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Twilight Struggle Turn One

May 31st, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 3 Comments · AARTwiStr

If you missed the basic description of the game, here it is.

As usual, Bruce plays the good guys, the Americans. That leaves the Soviets for me. Socialized medicine for all!

Here is the starting position.

Each turn opens with a headline phase in which each player must play an event from their hand.


Headline Phase

USSR Warsaw Pact formed (USSR adds 5 influence in E. Europe, no more than 2 per country) +1 East Germany, +1 Austria, +2 Romania, +1 Yugoslavia.

USA: Captured Nazi Scientist (U.S. advances on space track, gets 2 VP)

Bruce: 2 VP right away (and I limit the USSR to 1 VP for that Space Race box when he gets there) and a chance to go two boxes ahead if I make a successful Space roll this turn. A perfect headline.

Action Phase 1

USSR: Blockade as event (Faced with a choice of losing a 3+ point card or all influence in W. Germany, US discards Socialist Governments card)

Bruce: I would never play Blockade this early, because all that does is give the US player the opportunity to discard a Soviet event. I oblige by discarding my worst Soviet event, which is Socialist Governments. This releases me from the need to keep an extra high-value card in my hand to protect against what would be a catastrophic loss of influence in West Germany. The USSR should always play Blockade on the last phase of the turn, which often forces the US player to discard a card he had been saving to use in the Space Race.

USA: NATO (4) as Influence: +1 Iran (control), +2 Jordan, +1 WGer.

Bruce: Since Troy played Warsaw Pact, I can play NATO as an event right away (because the formation of the Warsaw Pact is a prerequisite for the NATO event). But I’m going to use it for Influence because I’m holding the Mideast scoring card, and need to get myself established there right away. I take control of Iran and Jordan, which fulfills the requirements for region domination (more countries controlled than opponent, more Battlegrounds controlled by opponent, at least one non-Battleground controlled). If Troy doesn’t answer in the Mideast immediately, my next play will be Mideast scoring.

Action Phase 2

USSR: Formosan Resolution (2) as Influence (Resolution enacted, Taiwan would be a battleground country if the US controls it come Asian scoring time) +2 Afghanistan (control)

Bruce: Troy makes the comment over our voice chat that “Iran is poised like a dagger at Afghanistan.” I’m not sure why he’s worried about Afghanistan right now, unless he is holding the Asia scoring card. Since Afghanistan is adjacent to the USSR, it yields an extra VP when its region is scored. I thought my play in Jordan was a dead giveaway, but maybe not – perhaps Troy thinks I have the Asia card myself. But anyway, Afghanistan has a stability of 2, so if he really wants to, he could stage a coup there the turn after I move in, with a decent chance of success. It’s unlikely that I’m going to be throwing a lot of influence into peripheral countries right now, with essential Battlegrounds like South Korea and Japan unsecured.

One thing you need to do in Twilight Struggle is constantly monitor your position in each region. Does either side have Dominance? If a scoring card were played right now, what would the VP differential be? In the Mideast right now, I control Iran (Battleground) and Jordan (non-Battleground). Troy controls nothing, although he has influence in Iraq and Syria. This is USA Dominance of the Mideast. Using those two influence points in Iraq instead of Afghanistan would take me from having Dominance to having simply Presence, and Troy to Presence from having nothing. (I would control more countries, but we would each have one Battleground.) Or he could attempt a coup in Iran, which only has a stability of 2. It cost me three influence to establish my Dominance in the Mideast and have a potential 6 VP gain – it would take two of Troy’s to negate it completely for this turn. This decides my next move for me.

USA: Mideast scoring (US Domination +1 battleground (Iran) = +6, USSR no presence = zero)

Bruce: 6 US VP is huge yield at any point in the game. This card plays itself.

Action Phase 3

USSR: China card (+2 Pakistan, +3 SKorea) – The China card remains on the table at all times, and changes hands once played. It is a 4 influence card, 5 if all in Asia.

Bruce: Whoa! Troy obviously holds the Asia scoring card. That’s why he was so worried about Afghanistan. Taking Afghanistan gives him control of at least one non-Battleground nation in Asia, which is required for regional Dominance. So we trade 6 VP in the Mideast for 5 VP in Asia. That’s a net of one to me, plus now I hold the China Card. This early in the game, I will take that trade.

USA: De-Stalinization (3) as Ops. Coup in Pakistan: 3 + die roll 5 = 8. Stability 4. US takes control. US +3 Milops. USSR uses event to relocate influence from Finland to S. Korea, taking control of that country.

Bruce: This is a pretty risky move by me, but I’m completely outgunned in Asia right now since I can’t match a 5-ops play. A more conventional one would be to put three influence in Japan for control, but there is still the possibility of the US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact event doing that for me. A coup in Pakistan not only gives me Milops points I need, but also (if successful) is a two-country Battleground swing (Troy loses, I gain) whereas Japan would just be an extra one for me. That’s a 1 VP difference, and very important at this stage. Pakistan’s stability is 2, which is doubled to 4 in a coup. I am playing a card for 3 ops points. To eliminate Troy’s 2 influence and replace it with 2 of my own is a 4-point swing, which means I need to roll and 5 or 6. I do. That gives me 3 valuable Milops points as well. At the beginning of the game, these are valuable because the Defon is low.

Action Phase 4

USSR: Asia scoring

USSR Domination + 2 Battlegrounds (both Koreas) = 9

USA Presence + 1 Battleground (Pakistan) = 4

Net USSR +5

Bruce: There’s the Asia scoring card. Once he took Afghanistan, there was no reason to wait around. My next move, had he not played the scoring card, would have been a coup attempt in Afghanistan.

USA: Marshall Plan as Event (+1 France (control), +1 Italy, +1 Spain/Portugal, +1 Greece, +1 Turkey, +1 Finland, +1 Sweden)

Bruce: The Marshall Plan is a 4 ops card (best there is) but is also a great event, because it allows me to place 7 ops worth of influence. The only downside is that it is restricted to Western Europe, but at this early stage of the game (essentially the late 1940s) it’s all I can do to keep communism from breaking out all over. Putting points in Turkey and Spain/Portugal gives me access to the heart of Eastern Europe, as well as another entry into Africa (which will be helpful if France succumbs to the Reds).

Action Phase 5

USSR: US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact (4) as Influence (+1 Finland, +2 Italy) (First Italian influence point costs 2 because USA had control here.) The US gets control of Japan.

Bruce: There is the US/Japan event giving me control of Japan automatically. It also makes Japan safe from coups and realignments.

USA: Truman Doctrine (1) as event – remove all USSR influence from Italy

Bruce: I felt comfortable adding influence to Italy and France with the Marshall Plan because I had an out on the form of Truman Doctrine, which allows the US to remove all USSR influence from one uncontrolled European country. It’s a 1 ops card, so it’s not very useful otherwise. DeGaulle and Socialist Governments are two cards that threaten the weak-sister postwar democracies, and I know he doesn’t have Socialist Governments because I discarded it this turn in response to Blockade. Suez Crisis can hurt France, also, but it doesn’t give the USSR any influence there – it just reduces US influence. I think I’ve weathered the storm well on Turn 1.

Action Phase 6

USSR: Europe scoring

USSR Presence + 2 Battlegrounds (E. Germany and Poland) = 5

USA Domination + 3 Battlegrounds (W. Germany, France and Italy) = 10

Net USA +5

Bruce: Ouch. Troy sure didn’t want to play that, but he had to, because scoring cards must be played in the turn they are drawn. This also makes the Truman Doctrine the perfect play for last turn. Lots of things are falling into place.

USA: Fidel to Space Race. Die roll 6 = fail (By playing a Soviet event card into the Space Race, Bruce can get rid of the Fidel event without it firing and giving me Cuba. He needs a roll of 1-3 to advance on the track.)

Bruce: Luck finally deserts me (I needed a 1-3) but I’m not complaining too hard. This has been a good turn.

Milops: USA 3 – 4 = -1 USSR 0 – 4 = -4

Bruce: My coup attempt in Afghanistan gave me three macho points, which is what Milops essentially are. The more peaceful things are (Defcon is 4), more the superpowers need to throw their weight around to avoid looking weak. I lose 1 VP for only having 3 Milops with a Defcon of 4, but Troy loses all 4 by not having any Milops at all. That’s a net 3 VPs to me. Total VP swing this turn: +11 USA.


For a summary of my thoughts on this turn, check here. If you want to see if Turn Two went any better, click here.


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