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Subject: Poll: How Do *You* Play Twilight Struggle rss

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It strikes me that the number of setups currently being discussed and used by the TS community has proliferated in the last few months. Curious to see which setups are getting the most traffic.

Poll
1. How frequently do you use these setups when playing Twilight Struggle? Please check only one box per row.
  Always Frequently Sometimes Rarely Never
"Classic" (no adjustments, no IP in Canada)
"Wargameroom" (+3IP to the US, commonly +2 in Iran and +1 in Western Europe. No IP in Canada. Obviously WGR's setups are in flux at the moment)
"Deluxe" (+2IP in Canada)
"Deluxe/Optional" (+2IP in Canada with all seven optional cards added)
"CCW" (same as classic but with civil war rules for the China card)
Other (explain below)
2. Do you play with the original rules for Aldrich Ames or with the Remix?
Original Ames
Remix Ames
3. Do you add 2IP in Canada when playing without the optional cards?
Yes.
No.
4. Do you add 2IP in Canada if adding adjustments elsewhere? (Iran, for example).
Yes.
No.
      142 answers
Poll created by JohnRayJr


If you commonly play with your own setup or variant, please add a comment for it below.
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Edward
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Whenever I play on WGR, it's always 2IP in Canada + optional cards + remixed Ames. I feel like USA is still slightly at a disadvantage, but I've been smacked around by good USA players enough not to complain.
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Pretty much always play with the TS ladder setup of 3 extra IP at setup, but cannot be used to overcontrol (so max of 1 extra in Iran), when I play deluxe I generally go for 1 extra US IP (always in Iran) along with the optional cards and 2 in Canada (without which NORAD is just a liability). I figure that the 2 points in Canada are worth 1 to freely spend and am guessing that the optional cards are worth about 1 (no real justification for this!). Oh, and I cry whenever I see what the whiners have done to Ames.
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Ian Peters-Campbell
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Playing on ACTS I use 2e rules with US getting +3ip that cannot take a country past what's needed to control.

Playing live I use the deluxe set with all the optional cards and CCW. I didn't realize they were supposed to be an either-or thing!
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The wargameroom league setting is actual second edition rules with 3 extra US Influence, anywhere in Western Europe or where the USA already has Influence.
The rules for this season were set in June 2009 so deluxe rules or optional cards were not an option. What the rules will be for the 2010 season has not been discussed. The 2008 season used 1 extra influence in Iran, 1 in Western Europe.
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"Naked" was not an option?
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I hear about WGR second-hand so thanks for the additional detail about the last few seasons.

When teaching the game, I play classic and take the Americans. Once a newer player knows the ropes, we do a balance tweak. Back when I was the new player ("Old Man TS," ramblin' here), the adjustment was +1 in Iran and +1 anywhere in Western Europe.

Now that we have all these options I've been experimenting. The last couple of games I've played (against an evenly matched opponent) have been using a setup we call Patch, which is pretty simple. +1 in Iran, with Special Relationship added to the deck. SR is the one card in the new set of seven that feels like a clear 'fix' for an original card (NATO), and perhaps for that reason it's the most interesting of the new cards to me. Anyway, if you use all seven optionals the deck skews 1 card in favor of the US, so you get nearly the same ripple effect in the distribution by adding a single American event. I also like that SR provides 2IP (a couple of times) that may be situationally applied in Europe, Vs the more static Canada adjustment. Obviously I haven't the slightest idea what the percentage balance would be in a league but it feels acceptable so far.

I'm a fan of Iran adjustments, though I prefer no overcontrol. However, I have wondered about the small subset of games in which the US draws Middle East Scoring on turn 1 and has the option of headlining the card for 4 'unearned' points. Are there league numbers on the balance for this set of games?

I usually play original Ames and only play with the Canada IP if NORAD is in the deck.
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I used to use CCWV + Optional Cards, New Ames, and 2 in Canada and found this to allow for the most number of games to hit the late war and a close score. Now that I sometimes play in the WGR, people typically just play optional cards, new Ames and 2 in Canada which I'm happy to oblige. I've been smacked around big time by good USA players but I still feel the USSR can be too dangerous in the Early War with the right draws causing turn 4-5 victories.

What can I say? I've decided to conform and just go with what's popular and play WGR style from now on.
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houjix wrote:
JohnRayJr wrote:
Are there league numbers on the balance for this set of games?

Wargameroom numbers. The 2009 numbers are a week or so old.


Actually, what I meant was: what happens to the balance if the US headlines Middle East scoring with control of Iran? Let's say the balance for the larger 2009 set is 54%. But in some of those games (~20%?) the US headlines Mid-East scoring for four points. Whats the percentage for that subset? Does it make a significant difference? Just wondering.
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houjix wrote:
My other beef with the optional cards is one of personal preference: NORAD is too overbearing. There isn't a single card in the Twilight Struggle deck that can have the long reaching game warping effects of NORAD. At best NORAD is an American counter coup each turn. Usually it just gives the US a few extra influence dinked around the board. The part I don't like is even when NORAD isn't doing anything tangible on the board it still must be factored into every decision the Soviet player makes in order to prevent it from being all it could be. All of the sudden I don't feel like I'm playing Twilight Struggle anymore. Now I'm playing NORAD: the game.


NORAD is completely and ridiculously overpowered. It's potentially 16 influence over the course of the Early and Mid wars. It should be limited to adding influence once per turn, IMO.
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pilight wrote:
houjix wrote:
My other beef with the optional cards is one of personal preference: NORAD is too overbearing. There isn't a single card in the Twilight Struggle deck that can have the long reaching game warping effects of NORAD. At best NORAD is an American counter coup each turn. Usually it just gives the US a few extra influence dinked around the board. The part I don't like is even when NORAD isn't doing anything tangible on the board it still must be factored into every decision the Soviet player makes in order to prevent it from being all it could be. All of the sudden I don't feel like I'm playing Twilight Struggle anymore. Now I'm playing NORAD: the game.


NORAD is completely and ridiculously overpowered. It's potentially 16 influence over the course of the Early and Mid wars. It should be limited to adding influence once per turn, IMO.


I'm not sure exactly where the 16 is coming from, but I agree that it's quite powerful, and easily now among the best two or three US events in the deck. But I also agree with Justin that for me it comes down to the fact that the card creeps into the game like a heavy fog and just lingers there for an unacceptable amount of time. There is no other card in TS that does that, which is a good thing.
 
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We play with 2 influence in Canada and all the optional cards from the Deluxe Edition.

Note: We also always bid influence on a six sided die to see who plays the U.S. of A. (Lowest bid plays USA and gets to place that amount of influence as an addition to any area in which the US already possesses influence at the beginning of the game.)

This seems to be such a good way to play that we haven't ever even tried a different option.

Edit: When I teach the game to a new player, we forgo the bidding and I simply play the US with base influence for deluxe and optional cards. I think the strategy for the US is more nuanced all the way around, so I prefer a new player to try to get a handle on playing the USSR before tackling the USA.
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pilight wrote:
houjix wrote:
My other beef with the optional cards is one of personal preference: NORAD is too overbearing. There isn't a single card in the Twilight Struggle deck that can have the long reaching game warping effects of NORAD. At best NORAD is an American counter coup each turn. Usually it just gives the US a few extra influence dinked around the board. The part I don't like is even when NORAD isn't doing anything tangible on the board it still must be factored into every decision the Soviet player makes in order to prevent it from being all it could be. All of the sudden I don't feel like I'm playing Twilight Struggle anymore. Now I'm playing NORAD: the game.


NORAD is completely and ridiculously overpowered. It's potentially 16 influence over the course of the Early and Mid wars. It should be limited to adding influence once per turn, IMO.

That's really an exaggeration. I think all the whining about NORAD is a little overblown:

1) NORAD requires 2 influence into Canada. This isn't hard to do, but it's two European influence points that aren't going into Greece/Turkey, which are crucial to lock up before the USSR grabs them.
2) NORAD gets cancelled by Quagmire. If you Space NORAD the first time it comes out, Quagmire can ensure NORAD will get pretty much no play.
3) There's no other USA event in the Early War that is much of a headache for the USSR. Compare to Socialist Governments (as a headline), Vietnam Revolts, Blockade, etc.
4) NORAD is most effective only when the USA has influence in a country controlled by the USSR. Early on this is often surprisingly uncommon.
5) Even when it is used to break control of a country, it still requires the investment of a 3Ops to flip a 2-stability country. This is comparable to the USSR's coup, and doesn't come with the advantage of allowing access to an otherwise inaccessible region.

It's especially amusing that some of the same people against NORAD are also nostalgic for the original Aldrich Ames, which was, if not severely imbalanced, appallingly unfun.
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Quote:
It's especially amusing that some of the same people against NORAD are also nostalgic for the original Aldrich Ames, which was, if not severely imbalanced, appallingly unfun.


You just quoted one of the biggest critics of the original Ames, though.
 
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DscGlfr wrote:
I don't know if I'd say no other card is similar, as Flower Power has provided me many a VP in a single game.


Hmmm, big difference for me, anyway. Flower Power might score 2-6 points in a game. I suppose in an edge case game it will score more, but I haven't seen that in 60 games, and I've seen it in play as of turn 4 several times. I've seen it in play on turn four and go on to score zero points. NORAD is certainly more reliable in its impact.
 
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JohnRayJr wrote:
pilight wrote:
NORAD is completely and ridiculously overpowered. It's potentially 16 influence over the course of the Early and Mid wars. It should be limited to adding influence once per turn, IMO.


I'm not sure exactly where the 16 is coming from, but I agree that it's quite powerful, and easily now among the best two or three US events in the deck. But I also agree with Justin that for me it comes down to the fact that the card creeps into the game like a heavy fog and just lingers there for an unacceptable amount of time. There is no other card in TS that does that, which is a good thing.


DEFCON can always go to 2 once per turn, that's 7 (since NORAD can go into effect as early as turn one).

There's one Early War card that can ease DEFCON and it's not starred, so it could ease the DEFCON three times by the end of the Mid War and it could return to 2 each time. 7+3=10

There are four Mid War Cards that can ease DEFCON. Two of them are starred, and so can only ease DEFCON once by the end of Mid War. The other two are not starred, so they could each ease DEFCON twice by the end of Mid War. 10+2+2+1+1=16

That's not even counting the possibility of using SALT Negotiations to retrieve one of the unstarred DEFCON easers for one more.

Realistically, you're not going to get all those points, but I would expect to average more than an influence per turn from it while it's in play.
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theory wrote:
pilight wrote:
houjix wrote:
My other beef with the optional cards is one of personal preference: NORAD is too overbearing. There isn't a single card in the Twilight Struggle deck that can have the long reaching game warping effects of NORAD. At best NORAD is an American counter coup each turn. Usually it just gives the US a few extra influence dinked around the board. The part I don't like is even when NORAD isn't doing anything tangible on the board it still must be factored into every decision the Soviet player makes in order to prevent it from being all it could be. All of the sudden I don't feel like I'm playing Twilight Struggle anymore. Now I'm playing NORAD: the game.


NORAD is completely and ridiculously overpowered. It's potentially 16 influence over the course of the Early and Mid wars. It should be limited to adding influence once per turn, IMO.

That's really an exaggeration. I think all the whining about NORAD is a little overblown:

1) NORAD requires 2 influence into Canada. This isn't hard to do, but it's two European influence points that aren't going into Greece/Turkey, which are crucial to lock up before the USSR grabs them.
2) NORAD gets cancelled by Quagmire. If you Space NORAD the first time it comes out, Quagmire can ensure NORAD will get pretty much no play.
3) There's no other USA event in the Early War that is much of a headache for the USSR. Compare to Socialist Governments (as a headline), Vietnam Revolts, Blockade, etc.
4) NORAD is most effective only when the USA has influence in a country controlled by the USSR. Early on this is often surprisingly uncommon.
5) Even when it is used to break control of a country, it still requires the investment of a 3Ops to flip a 2-stability country. This is comparable to the USSR's coup, and doesn't come with the advantage of allowing access to an otherwise inaccessible region.

It's especially amusing that some of the same people against NORAD are also nostalgic for the original Aldrich Ames, which was, if not severely imbalanced, appallingly unfun.


I am most definitely not nostalgic for the old Ames. It's only slightly less reprehensible than the guy it's named for.
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pilight wrote:
JohnRayJr wrote:
pilight wrote:
NORAD is completely and ridiculously overpowered. It's potentially 16 influence over the course of the Early and Mid wars. It should be limited to adding influence once per turn, IMO.


I'm not sure exactly where the 16 is coming from, but I agree that it's quite powerful, and easily now among the best two or three US events in the deck. But I also agree with Justin that for me it comes down to the fact that the card creeps into the game like a heavy fog and just lingers there for an unacceptable amount of time. There is no other card in TS that does that, which is a good thing.


DEFCON can always go to 2 once per turn, that's 7 (since NORAD can go into effect as early as turn one).

There's one Early War card that can ease DEFCON and it's not starred, so it could ease the DEFCON three times by the end of the Mid War and it could return to 2 each time. 7+3=10

There are four Mid War Cards that can ease DEFCON. Two of them are starred, and so can only ease DEFCON once by the end of Mid War. The other two are not starred, so they could each ease DEFCON twice by the end of Mid War. 10+2+2+1+1=16

That's not even counting the possibility of using SALT Negotiations to retrieve one of the unstarred DEFCON easers for one more.

Realistically, you're not going to get all those points, but I would expect to average more than an influence per turn from it while it's in play.

That's asinine. Who is really going to play Nuclear Test Ban for the event to raise DEFCON in the early war? Who is going to play Summit, period?

NORAD almost always gets the USA one influence per turn. Sometimes it is more because of ABM Treaty/Glasnost, sometimes it is less because the coup happens in the headline (Junta, Missile Envy, Grain Sales, Lone Gunman, etc.). Hyperbolic assertions like "NORAD = up to 16 influence" are about as unhelpful as suggesting that Reagan Bombs Libya could score "up to" 16VP for the USA.
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Quote:
2) NORAD gets cancelled by Quagmire. If you Space NORAD the first time it comes out, Quagmire can ensure NORAD will get pretty much no play.


For the record, this is not accurate. Quagmire cancels NORAD, but does *not* prevent it. (If you look in the earlier threads, you'll find a post by the designer saying that this is deliberate.) So if the Quagmire event happens before the NORAD event, NORAD will last until the end of the game if it should subsequently come into play.

Edited once for grammar.
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First of all, I've not voted on the poll but I play mostly on the ACTS Ladder at the moment so I generally play +3US influence with no overcontrol allowed.

Interesting stats on the WGR numbers. For comparison, the Ladder USSR win %age stands at 51.5% from 355 games.

houjix wrote:
Back to balance – if I’m playing without the optional cards I have to look to the wargameroom numbers. +3 US isn’t enough to balance the game, but that’s already awfully damn blunt. +2 in Iran is a given, and I’d be willing to bet the deluxe edition rules of +2 in Canada and new Ames on top brings the game pretty close to 50/50.

I'm very intrigued to know the opening strategy for USSR players with an over-controlled Iran. Personally I wouldn't be keen on couping since it's quite unlikely to succeed. Is there a standard opening?

Quote:
But, as stated, I do like the optional cards thickening out the early war deck. So how do you use the optional cards, make NORAD less prevalent and re-stabilize the iron triangle in Iran? Right now I think the simple answer is play without the 2 in Canada and spot the US +2 anywhere they already have influence. All of the sudden NORAD has some decision making behind it, and we don't see it in effect for half or more of every game. Or give the US the 2 in Canada and remove NORAD from the deck, but that's a bit weird. So oddly enough I think we're better off using the +2 in Canada when NORAD isn't around and not using the +2 in Canada when it is.

I definitely think +2 anywhere, with overcontrol and the optionals, would be overboard. One way the optionals help the US is by padding the deck, making multiple Domination scores less likely in the Early War.

Also, I've not played with the optionals much yet, but if I had to pay 4IP to trigger NORAD I don't think I'd ever bother.

I do think that perhaps the US still needs some help over the base Deluxe setup. My hunch is that 1IP is probably about right (which goes in Iran).
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I stole the WGR numbers from houjix's post added the latest figures from the Ladder and did a quick bit of stats (chi squared). Being chi squared the p value relates to the null hypothesis that the difference is due to chance alone. In general p values of above 0.05 are considered non significant.

Wargameroom
2007
No adjustments
111 USA / 188 USSR
62.9%
p=6.7x10-6

2008
+1 Iran / +1 WE
115 USA / 167 USSR
59.2%
p=0.002

2009
+3 Anyhere US has influence, overcontrol allowed.
122 USA / 145 USSR
54.3%
p=0.14

TS Ladder
+3 Anywhere US has influence, overcontrol not allowed
173 USA / 184 USSR
51.8%
p=0.53

These numbers strongly suggest that 3 IP to the US is the tipping point of statistical balance (given the numbers we have so far) especially considering the largest pool of consistent results that we have (the ladder) and hence our highest powered group to show a difference, doesn't show a difference. Using Fisher's exact test to look at whether overcontrol or not makes a difference the p value is 0.51 so it would seem not to statistically (despite the raw numbers suggesting that overcontrol hurts the US chances!).

Quote:
I do think that perhaps the US still needs some help over the base Deluxe setup. My hunch is that 1IP is probably about right (which goes in Iran).


My thought too.
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theory wrote:
pilight wrote:
JohnRayJr wrote:
pilight wrote:
NORAD is completely and ridiculously overpowered. It's potentially 16 influence over the course of the Early and Mid wars. It should be limited to adding influence once per turn, IMO.


I'm not sure exactly where the 16 is coming from, but I agree that it's quite powerful, and easily now among the best two or three US events in the deck. But I also agree with Justin that for me it comes down to the fact that the card creeps into the game like a heavy fog and just lingers there for an unacceptable amount of time. There is no other card in TS that does that, which is a good thing.


DEFCON can always go to 2 once per turn, that's 7 (since NORAD can go into effect as early as turn one).

There's one Early War card that can ease DEFCON and it's not starred, so it could ease the DEFCON three times by the end of the Mid War and it could return to 2 each time. 7+3=10

There are four Mid War Cards that can ease DEFCON. Two of them are starred, and so can only ease DEFCON once by the end of Mid War. The other two are not starred, so they could each ease DEFCON twice by the end of Mid War. 10+2+2+1+1=16

That's not even counting the possibility of using SALT Negotiations to retrieve one of the unstarred DEFCON easers for one more.

Realistically, you're not going to get all those points, but I would expect to average more than an influence per turn from it while it's in play.

That's asinine. Who is really going to play Nuclear Test Ban for the event to raise DEFCON in the early war? Who is going to play Summit, period?

NORAD almost always gets the USA one influence per turn. Sometimes it is more because of ABM Treaty/Glasnost, sometimes it is less because the coup happens in the headline (Junta, Missile Envy, Grain Sales, Lone Gunman, etc.). Hyperbolic assertions like "NORAD = up to 16 influence" are about as unhelpful as suggesting that Reagan Bombs Libya could score "up to" 16VP for the USA.


Glasnost is a Late War card. NORAD is only effective in the Early and Mid war.

The difference between this and Reagan Bombs Libya is that the Soviet can control how many points the latter is worth.
 
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pilight wrote:
theory wrote:
pilight wrote:
JohnRayJr wrote:
pilight wrote:
NORAD is completely and ridiculously overpowered. It's potentially 16 influence over the course of the Early and Mid wars. It should be limited to adding influence once per turn, IMO.


I'm not sure exactly where the 16 is coming from, but I agree that it's quite powerful, and easily now among the best two or three US events in the deck. But I also agree with Justin that for me it comes down to the fact that the card creeps into the game like a heavy fog and just lingers there for an unacceptable amount of time. There is no other card in TS that does that, which is a good thing.


DEFCON can always go to 2 once per turn, that's 7 (since NORAD can go into effect as early as turn one).

There's one Early War card that can ease DEFCON and it's not starred, so it could ease the DEFCON three times by the end of the Mid War and it could return to 2 each time. 7+3=10

There are four Mid War Cards that can ease DEFCON. Two of them are starred, and so can only ease DEFCON once by the end of Mid War. The other two are not starred, so they could each ease DEFCON twice by the end of Mid War. 10+2+2+1+1=16

That's not even counting the possibility of using SALT Negotiations to retrieve one of the unstarred DEFCON easers for one more.

Realistically, you're not going to get all those points, but I would expect to average more than an influence per turn from it while it's in play.

That's asinine. Who is really going to play Nuclear Test Ban for the event to raise DEFCON in the early war? Who is going to play Summit, period?

NORAD almost always gets the USA one influence per turn. Sometimes it is more because of ABM Treaty/Glasnost, sometimes it is less because the coup happens in the headline (Junta, Missile Envy, Grain Sales, Lone Gunman, etc.). Hyperbolic assertions like "NORAD = up to 16 influence" are about as unhelpful as suggesting that Reagan Bombs Libya could score "up to" 16VP for the USA.


Glasnost is a Late War card. NORAD is only effective in the Early and Mid war.

The difference between this and Reagan Bombs Libya is that the Soviet can control how many points the latter is worth.


NORAD is indeed effective in the Late War, unless cancelled by Quagmire.
 
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taulus wrote:
pilight wrote:
theory wrote:
pilight wrote:
JohnRayJr wrote:
pilight wrote:
NORAD is completely and ridiculously overpowered. It's potentially 16 influence over the course of the Early and Mid wars. It should be limited to adding influence once per turn, IMO.


I'm not sure exactly where the 16 is coming from, but I agree that it's quite powerful, and easily now among the best two or three US events in the deck. But I also agree with Justin that for me it comes down to the fact that the card creeps into the game like a heavy fog and just lingers there for an unacceptable amount of time. There is no other card in TS that does that, which is a good thing.


DEFCON can always go to 2 once per turn, that's 7 (since NORAD can go into effect as early as turn one).

There's one Early War card that can ease DEFCON and it's not starred, so it could ease the DEFCON three times by the end of the Mid War and it could return to 2 each time. 7+3=10

There are four Mid War Cards that can ease DEFCON. Two of them are starred, and so can only ease DEFCON once by the end of Mid War. The other two are not starred, so they could each ease DEFCON twice by the end of Mid War. 10+2+2+1+1=16

That's not even counting the possibility of using SALT Negotiations to retrieve one of the unstarred DEFCON easers for one more.

Realistically, you're not going to get all those points, but I would expect to average more than an influence per turn from it while it's in play.

That's asinine. Who is really going to play Nuclear Test Ban for the event to raise DEFCON in the early war? Who is going to play Summit, period?

NORAD almost always gets the USA one influence per turn. Sometimes it is more because of ABM Treaty/Glasnost, sometimes it is less because the coup happens in the headline (Junta, Missile Envy, Grain Sales, Lone Gunman, etc.). Hyperbolic assertions like "NORAD = up to 16 influence" are about as unhelpful as suggesting that Reagan Bombs Libya could score "up to" 16VP for the USA.


Glasnost is a Late War card. NORAD is only effective in the Early and Mid war.

The difference between this and Reagan Bombs Libya is that the Soviet can control how many points the latter is worth.


NORAD is indeed effective in the Late War, unless cancelled by Quagmire.


Didn't realize that was one of the changes on the corrected card. That makes it even more obnoxiously overpowered.
 
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Justin Kitt
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houjix wrote:
So you're suggestion optionals, +2 in Canada and +1 anywhere? That's not too far off from my optionals, none in Canada and +2 anywhere. The difference is mostly personal preference of disliking NORAD warping the game. I'd definitely be interested to see what your setup does to the stats. I have a hunch wargameroom will try something like that next season.

Actually this is a fair point. This feels unsatisfactory to me mostly because I'd not be keen on couping an overcontrolled Iran first move as the Soviets. Plus removing the Canada IP feels like it would amount to a big nerf of NORAD, and it's not much fun if you can't play with your events. But perhaps an active NORAD is too unfun for the USSR, as well.
 
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