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Twilight Struggle» Forums » Variants

Subject: Chaining rss

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Not so much a variant this as a bit of a brainstorm from a game design perspective. A few months ago Virlouvet posted a variant for TS which included a number of extra cards for the game. One interesting mechanic that was used to facilitate the addition of many extra cards was 'chaining'- adding extra cards to the deck as other events are played. This strikes me as a potentially interesting mechanic.

At the present time we have the mechanic that certain events require other events to be triggered, or some events may be wholly or partially invalidated by card plays. So Quagmire cancels NORAD, and John Paul enables Solidarity. In other cases the effect of an event may be altered by other events, as with Special Relationship and NATO.

The presence of particular cards, and the number of cards in the deck, is not massively altered in these cases. Chaining cards on the other hand may cause the deck size to flucuate somewhat as cards are added or removed based on the events played. This mechanic may cause events which are friendly, neutral, or even of the opposing side to be added. As an example of each one can imagine:

Friendly Vietnam Revolts > Add Quagmire to the draw.
Neutral Fidel > Add Cuban Missile Crisis to the draw pile.
Opposing Decolonization > Add Colonial Rearguards to the draw pile.

In all of these cases I have mentioned adding a card to the draw pile, but it could equally be the discard, or the Mid/ Late War deck as appropriate. For example the play of CIA Created might add Aldrich Ames to the Late War deck. Obviously the relative strength of the event will be influenced by its potential long-term effects on the deck. It would be somewhat disconcerting for the USSR player if playing Destalinization for the event added Kremlin Flu to the discard pile for example!

One further complication may even be that playing a card for ops rather than the event might influence things as well. For example playing Decolonization for ops might add South African Unrest to the deck, for the event adds Colonial Rearguards. Now the decision of how to play it becomes a little more difficult, and the US would be compromised if it UN interventions the card.

What would be gained by adding this mechanic? The most obvious point in favour would be that the composition of the deck could become more varied, many of the interesting card designs which have been thought up would have a chance of appearing in such a deck . Thematic elements might also be strengthened in some cases by even more strongly linking events which are historically contingent. However some elements of counterfactual history- like having Nasser succeed Sadat!- and strategic decisionmaking might be lost. The decisionmaking surrounding some events would also change, with a slightly heavier emphasis on long term deck composition.

How do you think the game would change by introducing such a mechanic? What sorts of events do you think should or could be contingent on each other? Which events are suited to the present system? What sorts of interesting Cold War events which are not present in the game could be added? Conversely which cards should be part of the 'base' deck? Thoughts welcome!
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