The Tao of Gaming

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Let’s Roll Part 1

Here’s the first part of a solo game of Labyrinth. I’m doing the “Let’s Roll” scenario, with the “double recruiting” option to make the AI more challenging. (It’s open to interpretation, so I said it was “Double recruiting, but not double placements from events/radicalization.”) I’m not documenting every roll, but I took decent notes. (This is a two deck game, if it lasts that long).

Turn 1 — In which the stage is set, mainly in the Gulf States

The US hand was – Abbas, Al-anbar, Taliban, Regional AlQaeda, Ethiopia Strikes, Renditions, Iran, Sanctions and Kosovo. A mixed bag. The Jihadis started by adding a cell (via Radicalization) and plotting in the Gulf States, so I spent Rendition to alert the plot (to avoid prestige loss), and played Abbas to set up the potential Quartet play. The Gulf States had a Jihad (driving them to Poor) and more cells popped up via Radicalization. The US had an election, but stayed at Hard posture. The troops in the Gulf States disrupted the cells, and Pakistan allied with the US. At this point a cell appeared in the US (!) so I spent both my one events to disrupt twice in a row, just to be safe. Israel withdrew from Gaza, so a cell popped up there and tried to plot. I ignored that and focused on Pakistan, driving them to good. More cells popped up (via my play of Regional Al Qaeda) Central Asia got a terror plot, but I let it go to discard the Taliban, which was just to ugly to play.

The turn ended with 8 countries at poor/Islamic rule, 2 at Fair/Good. Us was winning the resource war 3 to 1. Funding had fallen to 7, and Prestige had grown to 9 (10 being the breakpoint for +2 for War of Ideas roll).

Turn 2 — In which the world loves the US, but doesn’t help

The Jihadis opened by scheming in Israel. I looked down at my hand and saw — Predator, Quartet, Bhutto Shot, Mossad & Shin Bet, both Oil Price Spikes, the Gaza War, King Abdullah and Libyan WMD.  I used the Libyan WMD card to alert the Israelis, and played Bhutto Shot (to no effect, since Pakistan still had no cells) to disrupt. The Jihadis added more cells and used Iran to worsen the situation in Pakistan. I unleashed Quartet and King Abdullah, which dropped funding to 4, raised prestige to 12, and converted Jordan to a Fair ally.

The Jihadis did a bit of plotting (alerted with an oil card) and recruiting, and by this point the Central Asia area started attracting cells sniffing a major Jihad. Rather than intervening (risking a huge prestige loss if it fell while I was involved, like my last 2-player game), I tried to use my prestige to War of Ideas the Gulf States. I got them back to fair, but no further. At the end of the turn Central Asia was hit with an unsuccessful Major Jihad and besieged. I discarded the Gaza War. I was losing Central Asia, but I was pleased with the situation. Funding was low (3), Prestige was high (11). There were 11 cells on the board, but interestingly not a single “ally” had even tested posture.

Turn 3 — In which the TSA is useless, as expected.

The Jihadis opened with a Martyrdom Operation in Israel and then sent Clean Operatives to the US. I’m very lucky those didn’t happen in the reverse order, or I would have had two plots in the US. My hand was Fatwa, Detainees Released, Hizb ut-Tahwhatever, Homegrown, Special Forces, Jaysh al-Mahadi, Leak, Harari Killed and Patriot Act.

I wanted to alert the two plots in Israel (to keep the Abbas event in play), but since I’d already played Quartet and was worried about the potential US plots, I decided to let them pass. I only had two “3” cards, anyway. I continued woo-ing the Gulf States, to no avail. Israel suffered, and funding went back to 5. I figured that I’d disrupt the US cells after they went active. I didn’t have long to wait.

The AI drew Tony Blair, so used it to plot in the US (with no event). Both cells went active and failed. Next came Bin Laden, driving my prestige down to 5. The flowchart said that cells had to travel to Somalia and Central Asia, and at that point the only available cells were the 2 in the US and the two in Turkey. Since the US cells were active, they had priority and both fled the country … successfully. Your tax dollars at work. The good news was that I didn’t have to spend any cards at that point.

Harari Killed sent Lebanon and Syria to “Poor” governance, and I tried to influence the House of Saud, which failed but the graciously accepted US Aid. (“First hit’s free”). Central Asia (finally) succumbed to Jihad and, in celebration cells in Turkey and Somalia got there acts together. I played Hizb al-tahrir to drop funding to 5 (but the plots brought it back up immediately). I played Fatwa to trade a random card with the last Jihadi card, and I got Wiretapping for Homegrown, which the jihadi played to set up a cell in London. London tested (finally, Europe was involved!) to hard. I played special forces as OPs and added my fatwa reserve to disrupt the cadre in the Gulf States, then War of Ideas them, which converted them to Good Governance!

At the end of the turn, Funding was at 6 (“Medium”), Prestige at 7 (“High”), and I had 5 Good resources to 3 under Islamic Rule. Sure, Central Asia had fallen …

Turn 4 — In which the nuclear potato gets hot

The first Jihadi card was Former Soviet Union, a neutral event that sets Central Asia to neutral, irrespective of it’s current status. By a strict reading of the rules and flowchart, the AI would play this (and then use the OPs). However, I invoked “Duh, no”  to say that the AI would not play an event that removed an Islamic Republic from the board, so it was treated as a non-playable event. Cells moved around, Benelux went soft. Scandanavia, hard. Sudan had poor governance.

The US hand — Pakistani Offensive, H.E.U., Al-Jazeera, Ansar al-Islam, KSM, Schroeder and Chirac, Zarqawi, Kazakh Strain and Biometrics. It looks like I was about to reap the rewards of an Islamic Central Asia. I decided to get the WMDs into play ASAP (while there were no cells in the US). I played both HEU and Kazakh Strain for a War of Ideas in Jordan, getting no progess, but some AID. The Jihadi’s got two WMDs. My goal was to convert Jordan to Good (if possible), deploy troops there, then play Zarqawi for the prestige boost.

The Jihadi’s turned up Saddam(maxingout funding) then put a plot in the UK. I played KSM, which discarded the UK plot. It was WMD, so disaster averted and one of the WMDs out of the game. I drew two cards for KSM, getting the CTR and Zawahari. Looks like bonus ops, mainly.

I followed up by disrupting the UK cell. The Jihadi’s recruited more cells in Afghanistand and Central Asia, and electing hamas. I could discard a card without effect. I decided to get rid of Al Jazeera, since I’d almost certainly discard it at the end of the turn anyway. There was something to be said for keeping it, just in case I desperately need a 3 OP card. My prestige fell to 6 (“medium”) and now all 15 cells were on the board….

I succeded in shifting Jordan to good (6 Good resources, now), although I had to deal with Schroeder and Chirac, so the world was neutral.

The Jihadi’s travelled some cells, which brought 5 to Somalia … and the next card brought a succesfull major jihad! But the Jihadis were out of cards. I moved troops to Jordan, played Zarqawi (prestige to 9), improved the governance of Saudi Arabia (to fair) and the again (to good). There were now 9 good resources to 4 Islamic Resources, with the auto-win condition being 12 and 6, repectively. Funding and Prestige were both high (8 each).

Turn 5 — In which Americans learn where Yemen is

The Jihadis opened with a plot in Pakistan and Pirates! (Damn Somalia for just falling). My hand was Kemalist Republic, Iraqi WMDs, Moqtada al-Sadr, Al-ittihad, GTMO, Uyghar Jihad, Lebanon War, Ex-KGB and Backlash!

So I Backlashed the plot in Pakistan (funding dropped by 2, to 6) and played the Kemalist Republic to set Turkey to a fair ally. (If I get Turkey to good, then I can pick off the easiest country…). The Jihadis did their 3-stooges routine, running around and doing nothing, but did play Amerithrax to make me discard Iraqi WMD. I played Ex-KGB for a war of ideas in Turkey and failed, The Caucasus set their posture to soft, making the world soft and giving me a Grand War On Terror penalty of -1. I played al-Sadr to influence Germany, shifting their position. The World was now with me, and my prestige went to 9.

The next AI card was Saleh. This tests and shifts Yemen, which hadn’t be active all game. Yeme was now a fair adversary, and besieged. Some cells moved … and besieged regimes are a target, so Yemen got a cell. And then a plot. The press noticed, and some Danish Cartoons about Yemen caused another plot. Yemen decided to have a minor Jihad, for good measure. That failed, clearing up the cell.

I played two of my “Place Cells” on the board cards, since there was only one available cell. China thankfully took the same posture as the US, and I tried to improve turkey’s government and failed. The Yemenese plots drove terrorist funding to 9, and worsened Yemen’s government. Cells started flowing into Yemen and now things were getting ugly. There were also some plots in Scandanivia, but I couldn’t deal with that. A major Jihad in Yemen would be game over. (At least, I thought that. Now I see that it would have only been the 5th IR resource).

[Rules question if a travel From could be from either of two IR countries, there is no precedence to adjacent? Odd.]

I decided to Regime Change Central Asia (since it was 2 resources, and the other targets were all 1). I played GTMO to invade. The world hated it, I lost 4 prestige. Then the plots in Scaninavia went off, and terrorist funding was topped off again. Italy and Spain took the US posture, and Scaninavia and Germany went soft. The world was neutral.

With all the Cells on the board, the next card Radicalized for 3 ops. With no cells and no need for funding, the 3rd OP triggered an automatic downgrade of governance and Jordan fell to “Fair.” (Lesson learned, if you have a full board and funding topped off, 3 OP cards will kill you). I spent the last card disrupting in Central Asia.

The turn ended with Funding at 9 (thanks to Pirates, it didn’t fall), Prestige at 4, 8 Good resources to 2 Islamic Resources.

Turn 6 — In which things turn south

The Jihadis started off with an unlucky turn of cards … Adam Gadahn and Madrassas. The first card gets to recruit in the US based on the second card, which only had one op. No effect. Finally, a pause. I picked up the US hand.

Martyrdom Operation. Wahhabism. IEDs. Lashka e Yayyib. Kashmir. Loose Nukes. Axis of Evil. And to top it off, Abu Gharryab. 8 Jihadi events. And not the clowing around kind, like Adam Gadahn…ugh. My prestige was going to take a nose-dive. Given that Axis of Evil causes a random prestige roll, I wanted to save it for later. (What was the point of raising it if all the events would lower it?) I started with Abu Gharyab to influence Jordan back to Good (which worked! I needed a ‘6’ and got it).  My prestige then fell to 2. I played Axis of Evil as the event first … my prestige fell to ‘1’, so I used the OPs to disrupt in Central Asia (prestige back to ‘2’). The AI didn’t make any plot rolls, but I then played Martydom operations (in India) and disrupted my prestige back to 3. I then played Wahhabism to disrupt again, and the event didn’t matter, since funding was already maxed out). The world, shocked at the attacks in India, shifted to a soft posture. The Jihadi’s played Jamaah Islamaya to add cells to Indonesia and then Jihadist Videos to get back to 15 cells on the board. All my disruption had gained me prestige, but the cells were re-appearing faster than I could kill them. I played Loose Nukes (no effect since there were no cells in Russia) and Lashkare e Tayyib (since no cells were left) to try to sway Benelux (no joy) and stockpile some reserve OPs.

The AI played Abu Sayyaf and then, apparently with a sense of humor, Moro Talks, which was just used to move more cells into Central Asia. I fluffed France to shift world opinion, which raised my prestige to 4 (back to Medium!). But I had to do it with Kashmir to Pakistan shifted from Ally to Neutral.

The Jihadi’s moved cells to Kenya (Soft) and Russia (soft) and Pakistan.  I played the last event (IEDs) and my reserve op to try to switch the Caucusus, and failed. And the turn was thankfully over.

Funding was at 9, Prestige at 3 (falling because there was at least one Islamic Republic). There are 9 good resources to only 2 I.R.s, so I’m still within striking distance of an automatic win, but all 15 cells are on the board (in 15 different countries! Good news and bad news, that). I dealt out cards for the next hand, which caused a reshuffle. That seemed like a good breaking point….


Written by taogaming

December 25, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Posted in Session Reports

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