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Subject: No defcon suicide rss

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Oren Bernstein
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Proposal: if a player causes the defcon to reach 1, that player loses. (Instead of: if defcon reaches 1 on a player's action round, that player loses.)

Pro:
* Defcon suicide is a fiddly and annoying aspect of the game.
* It is unthematic.
* It occupies an important place in basic game strategy despie being lame.
* Nothing else in the game depends on this rule, so it should be easy to eliminate.
* It's a barrier to entry for new players, who will be frustrated by arbitrary losses.
* Any changes in balance can easily be offset by giving one of the players some starting influence.

Con:
* Can't think of any.


What do you think?
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Alex
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OrenBernstein wrote:
What do you think?

I think you should play a different game.
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Oren Bernstein
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Why is that?
 
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Alex
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Well, The tension that makes this game great comes from the DEFCON suicide. It is central to the game.

It is like suggesting to remove the capture of the king as a winning condition in chess. It would simply not be chess anymore.

I may suggest you try 1960: The Making of the President, which is very similar in gameplay but does not have that sudden death rule you seem to dislike.
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OrenBernstein wrote:
Pro:
* Defcon suicide is a fiddly and annoying aspect of the game.
I disagree: neither fiddly nor annoying
OrenBernstein wrote:

* It is unthematic.
Don't screw up and let the other side start nuclear war? Seems very thematic!
OrenBernstein wrote:

* It occupies an important place in basic game strategy despie being lame.
It's not lame! It adds to the tenseness that fits perfectly with the Cold War theme!
OrenBernstein wrote:

* Nothing else in the game depends on this rule, so it should be easy to eliminate.
Card play balance depends on the rule, doesn't it?
OrenBernstein wrote:

* It's a barrier to entry for new players, who will be frustrated by arbitrary losses.
I don't think it's arbitrary, although yes I imagine it could be frustrating if you don't know it's coming. But it should be emphasized by anyone teaching the game!
OrenBernstein wrote:

* Any changes in balance can easily be offset by giving one of the players some starting influence.
Perhaps, although I suspect it would take a lot of testing to figure out what the offset should be!
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Oren Bernstein
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afafard wrote:
Well, The tension that makes this game great comes from the DEFCON suicide. It is central to the game.
DEFCON is certainly central to the game, but losing the game because you gave the other player an op while DEFCON was at 2? That's a fiddly little detail.

DEFCON creates tension primarily by limiting coups and realignments. DEFCON suicide mostly promotes card memorization, not tension.

Furthermore, I've never heard of anyone trying to keep DEFCON away from 2 just so they can play these cards. Players drive DEFCON to 2 pretty fast, then send the suicide cards to space or whatever. Unless they can't and then they lose. So there's not much tension there.

I will check out 1960, though, thanks for the tip

snoozefest wrote:
Don't screw up and let the other side start nuclear war? Seems very thematic!
"In 1947, the CIA was created, giving the USA greater ability to affect events around the world. The US decided to use this power to intentionally trigger a nuclear war. Since it was the USSR's turn, the Soviets were blamed for this turn of events, and thus the Americans won the cold war."

The thematic rule, to me, is "you lose if you start a nuclear war", not "you might win by starting a nuclear war under a set of arbitrary conditions."

snoozefest wrote:
It's not lame! It adds to the tenseness that fits perfectly with the Cold War theme!
I honestly don't see how it adds tenseness. It just puts a bunch of cards out of the game while DEFCON is 2, and sometimes leads to annoying losses unrelated to VP or board situation.

snoozefest wrote:
Card play balance depends on the rule, doesn't it?
Any change to the rules would affect balance. This is the forum for variants, after all. Since the game is unbalanced to begin with (thus +2 to USA in tournaments), it doesn't seem like a huge concern.
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Jeff Thompson
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What do I think?

I would call a game of Twilight Struggle with this variant...

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?
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Unbiased Meeple
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I agree with the op.

To a further extent though, I found all of the cards to be fiddly and not thematic. The cold war wasn't won by the US and USSR splitting a deck of cards at the beginning of it...

I just simply sold my copy of it.

Pro tip: I got splendor because it is dripping with theme. Every choice has purpose and meaning. Go check out splendor!

(Proof is in my owned and previously owned list)


Edit: Dry humor above and not how I feel about the game.
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joe dagostino
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An interesting and simple suggestion!

Or perhaps all the cards that would lead to Defcon suicide should have warning labels on them detailing the play detail that leads to the end of game. I'm not big on card memorization.
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Alex
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OrenBernstein wrote:
DEFCON creates tension primarily by limiting coups and realignments. DEFCON suicide mostly promotes card memorization, not tension.

I would argue that having a hand of cards reduce because of unplayable events does create higher tension than DEFCON restrictions.

Also, memorizing the DEFCON suicide events is not as hard as it may seem since there are very few of them. Make a list and print it if need be, would be easier than changing the rules.

Twilight Strategy - DEFCON Suicide Cards
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Max DuBoff
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UnbiasedMeeple wrote:
I agree with the op.

To a further extent though, I found all of the cards to be fiddly and not thematic. The cold war wasn't won by the US and USSR splitting a deck of cards at the beginning of it...

I just simply sold my copy of it.

Pro tip: I got splendor because it is dripping with theme. Every choice has purpose and meaning. Go check out splendor!

(Proof is in my owned and previously owned list)

To be fair, you're objecting to the CDG genre and probably wargames in general, not TS specifically. That's totally fair; they're not for everyone.

I really hope your penultimate comment there was a joke, though. I love Splendor (I give it the same rating I give TS, and Splendor is actually in my Top 10 while TS isn't), but it's totally themeless.
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Unbiased Meeple
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MD1616 wrote:
UnbiasedMeeple wrote:
I agree with the op.

To a further extent though, I found all of the cards to be fiddly and not thematic. The cold war wasn't won by the US and USSR splitting a deck of cards at the beginning of it...

I just simply sold my copy of it.

Pro tip: I got splendor because it is dripping with theme. Every choice has purpose and meaning. Go check out splendor!

(Proof is in my owned and previously owned list)

To be fair, you're objecting to the CDG genre and probably wargames in general, not TS specifically. That's totally fair; they're not for everyone.

I really hope your penultimate comment there was a joke, though. I love Splendor (I give it the same rating I give TS, and Splendor is actually in my Top 10 while TS isn't), but it's totally themeless.
You must forgive my very dry sense of humor...

I do find both games fun. TS being a very thematic game (that my wife just didn't like very much) and Splendor being a fun but the most themeless game I could think of at the moment.
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Michael Valentine

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I love defcon suicide. It creates complications in how to manage your hand and how to manage the deck, which not only makes for a more tense game but also makes for a game rewarding better strategy. The other good thing about it is that when the game is all but lost, it's another possible avenue toward victory, even if there's but a small chance of forcing your opponent into triggering nuclear war.
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Tod Andrew
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Defcon suicide is more for gameplay than theme, in my opinion.

The USA or USSR probably believed that any nuclear war was a "loss", no matter which side started it. But for gameplay reasons there needs to be a "winner".
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Sam Carroll
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tod_13 wrote:
The USA or USSR probably believed that any nuclear war was a "loss", no matter which side started it. But for gameplay reasons there needs to be a "winner".

Not everyone believed that!

Thomas S. Power wrote:
Restraint? Why are you so concerned with saving their lives? The whole idea is to kill the bastards. At the end of the war if there are two Americans and one Russian left alive, we win!
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CD Harris
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OrenBernstein wrote:
afafard wrote:
Well, The tension that makes this game great comes from the DEFCON suicide. It is central to the game.
DEFCON is certainly central to the game, but losing the game because you gave the other player an op while DEFCON was at 2? That's a fiddly little detail.

DEFCON creates tension primarily by limiting coups and realignments. DEFCON suicide mostly promotes card memorization, not tension.

Furthermore, I've never heard of anyone trying to keep DEFCON away from 2 just so they can play these cards. Players drive DEFCON to 2 pretty fast, then send the suicide cards to space or whatever. Unless they can't and then they lose. So there's not much tension there.

I disagree completely. Brinksmanship is central to the game. Take away the possibility that you can lose by DEFCON suicide and that is gone. The DEFCON track limiting options doesn't really create tension. Yes, it simulates some of the effects of brinksmanship--the 'central' parts of the world are carved out because both sides 'realize' that they are inching toward mutually assured destruction and thus cannot risk confrontations in those parts of the world. But that's not tension; it makes for interesting decisions but is better described as a byproduct of the real source of tension.

DEFCON suicide, OTOH, forces you to think ahead about the consequences of your actions. You can't just play on autopilot, lest you find yourself unable to mitigate the DEFCON suicide card in your hand--you have to account for it and come up with a plan to deal with it as soon as you get your hand of cards. The fact that your opponent may force the issue by, say, making you discard further raises the stakes. Take this away and it's just an area control game.

OrenBernstein wrote:
"In 1947, the CIA was created, giving the USA greater ability to affect events around the world. The US decided to use this power to intentionally trigger a nuclear war. Since it was the USSR's turn, the Soviets were blamed for this turn of events, and thus the Americans won the cold war."

The thematic rule, to me, is "you lose if you start a nuclear war", not "you might win by starting a nuclear war under a set of arbitrary conditions."

That's rather too linear a way to look at it. Very few cards in the game represent such sharp, discrete turns of events. A more expansive way to look at it would be: "The USA founds the CIA. The USSR reacts badly to this new source of USA interference and spying and their subsequent actions push the world over the brink into nuclear armageddon."

Truly, thermonuclear war happening because the CIA came into existence is significantly less difficult to accept thematically than it happening because someone boycotted the Olympics or because of a Lone Gunman's actions. But direct thematic ties to the events themselves aren't the point. The idea is that, at DEFCON 2, the world teeters on the edge of destruction and anything can set it off (kind of like how a World War started "because" a relatively insignificant noble was assassinated in the Balkans--the incident itself didn't cause the major powers to go to war, it pushed a world already all but there the last inch).

OrenBernstein wrote:
snoozefest wrote:
It's not lame! It adds to the tenseness that fits perfectly with the Cold War theme!
I honestly don't see how it adds tenseness. It just puts a bunch of cards out of the game while DEFCON is 2, and sometimes leads to annoying losses unrelated to VP or board situation.

Again, no. It doesn't put them "out of the game." Quite the opposite: It makes them extraordinarily important to the game. Two superpowers trying to exert hegemony over a world on the verge of destruction must manage events--big and small--so as to further their ambitions without going too far. You can't play them, no, but that doesn't 'put them out of the game' any more than a pawn is out of a game of chess when it runs into another pawn and can't advance. To repeat: Brinksmanship is the essence of the game.

I certainly understand that this aspect of the game can be frustrating to new players. So is the Wargames card. That's why I think one should be forgiving about it with new players if they play a DEFCON suicide card that will lose them the game when they could have done something else. But once you know the game and how each of these cards can bring you down, DEFCON suicide an essential part of what makes TS what it is--and makes it such a terrific rendition of the theme into a game.
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Fred Shugars
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Could be an interesting variant. Has anyone tried it?
 
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Tod Andrew
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spartax wrote:
tod_13 wrote:
The USA or USSR probably believed that any nuclear war was a "loss", no matter which side started it. But for gameplay reasons there needs to be a "winner".

Not everyone believed that!

But importantly, it is what I believe.

And, by the way, it is what Reagan believed;
"In his autobiography, An American Life, Reagan wrote, "The Pentagon said at least 150 million American lives would be lost in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union — even if we 'won.' For Americans who survived such a war, I couldn't imagine what life would be like. The planet would be so poisoned the 'survivors' would have no place to live. Even if a nuclear war did not mean the extinction of mankind, it would certainly mean the end of civilization as we knew it. No one could 'win' a nuclear war."
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Jeff Thompson
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tod_13 wrote:
spartax wrote:
tod_13 wrote:
The USA or USSR probably believed that any nuclear war was a "loss", no matter which side started it. But for gameplay reasons there needs to be a "winner".

Not everyone believed that!

But importantly, it is what I believe.

And, by the way, it is what Reagan believed;
"In his autobiography, An American Life, Reagan wrote, "The Pentagon said at least 150 million American lives would be lost in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union — even if we 'won.' For Americans who survived such a war, I couldn't imagine what life would be like. The planet would be so poisoned the 'survivors' would have no place to live. Even if a nuclear war did not mean the extinction of mankind, it would certainly mean the end of civilization as we knew it. No one could 'win' a nuclear war."

EXACTLY, that's why if you are the one perceived to cause it... you lose. And by more than coincidence, the other player is thus the winner.

I'm not sure if you are quoting Reagan to support the OP or not here. I'm just pointing out that losing is not winning. And "history" is never written by the loser, but someone has to write it.
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Tod Andrew
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I'm suggesting that TS has defcon suicide for gameplay reasons (ie there needs to be a winner) rather than thematic reasons.

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tod_13 wrote:
I'm suggesting that TS has defcon suicide for gameplay reasons (ie there needs to be a winner) rather than thematic reasons.


This is true, yet it is also true for the "real" Cold War Game. The leader who would be the victim of an uncalled for nuclear attack or who would be coerced into pressing the red button would feel a victim rather than a loser. Winning was defined by both parties as removing the superpower status from their rival without starting a direct war.

So while actually starting a war would have been perceived as a loss by both superpowers, it is very likely the political elites of both countries would have dismissed their leader as a loser if he ever came too close to starting a direct war. Khrushchev's Cuban Crisis combined with his insistence on nuclear weapons played an important part in his loss of face which made possible his removal from office.
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I like that way of looking at it actually. Many players resign by reducing DEFCON and it makes more sense to interpret that as political defeat. Likewise, holding a scoring card would be gross incompetence wow. I may explain DEFCON 1 losses in those terms to new players rather than assuming global armageddon in future.
 
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H Sparks
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DefCon suicide is a complaint most players make after a few plays. Once you learn how to mitigate the instant loss then it makes play more interesting than annoying. I always tell beginners once your dealt your new hand the first thing you look for are the cards that effect DefCon and opponent events that give your opponent points to spend (on Coups at DefCon 2). That's pretty much the number one thing to do once you get your hand. And of course the next step is what Scoring Cards you have and what are still out there.
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James Cox
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snoozefest wrote:
OrenBernstein wrote:
Pro:
* It is unthematic.
Don't screw up and let the other side start nuclear war? Seems very thematic!


That is equally an arbitrary and unrealistic response as is the DEFCON suicide in the first place.
"Don't allow the other side to start the nuclear war" = losing, but "starting the nuclear war" doesn't equal losing???

That arbitrary loss is as stupid as, say, oh... let's play Rise and Decline of the Third Reich (Avalon Hill) and say that the Allies automatically lose the game before it even begins because (pre-game) they "screwed up" allowing Hitler to miscalculate the geopolitical situation thus plunging the world into world-war. Allies, you f-ups!

what kind of sick rules say that if you cause a series of events whereby your opponent chooses to press the button, YOU lose, not him?

Maybe TS should call DEFCON 1 a joint loss (a tie)? That would be very, very thematic (anyone here old enough to remember MAD?).
 
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James Cox
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Amuk wrote:
...DEFCON suicide, OTOH, forces you to...mitigate the DEFCON suicide card in your hand--you have to account for it and come up with a plan to deal with it as soon as you get your hand of cards...

You've accidently made his point, not refuted it.

"...you have to account for [DEFCON suicide] and come up with a plan to deal with it as soon as you get your hand of cards..."

This promotes card memorization just like the OP said. Not geopolitical thought, not military strategy, not economic competition, none of that. All what you said simply means, "uh-oh, I got that card again... with these other cards I also have, along with what I knowwas removed and what hasn't played yet, in addition to he didn't play Z, Y, or X as a headlining, means there is a 45.77789% chance that he'll play X next, and that'll suicide me. But I have found that if I hold the rabbit ears and lift my left foot above my crotch and the nearest window is open, I know I can get channel 13 nice and clear, even without paying for cable..."

Card Memorization. Nothing in that train of thought has anything to do with play replicating real-life, none of it considers what the Contras might want to do , defectors, did Congress authorize 15 CBGs in stead of 13, what's the latest crop report mid way through the current Five Year Plan, etc etc.

Never mind, most of you are probably right. Play a different game.

If one wants a card memorization game like playing the tables at Las Vegas, then play TS. If one doesn't like anti-climatic surprise sudden-death loses because your opponent lives in mom's basement and fell asleep each night memorizing all the cards, then go play something else.

I agree. None offense taken by that earlier suggestion, and none offense meant by my reiterating it now. Different strokes for different folks.

 
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