The Tao of Gaming

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Labyrinth Strategy Thoughts …

… and yes, I’m giving you the benefit of my 1-4 record as the US.

As the US, don’t be in a rush to regime change. A Regime change will cost you at least one card/turn (in lost drawing ability) and unleash some terrible events (5, including Abu Ghurayb, Quagmire and Foreign Fighters). Mild nit-pick, why doesn’t Quagmire specify a regime change country with a tan marker (to indicate you are on your second turn).

If you already have prestige in the toilet, that may be a better time to RC a country? Why spend time raising it if you are just going to roll prestige again. Also, regime change tends to give you disrupt opportunities, which will let you raise it. And having 1-2 of the Regime Change helpers (particularly Sistani or Mass Turnout). There are also a few cards for the US that require no Islamist Rule that may tip the balance.

During the Early Game (at least in the Let’s Roll scenario) you can focus on hitting funding and waging War of Ideas in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. If you can get a country to “Good” fairly quickly, it’s a huge bonus and you may be able to chain countries like dominoes to either get to 12 or have enough resources to win at the reshuffle.

The Jihadis want to force a regime change on their timetable. Remember, if you can get a country to Adversary and start massing cells, the US has to wait for the Jihad to succeed. They can’t disrupt (unless they already had troops stationed there) and can only pick at the country with predators and special forces. If you’ve kept Afghanistan and can build up towards Central Asia and a 3 resource country like egypt, you can threaten to jihad both of them and win. If you start in an Ally, though, the US can disrupt you there or move in troops. (If they move in a few troops, you may still be able to Jihad with a few extra cells, but they can disrupt twice as fast). Once the US regime change, keep enough cells in the RC country to prevent a War of Ideas, and then use the rest of your cells to go Jihading. While the US can, in theory, handle two Regime Changes at once, it requires troop redeployment and overstretches the US.

My 3rd game turned into a race for the auto-win. The US quickly got the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and one minor country to Good (9 resources), while Central Asia had fallen. However, when the Jihadists started flooding into Iraq, I had to Regime Change ASAP to prevent the Jihadi auto-win. This cost me prestige, and slowed my War of Ideas, so the Jihadi just concluded Iraq and then grabbed another country before I could extricate myself. Possibly I should have gone into overstretch immediately, and I may have recovered, but that would have been a poor position.

Anyway, I think that’s the grand theme of the first scenario. Minor tips:

  • [Both] Make use of double impulses to setup unblockable moves. In theory, with Mass Turnout, you can invade, test to fair, and end the regime change before your opponent can play one event.
  • [Both] Getting Counties into/out of adversarial status is a big deal.
  • [Both] As always, if things are desperate by all means take the luck shot.
  • [US] You have a few more events that draw cards, and can hold a card. Unless tempo is desperate you want to hold for the last play (or keep a card). In the early game you can often get a turn with 8 cards to 10, which gives you 4 unanswered plays, which is a good time to clean house.
  • [Both] Reserves seem much more important to the US, since you’ll need to alert or play 3 OPs to War of Ideas a poor country. Often the Jihadis don’t really mind recruiting 1 then 2 versus three at a time, but saving up 3 OPs does gain some initiative.
  • [Ji] Get some operatives into the US. At some point your funding will take a dive and any successful plot in the US sets funding to 9 (or auto-wins). Feel free to take the slow train via Europe, which will like seed the world against the US posture (if it’s hard).
  • [Both] The number of pornographic jokes you can make is limited only by your imagination. (Jargon — War of Ideas to harden a non-muslim country is ‘fluffing.’)
  • [Both] Be aware of Leaks. It’s a prestige roll (which is usually against the US) but also a posture roll. These can be devastating to either side. As the US, I don’t go out of my way to strengthen world position past 3, since I don’t control my posture. As Jihadi, if the US is already at very high prestige and/or matched with the world, it’s usually worth the risk. However, letting the US get away with the leakable events (Wiretap, Renditions and Enhanced Measures) will usually mean a blow to the Jihadis. There are two leaks, but three triggers, so if you see one leak go by, it’s probably worth it (as the US) to allow all triggers, at least in the last deck.
  • [Both] Knowing the deck will help. Can’t be avoided, so a few notes:
    • There are 2x of each: Sanctions, Leak, Iran, Oil Price Spike.
    • There are 3x of each: Martyrdom Operations, Predator, Special Forces, the “northern” WMD trio (each slightly different)  and leak triggers.
    • Neutral events can shift the following countries Sudan (shifts alliance based on US prestige), Central Asia (to Neutral and re-roll governance), Pakistan (Poor Ally), Yemen (shifts based on who played it, but can’t replace Islamic Rule). The US has events to set Turkey (Fair Ally), Jordan (Fair Ally),  and to remove Islamist Rule from Somalia or Sudan (to Poor Neutral). The Jihadis can shift Syria and Pakistan towards adversary (via event) as well as Saudi Arabia or an adjacent country with troops (via Al-Jazeera).
    • Because of Abu Sayyaf the Jihadis may want to wander a cell towards the Phillipines.
  • [Both] Remember the victory conditions. Installing Islamic Rule on the final turn means the only way the US can reverse the country is to get it to good (a tall order) or make sure you can still have double the good countries. My last game saw the US with a 5-0 lead, but then an (adversarial) 3 resource regime fell and I had to make a desperate War of Ideas in Morocco (the only realistic ‘2’ resource country) to win. For that reason, the ‘cassus belli‘ cards (that let the US invade without being an Islamic Regime) are worth noting, since it allows the US to invade a country before it falls, when it may be too late.

Right now I think that the Jihadis have a slight edge in Let’s roll, and the 1 player game with double recruiting is very hard, as my new game played today showed.

Written by taogaming

December 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Strategy

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  1. US:

    Immediately pounce on Fair Muslim countries. Those are the battlegrounds.

    Don’t regime change unless you have card support, overwhelming War of Ideas strength, or need to block an autowin.

    Dropping terrorist funding seems a lot less useful than building your prestige. If they’re at max funding and you’re at max prestige, you are way ahead. Cards are at least as big a source of cells as ops, if not bigger, and there are a few massive instant funding sources available.

    Disrupting cells in countries with opposite posture, or cells that can immediately be re-recruited, may not be a great move. Disrupting cells in Euro countries of your posture, or when funding is too low to re-recruit them, is much stronger.


    If a country is in regime change, do your best to keep it there — block war of ideas plays with sleeper cells.

    Know which countries have events that shift them, and don’t make a major jihad on them until you’ve seen those cards. (Pakistan is an exception, it’s always worth taking due to its central position and WMDs)

    Leave a sleeper cell in a Schengen country of the opposite alignment of the US in case of martyrdom. Don’t leave it in Britain.

    Don’t try to make a move on Jordan or Lebanon — the Mossad is ruthless. Only move into Israel if you have a guaranteed plot or martyrdom in mind, to wipe out Abbas.

    Be sure to dump a strong US card every turn with a plot. Plotting is not necessarily the best use of actions otherwise. As for which card to dump: avoiding losing cells or funding is not as important as blocking improvement in relations or governance.

    WMDs are probably best saved for martyrdom ops in the US. If you pick up the Pakistani stash, keep migrating guys from the Philippines into the US, or placing them in the US with cards; your goal is to always have exactly one sleeper cell in the US, which forces the US player either to hoard multiple 3-value cards, or to waste actions constantly disrupting the sleeper.

    Fred Bush

    December 29, 2010 at 1:20 am

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