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Subject: Specific Countries: Gulf States rss

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Tom F
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The specific cards series was valuable to read for me when I learned to play. It seems to me that the characteristics of specific countries can be as important to the game as certain cards. To that end, I think it might be useful to discuss some of the advantages of specific countries.

As the USA, Gulf States strikes me as significant and often overlooked. At 3 influence, it is difficult to coup successfully. It is *not* vulnerable to Muslim Revolution; only Israel and Lebanon are similarly immune (and they have myriad problems). Finally, it is worth 1 point to the Soviets with OPEC. By controlling it, that is 1 point the USA can deny the Soviets.

Thus, in games where the USA is getting trounced in the Middle East, consider holing up in the Gulf States to secure presence and trying to ride it until the Camp David Accords make Israel a safe haven too.
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Riku Riekkinen
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3 stability countries are quite expensive at the start. Also getting to Gulf States is not easy in my opinion for the USA. Clearly not a country for me...
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Jesse Dean
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I was fond of the Gulf States before, but lately it hasn't really been an issue. I typically try to secure Isreal early by taking control of Lebanon and Jordan, and then using a slightly later card to take Isreal. With those three under your control, you are no longer really at risk from the War, and they can serve as a nice axis of power in the Middle East, allowing you to expand in all sorts of directions.
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Charles Robinson
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I agree with the OP's take on the Gulf States - while securing Israel is of paramount importance, it can be a risky play if Suez Crisis and Arab-Israeli War take their time to appear in the Early War. I also have found that while securing Israel is imperative, and an effective hedge against USSR control of the region, it's insufficient as an effective counter-strategy. Admittedly, the Middle East is going to be hard on the USA player, who generally has to resign himself to losing points there. USA Presence in the Gulf States can be vital to being competitive in the region.

I do however agree that trying to control the Gulf States can be expensive, especially since it isn't a battleground. But if you end up with access to it in the Early War, and can find a point of influence to spare, presence in the Gulf States can let you maintain access to Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Two more points of influence before the Late War are necessary in order not to be wiped out there by the Marine Baracks Bombing. Doing this can make it much easier for the USA to negate or reverse Soviet domination of the Middle East in the final plays of the game, assuming you get to final scoring.
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Brendan Majev
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I find that, in many games, the Middle East will be one of the regions that "locks up" as long as the USSR doesn't totally bull-rush the issue at the beginning (read: kick the USA out of Israel before it can expand into another country like lebanon or jordan). If the USA can manage to control Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel by the end of Turn 1, the USA is generally pretty safe in the Middle East; it's not going to be worth the USSR's time to try and totally kick the Americans out. When the CAMP DAVID ACCORDS arrive, if you can follow that up with SADAT EXPELS SOVIETS, voila, the USA has a nice, solid powerbase and is only a nice coup roll in libya away from evening up the region.

Very rarely do I see the USA take control of the gulf states, simply because they are "out of the way." I do like to keep one influence there if I also control Saudi Arabia, however, as it keeps the USSR from totally blasting the Saudis from my hands with a play to eliminate me from Jordan and Saudi Arabia with MUSLIM REVOLUTION.

Usually, it is not going to be worth it for the USA to grab Gulf States, unless it evens the country score at 5-5 in the Mid-East (in which case the USA should grab the country as soon as the ops are available; any 3-stability county under US control is a gem).
 
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Charles Robinson
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If the USSR is threatening to score domination of the Middle East, in the Mid- or Late-War and you need to grab the Gulf States in order to prevent that, then you're often out of luck unless you've grabbed it earlier. The issue isn't spending 3 influence all at once to control the country, it's getting presence that cannot be nixed by Muslim Revolution, and isn't likely to be lost to a coup.

(The USSR not "bull-rushing the issue" is a hefty assumption - a headline of Arab-Israeli War on turn 1 seems to be a strong and popular move. And quite frankly, it is a fortunate USA player that is controlling all of Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel by the end of turn 1, and still has found the ops to do everything that needs doing in Asia and Europe, at least one of which, or both, must be a higher priority for spending influence. And the implied suggestion that the USSR won't be trying to coup Egypt after Sadat appears is, I think, wrong. The USSR has a very strong incentive, not only because of regional scoring but because of the OPEC card, to do everything they can to paint the Middle East bright Red. But this is starting to sound like it belongs in the Egypt thread.)

None of this is to say that the USA getting presence in the Gulf States is often easily possible. Mostly it isn't. And it certainly isn't worth spending 2 ops for single points of influence through a series of countries that the USSR already controls. But if you do find yourself easily able to buy yourself some influence in the Gulf States early on, you can save yourself some real headaches later.
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