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Author Topic: USSR AR1: To coup with the China card or not?  (Read 2120 times)

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SnowFire

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USSR AR1: To coup with the China card or not?
« on: November 18, 2012, 02:55:53 am »
+1

Several people requested this be moved to the forums.  Continued from
http://twilightstrategy.com/2012/10/31/the-china-card/#comment-2186

Should the USSR use the China card for the crucial early-game first coup?  The advantage is obvious: it's a 4 ops card (5 ops for couping Pakistan if it comes to that).  The disadvantage is that it can give the US a bit more flexibility in their turn 2 hand before the first reshuffle - they can hold an extra card if they use China then.  Notably, this might mean a 2x hold of Decolonization / Destalinization in the worst case.  More generally it weakens the threat of turn 2 Blockade - maybe they'd just have held 1x of Decol / Destal to turn 3 normally, but Blockade could have forced a choice between West Germany & the hold card, but now they might have the option to blow China instead.  (Not always, though, if the Soviet player has Blockade and waits for T2 AR6, this trick won't work unless the US player has carefully held both De-Something AND a random other Soviet 3 ops, which may not be the best setup for a threatening AR6 play.)

Anyway, here are my thoughts:
* If the USSR holds a 4 ops card (that wasn't a headlined Red Scare), the answer is "almost certainly not."  Just use your vanilla 4 ops to coup first, and then judge the situation from there.  (If said 4 ops is Marshall Plan, you're couping Iran though, of course.)
* When couping 1 US influence with no US neighbors in a critical area - Iran most obviously, but also Italy after a Socialist Governments Headline with 3 initial influence but no neighbors with US influence in setup - the answer is "probably" for me, but depends on hand strengths.  If I have a weak hand, getting a strong start and locking the US out of competition is more important - blow the China card right now.  It is *guaranteed* to knock the US out, and at worst forces a counter-coup from the US.  "Extra" influence is not really wasted; I want to deter that counter-coup from even happening, and if I roll a 5-6 or the like (and thus end up at 4+ influence), I can always throw the extra away to De-stalinization later.  If I have a "strong" hand with several painless 3 ops cards (e.g. not NORAD), or if I'm couping Italy which is guaranteed to be safe from a counter-coup, then maybe I'll use the 3 ops for the coup.  With the 1 less influence in Iran after the dust settles, Iran will be a more tempting target to counter-coup, but I retain the threat of an immediate counter-coup with another 3 ops.  If a 1 was rolled, well, crap, but you might be able to salvage things anyway with another 3 ops coup of Iran or Pakistan depending on the US's response.
* When couping 2 US influence with no US neighbors in a critical area - Iran in a +1 IP US handicap most notably - use the China card.  Your odds of failing to displace the US shoot up to 1/3 if you risk the 3 ops coup.  Even if you succeed, the US likely will counter-coup - rolling a 4 or 5 will result in a piddly 1-2 USSR influence, and invite a strong US response.  Only the rolled 6 will result in the scarier 3 USSR resulting influence which isn't easy to coup out.  That extra influence is quite key - you are only in the horrible situation of the US still being around 1/6 of the time by using China, and when you do succeed, you have +1 Influence which is always useful.
* If you'd like to coup 3 US influence...  say Italy starting with 3 influence, or Iran in a +2 IP US handicap game - I mostly don't recommend this, too swingy.  I guess you can do it if you have a ridiculous hand of 2x 4 ops card and can afford a speculative gamble.  But in that case you don't need to gamble the China card right away anyway, and can judge the situation for yourself once you're out of power cards.

Anyway, I wrote up a simple Python script (available on request) to calculate early game hand situations via running 2 million games and looking at the results.  As noted in the thread, here are my simplifying assumptions:

Assumptions:
* The Soviet player is playing the China Card no matter what. Thereís a ~51.7% chance of the USSR drawing a 4 ops on turn 1 where play of the China Card is likely to be less important. Arguably those high-ops hands should just be thrown out as unlikely to merit a CC play, but Iím ignoring that.
* If the Soviet player draws Blockade on turn 1 or 2, they will hold->play it on turn 2 to reduce US hand size. If the Soviet player draws UN Intervention turn 1 but no Blockade, they will blow it to draw more cards.
* The US player will always attempt to hold Decol & Destal if given the China card turn 1 and they draw them at the right times. If the US player has one of them in his opening hand and Blockade, he or she will open without influence in W. Germany and headline Blockade.
* If the US player has UN Intervention turn 1 but no Destal / Decol, they will blow it so they can draw more cards. Same with US drawing Blockade + a different Soviet 3 ops + no Destal / Decol turn 1. Not entirely realistic but whatever, craziest possible US about doing this.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 03:00:28 am by SnowFire »
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SnowFire

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Re: USSR AR1: To coup with the China card or not?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 02:57:59 am »
+1

Donít use China Card turn 1

31.61           One of Decol and Destal in American hand, but Blockade in Soviet hand / American hand 2, forcing either discard or W. Germany loss.
22.15           Americans hold one of Decol or Destal.
16.15           Russians drew one D on turn1/2, last waiting for round 3.
15.30           Russians naturally drew both Ds anyway.
6.55            Both Decol and Destal in American hand, lack of China card forces one to be spaced, and Blockade in either Soviet or American hand, forcing either discard or W. Germany loss.
4.77            Both Decol and Destal in American hand; lack of China card forces one to be spaced.
3.47            Both Ds were hiding in deck anyway for round 3!

--
China Card used turn 1

30.23           One of Decol and Destal in American hand, but Blockade in Soviet or American hand turn 2, forcing one of discard, W. Germany loss, or play of the China card.
23.57           Americans hold one of Decol or Destal.
17.08           Russians drew one D on turn1/2, last waiting for round 3.
13.26           Russians naturally drew both Ds anyway.
6.25            Both Decol and Destal in American hand, but Blockade in Soviet or American hand 2.  If Americans hold both and play China Card, they still lose W. Germany, or must discard De-stal to save it.
5.09            Both Decol and Destal in American hand; China card allows double hold.
4.51            Both Ds were hiding in deck anyway for round 3!


To add up the relevant cases controlling for Blockade:

If the US keeps West Germany and the China card is not played:
* 0% chance the US holds 2 De-cards.
* ~27% (22.15 + 4.77) chance to hold 1 De-card.

If the US is willing to let West Germany go and the China card is not played:
* 0% chance the US holds 2 De-cards.
* ~65% (22.15 + 4.77 + 31.61 + 6.55) chance to hold 1 De-card.

If the US keeps West Germany and the China card is played turn 1:
* ~5% chance the US holds 2 De-cards.
* ~60% (30.23 + 23.57 + 6.25) chance to hold 1 De-card.

If the US is willing to let West Germany go and the China card is played turn 1:
* ~11% (5.09 + 6.25) chance the US holds 2 De-cards.
* ~54% (30.23 + 23.57) chance to hold 1 De-card.

There's also, as noted, the smaller chance of the USSR drawing one of the De-cards itself naturally due to drawing 1 less card when playing the China card turn 1, but the effect is quite subtle.  Also note as above that the 60% chance on holding a single De-card in the use-China case is unrealistic, since it potentially involves holding an extra Soviet 3 ops event to AR6 to pull off.
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bsheehan34

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Re: USSR AR1: To coup with the China card or not?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 12:38:08 pm »
0

You also have to think about the threat of cia created when you consider using the china card on turn 1....It gets much harder to deal with a turn 2 or 3 draw of cia if you dont have china in hand...and a us play of five year plan (knowing you have cia) can easily lose you the game.
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Tony32280

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Re: USSR AR1: To coup with the China card or not?
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2012, 01:29:11 am »
0

I have played 100 games as the USSR and 2 as USA.  I don't believe that I have ever couped with the China card in Early War.  My general strategy is to use the extra INF to gain control of Pakistan and Afghanistan in one turn to shut out USA from western Asia.  Sometimes I will use it to swing control of South Korea.  I would much rather be proactive than reactive with it. 
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