Twilight Struggle PBF 2, Benkyo's commentary thread

As before, I’ll try and keep a running commentary on the game going from my own perspective. Anyone playing on the forum side should stay out of here until the game is over. Non-players are free to comment and ask questions.

The setup has been posted to RossM.


Initial thoughts: ME scoring is a great headline, guaranteed to work with Nasser in hand too. Other than that, it’s low OPs, and really vulnerable to Blockade. Don’t want to flag that vulnerability to Blockade too obviously, but also don’t really have a choice. 1/3/4/2 setup with Truman to safeguard W. Germany and enough OPs to hopefully avoid disaster in other areas.

USSR headline: Comecon
My headline: ME Scoring

Good for me, very unusual headline for them. From this, I would conclude they don’t have anything better, which probably rules out:
CNS, Red Scare (unless short on OPs), Arab-Israeli War, Decol (unless scared of Defectors), Fidel, Cambridge Five (unless they hold 2 scorings), Vietnam Revolts, De Gaulle, SocGov, Suez Crisis.

USSR AR1: Warsaw Pact 2 influence W. Germany, 1 S. Korea

Sensible play, puts pressure on me to defend two places I obviously don’t want to put more influence into.

US AR1: Olympic Games 2 influence W. Germany

Puts it back out of reach, leaves it unclear whether I’m afraid of Blockade or creating a Truman trap.

USSR AR2: Red Scare coup Iran, roll of 1

Well, not headlining Red Scare means they might actually be short on OPs, I guess, or maybe paranoid about Defectors. Either way, a good indication I should expect the unexpected. Great result though, gives me some breathing room.

I hate the next decision so much. After all these years I still don’t know whether repairing the damage, going into Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, or Malaysia is the right play. I think it hinges on how many OPs I can put into one AR. Like, 3 or 4 OPs into multiple locations would probably be best, but what about only 1 or 2?

Too tired and stressed to give the move the attention it deserves right now.

If my assumption about the lack of good headlines is correct, then there’s no immediate danger of Vietnam Revolts or Decolonisation. Though the latter is still a possibility if the opposition is paranoid about Defectors, or wants to wait for defcon 2 (bad idea to headline Comecon just for that, imo). That means I might be OK holding off Malaysia for a beat, and probably should while it’s still defcon 4.

I do want to repair Iran, and one more influence is difficult to place right now. Afghanistan is a wishy-washy defensive option, perhaps a waste of an OP, but I still marginally prefer it to a point in Iraq since ME has been scored.

lol, they dropped DeStal on me, really early. This makes me rethink: now I suspect they have a surfeit of amazing cards, maybe Decol and/or Vietnam too, and were just too cagey about the possibility of Defectors in the headline.

Oh well, nothing for it but to fill Pakistan with Defectors and see what hits me next.

Giving the US Marshall Plan doesn’t seem like a great idea to me, but that’s what they did. Filling India and S. Korea is sensible, but Europe is now safe for the US and the USSR will never dominate it. Asia looks really shaky, but I just don’t have the OPs to do anything about that.

So I’m in a bind. Need to lower defcon or I’ll be hit with a massive VP penalty, and protecting Pakistan also seems worthwhile. Would like to coup Venezuela, but also prefer to hold onto Truman, and that means playing Nasser. So I did, and got lucky with a roll of 5.

CIA created! Wow, OK, so the conservative play was partly due to having that clogging up the hand along with Five Year Plan. USSR uses it to put one into Venezuela, correctly figuring that would be my best coup target.


Have to use the coup I suppose for the MilOp and Defcon degrade if nothing else, so I did, taking 1 influence out of Venezuela.

Need to get to Thailand to avoid a messy Asia Domination, so Romanian Abdication into Malaysia.

USSR plays Korean War to take S. Korea and reinforce Venezuela.

I respond by filling Thailand with Independent Reds.

So far, not so bad. ME scored for me, Europe is safe, and Asia looks stable enough, although still vulnerable to a Vietnam revolts or Decolonisation headline.

I can review our hands now, since I saw everything:

11 OPs vs 23 OPs! Quite the difference. 2 neutral OPs vs 4 too.

I was very lucky to come out of this Turn the way I did. The dice helped, for sure.

I held Truman, the USSR held Five Year Plan and the China Card.

Better hand than last turn, Red Scare is in the discard so there’s no need to fear Blockade or save the NTB. Indo-Pakistani War is the obvious headline, could swing Asia for me and gets me my MilOps.

USSR headlines Asia Scoring, which could be perfect… but the War flops. I guess this means no Decol or Vietnam Revolts to worry about, probably no De Gaulle either to flip Europe.

AR1 is Duck & Cover, netting me 3 VPs and making MilOps a problem for the USSR. Interesting. Also used in a kind of scattershot way: 1 into Israel, 1 into Burma, and 1 into Angola. Angola is a big deal, and now Africa and S. America have swung heavily for the reds, that’s a big problem. Israel looks like misdirection, and Burma seems kind of pointless. At this point I forgot that they were holding Five Year Plan, and played assuming that the weak headline and AR1 defcon reduction and attempt at misdirection meant they were trying to offload Europe safely. Responding accordingly, I used NTB to fill Egypt and W. Germany, blocking the Israel feint and dominating Europe.

Now I reviewed and recalled FYP, I can assume that will be their last AR to discard Europe scoring, and the China Card will not be used this Turn. Beyond that? No good headlines, and something else they want to space other than D&C.

So, 6 cards left:
Europe Scoring, check
Five Year Plan, check

CNS, UN Intervention, Special Relationship, EEU, NORAD, NATO, US/Japan, Blockade, Decol, Fidel, Vietnam, De Gaulle…

Rule out Decol, Vietnam, De Gaulle, rule in… Special Relationship, EEU, NORAD, or US/Japan, along with CNS, UN, Blockade, Fidel as possibilities.

CNS would probably have been a better headline, UN would be a nice waste of a good card unless it gets used in conjunction with the China Card, which could be a horrible OP-fest.

I have to space Israeli War to deny MilOps, and play two null AR with Suez and SocGov, so this Turn can still turn ugly. They probably have more easy ARs and OPs than I do. I have just Containment and the Cambridge five left, and quite a lot of work to do.

They use US/Japan to fill Iraq, Burma, and Laos. This is basically great for me: having Japan empty all game can be a sad VP-sapping outcome, so filling that up in exchange for some non-battlegrounds is nice. Of course, it gives them the edge on Asia countries, so I might be forced to do some country-filling myself, at some point.

For now, Cambridge 5 to bolster Thailand against the China Card and/or Decolonisation, and take Lebanon for dominance and ME presence insurance.

The China Card to fill Taiwan, add another influence to Laos, and fill Vietnam. A massive waste of OPs, I have no idea what the goal is here. Taiwan is valueless, Vietnam is a given once the event pops, and Laos does not need protection. If they had their heart set on using the China Card on Thailand, and struggled to find alternatives, Japan, Pakistan, or even Afghanistan would have been better, or S. America.

So, that’s great. The downside is that it means they probably do have UN Intervention and a use for it, so more OPs are incoming and I can’t compete. Space Arab-Israeli War to try and snag the early VP and deny MilOps, roll 5 and fail.

They play Blockade for the event, which is nice. An AR that requires no response, and it gets a dead AR card out of my hand: Socialist Governments.

I take the opportunity to play my other useless card, Suez Crisis (unlike SocGov, this removes it from the deck). Lose influence, put France back in control, and fill Libya (a priority BG when Egypt can be couped to knock me out of ME contention).

This leaves me wanting to shore up France more, and I will have to play Truman instead of holding it, but overall a very nice easing of pressure over the last couple of AR.

4 OPs left, from Truman and Containment, to spend however I like, responding or expanding and bolstering.

The Blockade play also tells me they don’t have Decolonisation, and were hoping to force me to play it, or something, but there’s no way I would have spaced Iraq War if I had Decol in hand, with Blockade potentially in their hand. Perhaps they just wanted to force me to play Truman, but that doesn’t seem like a good trade.

They play Five Year Plan to fill Israel, which is expensive but a secure bg.

Bizarrely, this leaves 3 random cards in their hand any of which could be hit by 5YP, so presumably they are OK with any of the 3 results. It hits Special Relationship, so France gets shored up a bit. This is very different from the use of 5YP that I expected: disposing of the problematic Europe Scoring that has yet to show. So Europe Scoring is coming out T3 and won’t be in the reshuffle, which is a damn shame (but I suppose it would have been hit by a different use of 5YP if it had been in their hand anyway).

I decide to keep Truman in reserve for their Europe push, if they have a high OPs card left, and play Containment to fill Algeria and Panama.

As a pleasant surprise, the next card is Europe Scoring. So, major goof by the USSR I suppose. 5 VPs for US for a comfortable Early War lead.

I use Truman to venture into the Saharan States, so that if the USSR opens with an AR1 battleground coup, I can move into Nigeria.

2 more VPs to US at Turn end, as USSR lacks MilOps.

Decent hand, OPs rich, and the Nazi Scientist is nice.

Due to the reshuffle, the USSR knows I have De Gaulle, CNS, Fidel, and EEU. I know the USSR has UN Intervention, NORAD, NATO, Decolonization, and Vietnam Revolts.

Some strong cards in the USSR hand, this could be rough. Headlined Containment to mitigate, and maybe push some with extra OPs. No concrete plan at this point - most of the accessible battlegrounds are full. Fill Mexico, Nigeria, maybe Afghanistan, South Africa, and Botswana.

USSR headlines Vietnam Revolts, which seems an odd choice when they already control countries in the area and Thailand is over-controlled. I guess they must have been really worried about Defectors to have not headlined Decolonization instead, maybe no other good options.

USSR plays NATO to coup Iran, but rolls another 1.

I play De-Gaulle, spending 2 to repair France, 1 into Nigeria, and 1 to repair Iran.

USSR plays UN Intervention with Duck & Cover to fill South Africa, ending my dream of Africa domination.

With no high priorities on the board, I play CNS for the +2 VP.

USSR plays NORAD for 2 into Brazil, 1 into Chile. This ends any hope I had of using my high OPs for a lucky realignment out of South America.

My next move is a bit wishy-washy, can’t remember the why, but I played Defectors into Afghanistan, Canada (now NORAD is in play), and Colombia, thinking maybe that I’ll get my MilOps with a Colombia coup clash, maybe win out and push into S. America.

The USSR response is unexpected, with Formosan Revolution to fill Brazil and Syria. At this point I know they have Decolonization in hand and want to use it, and I have a decent amount of OPs. The obvious thing to do is push hard into S. America and force them to either end up using Decolonization for OPs or maybe even concede the advantage in S. America (which could be huge, given that it looked like S. America scoring would be a reliable 8-10 VP each time after the early De-Stalinization).

So I play EEU for 4 OPs, all into Venezuela, putting it at 3/2.

Again the USSR response seems off, with Independent Reds to fill Argentina instead of over-controlling Brazil and/or repairing Venezuela. 3 US influence to Romania, and I take advantage with Warsaw Pact for 4 OPs to put Brazil at 3/2. USSR puts influence into Poland, E. Germany, and Czechslovakia.

Now the USSR decides to use Decolonization for the event, which is bad for me, of course, but hands Venezuela and Brazil over on a platter, which is great. Decol into Algeria, Nigeria, Zaire, and Thailand, which honestly isn’t all that bad either, given that I’m already in 3 of those countries and had no hope of getting to the 4th.

I unfortunately have to play Fidel for OPs (usually a space candidate) to control Venezuela, Brazil, and Algeria, handing over Cuba.

2 VPs to the USSR, as I’m short on MilOps.

Decent hand, OPs, a war for MilOps, Europe Scoring. Might use Puppet Governments to threaten Cuba, might space WWBY if it doesn’t get hit by Missile Envy (could hold it as a Missile Envy trap, but that seems unnecessary).

With no good headline and Socialist Governments in hand so it can’t be headlined against me, I decide to gamble on a Europe Scoring headline.

The USSR headlines Africa Scoring, so the gamble pays off. Lucky they didn’t have a non-battleground either, so no domination.