Twilight Struggle Session Report: The American Perspective, the Stunning Conclusion

June 24, 2012

You might remember that a few months ago Rick and I started a game of Twilight Struggle using ACTS and VASSAL (the first post is here and the second post is here). Today I wrap up my commentary. When we last left off, I dropped back a little to a ten point lead, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East were all hotly contested, and I had domination of South America and Africa.

Turn 6

U.S. Hand: 2/Grain Sales to Societs, 3/SALT Negotiations, 4/Muslim Revolution, 1/UN Invervention, 2/Voice of America, 2/Missile Envy, 2/Decolonization, 2/Nixon Plays the China Card, 2/Liberation Theology

This is a pretty mixed hand with a lot of 2 ops cards and some tough Soviet events to get rid of, but at least I’m in the lead at the start. Rick opens with Socialist Governments to pry me out of Italy, and I respond with Grain Sales to Soviets. Interestingly, I grab Central America Scoring, which I promptly hand back to him and use the 2 ops to shore up Italy instead. Now that we both know that Central America is going to be fought over in earnest, Rick plays Junta to take Italy. Thankfully, as I own Guatemala, it’s an easy matter for me to realign Mexico and eliminate Soviet influence there.

I think Rick sees the writing on the wall, so he scores Central America, which drops me from 10 to 9 VP. Then he grabs Chile with Allende, and I promptly follow up by using The Voice of America to eliminate any gains he may have made there. In the meantime, I’m using spare ops here and there to realign and take Zaire and S. Africa. Willy Brandt gives the USSR one more VP, and then Rick follows up with a successful roll on the Space Race Track (U.S. now at 6 VP). I’m seeing my lead slowly draining away, but I keep spamming ops into Africa, realigning to eliminate USSR influence, and the like. By the end of the turn, I’ve got control of Africa, domination in South America and Central America, and beat the Soviets to a draw everywhere else. And I’m feeling lucky…

The conclusion of Turn 6.

Turn 7

I won’t bother recounting my hand, because I pull two critical cards that will let me win the game if I play them right. The first is Duck and Cover! The second is Africa Scoring. I gamble and elect to play Duck and Cover! This is a huge risk. DEFCON is at 3, and this card will degrade it to 2. Also, the Soviet card We Will Bury You! is still in the deck, and if Rick plays it, that will occur first in the headline phase, which will drop DEFCON to 2. Then my card event will occur, and nuclear war will start, which means I’m responsible and lose the game. However, I haven’t seen Rick play many high ops cards for the event yet, and I’m betting that if the card is in his hand, he doesn’t want to play the event and lose the 4 ops. So I go for it.

Truth be told, I don’t quite remember what Rick did on his headline or his first action round, but it didn’t matter. My headline occurred, I picked up 3 VPs, (U.S. now at 9), and then played Africa Scoring. With control of the continent, I pocketed 11 victory points, which brought me to 20 exactly, and I  won the game. 

The end of the game.

In the end, I think this was a very interesting game. With so many scoring cards being played in turn 4, we both felt rather free to place ops wherever, knowing that there were few scoring cards to bite us. Per usual, however, the U.S. won by playing hard in the Third World.

Rick commented that while he felt the game was helpful, nothing beats face to face play, and I’d have to agree. At the same time, if there is a game I’d like to play again via PBEM, it’s Twilight Struggle. With so many decisions to be and card interactions, it’s nice to slow down, use ACTS’ game journal function to keep track of what’s been played, etc.

In the end, I guess the world decided designer jeans and cheap fast food were preferable to a worker’s paradise…


Twilight Struggle Session Report: The American Perspective, Mid War

March 26, 2012

You might remember that a few months ago Rick and I started a game of Twilight Struggle using ACTS and VASSAL (the first post is here). Today I continue my commentary on the mid war. When we last left off, I had amassed a 12 point lead, but the Soviets were thick as thieves in Western Germany and the Americas.

Turn 4
U.S. Hand: 2/Decolonization, 2/Defectors, 4/Red Scare or Purge, 2/Formosan Resolution, South America Scoring, 3/U2 Incident, 2/Latin American Death Squads, Europe Scoring, 1/Kitchen Debates

Not a great hand. I’m still holding onto Decolonization because there’s been no breathing room with which to send it to the space race, and now there are two scoring cards to deal with. Crap.

Well, it’s still obvious that it’s time to headline Defectors (nothing like twice in one game!). Luckily, I stop Vietnam Revolts and southest Asia remains American for now. Amazingly, Rick doesn’t coup anywhere on the first action round, opting instead to spread influence in the Middle East, so I take my shot and drop my only 4 op card on Venezuela. I achieve success and manage to match the Soviets in South America. Rick answers with Middle East Scoring, which nets him 3 VPs (US now at +9). Confident that there’s not much I can do in that area, I spread more influence in Africa and score South America, netting no gain to either side. Meanwhile, Rick takes Pakistan and scores Asia, again resulting in no gain for either side. However, late scoring in Europe gets him 2 VPs (US now at 7).

With four scoring cards on the first turn of the mid-war, we both know that Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia will be the focus for the next few turns. This turn I’ve picked up four of five African battleground countries, but things look pretty grim in Central America and Europe teeters on the brink!

The end of Turn 4

Turn 5
U.S. Hand: 2/Decolonization, Southeast Asia Scoring, 2/NORAD, 2/John Paul II Elected Pope, 3/Quagmire,  1/OAS, 2/Cambridge 5, 2/Liberation Theology, 3/Breznev Doctrine, China Card

Again, not a great hand, mainly because of all the low ops. Quagmire is going to be a bear to get rid of (no pun intended). I take a gamble, knowing that at least Vietnam Revolts is out of play, and headline Southeast Asia Scoring. Rick picks Lone Gunman and successfully coups Zaire. I get 3 VP in SE Asia (US now at +10).

During the action rounds, we spend a lot of influence for control of West Germany…and yes, I’m still kicking myself for letting Blockade happen. I realize far too late that the Soviets just have more ops, and eventually focus my attention elsewhere. (By the end of the turn, West Germany will have 11 Soviet influence points and 7 US points. Rookie mistake on my part.) Thankfully, Rick plays Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You, and I get rid of Quagmire in favor of Brush War. While the war I ignite in Mexico fails, I later place influence in there to get to Guatemala. This sets me up for some sweet (and rare!) realignment rolls at the end of the turn, which leads to an early Soviet exit from Mexico. Booyah! The Americans also catch a lucky break as the Soviets have to Bear Trap themselves. As the turn comes to a close, I’ve made Central America a fair fight, and South America and Africa are under US domination.

The end of turn 5.

Next up…the stunning conclusion!

Twilight Struggle Session Report: The American Perspective, Early War

February 13, 2012

A few months after Rick and I concluded our Washington’s War play-by-email showdown, I got the itch to match wits once more. But flintlocks weren’t enough; ICBMs were needed. So we started a game of Twilight Struggle using ACTS and VASSAL in early January. And while I won’t give every last gory detail, I will be providing some commentary about our play styles and what we learned.

A coin toss determined sides; I settled into the virtual Oval Office as President Ron Jojers, while Chairman Rickatov moved his family to the Kremlin. We elected to play with the optional cards included in the third edition, but not with the “Chinese Civil War” variant. The initial card draw yielded the following hand:

U.S. Hand: 4/US & Japan Mutual Defense Pact*, 3/Warsaw Pact Formed*, 3/Duck and Cover, 1/Captured Nazi Scientist*, 2/Korean War*, 1/CIA Created*, 2/Defectors, 2/Olympic Games

Not bad! I like getting one-time Soviet cards out of the way early if possible.

Rick’s initial placement is standard: 3 influence points (ip) into both Finland and Poland. I counter with my standard placement: 4 ip into West Germany and 3 in Italy.

Turn 1
Man, I love Defectors as a headline. I immediately cancel Socialist Governments, which I think takes the wind out of the Soviet sails right away. We see the usual successful coup in Iran, but Rick uses Marshal Plan to do that, so I get early influence in Europe. I gamble and make my coup attempt in Iran, and actually manage to eliminate Rick’s influence there. He keeps placing influence around the Middle East, so I engage in more regime change and take Iran back for good. I am also lucky enough to get into Libya (this can be shut down by the play of Nasser, and it will get me in the back door in Africa later). Rick does have Middle East Scoring, and I use some Captured Nazi Scientist[s] to get ahead in the space race. Turn 1 ends with the US up by 5 victory points (VP).

The board at the end of turn 1 (click for a larger image).

Turn 2
U.S. Hand: 
2/ Formosan Resolution*, 2/Decolonization, 4/Red Scare/Purge, 2/Cambridge Five, 3/NORAD, 0/Asia Scoring, 1/Nasser, 2/Korean War, 4/China Card

Again, I’m feeling pretty good. The China Card got passed to me in turn 1, and I have Asia scoring. I held onto Korean War last turn, and I’m hoping to play it once I mitigate its effects by taking some of the nearby countries. The turn starts with Rick driving hard for Western Europe; he headlines DeGaulle Leads France, follows it up with influence to gain control, and seals the deal with Europe Scoring. We’re now at US +4 VP. Meanwhile, I try to mask my intentions by playing ip into Europe and Asia, splitting each card. I pick up India and Thailand before playing Asia Scoring. This nets me 6 more VP, for a total of US +10. Rick starts a weak coup in Thailand after I score the region, and I start a successful coup in Iraq, thinking ahead to the next turn’s reshuffle. Unfortunately, Fidel shows up and the Russians are now in Central America.

The board at the end of turn 2 (click for a larger image).

Turn 3
U.S. Hand: 
4/NATO*, 2/Olympic Games, 4/US & Japan Mutual Defense Pact*, 3/Eastern European Unrest, 2/Decolonization, 1/Nasser*, 2/Special Relationship, 3/De-Stalinization*

This is the turn where you shuffle the discards back in, and unfortunately, I received no scoring cards so I have little idea of what’s coming. Rick sees his chance and headlines Indo-Pakistani War, which fails, while I incite some Eastern European Unrest. I gamble again with a phase one coup, trying to drive Fidel out of Cuba, but it fails miserably! (Maybe I would have been better to re-align.) We each spread influence around the world; I get into Africa via Libya, while Rick starts uses De-Stalinzation to get influence into Mexico and Venezuela. We see no more scoring cards, but…gosh, I’m embarassed to admit this, but…Rick plays Blockade and I don’t have anything to counter. Whoops. Guess the Berliners starve, the President backs down, and the Soviets are all up in West Germany. Hmm…that’s a problem. However, the only VP change goes my way (“We have a Special Relationship with the Brits, don’tcha know”), and I get out of the Early War with a comfortable 12 point lead.

The board at the end of turn 3 (click for a larger image).

We’re in the thick of the mid-war turns now, so expect an update in a few weeks!

Washington’s War Session Report: The British Perspective, 1778-1779…and the End

November 2, 2011

This report continues the Washington’s War game between Rick and me.  Check out the links below for the previous parts:
American 1775
British 1775
American 1776-1777
British 1776-1777
American 1778-1779

Year: 1778
British Hand: Major Campaign, 1 op, 1 op, 3 op, 2 op, Hortelez,  Thomas Paine

Hm, this looks like a slightly better hand for moving troops around the board, but I still have to deal with American events. I open with Major Campaign, execute a landing party in Baltimore, and move Clinton down from Canada to Baltimore. Meanwhile Cornwallis and company move to attack Gates’ force in Alexandria, VA, where they win easily. Rick raises a decently sized American army in Delaware, so I bring more reinforcements into Baltimore (it’s now my central supply depot…). After some PC placement in Virginia, Cornwallis moves through Baltimore to get reinforcements, and proceeds to boot Lee’s army out of Delaware. After a few more PC placements, I am in control of Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and Canada. And as the year comes to a close, Maryland is soon to fall into my hands…

The end of 1778/start of 1779.

Year: 1779
British Hand: Minor Campaign, 1 op, 1 op, 1 op, Marblehead Regiment,  Thaddeus Kosciuszko Constructs Engineering Works, War Ends in 1779

Finally we see a “War Ends” card. Now I just need to time things correctly and victory should be mine. I take the initiative with a Minor Campaign and knock out the Continental Congress right away. Howe and his large army finally move out of Boston and take Rhode Island easily. Okay, 1 more colony in my hands and Rick has no easy way to place PC markers. Things are looking good. Rick raises troops in South Carolina, but I’m pretty sure he can’t do too much damage down there at this point in the game. So I begin placing PC markers in New Hampshire to distract him. He reinforces his New England armies and I start worrying Howe might get attacked, but I decide to keep him off balance by going on the offensive once again. General Burgoyne moves deeper into Maryland and knocks out Gates–at the end of the turn Maryland will now flip to British control.

As the turn is coming to a close, Rick comments “Where are all the ‘War Ends’ cards?” “Funny you should say that,” I reply, and play at long last The War Ends in 1779. The final tally is 8 British colonies to 5 American colonies. Rick probably summed it up best: “Poor America. Back to tea at 4pm, driving on the left side of the road, horse races run clockwise, and erasers called rubbers…”

This Washington’s War match was strange for several reasons. We never saw a single “War Ends” card until turn five, there were very few American attacks, and the British were very aggressive. Maybe this just goes to show us how replayable this game really is. We did have a lot of fun doing this, and hope that you, dear readers, found it to be a lot of fun too. Feel free to tell us all about our many sub-optimal moves in the comments. And look for more PBEM action to come!

The war ends. Victory!



Washington’s War Session Report: The American Perspective, 1778-1779

October 24, 2011

This report will continue the Washington’s War game between John and I.  See the links below for the other parts:
American 1775
British 1775
American 1776-1777
British 1776-1777
Now on to the next two years.

Year: 1778
American Hand: 3op, 1op, 1op, Nathan Hale, American Martyr, Lord George Germaine Offers Royal Amnesty, Jane McCrea Indian Atrocity Sparks Outrage, Joseph Brant Indian Leads an Iroquois Raid
I end up with several event cards this turn. That’s probably good since it looks like I may be without the Continental Congress this turn.

And the British start their advance with a Major Campaign. John moves his forces into Baltimore and takes out Arnold. I’m a bit confused why John didn’t just move straight into Delaware. So I take advantage and bring in some reinforcements there. But then the British advance slows. I use my events and the rest of my ops trying to add more American control to the board and reverse some of the British gains in the South. With no end to the war in sight and the British poised to pounce next turn, things aren’t looking good.

The start of 1779

Year: 1779
American Hand: 3op, 2op, 1op, 1op, Hessian Infantry Bayonet Charge, Lord North Offers a Royal Amnesty, Don Bernardo Galvez Captures Pensacola
Dang… three worthless event cards. I’ll have to be careful about how I get rid of the Lord North card I really don’t want to see that played against me. I’m still surprised we haven’t seen any the War Ends cards.

John is able to strike right away again starting with a Minor Campaign that targets Philly and the Continental Congress as well as Rhode Island. The Congress is dispersed and I’ve lost more colonies. The only silver lining is that I am able to discard the British events during the battles. Although, in hindsight I probably should have considered using them.

I then focus on a counter attack for next turn. I don’t have the strength this turn but I may be able to turn things around then next. My Generals are positioned to flip afew more PC markers at the end of the turn. The South is one turn away from really getting turned around. Hopefully I can turn it around in the next turn because right now it’s not looking so good.

Washington’s War Session Report: The British Perspective, 1776-1777

October 19, 2011

This report is my perspective of the next two years of the Washington’s War game with Rick.  The first two parts can be found here and here.

Year: 1776
British Hand: 2 op, 2 op, 1 op, 1 op, Minor Campaign, Hortelez et Cie, Josiah Martin Rallies Loyalists

As the British player, this is an okay hand. I really like the Minor Campaign, but the lack of 3 op cards is getting a bit frustrating. As Rick mentioned, he had forgotten to move Mr. Washington to winter quarters and thus has to spend his first card getting his army reinforced. I decide to move aggressively and send Burgoyne and company to Charleston, SC to kick out the pesky rebels. This is pretty easily done. After flipping and placing markers in both SC and MA to keep General Rick guessing, I land Cornwallis in New Bern, NC. Eventually this force moves to Norfolk, VA to kick Gates and his force out. Meanwhile, Rick is placing markers as quickly as he can in VA. He sees that I’ve locked up the South and is trying to set up a barrier of PC markers in VA to slow me down. But I will not be stopped!

The end of the 1776.

Year: 1777
3 op, 3 op, 2 op, 2 op, 1 op, 1 op, Light Infantry (discarded and picked up The Gamecock)

This is a hand on par with last time, and I’m happy about getting a fun British battle card too! It’s tempting to use the 3 op cards to move around some of my slower generals, but I think that Howe is best kept in Boston as an “army in being” and there’s not a lot of damage that Carleton can do up in Canada. So I use two consecutive plays of 3 ops cards to drop PC markers all over the place. Some of these are immediately countered (like my play in Genessee, NY), but Rick is countering by moving armies onto the spaces and letting them sit there. That just means fewer armies coming south to deal with my heavy hitters.

I move Burgoyne and his small army to Charlottsville, VA, hoping Rick will attack, and attack he does! We both lay down combat cards, but I get the better of him. Then it is time to move Cornwallis further north. The year ends with an American army popping up behind me in SC, but I can at least bring in reinforcements down there to deal with it.

At the end of the year, I feel like the game is starting to swing in my favor…

The end of 1777.

Washington’s War Session Report: The British Perspective, 1775

October 8, 2011

As mentioned in Rick’s previous post, we played a game of Washington’s War via ACTS and VASSAL from August to September. What follows is my perspective during the first turn.

I’ve played the Americans far more than the British (6 v.s. 3), so I decide to play against type and choose the forces of the grand 18th century empire. Rule Britannia, down with the rebels!

British Initial Marker Placement (For the King!):
Wake, NC
Fort Niagra, NY

My strategy here was to open up the backcountry a bit up north, and to force Rick to keep spending points in North Carolina to keep up with me.

Year: 1775
British Hand: 2 ops, 2 ops, 2 ops, 1 ops, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Line Mutinies, Nathan Hale: American Martyr, Benjamin Franklin Appointed Minister to France

Ick, ick, ick! Already I have no good way to move generals Carleton (Quebec) and Howe (Boston). This means Clinton will likely stay in the leader box too. Also, I’ve got to deal with two American event cards. The Mutiny card is a godsend, however. I’ll wait until near the end of the turn to ditch Nathan Hale and hope Rick doesn’t have an ops card to snatch it up.

I’m a little surprised that Rick’s first play is to raise an army in VA; this is usually the time to start plunking down political control (PC) markers right away. I adopt the southern strategy and bring General Burgoyne and 3 combat units (CUs) into St. Mary’s, GA. My plan is to lock up the larger southern states first, then strike north from a position of strength. I spend the next few card plays locking up all of Georgia and linking up to the Loyalist backwater towns in South Carolina. (In hindsight, it would have been better for me to cause Rick’s lines to Mutiny first…this was a misstep on my part.)

By the end of the first turn, I’ve got a pretty strong position, holding GA, SC, NC, and Canada. While it isn’t enough to win the game at the end of 1775, it’s about what I hoped for. And Washington’s failure to move into winter quarters just makes me smile a bit. The only downside is that the French Alliance track is moving in the wrong direction…

The end of turn one...

Washington’s War Session Report: The American Perspective, 1775

September 29, 2011

Over the next week or two John and I will be posting a session report of our recent game of Washington’s War. We decided to play-by-email (PBEM) using ACTS and VASSAL for a few reasons. First, it gave me a chance to use VASSAL. I’ve used Cyberboard in all of my other PBEM games but hadn’t tried VASSAL yet. Second, as John and I have both mentioned before, PBEM is a great chance to dive deep into a game and understand the rules. This was especially helpful for me since John has a few more plays of the game than I do. Third, we are both busy guys so getting together for a game can be tough. Playing this way allowed us to get game turns in between work, family and other obligation. Finally, it allowed us to take some notes as we played so that we could post a bit more in detail session report… so here we go!

Washington’s War: John vs. Rick
John chose the British forces and I took the Americans. I have only played as the Americans so far so I felt pretty comfortable with them.

American Initial Control Placement:
Savannah, GA
Camden, SC
Salem, NC
Richmond, VA
Frederick Town, MA
Reading, PA
Morristown, NJ
New York, NY
New Haven, CT
Falmouth, MA
Concord, NH
And RI and DE
My initial placement strategy was to put in places where the Brits would have to work to get them back. A specific example is Falmouth, MA. If John wanted to flip that he’s going to have to move somebody over there and I don’t think he would expend resources to do it. I soon realize I probably should have covered some of the ports better to prevent Brits from showing up where I don’t want them.

Year: 1775
American Hand: 3op, 2op, 1op, 1op, 1op, 1op, 1op
This hand highlights my biggest problem with this game. The deck of cards is very large because of the separation of events, end of turn, battle cards, and operation points. This means hand you are dealt each round can vary wildly. In other games you can usually do damage control with each hand, but I find this game less forgiving. But it’s early in the game so time to just start plopping down control markers.

I choose to go first and put Arnold and 3cu to Alexandria, VA, to protect the Congress from the south. Then with my 2nd card I put PC markers into Baltimore and Long Island to protect my ports. Playing my only two big cards right away my have hurt me but I wanted to start off strong. I’ll bring in my other reinforcements later when I have a better handle on what John is up to. I put down another PC marker and then John hits me with Pennsylvania and New Jersey Line Mutinies – no more PC markers this turn. I bring on Gates and 1cu to Albany to put a speed bump in the way from any northern aggression. I then move Arnold down to Norfolk, VA, to flip that at the end of the turn. John discards “Nathan Hale, American Martyr” but I can’t grab it with my remaining 1op card so I just discard it. John then is forced to play “Benjamin Franklin: Minister to France.”

The game board at the end of 1775. So far so good.

Then John points out my big mistake: I forgot that Washington is not in a Winter Quarters space so Washington is now down to 2cu. That discarded card DID have a use and I missed it. But with the French Alliance up 4 spaces I’ve got my sights set on the lone unit in Fort Detroit.

I’ll pause here and let John update you on his side of the story.

PBEM v.s. Jason of Point 2 Point, Late 1758…and the end.

August 29, 2011

Over the course of the summer, Jason from the Point 2 Point podcast and I continued our leisurely but regular pace in our Wilderness War match via PBEM. You may remember that I cut the French turn down to size  in the first turn and consolidated my gains in the second turn, but a daring foray by Jason into New Hampshire set me back on my heels a bit in the third turn. However, things started looking up in late 1758.

1758 Late Season Hand (British)
Provincial Regiments/2, Cherokee Uprising/3, Fieldworks/1, Ambush!/1, Call Out Mililtias/1, Northern Indian Alliance/2, Colonial Recruits/2, Stingy Provincial Assembly/2, Mohawks/1

(Similar to turns two and three, I have no British regulars coming across the pond to help me. Looks like my provincials will have to make do with some Mohawk allies. I begin to despair of ever making substantial gains.)

We open the second half of the year with General Levis and his French army hightailing it for the Green Mountains to avoid getting attacked after their dastardly foray into New Hampshire (which put Jason up to French +1 VP at the end of last turn). I play a card and activate General Monckton, who again misses his opportunity to breach the thick walls of Louisbourg (now renamed Minas Tirith in my mind).   Then panic strikes me and my hardy British troops as the French land their reinforcements at Quebec! This means I’ve got a decent sized force breathing down my neck.

But then…annus mirabilis indeed! I make one last desperate push to take the Impregnable Fortress of North America ™ and…Monckton gets the job done and TAKES Louisbourg. The British rejoice (+3 VP to me) and my lobsterbacks are now up 2 VP. Jason sees the writing on the wall and leaves one regiment at Quebec as a speedbump as the other two join his main force at Ticonderoga. He then moves my provincial assemblies to supportive from enthusiastic to stop any further British provincial regiments from being raised. In the meantime, the Mohawks ally with the British. I plan to do a bit of raiding up north if I can spare the cards.

A bit later, General Levis heads back into New Hampshire to beat up on Loudon, one of my worst generals, and a lonely detachment of British regulars. I’m thinking he’s hoping to take another stockade and defeat my troops in battle to boot. I let him move into my space, call up the militia, and play Fieldworks in a desperate attempt to fend him off. Jason rolls the dice, checks the results table and sees that, yup, my worst general just beat his force (British now at +3 VP). They retreat in shame, and Jason concedes the game, knowing it’s pretty tough for his French to snatch up 4 VP in two more hands.

And thus ends our blog v.s. podcast smackdown. It was a lot of fun, but I will admit that a lot of card draws and dice rolls went my way. Jason is a good-natured and talented opponent, and I greatly appreciate him taking time to play me. And there’s already talk of a rematch…

The last battle. While I feel sorry for Jason, I did have to laugh at his consistently bad dice-fu. Nothing can explain it

The final map. The British take Louisbourg and only inch up the Hudson Valley corridor, but it's enough to send the French a-runnin'.

PBEM v.s. Jason of Point 2 Point, Early 1758

July 26, 2011

Well, it seems Jason from the Point 2 Point podcast and I have hit a leisurely but regular pace in our Wilderness War match via PBEM, finishing a turn every three to four weeks. I achieved some substantial gains in the first turn and consolidated them in the second, but the early campaign season of 1758 turned out to be a head scratcher of sorts.

1758 Early Season Hand (British)
Campaign/3, Western Indian Alliance/2, Coehorns and Howitzers/1, Bastions Repaired/1, Rangers/1, Northern Indian Alliance/2, Indians Desert/2. Amphibious Landing/1, Call Out Militias/1.

(Like last turn, it seems that the reinforcements have largely dried up. Still, I should be able to get a lot done with this hand. I held the Amphibious Landing over from last turn, so let’s try that out.)

Jason opens by playing British Ministerial Crisis, hoping to snag a reinforcement card out of my hand and drop it in the discard pile; as I don’t have any, this has no effect. Breathing a small sigh of relief (I just know that next hand I’m getting tons of reinforcements), Wolfe moves north at a cautious pace, heading first to Hudson Carry North to link up with a small garrison left there over the winter. Jason tries again, playing Smallpox on Wolfe’s force. Unfortunately for him, he rolls a 1 and I only reduce one of my units. My response is to raise another regiment of rangers at Hudson Carry North and quietly chuckle over his bad dice rolling.

A bit later, Montcalm and force move south to Ticonderoga. I raise Northern Militia, hoping to beat back the raids I imagine will come at some point. However, Jason shifts his focus to the western frontier and Indian raiding parties start  filtering south. To combat this, I build stockades in Easton and Concord. Eventually a few raids are launched against my string of stockades, but Jason’s bad dice rolling continues and they fail. Using the campaign card I received at the start of the turn, I move Loudon and a small force from New York to New Hampshire to help with border defense. I use the other half of the campaign card to activate Monckton in Halifax. His small army performs an Amphibious Landing and lays siege to Louisbourg, where there are no troops but there is one leader, Drucour. In previous games I’ve never seen the French player sacrifice a leader in a siege, but here it makes sense: Louisbourg’s fortifications already mean I’ll be rolling on the siege table at a disadvantage, and the wily Drucour makes it even harder.

However, I have an ace up my sleeve…Coehorns and Howitzers. I reveal this on the next card play and hope my doughty Britishers can batter down the fortifications. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite turn out that way, and Monckton’s force ends the year outside the city. And it is here, my friends, that I had made my mistake. I had two card plays in the season that were actually double card plays: first the Campaign which required me to also play Amphibious Landing, and then the activation of Monckton’s besieging force with the Coehorns and Howitzers card played alongside. This left Jason with two cards and no threat of a British response.

So he did something quite dastardly; he detached Levis and a small force from Montcalm’s  huge army at Ticonderoga, marched east, tromped into Charlestown, NH, and burned a stockade to the ground. And Loudon, who was also in the area, did nothing. Typical.

We ended the turn at +1 French VP. And I wept big salt tears, shook my fist at the sky, and swore revenge…

The map mid-way through 1758. Click for more detail.