Recommend
15 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

Twilight Struggle» Forums » Sessions

Subject: 1st Ladder Round: Andrew rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ian Peters-Campbell
United States
Santa Cruz
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This was my first Twilight Struggle ladder match.
Moderator and organizer of the TS ladder (contact him to start playing!)
Ron Jacobsen
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
. Contact him to learn more about the TS ladder

US: Me
USSR: Andrew

This was both my and Andrew's first ladder match, so we both went in unrated.

As the US I was given a 3 point handicap as per the TS Ladder rules. What follows is a round-by-round detailed look back at the game, including my thoughts about various plays. If you have insight, comments, or advice I would love to hear them. Additional commentary from Andrew and/or Ron would be especially welcome.

Setup
Andrew placed starting influence in Poland 0/3* Austria 0/2 and Bulgaria 0/1.

My starting hand consisted of:
Truman Doctrine
DeGaulle Leads France
Independent Reds
Formosan Resolution
UN Intervention
Vietnam Revolts
De-Stalinization
Mideast Scoring

My starting influence was W. Germany 4*/0 Italy 3*/0 Iran 2*/0 Israel 3/0. Don't ask me why I placed in Israel. I think I was looking at the Mideast Scoring card, but I really should have thought this through more (especially since I planned to headline Mideast Scoring). The influence would have been better spent in Spain, or Turkey.

Turn 1

The Plan
My plan was to lead-off Mideast Scoring, then spend the turn establishing myself in Western Asia and responding to aggression in Europe. I didn't think I had the spare ops to concentrate on taking control of S. Africa or Panama yet. I planned to hold Destalinization (hopefully till after the turn 3 shuffle), UN-ing Degaulle, and Space Racing Vietnam.

The Turn
I headlined Mideast Scoring, as planned, and picked up 4 points...in my experience, not a bad start for the US. Even better that I can take the Middle East out of contention till at least Turn 3. Andrew headlined The Korean War, which succeeded. VP back by 2, which was a bummer, but I wasn't feeling like the war was a crushing blow at this point.

With Andrew's leading off with Korea I expected a push in Asia, but he surprised me by leading off the turn with a China Card coup in Italy. The coup resulted in Italy 0/0.

At this point I panicked a little bit. I tried replacing inf in Italy but Ron was good enough to point out that I had nothing adjacent. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache by taking Spain in setup. I wound up playing UN->Degaulle for ops: Austria 1/2, E. Germany 1/3. My thought was that if he didn't have a big card to play I could make him choose between East Germany and Italy, and make sure I wasn't taken the the cleaner's early in Europe.

USSR's second play was Defectors for ops: Italy 0/2*. At least I got a VP from it. At this point I figured Andrew's hand must not be so hot, or he probably would have played another 3 or 4 to crush my panic move. Since he had chosen not to protect East Germany, I played Truman Doctrine: East Germany 1/0.

I think at this point Andrew may have panicked a little bit, or maybe just hoped I was holding a low-op hand. He played Blockade, and I discarded Destalinization. At this point I realized I was not going to get my 6th action this turn, but so far I was avoiding the European disaster I had been afraid of. After discarding I played Formosan Resolution for ops: E Germany 3*/0. I know it's only temporary and risky due to Warsaw Pact, but I figured if it got me past the Europe Scoring it was worth it, and if he was holding Warsaw he would have played it for the extra ops (and not giving me a VP) in his second action.

And there it was: Europe Scoring, for a 0 point swing. Whew! I took the breathing room to send Vietnam to space, and pick up 2 VP.

5th round Andrew Spaced Marshall Plan, but his roll failed. And here's where my Turn 1 went Stupid. I played Independent Reds for ops as planned, but here the lack of immediacy in a PBEM game bit me. I forgot that my Ops were 0, and that I had not Coup-d yet. My plan had been a long-shot coup in Iraq for probably no results, but taking Defcon to 3 and my ops to 2. In the heat of the checking of email and seeing it was my turn I forgot about that, and placed inf: Afghanistan 2*/0. I realized as soon as I went to put the inf on the map that I had just made a major mistake and cost myself my early point lead.

Andrew finished turn 1 by playing Five Year Plan, dumping his last card (a now harmless Containment), and placing inf: Iran 2/2.

The turn finished with Defcon going to 5 (ugh) and my losing FOUR points to ops.

Turn 2

The Hand
NATO
Indo-Pakistani War
Decolonization
Duck and Cover
Captured Nazi Scientist
Comecon
Nasser
US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact
The China Card

With only 4 cards left in the deck there are some potentially worrisome cards coming this turn. My biggest fear is probably a headlined Arab-Israeli war followed up by a coup in Iran, but Warsaw Pact could also do unpleasant things to my tenuous position in Europe.

The Plan
The plan is to headline Nazi Scientists to jump ahead on the space race and get a 1 out of my hand and set myself up for a big space race push. I will Space Race Comecon, and hold hold Decolinization till next turn to avoid little communist embers in the New World at the start of Mid War. There's no reason apparent right now that I won't be able to hold onto The China Card this turn. Beyond that my priorities will be
1) coup Italy if the opportunity presents itself
2) defend against a big Asia Scoring hit, but not look for a big point swing my way there
3) grow my Middle East foothold (and coup Iran if the opportunity presents itself)
4) Solidify South Africa and/or place some influence in Costa Rica
5) If Defcon gets to 3 and I haven't had an emergency cause to use it (and if I'm not in need of a ME coup), Duck and Cover for the event.

The Turn
I headlined Nazi Scientists, jumping me forward on the space race, and USSR played Nuclear Test Ban, picking up another 3 points. Ouch.

Action rounds opened with USSR playing Socialist Governments for a coup in Afghanistan: 0/3*. That's a tough spot to be kicked out of, and I'm in danger of taking a big score hit in Asia, but I don't know when, if ever, I'll get another good chance to coup Italy. With Warsaw Pact and Degaulle still floating around I feel like there's too much risk to Europe to ignore the opportunity, and in my experience it's easier to recover from an early setback in Asia than in Europe as the US. I play NATO for a coup in Italy: 3*/0 and Defcon 4, locking down Europe.

USSR plays Asia Scoring, or a 5 point swing. Ouch, but…I still feel like regaining position in Europe was worth that hit. Time will tell if I'm right. My top 2 priorities for the turn are off the table at this point, so on to the Middle East. I decided not to coup Iran right now, because it Defcon at 4 I'll get another chance to either do that, or play Duck and Cover at a minimum. My Israel position is making me VERY nervous though, so time to establish a better foothold. I play US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact for the points: Israel 4*/0, Jordan 2*/0, Lebanon 1*/0. Arab/Israeli War is no longer a threat unless my opponent works to unlock one of those first.

Third round USSR sponsors the Olympic Games. US attends, USSR wins, 2 points. The point total is getting low, but I continue to tell myself that right now the important thing is to get position and that it's easier to come back from a bad point score than a bad position in the mid-war. I feel like I had a good plan for my cards this turn, but the more I think about it the less I want to play Nasser, and the more I want those points on Comecon. If I can use Comecon for a coup in Iran I might be able to still use Duck and Cover for the VP next round. I play Comecon for the coup, but it fails: Iran 2/2. The event goes off and Andrew places Austria 0/3, Bulgaria 0/2, Finland 0/2, Yugoslavia 0/1. Not my best exchange.

Round four USSR discards East European Unrest in a successful Space Race push and picks up a VP. I use the breathing room (and the Defcon 3) to play Duck and Cover for one more coup attempt in Iran. This time it's a wild success: Iran 3*/0. I've now got a very strong foothold in the Middle East, and as long as I can keep Nasser off the board I'm in a pretty good position.

For his next trick Andrew plays Arab/Israeli War for ops and does the eminently sensible thing: He takes over Iraq 0/3*. I'm definitely ahead in the Middle East at this point, but securing Iraq give him a very stable, almost coup-proof foothold from which he can spread to the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. I only have one more ops play this turn (Indo Pak) and I want to save it to potentially respond to Andrew's last move, so for now I space Decolonization, but fail on the roll.

Round 6 USSR plays Fidel: Cuba 0/3*. I play Indo-Pak to attempt to realign, but roll poorly: Cuba 0/2. I'll have to try again next turn if I want to keep my New World advantage.

State of the World
USSR has its hooks into Asia, but not too deeply. His domination there is a touch-and-go thing, and I should be able to equalize there without much effort. I'm dominating the other two early war regions: I've got as firm a grasp on Europe as I have ever had in the Early War, holding East Germany and with no USSR presence in France, and I've got the Middle East dominated, though if he gains one battleground we'll be tied there.

Turn 3

The Hand
UN Intervention
Decolonization
Warsaw Pact Formed
Formosan Resolution
De-Stalinization
Marshall Plan
Romanian Abdication
Nasser
The China Card

The Plan
This hand is actually not too shabby. It's a little tough to have so many USSR events, but I count it as a blessing to have control of Decolonization AND Destalinization on Turn 3. The only really unthrilling thing is that I've got nothing really inspiring to play as a headline. I probably don't want to headline Marshall Plan, since I think I'll want the ops. That really only leaves Formosan Resolution, so that's what I'll go with. I want to capitalize on my space race advantage before Andrew catches up: I'd like to unload Decol and Destal at the earliest opportunity. Warsaw Pact is much less scary in my hands than in Andrew's, since I can use the points to retake East Germany , especially when I only have one other point in Eastern Europe. I even think I might want to trigger Nasser, to make sure he's out of the way before Sadat shows up Mid-War. It would really suck to have Sadat come only to have Nasser kick him out.

So, my plan will be to space Decol, play Warsaw Pact and keep East Germany with it, and take the hit from Nasser now when it hurts less, using his point for a small coup somewhere pleasantly unstable. If I can I'll space Destal and hold UN Intervention, but if I lose my chance at a second space race attempt I will UN Destal for the 3 points. Marshall Plan will be for points, probably to pick up South Africa and Panama, and I'll eat Romanian Abdication, using the point for whatever seems to make sense at the time. The only thing I can really headline is Formosan Resolution, which given my position in Asia I might as well get into play anyhow.

The Turn
I headline Formosan Resolution, and for the second time in two turns, Andrew sponsors the Olympics. US attends, USSR wins, score to -12.

Round 1, Andrew leads Red Scare for ops and throws a coup in Jordan, which is a bit unexpected. He gets a very unlucky roll, and Jordan stays 1/0. This does put me in an awkward position though: Jordan can now be taken over with a 3, and Arab-Israeli War can take out Israel on a 6, both of which are less than satisfactory. But if I spend a round on points to shore up Jordan, Defcon stays at 3 and Andrew can try another coup. So…if he is using Red Scare for a coup, I think he may not have a ton of high-value cards in his hand with his events on them (though Socialist Governments, Degaulle, and Suez Crisis are unaccounted for). Overall I think it's too risky to leave Jordan (and thus Israel) unprotected…if he wants to try for a second coup, I think I have to give him the chance. I think my best option is to play Nasser, using the point to take control of Jordan again. It gets Nasser out of the way, and retakes Jordan. Plus, if he coups in Jordan a second time I can coup Egypt, taking another battleground, giving me my second Israel adjacency that I need to lock down Israel from the war, and locking down the ME from coups again at Defcon 2. So there's the plan: Nasser, for Egypt 0/2* and Jordan 2*/0.

Round 2 USSR plays ME Scoring, and my handing him Egypt means it's a tie score. VP stays at -12. Drat. I need the next scoring card or two to go my way, recent games have taught me that -12 is too close to -15, which is too close to -20. I'd much prefer the score get back into the single digits as quickly as possible. At this point I need to coup and get Defcon to 2, but in addition I'd really like the coup to succeed…I want Egypt, or at the very least I don't want Andrew to have it. The problem is that I don't have any cards I want to play for it. I need those Marshall Plan points. I bite the bullet and use UN->Destal to coup Egypt: 2*/0. That play would have seemed a lot less awesome if I had rolled worse.

Andrew spaces NATO and succeeds on the roll. The space race is all tied up. I think it's time to spread out a little, and it doesn't look like there are any huge threats looming. So I play Marshall Plan, and take Panama 2*/0, S Africa 3*/0, Malaysia 1/0 just to get close to Thailand.

USSR plays DeGaulle for points, and takes Cuba 0/3* and Pakistan 0/2*. Hrm, someday I'll learn to hold my big point card till later in the turn. It's kind of a pain, but not a disaster. It does mean I should take South Korea at first opportunity, so it may be that I will need to play China later this turn. For now I take the beat to space Dewcol, jump back ahead in the space race, and pick up 2 points.

Round 5 USSR plays Suez Crisis for ops. Andrew places Nicaragua 0/1* India 0/1 Syria 0/2*. That moves a little too firmly into Asia, and I want to make sure I have things under control there. I play The China Card, and place S Korea 4*/1, Malaysia 2*/0

Andrew finishes the turn with Arab-Israeli War for ops, baking Burma 0/2* and inching toward Thailand and it's time to make some kind of move there. I would love to trigger Warsaw Pact or place in Thailand, but I still need ops, VP are too low for me to be happy, and Nicaragua feels like a nice light coup target. Plus if I take it it will help me with my Cuban realignment rolls. I play Romanian Abdicaiton (Romania 0/3*) for a coup in Nicaragua:

State of the World
Despite the -10 score, things are looking pretty good. Andrew's got a big point lead in Asia, but I've got adjacency to Thailand and I should be able to even things out there. I've got Dominance Europe by holding East Germany of all things, and if I push hard I might manage to take Poland too if John Paul comes up. I'm dominant in the Middle East. I've got a presence in Africa, and we're both present in C. America…me with Panama and a point in CR, him with Cuba. All in all, a pretty happy position going into turn 4!


Turn 4

The Hand
We Will Bury You
East European Unrest
Ussuri River Skirmish
Grain Sales to Soviets
Shuttle Diplomacy
Camp David Accords
Missile Envy
U2 Incident
Warsaw Pact Formed

The Plan
This is a solid hand, but I almost don't know what to do with it. I don't think I've ever had a Turn 4 hand without any C/S America cards. I like MIssile Envy as a headline. Ussuri River Skirmish can grab me the China Card, which I can use to take Pakistan, which I like a lot. Shuttle Diplomacy puts a nice guard on the scoring side of the game, and Grain Sales throws a nice wrench in things. I think Warsaw Pact will head off to space, and U2 Incident/We Will Bury You may provide a further point swing. With such a weird hand I'm not quite where it will go, but at least I have tons of ops and a few dirty tricks. Off to the races…

The Turn
I headline Missile Envy and Andrew headlines Defectors. Ok…he hands me Socialist Governments (glad to have that out of play, AND glad to know he's not holding any 4s other than China). I use the ops to place Thailand 3*/0 and tie up Asia.

Round 1 Andrew plays the ops from Missile Envy for Turkey 0/2*. I'm not thrilled about the possibility of a coup in Panama, so I play U2 Incident and place Panama 3*/0 Costa Rica 1/0 Saudi Arabia 1/0.

Round 2 Andrew plays One Small Step, and leaps ahead in the space race. Doh! If I don't catch up this turn it won't be pleasant to have Andrew reading my headlines. It feels like time to take China back, so I play Ussuri River Skirmish.

Round 3 USSR spaces Five Year Plan, picking up 3 points and pushing the score to -14. I've got a nice positional advantage, but I need some score swing soon. -14 is pretty dangerous. Since I want to get any point advantage possible I throw out Shuttle Diplomacy, which currently gives me dominance in Asia without spending The China Card.

Andrew plays How I Learned… and sets the Defcon to 2. Hopefully I'll find a way to get a couple of moil ops by the end of the turn. Time for another dirty trick, so I play Grain Sales to Soviets…and pull Ask Not. I uses it to discard Warsaw Pact and We Will Bury You, drawing Central America Scoring and Cultural Revolution as replacements. Not a ton better, but it's nice to cycle those cards. I can space Cultural Revolution, and I'm only one point behind in C America. Perhaps I can spend a couple of points to take Mexico and even it up before the score.

Round 5 Andrew plays CIA for Laos 0/1*. I sent him a message warning about a coup in Cuba, and asked if he wanted to modify the play, but he pointed out that with only three cards left in his hand (Nixon, Voice of America, and CIA) that unless I raised Defcon he would have to play it anyway within the next three plays. Coup in Cuba, game over.

Final Game Position:
Asia is roughly tied, but I have dominance with Shuttle Diplomacy on the board. I have dominance in Middle East, but that could have easily changed with Muslim Revolution. I've got dominance in Europe with E Germany, W Germany, and Italy. I have a presence in Africa, and Central America is just about tied up. Nobody has presence in South America.

At game end the score was -14, with a Final Scoring of +12. I suspect that given a couple of turns the score would have started swinging my way, but -14 is a very dangerous house to be living in, and there are plenty of VP cards that could have quickly taken Andrew over the top before I got to swing the score back to center. I got pretty lucky that my strategy to press his hand happened to find him holding CIA. I also got pretty lucky with Andrew playing How I Learned to Stop Worrying to lower the Defcon to 2. I suspect that the CIA coup was something he hadn't thought of, and that I got to capitalize on the learning process.

Post-game rankings
Me: ladder rung #35
Andrew: ladder rung #73

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam O'Brien
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Even Cleverer Overtext
badge
Every time someone activates this overtext, it takes a year off my life. Hover often please!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A good read as always, I like the format you use for your reports.

I really wish I had the cards sitting in front of me, as I don't know them well enough to be sure what all the events do. However, as i'm at work, they would probably frown on my sorting through the cards.

If only I could ever remember to re-read the reports at home...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam Cirone
United States
Mansfield
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great session report. It sounded like a very tense game, and congratulations on your capitalist victory. My guess is that Andrew just did not notice the CIA to Coup in Cuba situation, or why would he have driven DEFCON to 2 the round before?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Peters-Campbell
United States
Santa Cruz
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks! I could post the full card text in the "The Hand" section if it would be helpful to enough people, but I didn't want to crowd the report with boilerplate. If enough people want it though I can make the change on future reports.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Peters-Campbell
United States
Santa Cruz
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Jayne Starlancer wrote:
Great session report. It sounded like a very tense game, and congratulations on your capitalist victory. My guess is that Andrew just did not notice the CIA to Coup in Cuba situation, or why would he have driven DEFCON to 2 the round before?


I think the rule that the phasing player loses at Defcon 1 rather than the player who caused Defcon 1 is actually one of the slightly trickier rules of the game to grok. Andrew said this was one of this first games, and I expect that the rule just wasn't internalized.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam O'Brien
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Even Cleverer Overtext
badge
Every time someone activates this overtext, it takes a year off my life. Hover often please!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mahatmamanic wrote:
Thanks! I could post the full card text in the "The Hand" section if it would be helpful to enough people, but I didn't want to crowd the report with boilerplate. If enough people want it though I can make the change on future reports.


No, I think that would just be too much text, you are doing it plenty detailed as is. I just need to break down and spend the time to memorize the cards. Or someone needs to build an online database of each card for reference, but I am sure that would involve copyright/IP shenanigans.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Peters-Campbell
United States
Santa Cruz
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would be pretty surprised if there wasn't a downloadable card list in the files section here, assuming you have access to Excel and/or can read PDFs?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jamie Pollock
Scotland
Edinburgh
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Just for clarification, Shuttle Diplomacy doesn't count for Final Scoring (re Deluxe card).

CIA is a tricky card for the USSR if it comes into their hand late game. With Terrorism, Five Year Plan and Grain Sales, there's a lot of cards to shorten your options!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Peters-Campbell
United States
Santa Cruz
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sorry, I probably mistyped that. Shuttle Diplomacy was giving me dominance in Asia for the time being, but even with Asia roughly tied without Shuttle Diplomacy, Final Scoring was at +12.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Waddell
Australia
Melton
Victoria
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Ian, I finally got over the trauma of losing to you and read your report :cry:. Thanks for an excellent report and a good game. Your right I certainly hadn't thought about the CIA Cuba link when I played How to stop... . You learn a lot in your first game! I think you have the situation correct. The Russian government was panicking just as much as you were. I was generally taking short term scoring over long term position building. I felt that especially in Rounds 3 and 4 I spent all my time reacting to what you did and attempting to put out fires. I agree that although I had a big lead you were in a much better position and unless I could score a knockout blow (maybe if I could have got to space shuttle) you were the more likely victor.
Here's how I saw it if I can remember.
Round 1
I knew I had to get into Europe as I had to play Europe scoring all my high cards were US cards that I really wanted to avoid playing. Korean war was more of a neutral/positive card for me that I didn't want to hold onto so I headlined it. Took the risk of trying to push into Europe by giving up the China Card. Played Blockade to try and get an advantage before Europe scoring. I really wanted to play it later but I was holding too many high op US cards. I decided to use Iran to try and seal the Asia/ME border and enable myself to have a presence in both Asia and ME that was difficult to dislodge.
Round 2
Test ban gives me an instant three points that probably won't be available later. Used Afghanistan to seal the border to Asia and grab points for the forthcoming Asia scoring. Arab Isreali War always looked to me as being difficult to succeed so I grabbed some more points and then used it to shore up my ME position and try to make some headway. I play Cuba because I can and I didn't want to play the alternative.
Round 3
Olympics again for easy points. Tried to take Jordan to push through to Isreal and lead to a successful Arab-Isreali war. After Nassar goes I breathe a sigh of relief and immediately play ME scoring for the tie. Also I want to try and reduce his advantage in the space race if I can. I also want to push into South East Asia with that scoring coming up and the other areas seeing me struggle.
Round 4
Headline card throws my entire plans out the window. I lose socialist government which I was hoping to use to gain some traction in Europe. Turkey gives me control of a European country and another path into Asia if needed. I can see the possibility of a space race enhanced victory and push on with one Small Step. Then I tragically :blush: Set Defcon at 2 and cost myself the game early. My intention had been to limit the US ability to coup and without thinking lost the game.

Once again thanks for the game and an excellent report. Look forward to a rematch when you are available.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Peters-Campbell
United States
Santa Cruz
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hey Andrew, glad to hear from you and I enjoyed our game Looking forward to playing again!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.