Friday, January 27, 2012

Twilight Struggle

Saturday, Troy invited me over to play some war games, and we agreed on Twilight Struggle, which I've never played before.  He played the US.  I play the USSR.  Had history gone according to our game, the cold war would have ended by 1969 with the USSR winning before Reagan ever had a chance to muse about Star Wars.  Besides.  In our alternate reality, the USSR owned the space race.

It was an interesting, card-driven game, where the goal was to use the cards in your hand in conjunction with placing influence points on a world map to influence the various areas of the globe to follow your ideology, while avoiding the catastrophe of nuclear war.  Think risk, but shorter (particularly if you only play six of the ten turns), and much more interesting.

My strategy was to push for victory points at every turn, which seems like a good strategy.  But it's a better strategy if the dice and the cards seem to be falling in your favor and your opponent forgets for a turn that a military operations differential at Defcon 2 or 3 can net you a few extra victory points (that's much more obvious when you're playing).

My favorite milestones of the game:
  1. Refusing to influence Malaysia to be communist.  A personal homage to Ming.
  2. Getting African scoring, because I threw my "left over" points all over Africa.
  3. Keeping the defcon at 2 most of the game, just above nuclear war, because no one dukes it out during defcon 2, so no one takes over Africa.
  4. Troy totally side swiping me in Central America/Mexico which turned on me like the Germans were hoping they'd turn on the US due to the Zimmermann Telegram.  
  5. Getting South American scoring and realizing that my total lack of presence there was still more than Troy's presence and that it was enough to win the game.
  6. Backing up my indignation at the U-2 Incident by encouraging UN intervention in the Ussuri River Skirmish.  The US can suck it - China will never be their friend, U-2 spy planes are pieces of junk, and I deserved a lot of victory points for my commentary on the subject.
  7. We Will Bury You! - the card said I would.  I did.
  8. The uncomfortable-ness that accompanies playing Missile Envy in a mano-a-mano war game.  This was the the card that would have placed the ending of the cold war the latest in our game.  It's noted that it took place in 1984.  So Reagan would have been president, and The Gipper would have been the president that lost the Cold War.  Shame.  But I quote the Missile Envy card, which you have to trade with each other (Troy played it!), "(1984) A term coined by Dr. Helen Caldicott, it reflects the general feminist critique that the Cold War was driven by male ego with very Freudian undercurrents.  When one examines the terminology of "deep penetration" and "multiple reentry" one wonders if she had a point. Caldicott went on to found Physicians for Social Responsibility, and her book became a rallying point within the anti-nuclear movement."
Excellent game.  Definitely something worth playing again.

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