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Twilight Struggle» Forums » Variants

Subject: Space Race - Auction Mechanic (based on "1960 TMotP") rss

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David Benito Richards
Spain
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I recently played "1960: The Making of the President" for the first time, and thought that the discard mechanic in 1960" is much more interesting than the Space Race in TS.

I started thinking if something similar could be implemented for TS. The Space Race is thematically very nice, but is very heavily luck dependent and does not involve any kind of player decision once you have committed a card to it. Also, I do not like the fact that the Space Race is almost impossible to complete.

So I came up with a variant that tries to do the following:

1. Advance on the Space Race is NOT luck dependent, but may be affected what the opponent does.

2. Creates opportunities for bluffing and decisions in the Space Race resolution.

3. The Space Race will be finished or at least, very advanced in most games.

4. No new components are needed.

5. The discarding and reshuffling mechanics are not tampered with (or only to the minimal possible extent)

So, here are the variant rules. Note that, for the sake of completeness, these rules include some sections that do not change from the original rules, e.g. the Special Abilities.

Comments are welcome.


SPACE RACE AUCTION VARIANT


Changes to the rules are as follows:

GAME SEQUENCE

E.1 Space Race Phase. Only on turns 2,4,6,8 and 10.
Resolve if any card(s) are in the Space Race area of either player’s board, according to the rules in section 6.4.
E.2 Check Military Operations Phase (unchanged)

6.4 THE SPACE RACE


6.4.1 Cards played for Operations points may be spent by a superpower to attempt to claim boxes on the Space Race (SR) track. To do so, in an Action Round, place a card face-down on the table, next to the active player’s side of the board. A card may only be played on a SR box if its Ops value (as may be modified by Events in play) is equal to or greater than the number shown on the currently unclaimed SR box closer to the beginning of the SR track. The card is not shown to the opponent and the event is not triggered. The cards played for the SR will be revealed and SR advance will be resolved during the SR phase of every even-numbered turn.

6.4.2 A player may only play one card per turn in an attempt to advance in the SR. Exception: SR Track Special Abilities and certain Events may alter this one-card limitation, or advance the superpower’s marker on the SR track. The players may agree to put their SR marker on the SR track as a reminder when a player has made his/her SR play this turn. This marker may be turned around to the “2nd Card Played” face when a player has made his second SR play in a turn (as allowed by a Special Ability).

6.4.3 Advancing along the SR track results in an award of Victory Points, a Special Ability, or both. Boxes that grant a Special Ability are termed “Ability Boxes”. Boxes that do not grant a Special Ability are called “VP boxes”.

6.4.4 The SR Phase is resolved in this order:

6.4.4.1 First, the player who is ahead on the SR track plays and reveals one of the card(s) he set aside for the SR on either one of the first two unclaimed boxes on the SR track. The event on the card is not triggered. A card may only be played on a SR box if the Ops value of the card is equal to or greater than the number shown on that SR box. Then, the opposing player does the same, and players continue this process back and forth until both players have played and revealed all their cards set aside for the SR.

If no player is ahead on the SR track, the first card will be played by:
i-) The player who played the most total cards on the SR. If still tied,
ii-) The player who is BEHIND on Mil Ops; if still tied,
iii-) By the player who has MORE Victory Points, if still tied
iv-) Both players roll a die and the lower roller begins. If still tied,
v-) Repeat step iv-) until the first player is determined!
Clarification: It is possible that a card may not be playable on any of the two boxes, e.g. if the player played the card in the previous turn and now he is under the effects of “Red Scare / Purge”. In this case, the card is played in one of the back-and-forth rounds, and immediately discarded without effect.

6.4.4.2 Second, the box closest to the beginning of the SR track is resolved. The player who played cards worth the most Ops points (as may be modified by Events in play) claims the box. Cards with neutral events and events friendly to the player are worth 1 more Ops points than their face value in this step. Ties are won by:
i-) The player who played the most total cards on this box. If still tied,
ii-) The player who is AHEAD on Mil Ops; if still tied,
iii-) By the player who has LESS Victory Points, if still tied
iv-) Both players roll a die and the higher roller wins. If still tied,
v-) Repeat step iv-) until a winner is determined!

6.4.4.3 Third, the winner claims the box by placing on it an Influence marker, Control-side up, and scores the Victory Points to the left of the slash (if any).

6.4.4.4 Fourth, the losing player places a non-control Influence marker on the box; and, provided s/he played at least 1 card on this box, claims the Victory Points to the right of the slash (if any).

6.4.4.5 Fifth, all the cards played for this SR box are discarded.

6.4.4.6 Sixth, the box that is furthest away from the beginning of the SR track is resolved, following steps 6.4.4.2 through 6.4.4.5 in order.

6.4.5. Special abilities are granted only to the player who claims an Ability box. The special ability is cancelled when the other player plays a card for the next Ability box in a subsequent SR phase, even if this player does not finally claim the Ability box. The special ability is also cancelled if the opposing player claims the next Ability box by play of an Event card.

Special Abilities are as follows:
Upon reaching space 2 (Animal in Space), the player is allowed to play 2 cards to the SR per turn (instead of the usual one).
Upon reaching space 4 (Man in Earth Orbit), the opposing player must select and reveal his or her Headline Event before the player with a “Man in Earth Orbit” makes his/her Headline Event selection.
Upon reaching space 6 (Eagle / Bear has Landed), the player may discard their Held Card at the end of the turn.
Upon reaching space 8 (Space Station), the player may (but is not obliged to) play eight (8) Action Rounds per turn.

The effects of these special abilities are immediate and cumulative.

6.4.6 If the final box on the SR track has been claimed, players may continue to discard “4 Ops value” cards to the SR. These cards will be discarded without effect in the next SR phase.

6.4.7 For the purposes of all rules and Events, the player who has claimed a SR box furthest away from the beginning of the SR track is considered to be “Ahead on the SR track”. The other player is considered to be “Behind on the SR track”.

Changes to Event Cards:

Change the wording of the following events:

Captured Nazi Scientist: Active Player places an Influence marker in the first box where he does not already have an Influence marker.

One Small Step…: If you are behind on the SR track, play this card to place Influence markers in the first 2 boxes where you do not already have an Influence marker. VP awards for the first box are ignored.


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David Benito Richards
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Example of actual play with this variant:

Turn 1: US spaces "Vietnam Revolts" during an Action Round (AR)

Turn 2: US spaces "Fidel" during an AR, and then plays "Captured Nazi Scientist" in a subsequent AR. US claims box 1 immediately.
During the Turn 2 Space Race resolution, the US claims boxes 2 and 3. USSR is still at 0. "Vietnam Revolts" and "Fidel" are discarded.
US gets the "Animal in Space" special ability.

Turn 3: US spaces "Socialist Governments" in an AR. USSR spaces "Independent Reds".

Turn 4: US Spaces "Korean War". USSR spaces "Grain Sales to Soviets".
During the Turn 4 SR resolution, US plays "Korean War" (2 Ops) for the "Man in Earth Orbit" box. Then the USSR plays "Independent Reds" (2 Ops) in that box. Then US plays "Socialist Governments" (3 Ops) in the "Lunar Orbit" box, USSR plays "Grain Sales" (2 Ops) in the "Lunar Orbit" box.
US player wins the "Lunar Orbit" box on the Mil Ops tiebreaker condition, receiving 3 VPs; and the USSR wins the "Man in Earth Orbit" ability. USSR also scores 1 VP for losing in "Lunar Orbit", as they at least played 1 card there. US loses the "Animal in Space" special ability.
The 4 cards used in the SR are discarded.

Turn 5: USSR spaces "East European Unrest"

Turn 6: As only 1 card has been sent to the Space Race, USSR just claims the next unclaimed box: "Bear Has Landed" and gains the Special Ability.


Turn 7: US Spaces "Muslim Revolution"

Turn 8: USSR spaces "North Sea Oil"
In the turn 8 SR phase, both players play their card on the "Space Shuttle" box. US 4 Ops beats the USSR 3 Ops, so the US receives 4 VPs and the USSR 2.

The game ends due to US +20 VPs in turn 9, so the last SR resolution on turn 10 does not take place.







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Anton Tolman
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David, thanks for posting this. I do not have enough experience yet with the game to be able to give specific comments here, but I wanted to ask how many times you have playtested this and how have those gone. I like the bluffing/strategy element here, but I wouldn't really call it an auction per se? I will be interested to see the comments of others with more experience.
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David Benito Richards
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Hi Anton, thanks for your comment. I have playtested this variant twice.
One of the playthroughs is the example already provided.
In the other playthrough, both sides invested heavily on the Space Race - almost a card per turn on average. The Space Race was completed. The VP awards were quite evenly split. The abilities did not last more than 2 turns.
If you do test the variant, please post your experience.
 
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Anton Tolman
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Sounds interesting. I may give it a go if I can get someone in my group to jump into TS. I have a friend who is almost there, but he wants to play the AI a few more times.
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