Twilight Struggle PBF, Benkyo's private thread

This is the companion thread for the public one, in which I will write the reasons for my moves as they are made, in the hope they will be informative for anyone learning the game.

That of course means this thread should not be read by anyone participating in the game, and I’m hoping for anyone interested in TS to be participating in the other thread, regardless of how experienced they are at TS, so really I’m hoping no-one will read any further until the game is over.

1 Like

Setup. I rarely have any reason to deviate from my default setup for USSR, unlike the US setup where you can have a few more things to worry about.

So, 4 in E Germany, 4 in Poland, 1 in Austria just to keep the US setup honest - threaten Italy from the one country not affected by Independent Reds event.

The extra influence in the battlegrounds is necessary because of the ways the US can mess with them - East European unrest and Truman now, and John Paul II and Tear Down This Wall later on.

For the US, my default setup is 4 in W Germany, 4 in Italy, 2 in Iran. Best possible protection for the W Europe battlegrounds, and presence in the Middle East. Only 3 in Italy would be more vulnerable to a Socialist Governments headline or just a 4 OP opening coup.

That said, 4 in W. Germany, 2 in France, 2 in Italy, 2 in Iran is something I have to try more. It’s based on the idea that excess OPs are wasted if your opponent never coups there, and I think the idea has merit.

1 Like

My hand:

Nice hand, lots of OPs. Big problem is Duck & Cover and Five-Year plan in the same hand, as well as US/Japan.

Minor problem is not having any of the access cards - DeStal, Decol, Vietnam, Nasser. I hope one or more turn up in Turn 2. For now, I’ll have to brute force my way in.

CNS is my best headline, the others don’t do anything for me. Space race is like the 7th region - any VPs I score in it are denied to my opponent, and I really want to race to those tasty abilities further down the track.

I will probably open with a Nuclear Test Ban coup.

Maybe play D&C if I get the chance early, space US/Japan or FYP, and hold the other. I might have to space D&C, hold FYP, and play US/Japan? But that would be terrible. If my first space roll works, I’ll be able to space again, which would be better. Another reason to headline CNS. If not, maybe even worth using the China Card in Turn 1, if I really want to gamble on not drawing CIA or gaining any Mid War battleground influence.

1 Like

Headlines: CNS, ME Scoring

Well, ME scored already, and only 3 influence in Italy is like an invitation, so coup with Nuclear Test Ban. The odds are in my favour - only need a 3 or better to secure W Europe battleground access.

Coup Italy with 4 OPs: roll 5, Italy 0/2

Nice start. Just have to keep the pressure on Europe and hope my lack of access to Asia doesn’t hurt. Maybe I’ll have an opportunity for a China Card coup in Asia, or gamble on Indo-Pakistan War.

1 Like

US: Marshall Plan for influence: France 1/0 Malaysia 1/0 Afghanistan 2/0

Normally I don’t like playing to Afghanistan, but in this case it has certainly given me something to think about.

Due to Truman, I can’t immediately contest France without using US/Japan or the China Card, and I’m not willing to do either with the focus on Asia.

I can no longer try a Duck & Cover coup of Iran. I could coup Malaysia.

My lack of problem-free AR is the issue. I have 3 cards I do not want to play (4 if I count the China Card), and “only” 3+2+2 other OPs. This suggests to me a use of D&C now, while it’s possible and only worth 2 VPs to the US. The only use right now though would be a Malaysia coup.

It is tempting to secure Iraq and Italy (against a Truman push) or put a point in France and S Korea and just see what happens. Give up one of Thailand/Pakistan, coup the other with the China Card. That invites the US to claim both, by first degrading Defcon with a coup of a 3 stability country, but that would be a waste of an AR and OPs, so I think I’m OK with that.

Of the available options, USSR: Fidel for influence: France 1/1 and S. Korea 1/1 seems aggressive and flexible, so that is what I do.

1 Like

US Warsaw Pact for Influence: France 3/1, Malaysia 2/0
Warsaw Pact in effect: Austria 0/3, E. Germany 0/5, Poland 0/6

Space Duck & Cover: roll 4, advance

That’s a wasted OP in Malaysia, but a sensible defence of France. The influence in Austria is nice, putting me 1 OP away from Domination. However, given the defensive play from my opponent, I decide to play it safe and get rid of the most onerous of my cards. The roll was good, so I’m free to space FYP too, if I don’t end up using the China Card.

The US has to coup somewhere this Turn, so perhaps I’m leaving it a little late to protect Iran? There are just too many places I want to play OPs - Italy, Austria, Iran, S. Korea - but I also have to be sure I can respond to a push into Italy, for example. Anyway, it seemed prudent to get my compulsory Space race action out of the way. I would prefer to have been able to space FYP, but if I had rolled a 5 or 6 that could have ended up being awkward.

1 Like

US Nasser event, followed by 1 OP coup: roll 1

Sensible play, gets around the 3 stability coup problem, attempts to neutralise Nasser, but unlucky.

Now I have another dilemma. I don’t want to give them another shot at Egypt and +1 VP, but again, AR (and now OPs) shortage… Panama is my best coup target, as the odds aren’t in my favour for Iran. Asia is theirs for the taking now, and I still have to defend Italy and top up Austria. I still don’t want to use Indo-Pakistan War, as even though there’s no point gambling on a 6 to take Pakistan, it is still a deterrent to taking India.

COMECON 3OP coup in Panama: roll 6, Panama 0/3

The dice do seem to be on my side for now. Next ARs will likely be another space race, but US/Japan instead of FYP, and Indo/Pakistan War to top up Europe. Now I hope to draw Asia Scoring and discard it with FYP next Turn, instead of hoping to draw UN Intervention to play US/Japan. The risk now is that I also draw CIA, but gambling is fun.

1 Like

US CIA for influence, Thailand 1/0

Well, that makes holding FYP much safer.

US/Japan to space race: roll 4 no advance

1 Like

US Spaces Socialist Governments: roll 2, advance, 1 VP

Well, perhaps I needn’t have worried about US domination of Asia. Even so, FYP seems worth holding onto. Time to shore up Europe and gain dominance.

Indo-Pakistan War for influence: Italy 0/3, Austria 0/4

US Vietnam Revolts for influence: Thailand 3/0, Vietnam 0/2

Turn 2 Starts

Nothing to help me out in Asia, and no Asia scoring, which is annoying. On the other hand I have RSP, the only other remaining 4 OP, and Blockade. This strongly suggests an RSP headline and a near guarantee of clearing out W. Germany. The main risk is a Defectors counter, but I tend to not worry about that unless I’m headlining something critical like Decolonisation - nearly all headlines do something, and countering mine is just one possibility. Containment would also help the US hold onto W. Germany, but hopefully by getting a critical access card into the discard when I play Blockade.

That said, I have to look at the possible US headlines. It’s possible that gambling on the Cambridge 5 to get me into Asia is better, if Defectors is a likely headline.

Strong headlines:

Weak headlines:
Asia Scoring
Truman Doctrine
Special Relationship
East European Unrest

So, it does appear that Defectors is relatively likely. If the US has been dealt that, and not Containment, an RSP headline would be “wasting” 2 OPs over a C5 headline. But I also don’t want to deal with a full-strength Turn of Containment…

Not headlining RSP would allow me to open with an RSP coup, which would allow the possibility of playing NATO after Special Relationship.

But what would be worse? Losing 2 OPs to an RSP+Defectors combo and activating Special Relationship early, or maybe getting 1 OP into Asia but dealing with +5 OPs to the US with a C5+Containment combo. Tough call.

1 Like

USSR headline: Red Scare
US headline: Europe Scoring -6 VP

Wow, didn’t see that coming. I suppose I should have added it as an option in my “weak headlines” list, but it honestly didn’t occur to me with France still uncontrolled. I’m glad I decided to ignore my extensive analysis and just go with Red Scare. This Turn could be interesting. Maybe they have a really bad hand?

Asia Scoring, UN Intervention, Special Relationship, NORAD, and 4 USSR cards, at best? I do hope Red Scare forces them to play something they wanted to space.

NATO 4 OPs coup Iran: roll 3: 0/0, Defcon 2, 4 MilOps, NATO in effect

A simple game-plan this Turn. 2 OPs every AR, filling and pushing for BGs and Lebanon, then Blockade to clear W. Germany.

1 Like

US UN Intervention to play de-Stalinization for influence: Pakistan 2/0

Early play of UN Intervention for something that could have been spaced seems to indicate that they don’t have NORAD. Perhaps they don’t have any unspaceable 2OP USSR events. Going a card down early in a Turn is something I usually try to avoid, especially when not holding the China Card. Of course, in this case they can’t respond to Blockade anyway. They must hold Asia Scoring, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

USSR Olympic Games for influence: Iran 0/2

US Asia Scoring +6 VP

USSR The Cambridge 5 for influence: S. Korea 1/2, Lebanon 0/1

Makes Korean War high risk, and denies Middle East presence. Tempting to play Arab Israeli War for the event, but probably not worth the gamble.

I wouldn’t normally analyse this much, but at this pace I can look at my current best guess at cards in the US hand:

Possibly in:
Truman Doctrine (saved for impact instead of headlined)
Independent Reds
Special Relationship (saved for OPs/NATO instead of headlined)
Romanian Abdication
Korean War (high risk card to not UN, but maybe the forum are gamblers)
De Gaulle (space)
Suez Crisis (space)

Probably not:
Defectors (better headline than Europe Scoring)
Containment (better headline + could have been played before De-Stalinization )
East European Unrest (better headline + could have been played before De-Stalinization)
NORAD (could have been played before De-Stalinization)
Decolonization (better target for UN Intervention)

US Independent Reds for influence: Jordan 1/0

USSR Formosan Resolution for influence: Algeria 0/2

This secures a spot in Africa before Truman kicks me out of France, in case I don’t get De-Stalinization, Decolonization, or either of the Africa events. This is the last of what I considered to be my necessary defensive plays, so now I am free to play Blockade. Still holding FYP just in case I get dealt Asia next Turn, still hoping I don’t get CIA.

1 Like

Really enjoying this @Benkyo. I asked this in the other thread about you. Does Captbnut have certain moves you expect them to play?

1 Like

US Defectors for influence: Jordan 2/0

Well, that proves I shouldn’t put too much confidence into my predictions of cards held - I would have headlined this if I were the US.

Blockade for event: W. Germany 0/0

@RossM I think this AR is illustrative of why I shouldn’t try to predict too much. I might have a better chance of predicting a very skilled opponent, but even then I cannot usually know what pressure their hand is capable of, or what moves they are forced to make by their hand. Sometimes the next AR becomes quite predictable, like Pakistan 2/0 > Asia Scoring. Sometimes only one region is left to score, or your opponent (probably) only has access to a limited number of battlegrounds, and then it becomes easier to guess where the focus will be.

Right now, we have scored all three Early War regions, which means the entire board is equal value, with the small twist that next Turn only the Early War Scoring cards can be dealt. Given that, and although ME presence is worth 3 VP, I think I would have played Angola 1/0, Zaire 1/0, and Cameroon 1/0 on AR6 (so the USSR T3AR1 coup allows Algeria 1/0 in response). Also France 4/1. But I’m not predicting that the US will do these things, because the US is playing unpredictably! Also, there’s a little twist to the tale in that I have the rather nice problem of having run out of good coup targets, so perhaps the US doesn’t want to give me any (but I will just coup S. Africa, and be very happy if it flips or empties).


US Korean War for influence: W. Germany 1/0
Korean War: roll 6: S. Korea 0/3, -2 VPs

I don’t have any great options if I still want to hold Five Year Plan (and I kind of do) while Truman is still out there, so I just

USSR Arab-Israeli War for influence: W. Germany 1/1, Libya 0/1

US Suez Canal Crisis for influence: W. Germany 3/1
Israel 0/0, France 1/1, UK 4/0

I would definitely have spaced that myself. 2 OPs for a 4 influence loss, and the risk of a Europe Scoring without presence, and Special Relationship neutered unless drawn.

-2 VPs for MilOps

Turn 3

A reshuffle is an interesting point in the game, because you know that all the cards in the deck you haven’t seen are definitely in the opponent’s hand.

Cards I now know the US has:
Special Relationship

Cards the US now knows I have:
De Gaulle Leads France
East European Unrest
Five Year Plan
Romanian Abdication
Truman Doctrine

Very good draw for the US (well, at least half of it is), and a pretty bad one for me. The main problem is that the US got both De-Stalinization earlier and Decolonization now, so my access to the Mid War regions is crippled. I have to hope I draw de-Stal before the US gets Panama Canal/OAS Founded/Puppet Governments/Junta, or maybe I will find a moment to pressure through Columbia. The other thing is that I don’t have a headline! De Gaulle is premature, and so is Romanian Abdication (because Independent Reds and Truman still haven’t triggered). I’m almost tempted to headline Truman, but that shouldn’t be necessary. I might be able to take France first.

Also, UN Intervention is just mocking me for holding FYP instead of US/Japan all this time.

Nothing fancy for this Turn, fill out the ME and space where I can. Use UN on EEU, finally give up on holding FYP. I’m not confident pushing into Asia with the strong US hand and the location of Indo-Pakistan War unknown.

1 Like

US Headline Containment
USSR Headline Romanian Abdication

As expected. This Turn will be rough. Romanian Abdication is just the best pick of a bad bunch. Truman will be played before Independent Reds, at least, and EEU effect will be reduced slightly.

I debated using 2 OPs just for the required MilOps, or 3 for better odds, and even an influence play into Columbia and Libya. My 1 influence in Libya and the fact the US can easily afford a 4 OP coup pushes me to the coup, and since there’s no risk of excess influence in S. Africa I should just go with the most OPs I can. 50/50 chance of removing the US from Africa entirely.

USSR COMECON to coup S. Africa, roll 6: S. Africa 0/2, Defcon 2, 3 MilOps

Wow, the dice are being really biased so far this game.

No coup targets for future Turns other than Jordan…

1 Like

US NORAD for influence: W. Germany 5/1, UK 5/0, India 1/0

Giving me France seems odd. Maybe it’s a trap? I have the China Card though, and I don’t mind using it to hold France if I have to.

USSR De Gaulle Leads France for influence: France 1/4

France gives some more protection against Brush War for Italy, and adjacency for Algeria, as well as minimizing the effect of Truman.

1 Like

US Special Relationship: France 3/4 +2 VPs

I had planned to over-control France, making any aggressive push ineffective, but that would just encourage the US to use their abundance of OPs elsewhere. Since they know I have Truman, they might be tempted to break France repeatedly, but I’m confident I can respond using The China Card, and in fact may have to to get a full Turn of OPs with two hand-size reducing events.

So, I invite the US to go for France (but I should probably have used Defectors to do it - hoping to space Defectors may be a little optimistic)

USSR UN Intervention, Eastern European Unrest for influence: France 3/6, Libya 0/2

1 Like

US Europe Scoring: -7 VPs

Well, there’s a nice surprise. I get to space Defectors after all. 2OPs to concede 1 VP isn’t terrible at this point, but advancing on the space race is important - 50/50 chance of 2 VPs, and closer to the very important “see opponent’s headline” ability, and the goal of “may discard one held card”.

USSR Defectors to space race: roll 4, no advance

1 Like