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Jeon

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New player seeking council!
« on: April 01, 2013, 08:36:16 pm »
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Greetings,

I recently bought Twilight Struggle and am currently playing my second game. Having alot of fun and just loving the game so far. My first game took about 7-8 hours to complete, which was rather frustrating towards the end since we did it in one sitting. Just wondering, how long does it usually take to finish a game for more experienced players?

Now, to continue to the point of this post. I am currently in the middle of my second game and I was wondering if I could get some constructive criticism on how to proceed and on mistakes I made earlier in the game (as I am sure there are plenty).

I am playing USSR and opened with 4 East Germany, 4 Poland, 1 Yugoslavia and followed with couping Iran (as seem to be some of a standard opening). I headlined Europe Scoring as I thought I would put most of my early focus in the Middle East and Asia. Thoughts on this?

In both my games I've had some bad luck with scoring cards, which has landed me at a disadvantage in VP's early on (which in the case of the 1st game stuck with me until I won after the final scoring after turn 10). In the 2nd game I made the mistake of not going for Pakistan early enough, giving my opponent the chance to grab an early Asia domination. Gonna have to correct that for the next game.

Fast forwarding a couple of turns lands us at the beginning of turn 6 with the following setup:

http://i.imgur.com/V7sBjAm.jpg

My current hand consists of: THE CHINA CARD, CULTURAL REVOLUTION, ARMS RACE, SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY, ARAB-ISRAELI WAR, INDO-PAKISTANI WAR, LATIN AMERICAN DEATH SQUADS, "ONE SMALL STEP...", JOHN PAUL II ELECTED POPE, GRAIN SALES TO SOVIETS.

I am having some trouble with US influence in the Middle East, don't really know how to approach the Israel problem. Couping is really hard, realignment rolls seems kind of ineffective (plus I've had some really bad luck with my rolls). Unfortunatly, CAMP DAVID ACCORDS has been played. And I am trying to get rid of US influence in Egypt and now I can finally do it since SADAT EXPELS SOVIETS has been played.

Some general thoughts about the setup so far and how to proceed would be great. I would like to get as much as possible out of these early games so I can approach the next one as a stronger player.

Thanks in advance!
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theory

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2013, 10:49:32 pm »
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Why are you concerned about the Middle East?  You already have Domination there, and taking Israel or Egypt from him doesn't change that.  Control is too far away to think about.

What scoring cards are remaining in the deck or in his hand?  I'd be a lot more worried about Africa and South America -- if you lose it will probably because of those.  For example, you can coup Nigeria (guaranteed to get influence unless you use a 1 Ops and roll a 1 or 2, or a 2 Ops and roll a 1) and not only did you deny his Domination you are threatening your own.  But you also need to get into South America presumably before he locks it all up and gets Control.
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bsheehan34

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2013, 11:28:49 pm »
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Early war regions are all in you favor so you need to focus on sa and africa here. Are either of those score cards still in the deck? I would say south america probably needs to be top priority since he will get control by the end of the turn if you dont act.  Possibly headline death squads and coup brazil ar1. If successful then spread to venezuela. Then in Africa you can try to take botswana before him and attempt to realign him out of south africa.
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Tbody

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 12:51:04 am »
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Some Notes:

1.  DEFCON is at 5.  I highly doubt you've been couping properly. 
2.  The boards is very bare right now for Turn 6.  It looks like a lot of key events haven't been played.
3.  Scoring Cards still out would be critical for us to know about.

Asia - You need one more country for Battleground.  Afghanistan is it.
ME - You are Dominating, but he will even it up if he takes control of Saudi Arabia.
Europe - Looks good.  I would start thinking about overprotecting East Germany in anticipation of Tear Down this Wall. 

Africa - He's Dominating, but you can break this in a # of different ways.  It doesn't look like Che has been played yet, and if that's correct, he's probably holding it (you won't know for sure until T7).  Play of that card will net you his 2 non-battlegrounds and end domination.  You could also expand into Botswana and re-align him out of South Africa.  Coups/events can help you as well.

Central America - Correct me if I'm wrong, but it doesn't look like Liberation Theory and/or Fidel have been played for the event.  Where are these cards?

South America - Allende hasn't been played yet, and is probably in his hand or will come out next turn.  That will give you access to Chile, but you need to improve your position here.  I'm assuming he got access through play of OAS, which means you really only need to worry about Junta and Panama Canal Returned coming out. 

My Advice For Your Hand:
Headline: Death Squads.  The Coup modifiers will help you re-establishing control there.
Space Card: John Paul II.  Maintain your Dominance in Europe.
Hold Card: Grain Sales.  Keep this one out of the T7 re-shuffle, although most beginners don't really know how to utilize the power of this card.

AR Play: You want to start off with a Coup in Brazil.  I would honestly do it with Cultural Revolution, or even the China Card (and Cultural Revolution it back to you) depending on where Ussuri might be.  If you go with the China Card, I would hold Shuttle Diplomacy until the next turn when you could find a more ideal time to discard it.  That brings DEFCON to 4.  Death Squads should discourage him from counter-couping in SA, so he might shift to Africa.  If that's the case, use your final coup in Africa to set yourself up in a nice position.  I would probably do Nigeria. 

If you are ahead in ops, play Arms Race for the event and collect your 3 VPs.  Be mindful of where he plays, you want to restrict his scoring opportunities.  I would honestly use this turn to even your positions in Africa/South America while ensuring Asia/ME Domination through the capture of Afghanistan/Saudi. 

It's hard to give really pointed advice without details of card play up to this point.

Edit:  One more thing.  Where is Voice of America.  That card could remove you from Africa, as well as removing any influence you gain in Brazil (up to 2) from a Coup there.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 12:53:42 am by Tbody »
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Cal

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 03:03:56 am »
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Just wondering, how long does it usually take to finish a game for more experienced players?

If it's two players who know what they're doing and using an online version of the game that handles all the card-shuffling and token-placing, then I'd say a good-length games that lasts at least 6-7 turns will take between an hour and an hour and a half.

Though, games that end due to defcon losses, or if the USSR had good luck and steamrolls the US to a quick 20VP win, it can take as little as 20-30 minutes. The earliest I've seen the USSR win by 20VP was Turn 3. Turn 4 is much more common. The earliest the US can win by VP is usually Turn 6, though I've seen a Turn 5 US win.

For a face-to-face game, I would say it takes at least 2 hours for one game. 3 hours if one of them is a beginner, and longer still if they're both beginners.
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Jeon

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2013, 07:14:41 am »
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I forgot to write down the scoring cards. The only ones remaining is Europe and the Middle East, which is why I thought I would go for maybe control in one of those. Or is that overkill? Plus, I figured that if I wipe the US out of the Middle East I could focus more of my energy elsewhere as my opponent seems pretty content with fighting me there when he is not reacting to my movements elsewhere.

Also, I played FIDEL very early for points and hoped it would get dealt back quickly (which it hasn't). And last turn the US made a AR6 play for North Korea so I was forced to play LIBERATION THEOLOGY for points to defend my position.

I sent VOICE OF AMERICA to space last turn.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 08:08:40 am by Jeon »
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theory

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2013, 09:50:43 am »
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You are very unlikely to wipe him out of the Middle East.  Israel is ridiculously well-defended and Camp David Accords nullifies Arab-Israeli War.  Taking over a 5/0 Israel requires 11 Ops and way too many Action Rounds.

It's possible to coup Italy because Euro scoring is the only one left and you can deny his Domination.  But South America is a big problem for you and might be more difficult to solve if you put it off until later.
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Jeon

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 10:52:32 am »
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How does this sound?

Headline: LATIN AMERICAN DEATH SQUADS.
AR1: THE CHINA CARD coup on Brazil.
AR2: CULTURAL REVOLUTION.
AR3: THE CHINA CARD place influence in 1 Afghanistan and 3 Saudi Arabia.
AR4+: Playing ARMS RACE, ARAB-ISRAELI WAR, INDO-PAKISTANI WAR for ops, trying to fortify position in Africa and SA (and 1 point in Afghanistan). Maybe playing "ONE SMALL STEP..." for points or sending JOHN PAUL II ELECTED POPE to space.

After Afghanistan is taken, is there any reason to go on the offensive anymore in Asia or is it just defending the current position for the rest of the game? And generally, does one go for control in any game (ofcourse if a good oppertunity presents itself, but otherwise)?
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Jeon

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 08:29:00 pm »
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Beginning of turn 8:

http://i.imgur.com/s26hp8I.jpg?1

Current hand: MARSHALL PLAN, IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS, EAST EUROPEAN UNREST, LIBERATION THEOLOGY, ARAB-ISRAELI WAR, OLYMPIC GAMES, SOLIDARITY, JOHN PAUL II ELECTED POPE, ASIA SCORING.

As late war cards are now in play I thought I would headline ASIA SCORING to prevent my opponent from winning with WARGAMES. Then I should probably try to coup a battleground with MARSHALL PLAN before my opponent lowers the DEFCON to 2. I need Egypt or Libya and I would also like to control Argentina. Then I should probably go LIBERATION THEOLOGY followed by IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS for Ops to try and establish a good hold in Cental America.

Scoring for Europe, Middle East, Africa have been played/discarded.

So to sum up:
Headline: ASIA SCORING.
AR1: MARSHALL PLAN coup Argentina, Libya or Egypt.
AR2: LIBERATION THEOLOGY.
AR3: IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS place influence in CA.
AR4+: Send JOHN PAUL II ELECTED POPE to space, play SOLIDARITY, ARAB-ISRAELI WAR and OLYMPIC GAMES for Ops.
Hold: EAST EUROPEAN UNREST.

General thoughts on this approach? Are there any cards I should watch out for (like WARGAMES), that are especially powerful in this stage of the game? Which battleground should I coup?
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Tbody

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2013, 09:27:23 pm »
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Be careful of Defectors and Ussuri River Skirmish, which can ruin your nice Asia Scoring.  I think a coup on Argentina or Libya is best.  I personally wouldn't risk either of those two cards coming out in the Allied HL Phase, so I would probably just HL Liberation Theory.

Also, be careful of Marshall Plan.  It can ruin your Domination of Europe.  I would probably use it to put 1 influence into Turkey, 2 into Spain, and maybe 1 into East Germany.  Also, Tear Down Your Wall is a HL that can mess up your position in Europe.
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Jeon

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2013, 10:14:11 pm »
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I believe both USSURI RIVER SKIRMISH and DEFECTORS have been played already, so my ASIA SCORING should be safe. I thought about headlining LIBERATION THEOLOGY and then play IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS to get a really good grip in CA. But then my opponent can snag my battleground coup.

Concerning MARSHALL PLAN, I think my position in Europe is relatively safe since influence can only be added to non-USSR controlled countries in Western Europe. So it won't bother neither West Germany or Austria.

TEAR DOWN THIS WALL could be annoying, but if 3 influence is added to East Germany and then realignment rolled I get +4 so it should be pretty safe.
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theory

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2013, 03:20:29 pm »
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I think Asia Scoring is a sound headline assuming URS / Defectors are out of the deck, but didn't the deck reshuffle at some point before Turn 7?
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Jeon

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2013, 05:52:39 pm »
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I played URS for the event and DEFECTORS for the Ops (after reshuffle). But I just realized that THE VOICE OF AMERICA is in the deck now, and that could screw up my ASIA SCORING. But the alternative to not headline ASIA SCORING is to let my opponent steal the only battleground coup this turn. And if I wait too long then he might still have WARGAMES and I will just lose to that.
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theory

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2013, 07:12:46 pm »
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I think you are right.  Just headline it now.

(Also what do you mean you played URS for the event?  I assume you mean to space?)
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MarlesChartel

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2013, 09:26:36 pm »
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You can definitely get away with playing John Paul for ops (null AR, fixing Poland) after you've played Solidarity for ops.
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Jeon

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2013, 10:34:19 pm »
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I meant that I played URS for the Ops, giving up THE CHINA CARD. Got stuck with really bad cards towards the end of the turn, URS, JOHN PAUL II, GRAIN SALES. I know, my mistake. Kinda painted myself into a corner. But I knew my opponent held the EUROPE SCORING and I didn't want to weaken my position in Europe so I decided to hold JOHN PAUL II (and SOLIDARITY coming up), space GRAIN SALES and play URS for points. It sucked to give up THE CHINA CARD, but I had BREZHNEV DOCTRINE out so atleast I got alot of Ops for it.
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Comrade Pwnuby Khilemolov

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2013, 07:06:25 am »
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Giving him the China Card isn't too bad. Much worse is if he already had the China Card, and you played Ussuri River. The ability to place 4 influence anywhere in Asia (max 2 per country) is enormous - it can break two BG states you control, or solidify his control over two (or more) contested BG states. Even the China Card cannot necessarily do that (it gives you the U.S. 5 OPs in Asia, but playing into USSR-controlled nations still costs double OPs) so you picked the lesser of two evils.

(Edit: clarified an ambiguous "you".)
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 07:06:16 pm by Comrade Pwnuby Khilemolov »
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MarlesChartel

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2013, 10:49:19 am »
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A 4 ops Ussuri, if you have the China card, is certainly worth playing rather than spacing.
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Chimista

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2013, 06:56:29 am »
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A 4 ops Ussuri, if you have the China card, is certainly worth playing rather than spacing.
I agree with you Charles, that geting rid of URS as an empty AR is better than risking it coming back later as a US HL, however in some situations I'd rather play the China Card and hold two cards:
- If this is T6 or later: since URS spaced in T7 or later won't come back
- Lone Gunman didn't show up yet (so US might be holding it): to make US player hand management a little harder
- Asia / SE Asia is about to be scored: obviously you don't want to give the US a 5op ar in this turn, unless this regions are REALLY locked down in one way or the other
- I'm fighting an ops war/coup war: even outside Asia 4 ops can make your day
- If I have intel about the US player hand and I know China would save his ass: if by LG or Aldrich I know the US hand and it's really low ops or loaded with USSR cards you don't want to save his ass with China.

Basically there are quite a lot of situations where I'd rather play China and hold URS, even if it's Breznev'd

What are your thoughts people?
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theory

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2013, 09:43:47 am »
+1

A 4 ops Ussuri, if you have the China card, is certainly worth playing rather than spacing.
I agree with you Charles, that geting rid of URS as an empty AR is better than risking it coming back later as a US HL, however in some situations I'd rather play the China Card and hold two cards:
- If this is T6 or later: since URS spaced in T7 or later won't come back
- Lone Gunman didn't show up yet (so US might be holding it): to make US player hand management a little harder
- Asia / SE Asia is about to be scored: obviously you don't want to give the US a 5op ar in this turn, unless this regions are REALLY locked down in one way or the other
- I'm fighting an ops war/coup war: even outside Asia 4 ops can make your day
- If I have intel about the US player hand and I know China would save his ass: if by LG or Aldrich I know the US hand and it's really low ops or loaded with USSR cards you don't want to save his ass with China.

Basically there are quite a lot of situations where I'd rather play China and hold URS, even if it's Breznev'd

What are your thoughts people?

I think the general rule is definitely playing the 4 Ops URS.  If you really care about it, you could play the China Card first, giving them a face-down China Card, then trigger URS.  Now you have 4 Ops to repair their 4 influence of damage.
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Chimista

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2013, 09:54:59 am »
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A 4 ops Ussuri, if you have the China card, is certainly worth playing rather than spacing.
I agree with you Charles, that geting rid of URS as an empty AR is better than risking it coming back later as a US HL, however in some situations I'd rather play the China Card and hold two cards:
- If this is T6 or later: since URS spaced in T7 or later won't come back
- Lone Gunman didn't show up yet (so US might be holding it): to make US player hand management a little harder
- Asia / SE Asia is about to be scored: obviously you don't want to give the US a 5op ar in this turn, unless this regions are REALLY locked down in one way or the other
- I'm fighting an ops war/coup war: even outside Asia 4 ops can make your day
- If I have intel about the US player hand and I know China would save his ass: if by LG or Aldrich I know the US hand and it's really low ops or loaded with USSR cards you don't want to save his ass with China.

Basically there are quite a lot of situations where I'd rather play China and hold URS, even if it's Breznev'd

What are your thoughts people?

I think the general rule is definitely playing the 4 Ops URS.  If you really care about it, you could play the China Card first, giving them a face-down China Card, then trigger URS.  Now you have 4 Ops to repair their 4 influence of damage.

Indeed. Now I notice some incongruencies in my post. I should not post so early in a monday morning :D
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discomute

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Re: New player seeking council!
« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2013, 12:14:18 am »
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Just wondering, how long does it usually take to finish a game for more experienced players?

If it's two players who know what they're doing and using an online version of the game that handles all the card-shuffling and token-placing, then I'd say a good-length games that lasts at least 6-7 turns will take between an hour and an hour and a half.

Though, games that end due to defcon losses, or if the USSR had good luck and steamrolls the US to a quick 20VP win, it can take as little as 20-30 minutes. The earliest I've seen the USSR win by 20VP was Turn 3. Turn 4 is much more common. The earliest the US can win by VP is usually Turn 6, though I've seen a Turn 5 US win.

For a face-to-face game, I would say it takes at least 2 hours for one game. 3 hours if one of them is a beginner, and longer still if they're both beginners.

Wow!!!

I play face to face and I was amazed last night when I won at the start of turn 6 and we were 1 hour 45 mins in. I was thinking "man we are getting fast"

But if we could get the entire 9 turns into 2 hours...
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