The Lost Game

I played a game a couple weeks ago that has yet to be posted. There were a few factors involved in the delay. As a dapper man about town, my social schedule can sometimes conflict with blogging about my adventures in the world of cold war political board gaming. Oh ya and the photos of the game are lost, and my logbook was lost for a few days as well :) So by the time I got sat down to do it, I had largely forgotten how things had gone down.

Fortunately(?) there was one thing that I did not forget! It was that I lost via DEFCON on turn 5!

Now that you’ve cleaned off whatever it was you were drinking from your monitor, I’ll continue…

If you are unfamiliar with DEFCON and “DEFCON suicide” there is an excellent write up here: http://twilightstrategy.com/2011/12/12/general-strategy-defcon/

The Game

I was playing the US again. After having lost the last game as US I insisted that I wanted to give it another go. The game was pretty close, with the USSR having a 4 or 5 point lead when I lost it in turn 5. I had made some good progress from the traditional USSR Early War lead, and while they had Asia, I was looking ok in the Mid War regions. In fact this game was shaping up to be one of the closer and better games that we have played. So much so that we discussed ignoring the DEFCON loss and continuing to play it out. However, I insisted that USSR take the win. It would be a good lesson for me, and there was more to the loss than simple stupidity (although that surely played a part :) ).

How? How could this happen!?! Specifically I ran out of cards to play while I had Lone Gunman in hand, and was forced to play it. The really unfortunate part of this though, was that I also held UN Intervention in my hand that same turn!!! So I was well equipped to get the game losing Lone Gunman card out of my hand during the very turn that I lost the game…. ridiculous!

I had carried Lone Gunman over from turn 4, and when I drew UN Intervention on turn 5 I thought that my prayers had been answered! However, the USSR headlined Quagmire and used his “extra turn” wisely to destabilize me in West Germany and Italy, and then score Europe. On top of being a good play in general, it caused me to momentarily forget my plan. If I didn’t take those countries back right away, he could proceed to put ops in and possibly take Europe for himself. I have Socialist Governments in hand, and I am thinking “Well there’s no way I can afford to play this now.” So I used UN Intervention to nullify the event, and used the ops to fix up my Europe situation. This brief mental hiccup cost me the game, as I had forced myself to discard (meaning I had no extra card to hold until the next turn), and I would be forced to play Lone Gunman with the DEFCON at 2, thereby losing the game.

It was a bit of a shame that a game, shaping up to be a good one, would end in a bout of stupidity, but that does go to show that you have to stay on your toes at all times in Twilight Struggle :) Also, even if you are down by 18 points on turn 9, you never know when your opponent will bungle his play and lose the game for himself.

Here is the complete record of the cards played.

Conclusion

There is a very good lesson here. While technically I played myself out of the game, it was the pressure applied by my opponent that caused me to lose. There are a lot of things going on in a game of TS. Most of the time you are sitting, looking at your hand, trying to decide which cards to play, what order to play them in, how to deal with your opponents powerful events, which region(s) need the most attention and so on. By applying a little bit of pressure in the right area to an opponent, you can really throw them off, and doing so is important.

If you are prone to tunnel vision and focus solely on your own agenda, you leave your opponent with one less thing to worry about. Give them something else to think about every now and again, and you may induce some calamitous mistakes. Obviously this game’s case is fairly extreme, but other smaller gains are possible, and quite helpful!

Phew! I sure managed to say a lot for a game in which I don’t remember a lot of the details!!