James Lowry
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On Sunday, the gang was over for a day with a fairly unique design from the heyday of SPI—Russian Civil War. You don't represent any one particular person of any faction, but it instead promotes the same kind of chaos of the actual event by giving everyone control of parts of the various factions involved.

It was looking like we'd have six people—a new record—but Mark had to pull out due to a family crisis, and he was also Jason's transportation. So, me, Patch, Zjonni and Dave gathered to guide the future of the Russian state.

The initial draw saw Dave get almost entirely Red leaders, and Patch get more White leaders than anyone else. Zjonni and I's pulls put us more on the borderline, though I ended up with 5 Politburo markers (the highest of anyone, and enough to form a quorum with any one other person), and Zjonni ended up with the Czar and the gold.

The initial turn was mostly marked by Red Russian attacks on the interventionist forces, generally by use of subversion, which avoids the negative results of a poor roll. There was also the fact that Dave's random event roll gave him double strength for subversion, allowing him to rack up quite a score with them.

I (as the second player) noted that there were a bunch of leaders about without any troops. They still have combat value, but it tends to be pretty minimal, so I started consolidating my troops, attacked some interventionist troops to start getting Red victory points, and used my White troops to pick off Red leaders for some White victory points. And, just to make sure everyone was saved of no end of trouble later, I made sure one of my attacks picked off an unsupported Stalin....

An interesting mechanic is that for the first few turns, any eliminated troops (but not leaders nor interventionist forces) come back at the end of the turn if their home province isn't occupied by someone else. I got control of the trans-Caucasian separatists, and since no one was really interested in their homeland, I sent them on a couple of low-odds 'suicide missions' as they'd just come back at the end of the turn (and be automatically under my control again...). Considering that the CRT can be extremely bloody, the ability to make a couple of 'safe' low odds attacks can be useful.

Random draws for control of various interventionist or separatist or interventionist withdrawal markers came slowly, with them tending to gravitate towards me. When I got control of the Japanese and US forces in Siberia, the Reds evacuated as quickly as they could. Three units of '6' each is quite a deal in this game, and that just the Imperial Japanese army. (There are US units elsewhere, but they had been eliminated by the point the marker was drawn. See Dave's antics above.)

Overall, the limiting resource in the game is leaders. Without leaders, neither Red nor White units can do anything. The Reds start with more troops, and more leaders than the need. The White Russians pretty much have just enough leaders for their troops. After a couple turns of attrition there were a number of uncontrolled White units sitting around, and not enough White leaders to do anything with them.

I had been walking the line, gathering White and Red points, and thinking that I was going to have to commit to the Red Cause soon to have any hope of catching up with Dave with a Red win looking extremely likely, when a few things happened. First, my most powerful Red unit was wiped out in a plague. Second, Patch's White forces accidentally (as in he'd forgotten the rule) activated a rule where no Red units come back if there no Red units in either Petrograd or Tver and there were enemy units there. Patch's ongoing White offensive had culminated in a battle where he wiped all the Red unit out in Tver on turn 2. Third, the first purge of the game happened.

Since the target of the purge was me, it served to further erode my hold over the Red Army, and made it harder to win that way. At this point, it was getting obvious that my only hope at all was to throw in with the White coterie. I did have some hope left for a Red win, as I did control Trotsky, one of two '3' Red leaders. However, my mind got stuck with the idea that the other, Lenin, was controlled by Dave, when he was actually controlled by Patch. This left me at a disadvantage when it was decided that one of the two needed to die (which would also prevent Red units from returning for a turn).

And since I didn't have any of the assassin chits, and the bulk of them were controlled by Patch, it was Trotsky who had a fine (if poisoned) last meal. And this pretty much broke what power I had left in the Red Party.

The rest of the game consisted of the three of us trying to figure out how to take out the rest of the Red forces without weakening the White forces enough to be vulnerable to a counter attack from Dave. Dave eventually knocked Zjonni out of the game, and got a hold of the gold (the Czar had escaped overseas), and used it to hire a couple of Polish units that had activated and made it into the Ukraine. Patch and I followed with the last major White armies, and I did a spoiling attack in the hope of an exchange, which I got. This knocked me out of the game, but made a White victory more likely.

This brought it down to one final combat. One roll, to determine the future of Russia. The odds now were with Patch, barely, and brought the sought-after White win.

We totaled the points for both sides, as it's very instructional:

Player White Red
Patch 45 13
Rindis 31 21
Zjonni 28 11
Dave 3 54


As you can see, I managed second on both sides. Especially with some of my chit draws, I had a fairly strong position, but lack of decisive action one way or the other doomed me to second.

Right now, the plan is to play Civilization, or Advanced Civilization next month.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I can't believe it's been 30 years since I played this. It's an unusual and entertaining game, and was beautifully produced.
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Lance McMillan
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Thanks for posting!

RCW was always one of my favorite games (I wore the counters out on two copies). I really wish DG or whoever owns the copyright would re-issue it, bringing the graphics up to date and adding in some of the missing elements of the war (like Makhno's anarchists and the entire central Asian front, which SPI just plain "forgot" about).
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Steve Herron
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I will never forget a game I played years ago. I had a Red leader and one of the guys playing took it from me with a purge. In my turn I tried to get it back but I had to roll snake eyes to do it. I rolled snake eyes. In the next turn he did it again and took my leader back. In my turn I tried to get it back and I rolled snake eyes a second time!!!
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Jason Morton
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Hi...I just bought this game and was wondering if you, or anyone else, knew how to set up a two-player game. It's a pretty obscure game, so these posts are my only link to people who have actually played it.
 
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James Lowry
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There's no real provision for a two-player game. I suppose you could just do the normal set up, just with only two people to deal everything out to. But... the point of the game is the chaos of multiple people with conflicting and unclear goals jostling with one another to gain an advantage. With only two people, no 'gang up on the leader', etc... I don't think the game will work well.
 
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Eric Haines
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Fun write up! One quick rules-lawyer point (though I'm doing this from memory, so can't cite chapter and verse): I believe the Gold cannot be used to control Polish or Finnish units, just the other greens (and those greens can't leave their homelands).


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James Lowry
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Hmm. As we're due to play this again this Sunday, I'd better look that up....
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Zoshchenko wrote:
Hi...I just bought this game and was wondering if you, or anyone else, knew how to set up a two-player game. It's a pretty obscure game, so these posts are my only link to people who have actually played it.


I think my buddy wrote an article with solitaire rules that was published in Moves, or maybe Fire & Movement. I don't remember seeing any 2-player rules though.
 
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