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Subject: New player warning - know the cards before you play! rss

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Nigel Clarke
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Trying to think of another game that this requirement is so important, I expect they exist but I can't think of one at the moment. Maybe that should be a Geeklist?

Why is it important in TS?

First game played on Saturday, 7th Jan 2012. Started at 11.15am.
I was US and gained an early lead (up to 13VPs at one point) but the USSR had more control. The South American scoring card popped up, in the USSR hand and he was able to score Domination and that was the start of the end for me!

On to the point of my post.

Later on (turn 4 or 5??), after 4 hours investment, as the USSR last action, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do... was played. In my hand I had a USSR event and SouthEast Asia scoring. I was 1 VP ahead in SEA so I decided to keep the scoring card, discard the other card and draw another. I drew Central American Scoring! Looked in FAQ - game over!!!!

My opponent felt that this was a poor way for him to win so we agreed that I should exchange both of my original cards, score Central America and carry on (he gained 1 VP in CA).

Another 2 hours investment and we got to turn 7. Defcon was at 3 and, unbeknown to me, he drew South American Scoring and Wargames.
I was planning to level things in South America, but first decided to play Iron Lady so that I could play Socialist Governments.
This delay was my downfall!

First USSR action round - South American Scoring.
US - Iron Lady
Second USSR action round - Coup in battleground country; defcon status now 2
US - Socialist Governments as 3 Ops
Third USSR action round (experienced players will have guessed it no doubt) Wargames!
Game over, at 6.15pm, as USSR was >6 VP ahead.
Wargames allows the phasing player to give 6 VP to the opponent and, as long as Defcon is at 2, win the game if ahead in VPs.
US lost twice in one game!

Let that be a lesson to you all!
It did leave a nasty taste in the mouth though. Both of us were dissatisfied with the result; USSR felt he had to play it as I was getting very powerful in Europe (only Poland to get control and then hope for Europe scoring).

So, as a play, USSR needed to play the card, so no problem with the card per se.
It's just the fact that you need to know a hell of a lot before you play this game, IMO.
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Carlos Ferreira
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Once you play the game 5-6 times you will know the most important cards and when you both know them the game play will decrease. I play my games (10 turns) in 2 hours
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Brian Spieles
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I just played my first game of Twilight Struggle yesterday and I would agree with your assessment of card knowledge. In my opinion, however, this is not a problem, as almost any game of this size/depth requires a similar amount of game knowledge before you are able to better optimize your play. I'm thinking of games like Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, Le Havre, etc. The first time I play a game, especially a heavier game, I don't expect to be able to have a fully optimized strategy. In fact, if I were able to produce a great strategy so effectively, I doubt the game would be of the caliber of a Twilight Struggle. I agree card knowledge is a huge aid to successful play, but I think that is just part of the learning curve of this game, much like most others of this depth/weight.
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Not sure why anyone would want to spoil the sense of discovery, but maybe that's just me.
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Nigel Clarke
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Celebros wrote:
I just played my first game of Twilight Struggle yesterday and I would agree with your assessment of card knowledge. In my opinion, however, this is not a problem, as almost any game of this size/depth requires a similar amount of game knowledge before you are able to better optimize your play. I'm thinking of games like Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, Le Havre, etc. The first time I play a game, especially a heavier game, I don't expect to be able to have a fully optimized strategy. In fact, if I were able to produce a great strategy so effectively, I doubt the game would be of the caliber of a Twilight Struggle. I agree card knowledge is a huge aid to successful play, but I think that is just part of the learning curve of this game, much like most others of this depth/weight.


Your points are well made but do the games you quote (I own both) have cards that give instant wins to your opponent? I don't think they do and, if players are newbies, everyone is likely to make similar tactical errors which will balance.
TS just seems to have cards/ways that are instant wins, in the right (wrong) circumstances, which were not planned for by any player.
 
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Nigel Clarke
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bryanwinter wrote:
Not sure why anyone would want to spoil the sense of discovery, but maybe that's just me.


To avoid game-ruining events? That result in unsatisfactory conclusions versus time invested? I certainly found the loss of game due to having 2 scoring cards and the ability to only play 1 very disappointing.
 
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eryn roston
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banzai123 wrote:
bryanwinter wrote:
Not sure why anyone would want to spoil the sense of discovery, but maybe that's just me.


To avoid game-ruining events? That result in unsatisfactory conclusions versus time invested? I certainly found the loss of game due to having 2 scoring cards and the ability to only play 1 very disappointing.


I think it will certainly depend on the person. I typically find it hard to feel the rush of competition on the first try of a game. These games are usually "learning" games where you sorta figure that mistakes on both sides will be made and the outcome is not as important as learning the game for next time.

However I can see how after investing time and energy into a system taht you think you understand, it would be frustrating to see it all undone but the whims of some unexpected card play.

I usually dont warn new players about the cards in the deck because I do think that discovering them for the first time is what makes those early plays so special, but I do usually tell them that things can often turn quite unexpetedly so they are not as surprised.

-E
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Conor Hickey
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banzai123 wrote:
Celebros wrote:
I just played my first game of Twilight Struggle yesterday and I would agree with your assessment of card knowledge. In my opinion, however, this is not a problem, as almost any game of this size/depth requires a similar amount of game knowledge before you are able to better optimize your play. I'm thinking of games like Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, Le Havre, etc. The first time I play a game, especially a heavier game, I don't expect to be able to have a fully optimized strategy. In fact, if I were able to produce a great strategy so effectively, I doubt the game would be of the caliber of a Twilight Struggle. I agree card knowledge is a huge aid to successful play, but I think that is just part of the learning curve of this game, much like most others of this depth/weight.


Your points are well made but do the games you quote (I own both) have cards that give instant wins to your opponent? I don't think they do and, if players are newbies, everyone is likely to make similar tactical errors which will balance.
TS just seems to have cards/ways that are instant wins, in the right (wrong) circumstances, which were not planned for by any player.


The drawing more cards than you have Action Rounds quirk is a facet of that card (Ask Not...) which you will not know about until you have had it happen once.

Wargames is hardly an 'instant win' as you can't play it before turn 8 and if you are at least 7 VP up you have probably been playing pretty well up to that point.

I admit the first time I saw it played I was surprised it was there but thinking about it later the card (and many others) echoes the sort of brinksmanship that was practiced during the Cold War.

Yes the first time you lose to it is annoying, but now you know it's there you can plan for it or to avoid it in the future. Also the conjunction of circumstances needed to play it (being both up by 7 VP or more and getting the card as well) is rarer than you might think.

Card knowledge is very beneficial to good play in TS, probably more so than a lot of other games but I hope this experience will not put you off one of the deepest and most satisfying games out there.
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banzai123 wrote:


Another 2 hours investment and we got to turn 7. Defcon was at 3 and, unbeknown to me, he drew South American Scoring and Wargames.


Perhaps this is just misremembering the turn, but this should not have happened... Wargames wouldn't enter the deck until turn 8.

The other thing that made me wonder if perhaps you were not using the decks correctly was that you said

banzai123 wrote:

The South American scoring card popped up, in the USSR hand and he was able to score Domination and that was the start of the end for me!


but then say

banzai123 wrote:

Later on (turn 4??), after 4 hours investment,


Again, perhaps the wrong turn cited, but South America scoring cannot come up before turn 4... is it possible that you were using all the decks together? Or adding in new decks just because you ran out of cards in the draw pile?

Re: your main point, I think it's probably easier to learn the cards as you play a few games (even if you end up taking a few hard knocks along the way) than trying to learn them all before playing at all. But perhaps for some people with a different learning style it might be easier to simply memorize a list of "problem cards".

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Nigel Clarke
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Thanks for your concern.

Your right about misremembering -

I have changed "Turn 4??" to "Turn 4 or 5??", because I'm not sure when this happened.

It must have been Turn 8 when Wargames was played.
We shuffled in the packs correctly as required.

Sorry for such vagueness. It doesn't alter the overall aim of the post though.

 
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banzai123 wrote:
bryanwinter wrote:
Not sure why anyone would want to spoil the sense of discovery, but maybe that's just me.


To avoid game-ruining events? That result in unsatisfactory conclusions versus time invested? I certainly found the loss of game due to having 2 scoring cards and the ability to only play 1 very disappointing.


Your game was not ruined at all. You learned something about the game. All the games I have played are with the intent of learning the game for ourselves so we had no issue with cards at all. We had fun anyway knowing weird card combos may happen but it was fun discovering them. The only one I mentioned to my opponent was Wargames and the fact he has to be careful about triggering a Nuclear War.

Any game I can grasp immediately is a game not worth playing as far as I am concerned. This is true of all CDG's and part of the enjoyment of them. In other CDG's it is not uncommon to be able to point out a game changing card. It is just that with TS they are more apparent.

If you approach the game as fun and knowing ignorance can lose you a game (and I am still very ignorant after a few plays still) you may get to enjoy it more.

I also loath knowing cards before I play any game. A large part of the fun it making mistakes and discoveries. So if I lose due to not knowing them I'm fine with it. I learn and move on.
 
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I usually warn new players about Wargames once we get near Late War. It's on par with explaining win-conditions. There are 4 ways to win TS:

1) Get to 20 VP any time before the end.
2) Get DEFCON down to 1 during opponent's action phase.
3) Play the game all the way through and have more VPs after final scoring.
4) Play Wargames when you have at least 7 VP.

Would you teach the game and not explain that DEFCON can trigger the endgame? Or that 20 VPs is a sudden-death win condition? How is Wargames different?
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banzai123 wrote:
bryanwinter wrote:
Not sure why anyone would want to spoil the sense of discovery, but maybe that's just me.


To avoid game-ruining events? That result in unsatisfactory conclusions versus time invested? I certainly found the loss of game due to having 2 scoring cards and the ability to only play 1 very disappointing.


I'll grant that this isn't an obvious implication of "Ask Not" to new players, but it's a result of the scoring card rules rather than a direct sudden death loss from an event.

Looking up "Ask Not" in advance wouldn't have helped you. Knowing the scoring card rules and realizing that an event could force you to violate them might have. As said above, I think it depends on the player. Game one is going to be a learning experience anyway.

If you were playing against an experienced teacher, I'm sure they would have informed you of the risk of playing Ask Not at that particular moment. To me that's the best of both worlds. I think it's quite impractical to go through the deck beforehand trying to anticipate everything that might go wrong unexpectedly. Instead, a gracious teacher can simply say things like "there's an event later that will totally undo what you just did" etc (for example, a new Soviet player placing influence in Japan).
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JohnRayJr wrote:
banzai123 wrote:
bryanwinter wrote:
Not sure why anyone would want to spoil the sense of discovery, but maybe that's just me.


To avoid game-ruining events? That result in unsatisfactory conclusions versus time invested? I certainly found the loss of game due to having 2 scoring cards and the ability to only play 1 very disappointing.


I'll grant that this isn't an obvious implication of "Ask Not" to new players, but it's a result of the scoring card rules rather than a direct sudden death loss from an event.

Looking up "Ask Not" in advance wouldn't have helped you. Knowing the scoring card rules and realizing that an event could force you to violate them might have. As said above, I think it depends on the player. Game one is going to be a learning experience anyway.

If you were playing against an experienced teacher, I'm sure they would have informed you of the risk of playing Ask Not at that particular moment. To me that's the best of both worlds. I think it's quite impractical to go through the deck beforehand trying to anticipate everything that might go wrong unexpectedly. Instead, a gracious teacher can simply say things like "there's an event later that will totally undo what you just did" etc (for example, a new Soviet player placing influence in Japan).


That's pretty much what I did. If you have two new players though they should expect the game will not be easy on them, it will take a long time to play comparative to more experienced players, as all new games do, and there will be a lot that happens they did not anticipate. I do not see why they should be upset about that. Its the nature of gaming and TS is no different to any others worth playing.
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I always end any first-time rules explanation with a brief overview of why 'Lone Gunman' and 'CIA' can be game-enders, and during the game, stress how certain card plays could be dangerous re: scoring cards and DefCon. It's always appreciated.
 
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banzai123 wrote:

Later on (turn 4 or 5??), after 4 hours investment, as the USSR last action, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do... was played. In my hand I had a USSR event and SouthEast Asia scoring. I was 1 VP ahead in SEA so I decided to keep the scoring card, discard the other card and draw another. I drew Central American Scoring! Looked in FAQ - game over!!!!

My opponent felt that this was a poor way for him to win so we agreed that I should exchange both of my original cards, score Central America and carry on (he gained 1 VP in CA)..



I dont understand why thís made you lose the game?? Could you pls explain??
 
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Perry wrote:
banzai123 wrote:

Later on (turn 4 or 5??), after 4 hours investment, as the USSR last action, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do... was played. In my hand I had a USSR event and SouthEast Asia scoring. I was 1 VP ahead in SEA so I decided to keep the scoring card, discard the other card and draw another. I drew Central American Scoring! Looked in FAQ - game over!!!!

My opponent felt that this was a poor way for him to win so we agreed that I should exchange both of my original cards, score Central America and carry on (he gained 1 VP in CA)..



I dont understand why thís made you lose the game?? Could you pls explain??


You cannot hold scoring cards at the end of the round. That creates a risk if you use the "Ask Not" event to draw cards when you only have X action rounds remaining but also have X scoring cards in hand already. In his example, he is already required to play Southeast Asia scoring with his final AR. By discarding the USSR event to draw another card, he runs the risk of drawing a scoring card that he has no way to dispose of, which means he instantly loses the game for violating the scoring card rules.
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Perry wrote:
banzai123 wrote:

Later on (turn 4 or 5??), after 4 hours investment, as the USSR last action, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do... was played. In my hand I had a USSR event and SouthEast Asia scoring. I was 1 VP ahead in SEA so I decided to keep the scoring card, discard the other card and draw another. I drew Central American Scoring! Looked in FAQ - game over!!!!

My opponent felt that this was a poor way for him to win so we agreed that I should exchange both of my original cards, score Central America and carry on (he gained 1 VP in CA)..



I dont understand why thís made you lose the game?? Could you pls explain??


He made a mistake by guaranteeing he will hold at least one scoring card at the end which is in the rules is a game loser. Hopefully he will learn not to draw a card from the deck or the opponent when he holds a scoring card with one round to go unless all scoring cards have been played out or he holds the only one.

It is not something you can blame the game for but may well happen when learning the game. I do not see his time investment in the game as relevant either. Most games take a lot longer to play on the first outing.
 
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Halfinger wrote:
banzai123 wrote:
bryanwinter wrote:
Not sure why anyone would want to spoil the sense of discovery, but maybe that's just me.

To avoid game-ruining events? That result in unsatisfactory conclusions versus time invested? I certainly found the loss of game due to having 2 scoring cards and the ability to only play 1 very disappointing.

If you approach the game as fun and knowing ignorance can lose you a game (and I am still very ignorant after a few plays still) you may get to enjoy it more.

I also loath knowing cards before I play any game. A large part of the fun it making mistakes and discoveries. So if I lose due to not knowing them I'm fine with it. I learn and move on.

When I explain complex games, I at least point out the most momentous parts. For example, in 1960: The Making of the President (which shares a developer with TS), each player has a "supercard" that gives them more action points than any other in the game. It's important to tell people that there is also a) a card that lets you reuse your supercard and b) a card that exhausts your opponent's supercard before it's used. You can leave it at that, but I'd want my opponent to at least know that much about the supercards.
 
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fuldhim wrote:
Halfinger wrote:
banzai123 wrote:
bryanwinter wrote:
Not sure why anyone would want to spoil the sense of discovery, but maybe that's just me.

To avoid game-ruining events? That result in unsatisfactory conclusions versus time invested? I certainly found the loss of game due to having 2 scoring cards and the ability to only play 1 very disappointing.

If you approach the game as fun and knowing ignorance can lose you a game (and I am still very ignorant after a few plays still) you may get to enjoy it more.

I also loath knowing cards before I play any game. A large part of the fun it making mistakes and discoveries. So if I lose due to not knowing them I'm fine with it. I learn and move on.

When I explain complex games, I at least point out the most momentous parts. For example, in 1960: The Making of the President (which shares a developer with TS), each player has a "supercard" that gives them more action points than any other in the game. It's important to tell people that there is also a) a card that lets you reuse your supercard and b) a card that exhausts your opponent's supercard before it's used. You can leave it at that, but I'd want my opponent to at least know that much about the supercards.


Yes I agree as I said earlier. But to say a game had bad elements due to lack of knowledge of the game is getting a bit tiresome. So is saying a game is disappointing when a mechanic is not known or grasped. Games are not balanced around new players (if they were they would be terrible) so anyone playing a new game must expect issues like this. If they feel that is unacceptable then CDG's are probably not a game type they like.
 
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If this was your first game, your opponent should have let you play USSR, giving himself a slight handicap.
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dr_divot wrote:
If this was your first game, your opponent should have let you play USSR, giving himself a slight handicap.


This has been discussed many times, but at least several of the experienced players on these forums disagree. Giving the new player the USSR will not make things significantly harder for a vet playing the US. In fact, they will run circles around the new player, who will not understand why they are supposed to have an advantage. They will learn the defining rhythms of the game at a much slower rate.

From my perspective, a good teacher takes the USSR first and demonstrates the "Soviet Steamroller." Obviously you explain all of this and are gracious about a variety of things as you go. The point is not to crush the newb just for the heck of it. The point is to get them up to speed. Giving the USSR makes it likely they won't get out of first gear for two or three plays.
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bryanwinter wrote:
Not sure why anyone would want to spoil the sense of discovery, but maybe that's just me.

It's not just you, Bryan. I love playing games those first times when I don't know what's in the deck, and as far as I know anything can happen. Just like the real world! I consciously avoid going through the decks or reading strategy articles until I've played my way through. If a game ends suddenly, so be it. Not knowing whether that might happen is part of the fun, and a part I won't willingly forego.
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Halfinger wrote:


Any game I can grasp immediately is a game not worth playing as far as I am concerned. This is true of all CDG's and part of the enjoyment of them. In other CDG's it is not uncommon to be able to point out a game changing card. It is just that with TS they are more apparent.


There's surely a difference between grasping the rules of a game and grasping card combos/things not to do?
You could grasp the rules of chess immediately - learn the moves - but everything is visible in terms of what might happen to you. It's down to your ability to visualize these events.
I guess chess you would say is not worth playing?
Yet to me, it is the number 1 game of all time, regardless of what this site says. How many books will be written about TS strategies?

TS gives card combos that need knowing about in order to avoid them.
Losing to them, through lack of knowledge, because the card had not been seen before, is not my idea of fun.
 
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banzai123 wrote:
Halfinger wrote:


Any game I can grasp immediately is a game not worth playing as far as I am concerned. This is true of all CDG's and part of the enjoyment of them. In other CDG's it is not uncommon to be able to point out a game changing card. It is just that with TS they are more apparent.


There's surely a difference between grasping the rules of a game and grasping card combos/things not to do?
You could grasp the rules of chess immediately - learn the moves - but everything is visible in terms of what might happen to you. It's down to your ability to visualize these events.
I guess chess you would say is not worth playing?
Yet to me, it is the number 1 game of all time, regardless of what this site says. How many books will be written about TS strategies?

TS gives card combos that need knowing about in order to avoid them.
Losing to them, through lack of knowledge, because the card had not been seen before, is not my idea of fun.


Then play something that is fun for you. No one is forcing you to play anything at all.

You are also mixing up rules with game strategies so I won't even bother responding to your Chess comment it is irrelevant.

In my first few games of anything I do not care how I lose or how long it takes. I am enjoying the learning experience. If you don't then fine, try something else or change the rules to suit yourself. You certainly do not need to know all the cards to have a fun game which is what you are asserting.

If winning is so crucial to you even while learning a game then simply forget CDG's. Their very nature is chaotic until you get to grips with it. That is the element that makes these games so much fun for many of us.



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