target, fairly strongly, but there was only one or two units in the Alleghenys between Philadelphia and his huge force in Pittsburgh. Using lots of airpower, I made a two-pronged attack on Philadelphia and the Alleghenys to the West, thinking that even if I didn't take Philadelphia, I could at least cut off any reinforcements from Pittsburgh if I took the Alleghenys. Well, it was not to be, as both attacks were abject failures. The outlook was for the Euro-Socialist Pact had dimmed significantly, and I felt I would likely need the other invasion forces to show some strong progress in future turns to take the heat off me.

On Alan's second turn, he picked a doozy of a Partisan Card: "Major Airlift". This allowed him to pick up as many units as he wanted from one space on the board and drop them in any other non-enemy-occupied space on the board INCLUDING CITIES! There were three ungarrisoned cities that were controlled by Invaders at this point: Miami, San Antonio, and Portland. I thought Alan would pick Miami for sure, but I was granted a reprieve from my bad luck, and he parachuted into San Antonio instead, and messed with Colin for a little while, and was one Partisan Card richer for re-taking a city. Much to my delight, Alan also failed, once again, to properly garrison the Alleghenys, which I decided to take advantage of on turn three.

On turn three, Clayton started leap-frogging across the West into the Rocky Mountains with his helicopters, overrunning SLC. Colin pressed on, taking back San Antonio, and preparing for an assault on New Orleans and Dallas. Originally, I expected to just start reinforcing my position with infantry this turn, until I saw the hole Alan had left me last turn. So once again, I went hard for Philadelphia and the Alleghenys, and sent a helicopter up to the Adirondacks even. I also continued my push North of Tampa. This time, all my attacks were a big success.

On Alan's turn, he ignored his own advice to himself from turn one, and went all out and counterattacked me everywhere I had made gains this turn. Luck had abandoned him however, despite pulling another powerful Partisan Card, "Clear Weather", which allowed his lasers to be significantly more effective. His lasers, however, mostly missed their targets, and all his attacks failed. Alan was decimated in the East, and briefly considered taking up Chess as a hobby and burning all his other games.

The fourth and fifth turns saw all invading forces make major gains, hitting mere speed-bumps from Alan's Partisan Cards. By the time Alan's turn rolled around on the fifth turn, we had twenty-three cities, way more than the eighteen we needed for victory, and calculated that even if Alan rolled all hits, and we rolled all misses, he could only conceivably take back five cities, so we called it at that point: the invaders win!

We had agreed at the outset to play a purely cooperative game, as we had heard about the overwhelming advantage the U.S.A. player enjoys in this game. Notwithstanding Alan's bad luck with the dice, I think this game is not as lop-sided as people say, and Clayton concurred. Alan remarked that a potential strategy that he had overlooked for the Americans was a kind of "skulking" (to borrow a term from Squad Leader), where American forces would move to counterattack, and then move back behind friendly lines manned by lowly infantry during Second Movement. I guess Alan just volunteered for another beat-down ...
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Rod Batten
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Great report, thanks!
 
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Pete Belli
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You have written an interesting After Action Report.

It could have been worse for Alan The American... my strategy for the Western Invader was to bypass most of the west coast city areas on turn 1 and quickly move inland over the mountains.

The isolated USA city defenders can be mopped up by Asian Peoples Alliance infantry units that enter later in the game.

This strategy puts the Western Invader into the mineral-rich Rocky Mountains much faster, forcing the USA player to form a hasty defense line in that region. With a little luck the Western Invader can reach Kansas City quickly and even use helicopters to capture the laser tower frequently built in Minneapolis.

Once again, great Session Report!
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Steve R Bullock
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Damn, I wish I could have been in on this game! I have only played this game as 2 or 3 player! Wow, it must have been sweet to have the game played by so many!

For what it is worth, I find they game very balanced, with the victory swinging to the Invader or USA, depending on strategy, luck, and the amount of booze consumed by the players.

Thanks for sharing the fun!


STOP THE COMMIE SCUM! THEY ARE SWARMING ALL OVER THE BEACHES!
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Leo Zappa
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So did you guys not play the mandatory last turn where the invaders, after having vanquished the American empire, then turn on one another to annoint a individual invader victor? If not, then it's easier for me to see why you beat the American player, since if the invader players aren't worried about positioning themselves to be the overall invader winner, a lot of tension between the invaders vanishes and they simply focus on defeating the American as a unified team. From my plays, when the American player wins, it's because one or more of the invaders stabs another invader in the back to prevent them from staking out an unbeatable lead in victory cities. It's this tension that adds an extra level of friction to the invader efforts and gives the American player a chance.

So, how did you guys play that last turn???
 
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Andrew Nick
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desertfox2004 wrote:
So did you guys not play the mandatory last turn where the invaders, after having vanquished the American empire, then turn on one another to annoint a individual invader victor? If not, then it's easier for me to see why you beat the American player, since if the invader players aren't worried about positioning themselves to be the overall invader winner, a lot of tension between the invaders vanishes and they simply focus on defeating the American as a unified team. From my plays, when the American player wins, it's because one or more of the invaders stabs another invader in the back to prevent them from staking out an unbeatable lead in victory cities. It's this tension that adds an extra level of friction to the invader efforts and gives the American player a chance.

So, how did you guys play that last turn???


Yeah, Leo, like I mentioned, we played a purely cooperative game, because of the reputation this game had as heavily favouring the Americans. Next time, we'll play a competitive game, and see how that works ...

Andrew
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Leo Zappa
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Chump wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
So did you guys not play the mandatory last turn where the invaders, after having vanquished the American empire, then turn on one another to annoint a individual invader victor? If not, then it's easier for me to see why you beat the American player, since if the invader players aren't worried about positioning themselves to be the overall invader winner, a lot of tension between the invaders vanishes and they simply focus on defeating the American as a unified team. From my plays, when the American player wins, it's because one or more of the invaders stabs another invader in the back to prevent them from staking out an unbeatable lead in victory cities. It's this tension that adds an extra level of friction to the invader efforts and gives the American player a chance.

So, how did you guys play that last turn???


Yeah, Leo, like I mentioned, we played a purely cooperative game, because of the reputation this game had as heavily favouring the Americans. Next time, we'll play a competitive game, and see how that works ...

Andrew


Fair enough - that's what I thought I read. Let us know how the next one goes with the last invader vs. invader turn - I bet it will feel like an entirely different game. BTW - nice session report. thumbsup
 
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Anthony
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Great report Andrew, it sounded like an amazing session!
 
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Chris Crowder
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Quote:
Alan remarked that a potential strategy that he had overlooked for the Americans was a kind of "skulking" (to borrow a term from Squad Leader), where American forces would move to counterattack, and then move back behind friendly lines manned by lowly infantry during Second Movement.


That's exactly the American strategy that has me worried, given a recent rules refresher/correction I've received. This fallback ability of the Americans is going to be a major hindrance if employed correctly.

I think it's recommended in the rulebook somewhere that it's actually the most experienced player who should be USA, since it's a lonesome position with lots of board-wide strategic options to choose amongst. Perhaps all experience being equal it has an edge, but it's a tough position to learn the game from.
 
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