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Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?» Forums » Sessions

Subject: The frustration of first timers rss

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Tom Haesendonckx
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Hi all,

We played our first real game of Labyrinth yesterday.

I had high hopes for this game as I like the theme and I usualy like GMT games.

The rules were not too difficult to understand (we are seasoned gamers) and we both had read/listened through the various demos.

My friend Mark would be leading the Jyhad while I would control the USA.

The game opened in a pretty standard way with the US performing a regime change in Afghanistan.

And that is where it all went wrong...soblue

I lost 3 prestige from the prestige roll after the regime change. Then Mark played a card that made me loose 2 prestige(event...nothing I could do about it). Next, an event was played to make me loose 2 cards.

This turned the offensive over to the Jyhadist. shake

He had the chance to play 2 plot operations and I couldn't do too much about it (having no cards left on the last phase of the turn). Some plots went of and I lost more prestige. This took my prestige from 7 down to 1.Also, I would be drawing only 7 cards while the Jyhadists would draw 9...ninja

Think about this for a second.

It was only the first turn and I was largely stuck with nowhere to go. angry

Turning countries to 'good' allies is next to impossible when have a - 1 prestige modifier. It would mean having to roll a 6 (with a - 2 modifier for prestige and for going to good) to get an aid marker AND having to do it again, this time needing a 6 (with a - 1 total modifier) to get it done zombie

Not an option.

This means I had to get my prestige back up ASAP (at least to lose the negative modifier).

There are 2 ways of doing this: disrupt (which would take '3 OPS' cards as most countires were poor) give +1 prestige everytime OR testing a non-muslim country and getting it to HARD posture (the same as the US)...but you need a roll of 5+ for this.

I did this and got it up to 4 again with my last card. But then...the Jyhadist had 2 more cards then me...so Mark just plotted away and I was powerless to prevent it.

Result: prestige back to 1...surprise

Frustrating and not fun at all. Both me and Mark became bored with this after a while. shake

We sat down to discuss what went wrong.

But here I would like to hear from you...cool

We figured that:

-you need to build your prestige to 9 before trying a regime change. This would have prevented the situation above

We wonderd for ways to:

-Get prestige up once it has gotten you to 1 or 2 (usually you are in bad shape as the jyhadist might draw more cards then you, leaving you open to plots)

-It seemed to us that, if a country became and 'adversary' but not islamic...we can't 'regime change' it but we also can't 'War of ideas' it. So what CAN you do about it?

-When the Jyhadist has more cards, he can plot on his last turn without the US being able to stop that. Or did we miss something here?

With some feedback from the community I hope we'll be able to get more out of this game. We're trying it again next week but if we get the same experience...the box might be on it's way to the market
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Benji
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Building prestige is MUCH easier on soft posture (convertig already hard countries gives you a +2 swing on the GWOT Scale).

About that last card: The US doesn't need to play it. You can keep your last card in hand until the Jihaddist player has played his last card. He may still play one or more plots that you can't do anything about, but it gives you more flexibility.
 
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Joris
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Most of your questions are answered in the playbook on page 14 "Guide to Operations".

Silverwings wrote:

-When the Jyhadist has more cards, he can plot on his last turn without the US being able to stop that. Or did we miss something here?

First of all, be careful with overstretch. Also the US player may hold his last card. Later that turn he may still play it or discard it at the end of the turn or hold it for the next turn. So the US can always react with at least one card.
 
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Tom Haesendonckx
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I know about holding the last card in hands for the US.

I did it...but still: 2 cards that plotted resulted in 3 plots on the map. I took away one and 2 others went through.

Overstretch + prestige problem together = a mess cry

At least we found THAT out during our first game whistle
 
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Andrew Prizzi
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It is not a game that people will get the full enjoyment out of on the first play. There are two steps to learning it:

1. Ok, I know the rules...but I have no idea how to accomplish anything!
2. Having fun playing.

The good news is that the learning curve is not that long- after about 2 games our games flowed MUCH better, and it is an excellent game so I recommend you stick with it.
 
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Pedro Estevao
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Like J wrote, p. 14 of the playbook is a FAQ the answers most of your questions. Take a peek also at Ken Thibodeau's excellent summary of actions and their general purpose at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/61548/labyrinth-player...

Regarding your game:

When you are at low prestige, increasing it becomes your top priority - not waging WoI in muslim countries.

Have in mind that lowering your prestige to 1 is one of the instrumental goals for the Jihadist player. So, if you are at 1 prestige, it's very much like if you have lost an important battle - but not the war. First you have to regroup and halt your opponents' progress (by restoring your prestige), and only then you get on the offensive again (via WoI in muslim countries). So concentrate your resources on the former and don't panic.

Silverwings wrote:
Hi all,
We wonderd for ways to:

-Get prestige up once it has gotten you to 1 or 2 (usually you are in bad shape as the jyhadist might draw more cards then you, leaving you open to plots)


There are three major ways to increase prestige, aside from events that explictitly increase US prestige:

- Disrupt cells in countries where you have troops. Each disrupt gives you +1 prestige. Disrupting is automatically successful, so prestige doesn't influence it. If you have a regime change country it is a perfect ground for this action.

- Events (regime change) and actions that require "Roll Prestige". You only have a 1/3 probability it will go up. But if you are at 1 prestige, you've got nothing to lose.

- WoI ideas on non-Muslim countries. This is a simple roll in the Posture table. It is not affected by prestige, so, if you succeed on changing a country's posture to match yours, you gain +1 prestige. Besides, you a get a +1 prestige at the end of the turn if GWOT marker is at 3 on your favour.

Also, have in mind that it is way easier to increase prestige if you're at "Soft" posture. On the one hand, most of the prestige increasing events only apply if you are at "Soft". On the other hand, a WoI in non-Muslim countries is more likely to move it to "Soft" (2/3 probability) than "Hard" (only 1/3 probability). So ponder if your situation is not worthy of a reassessment (play of two 3-ops cards to change US posture)

In fact, the more I play, the more I learn to value the Soft posture - to the point of actually preferring the "You can call me Al" scenario to the "Let's roll" one.


Silverwings wrote:

-It seemed to us that, if a country became and 'adversary' but not islamic...we can't 'regime change' it but we also can't 'War of ideas' it. So what CAN you do about it?


Nothing. But there are a few of events on the deck that allow switching the alignment of an Adversary country back to Neutral (having US at "Soft" is a requirement for some of them). Besides, sooner or later an adversary country will be a become a target for a major jihad. So either the jihad fails and the country will switch its alignment back to Neutral. Or it succeeds, and the country, being now at Islamist Rule, becomes a target for a regime change.

Silverwings wrote:

-When the Jyhadist has more cards, he can plot on his last turn without the US being able to stop that.


Not necessarily. The US player can keep hold of his last card until the Jihadist played all of his. He can use it normally in his turn - e.g. for blocking a plot - even if he has skipped an action phase previously. Of course, if has played all of his cards, he's at the mercy of the jihadist - so its usually a good idea to keep your last card. This is also why:

a) Denting Jihadist funding is an instrumental goal for the US player.

b) Going "Overstretch" is usually a bad idea, unless you have a stellar plan. A gung-ho approach rarely pays off in Labyrinth (or in the real world, for that matter).
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Chris Shaffer
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Why did you go to overstretch? The US can regime change on turn one without it, having six troop cubes available. You do know that if there are 5 troop cubes in the overstretch box, the Troops marker stays in the War box, right? The only way to go to overstretch is to deploy more than six troops in the regime change operation, which is unnecessary.
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Larry Carter
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I wanted to echo a lot of what others have said. Pedro especially had some very good points.

I too would view Soft as the stance you want to get to once you have initiated any RC you may want (remember you can't RC with Soft posture).


Silverwings wrote:
-It seemed to us that, if a country became and 'adversary' but not islamic...we can't 'regime change' it but we also can't 'War of ideas' it. So what CAN you do about it?


As pointed out, nothing. BUT... Keep in mind that that country isn't really doing anything for your opponent either. If it's a low resource country you can probably just ignore it since most likely the Jihadist player will too for the most part.

Silverwings wrote:

-When the Jyhadist has more cards, he can plot on his last turn without the US being able to stop that.


This is true (other than the already mentioned US holding a final card). However, at some point this is going to be a waste of time for the Jihadist player. Honestly I'm surprised that your friend bothered to keep doing it so often. Yes it keeps US prestige down, but once it's in the low category the difference between 1 and 3 is irrelevant except for the one win condition. Yes it raises Jihadist funding, but if you are already at 8-9 then I would think it would be a waste of OPs. I would say that if it had been me, once your prestige was down to one the first time I would have spent ops on jihads, recruiting etc. Plots can't get a country to Islamist.

I agree that going overstretch is something that you should try to avoid. I will only go overstretch if it has a reasonable chance of earning me a win in a few turns or if I'm seriously on the ropes.

I'm surprised at how often players jump on RC in Afghanistan. It takes a LOT of resources to make a dent there and I personally have won many times as the US player without even touching that country. In fact when playing the US I try to immediately apply a lot of pressure across a lot of countries and put my opponent on the defensive right away and do anything I can to lower Jihadist funding. Also, I will always try to keep Pakistan from falling to the Jihadist if possible, if only because it can be a pain to take back and the threat of WMD's there. Though if my opponent really commits himself to Pakistan I'll let him have it and continue my focus elsewhere.

Personally I think this is the center point of strategy for this game, getting your opponent to feel that the board is balancing in your favor (whether it really is or not, a little psychological warfare in this regard can really add to the immersion). Lets also not forget that this game has a higher than average luck factor. You will get games where the dice just do not want to cooperate with you. For me that's a big part of the fun. Sure it can be frustrating when things aren't going your way but it also increases the tension and makes for some spectacular events sometimes.

Don't let this one game color your opinion, play it some more and then play it some more. I think you will find that it is really a great game.

EDIT: Stupid spelling and grammar mistakes (of which I'm sure there are many more)
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Tom Haesendonckx
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TheCat wrote:
The US can regime change on turn one without it, having six troop cubes available. You do know that if there are 5 troop cubes in the overstretch box, the Troops marker stays in the War box, right? .


Ah...we figured that the US would be in overstretch having used the last of its 'WAR' units...blush

That would've changed things
 
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Joel Toppen
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Going into Overstretch is a dangerous thing. I only do that at a measure of last resort.
 
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Andy Latto
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Silverwings wrote:
Hi all,

The game opened in a pretty standard way with the US performing a regime change in Afghanistan.

I think your error is thinking of this as a "standard thing to do". If starting a war was a thing you could do without much risk of negative repercussions, just because "it's the standard thing to do", this wouldn't be a very realistic or interesting game.

In the game as in life, going to war is a very dangerous and risky thing to do. It reduces US resources that could be used elsewhere (moving the US troops marker to war, and if you need troops anywhere else, into overstretch). It usually turns the Arab world against the US (prestige goes down 2 times out of 3). It provides an easy way for the islamists to keep their funding up and US prestige down (automatic recruitment success in regime change country, followed by plotting there, where there will be troops, causing US to lose prestige). And it traps the US in a morass from which it is very difficult to escape; with low prestige, it will be very hard not to get the RC country from poor to fair to good.

Regime change is not something to be undertaken lightly, just because not every country in the entire world has the sort of government the US wants. Broadly speaking, there are three circumstances where you should risk a regime change. One is where everything has been very carefully prepared, and you think you will be able to get in, accomplish your goals, and get out quickly. This requires high prestige (maybe you would have more success if you first made your case in Europe, only invading if much of the word shared your hard-line stance, rather than acting as a lone cowboy), and careful timing (you hold one or more of the cards that make it easier to get from Regime Change to "Mission Accomplished": Mass Turnout, Sistani, NATO, UN Nation Building). A second circumstance is that the immediate consequences of ridding the world of Islamist states is great enough that you are willing to make the sacrifice of embroiling the US in a morass from which it may never escape (that is, you hold a couple of cards like Bin Ladin, Al-Azhar, Zawahiri, Safer Now, Hijab, Benazier Bhutto). The third circumstance is out of desparation, if the Islamist revolution has spread sufficiently that the terrorists are about to win the game if you don't invade. It's the terrorists' goal to get the US to this point.

This isn't a game where you should think "I'm the US; I'm going to do Regime Change". It's a game where you should think "I'm *not* going to do a Regime Change; I saw how badly that worked last game. I'm going to get the non-Muslim world on my side, increase my prestige, fight the war of ideas, and let good government and democracy spread throughout the Muslim world". Then you become convinced that this is a special situation, and Regime Change will have great benefits and be quick and easy. Then you invade and discover that things are never that easy.

Regime Change is a play the US will make at most once or twice over an entire game. It's a key strategic decision of the game when to do this, and a difficult decision. If you have the mindset "I'm the USA! I will go charging into the Muslim world to change regimes I don't like just because I have military might, with no thought to the consequences or an exit strategy", like political commentary deleted, things won't go well.
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Tom Haesendonckx
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***sigh*** Why can't all countries be like Belgium

We're already without governement for over 240 days and all's going well


Thank you all for your advice and opinions.

We're going to give it a try again next wednesday cool
 
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Charles F.
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I only go for Regime Change in Afghanistan when given good reason. This generally means having some cards helpful to such a campaign or only eligible for play once you've launched yourself into that RC operation.

As for the Jihadist, indeed his aim is to force the US into committing itself to numerous RCs in an effort to stave off Jihadist victory. It's likely to become a losing battle for the US once in OVERSTRETCH. Tying down the American giant is key to many Jihadist victories.
 
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