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Subject: Newb game 3 (but improving), or How the Coup was Won rss

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Joe Stude
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This is a little report of my third game with my buddy Brandon, with me as the Soviets and Brandon the U.S. Unfortunately, we are now 3/3 in that all our games were not playing to completion. However, this one may have been in the bag and rather than delay the inevitable, Brandon conceded so we could get in a game of something else before we quit for the night. Premature? Perhaps - you be the judge!

Here's a photo of the final board with apologies for the motion blur which renders a lot of the text unreadable. I figure y'all know about about the board that you can gauge the position without needing to see the influence numbers.

http://faunaphile.smugmug.com/Other/Random-stuff/i-Hf7hNLF/1...

What I'm really enjoying about this game is how completely differently this game can play out depending on card draws and choices. Indeed, this game was quite unlike either of our first two games. In those games, Brandon was out of the Middle East very early while he fought hard over Europe, eventually venturing into Central and South America alone while I fiddled elsewhere. As you can see from the photo, things went quite differently here. After I used my first action to coup Iran, Brandon responded by dumping 3 influence into Israel, taking control there. With the Arab Israeli War in my hand, I was sorely tempted to follow with that card and try to take Brandon out of the Middle East entirely again, but with the lessened odds (due to Brandon controlling Israel), I decided not to risk a bad dice roll and lost tempo and instead went for control in Iraq, planning to later venture into Saudi Arabia. With 6 battlegrounds in the Middle East and Israel not going anywhere soon, it seemed important to me to lock down half of them to prevent Brandon from achieving dominance without a lot of work. As you can see, this is how it played out.

I also drew the Asia scoring card in my opening hand. Preparing for this but trying not to telegraph my intentions, I used a high ops card to drop enough influence in Afghanistan to take control there and also place one or two elsewhere. Brandon was more worried about the Middle East at that point and spent his next action round mucking about there, so on my subsequent action I dropped the Asia scoring card and picked up a quick 5 VP. What was interesting about this is that I wouldn't draw another scoring card until turn 7, when I drew SE Asia, but Brandon c conceded before I could play it. That was really the main plotline of this game: I jumped into an early lead and then shifted into counter mode. With only a couple of exceptions, every time Brandon attempted to work an area so he could dominate, I'd play safely to counter, not dominate, and regions would end up in a dead heat. Meanwhile I kept nickel and diming Brandon on VP and the lead kept growing.

You'll also probably notice Asia. Brandon put a ton of effort into the Middle East but left S. Korea for the taking, so after some of my own meandering in the Middle East to ensure myself an equal share there I obliged and gobbled up S. Korea, following up by grabbing Taiwan and really giving myself a strong foothold in Asia. Aside of some tickytack influence placements in very SE Asia and some coup play which saw Taiwan and Vietnam change hands into the position you see, that's pretty much the end of what happened in Asia.

Europe: Aside of a small amount of early play and events like DeGaulle and Marshall plan, virtually nothing happened here the entire game. I think the scoring card appeared once, but like so many of the other regions, it too was a dead heat. Again, so unlike our previous games and good for the Soviets!

Play in Central and S. America was actually some of the most interesting in the game and not only shows how tense the game can be, but it also served as a microcosm for how the whole game played out. A big coup sometime around turn 4 allowed me to set up shop in Panama and gave me a foothold there. On turn 5 I headlined 'The Lone Gunman', which allowed me to view Brandon's entire hand. The timing of this was extremely fortutious as Brandon had drawn both the Central America and South America scoring cards. Turn 5 was entirely dedicated to the play and counterplay I talked about earlier, with Brandon trying desperately to swing something into his favor. A round or two in, with all the battlegrounds in his favor and only lacking a non-battleground country for domination, it was obvious Brandon was going to score domination in S. America. Meanwhile, I had Panama locked down and a single influence in Costa Rica to give me a head start there and allow me to break into the rest of Central America if need be. My goal, then, was to force Brandon to work his ass off for his (likely inevitable) points in S. America and then score Central America myself completely unmolested. Thanks to my friend the Lone Gunman, I also knew that Brandon held Fidel in-hand and that, unless he Space Raced it, Cuba was mine (and most likely domination of Central America with it).

The coups that allowed this to happen (and coups over the course of the game in general) were also a huge departure from our first couple of games. In game 2 especially, a ton of failed coups due to 1 rolls resulted in a lot of nothing going on for large chunks parts of the game. In this game, the coups came hot and heavy and there were some BIG rolls. After Brandon made a grab for Columbia to secure domination, I countered big with a 4 ops card to coup it and rolled 6, wiping Brandon out and placing *7* of my own influence there. Considering Columbia is THE gateway into South America, I expect that would have probably given me a solid foothold there the rest of the game. The next round Brandon instead went for Ecuador (I can't remember how honestly but it must have been via an event because he couldn't have placed there normally). True to form, I couped there as well and again another non-battleground switched hands and delayed Brandon's scoring. Finally, on the next round Brandon took control of Uruguay. Unwilling to risk another coup roll in a situation that was deteriorating down south and knowing I'd get an extra round to bolster my position in Central America when Brandon played South America scoring, I took control of Nicaragua just in case. On his 5th action round Brandon played the S. America scoring card, grabbing some points back, but after Fidel hit and he was forced to play C. America scoring on his final action round (where I dominated with no U.S. presence), the overall net gain for the U.S. was one measly point.

The Space Race was also hugely in my favor and contributed a lot toward the VP nickel and diming I mentioned earlier. Near the end of turn 6 I played Arms Race and OPEC, scoring 7 VP and putting myself right on the cusp of victory with 17 VP. Brandon was ready to concede at this point, more excited about getting to play a game of something else before we quit for the night than delaying what he thought was inevitable, but since it was so close I asked him to hold off and see how the first few plays of turn 7 went. One space short of the 3 vp for the Space Race, I just had to get through the headline phase before being able to roll the die for the win. However, after what appeared to be some meaningless Africa play the round before Brandon had a little luck of his own this time and headlined the Africa scoring card, netting himself 5 vp back and putting the win out of reach for me that round. However, he still decided he'd made too many mistakes and was ready to concede anyway. It would have been a rough turn 7 for me as I'd been dealt a mittful of US events.

This game led to a question. Obviously there are some areas on the board which are REALLY locked down, especially the Middle East. When something is that built up, is it usually best to look for counterplay elsewhere or are realignments a realistic option for cracking that nut? I would have had to make grabs for Jordan and Lebanon to even have a fighting chance to realign Israel without coming in from below in Africa. Thoughts?
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Jeff Coon
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Jowjow wrote:
This game led to a question. Obviously there are some areas on the board which are REALLY locked down, especially the Middle East. When something is that built up, is it usually best to look for counterplay elsewhere or are realignments a realistic option for cracking that nut? I would have had to make grabs for Jordan and Lebanon to even have a fighting chance to realign Israel without coming in from below in Africa. Thoughts?


In the late game when regions are locked down and mostly decided, it's tough to affect change. (at least, in DEFCON regions) The Middle East would probably be a null-score for the rest of the game without some kind of event / lucky roll affecting it. I don't see realignments in the ME doing much. Realignments in the ME aren't possible at DEFCON 2, so your opponent would just have to reduce the DEFCON to prevent realignments there.

Were I the US, I would have focused my efforts on 1) Europe (looks like he only needs control of 1 non-battleground for Domination) and 2) Central America. The ME is do-able if he could hit you with something like Red Scare and a hand full of 3-4 Ops cards.
 
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Joe Stude
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Hey Jeff. Have you seen many games with lockdowns like we've got in the Middle East? It definitely felt a little odd having nothing of consequence to do in a particular region...

As for the rest of the game, U.S. was down 7 countries to 6 in the photo, so they needed two more countries to achieve domination. By that time in the game Red Scare had come and gone twice (hitting us each once) so the chances of it appearing one more time weren't great.

Thanks for the comment.
 
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Bindlestick Bindlestick
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Maybe It's just me, but I don't think I would have conceded that as the US. If he could manage to get SA and Africa scored for control he'd have a really good chance of coming back in late war. Asia was certainly a mess for him though. Seems like he still had a fighting chance to me. /shrug
 
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Jeff Coon
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Jowjow wrote:
Hey Jeff. Have you seen many games with lockdowns like we've got in the Middle East? It definitely felt a little odd having nothing of consequence to do in a particular region...

As for the rest of the game, U.S. was down 7 countries to 6 in the photo, so they needed two more countries to achieve domination.


I count 7-7 in Europe (don't forget about Canada for the US). Europe is worth a lot of points, and since the US has the battleground lead 3-2, could easily Domincate Europe with a good hand of Ops cards. If Europe scoring hadn't come up in the reshuffle, that's 2 scores of Europe if the game goes the distance - not insignificant.

It's not uncommon for Europe / Asia / Middle East to be "locked down" in the Late War. These regions are very affected by the DEFCON, so if the players are keeping the DEFCON at 2 to prevent coups, it's not uncommon for these regions to be hard to sway. That's why they're so key in the early game. Some of the DEFCON-changing or ignoring cards can help - things like ABM Treaty, Brush War, Nuclear Test Ban, Nuclear Subs, etc. Also note that a lucky Shuttle Diplomacy could score Domination the Middle East for the US.

It may seem elementary, but in the late war, Central America, South America and Africa are much easier to affect. They're not affected as much by the DEFCON. Realignments can make a difference in these regions, and there are lots of ways to swing those regions back to your own side.

I agree with Bindlestick - I would not have conceded as the US player. Africa and South America are virtual locks for the US. With some good Ops, the US could score Europe. The Middle East would likely null-score, but as I mentioned - a well-timed Shuttle Diplomacy could get the US Domination for one scoring card. I also wouldn't call Central America a lock for the USSR. There are a lot of good Central America cards for the US, and if they get lucky enough to draw Junta / Brush War, they could steal this region back from the Soviets.

It's definitely an uphill battle for the US, but I would have enjoyed the challenge!
 
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