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Subject: Is there a COIN game with complex alliances? rss

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Will Beckley
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I've decided it is time for me to give the COIN series a shot (or three), and so I'm trying to narrow down the title(s) I'll use to give the series a shot.

I've noticed in my rudimentary (and wholly inexperienced) research so far that many of the games *seem* to be made up of two pairs of "uneasy allies" who are linked in opposition to the other two but each vying for their own victory. Certainly that feels like the case in Liberty or Death (Patriot/French vs British/Indian), Fire in the Lake (US/ARVN vs NVA/VC), and a few others I've read and watched reviews for.

Is that pretty much the case in all of the four-party COIN games? Or do some games feature a more complex matrix of inter-faction relationships? Where depending on the game state you might find yourself allied with more than one possible other faction?

I'm guessing the asymmetry in the victory conditions makes things a lot more nuanced than I'm able to grasp right now. Still I'm curious if other titles are more "open" in terms of the shifting alliances over the course of the game.

Thanks!
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Oerjan Ariander
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Wiyum wrote:
I've noticed in my rudimentary (and wholly inexperienced) research so far that many of the games *seem* to be made up of two pairs of "uneasy allies" who are linked in opposition to the other two but each vying for their own victory.
Liberty or Death is the by far the most extreme game in the series in that respect, where the two allies in each pair share half of their victory conditions, are able to use each others' units for both movement and combat, and are virtually unable to harm each other (except maybe by initiating combat at poor odds).

Fire in the Lake comes a distant second; here the US and ARVN are nominally allied but nevertheless tear into each others' victory points with a vengeance. The two insurgent Factions are really only allied in the sense that they both fight the same set of enemies; their respective goals aren't aligned at all, and they have only marginal ability to either help or harm each other.

A Distant Plain has a similar relationship between the COIN Factions as FitL, but adds explicit enmity between the two insurgent Factions. In that game, one of the 2-player setups pits Coalition+Warlords vs Government+Taliban (i.e., one COIN and one insurgent Faction per player), which says a lot about how awkward the nominal Govt/Coalition "alliance" is!

In Pendragon the two Briton Factions start out tightly allied but typically become enemies later on depending on how long the game lasts. (The late-period short scenario starts with them already at war with each other.) The two Barbarian Factions are always rivals, albeit rarely in direct conflict with each other due to geographical separation.

In the other games - Andean Abyss, Cuba Libre, Falling Sky, and also several of the upcoming games - one or more Factions may be more inclined to ally with certain Factions than with others, or at least be better equipped to exploit or steal from certain Factions than others, but any such alliances are prone to be temporary and end with sudden betrayal. Even Factions whose victory conditions are direct opposites (e.g., Govt and FARC in Andean Abyss) can occasionally cooperate against a third Faction that's getting too close to victory.

TL;DR: Yes, there are

Regards,
Oerjan
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Will Beckley
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Thanks for that detailed response, Oerjan! That helps me parse things.

It figures that the situation described most maps to the two conflicts with which I’m most familiar...
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Jay M
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Properly played, almost every game has someone threatening victory and the others openly discussing how to pull him or her back. In that sense, the alliances temporarily shift -- to use the FiTL example, the NVA do not want the Viet Cong to win and will temporarily coordinate with the others to prevent that.

 
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Rex Stites
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I would say Andean Abyss probably is closest to what you're looking for. The AUC (right-wing insurgent) have a victory condition that is completely predicated on doing better than the FARC (Marxist insurgent). The Gov't and FARC are battling each other directly for support/opposition. As a result, there's a natural, albeit uneasy, alliance between the AUC and the Government. The Government wants the AUC to do some of its dirty work so it has a free hand to also try to keep the cartels in check. At the same time, the Government doesn't want the AUC to become too powerful.
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Will Beckley
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Thanks, Rex. I should be clear that I’m not necessarily looking for anything in particular. Pairs of uneasy allies is an inherently interesting relationship matrix. It was more that, if I was going to take advantage of the reprint P500 savings and grab two games, I wanted to try for them to be different enough to be worth having two.

That said, your comments have me trending from “some subset/all three of Cuba Libre, Colonial Twilight, and Fire in the Lake” to “some subset/all three of Cuba Libre, Colonial Twilight, and Andean Abyss.”

...but then, Falling Sky is being awfully resistant to being ignored!
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Rex Stites
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Is your interest in Cuba Libre purely because of its small size and short play time?
 
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rstites25 wrote:
Is your interest in Cuba Libre purely because of its small size and short play time?
No. That’s a definite factor, but the setting appeals to me more than most.
 
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Wiyum wrote:
rstites25 wrote:
Is your interest in Cuba Libre purely because of its small size and short play time?
No. That’s a definite factor, but the setting appeals to me more than most.
It's fairly similar to Andean Abyss, but personally I think that AA is a much better game than CL.
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Jay M
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I own them all. I would just get your favorites, in terms of what is most appealing to you. Fire in the Like is, to me, the "must have." Falling Sky is, to me, the most fun and easy to learn (similar to Cuba Libre, but more fun to me).

For the third one, try one that the theme appeals to you the most.

The one that feels the most "different" to me is Pendragon.
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I have never tried Falling Sky, and am curious as to why many find it easy as it has rules for battles which seem far more complex than the combat rules in Cuba Libre or Andean Abyss
 
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brian asklev aursen wrote:
I have never tried Falling Sky, and am curious as to why many find it easy as it has rules for battles which seem far more complex than the combat rules in Cuba Libre or Andean Abyss
They seem kind of complex at first, but there's a good flow chart in the game and they become second nature quickly. Battle resolution is intuitive and thematic.
 
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brian asklev aursen wrote:
I have never tried Falling Sky, and am curious as to why many find it easy as it has rules for battles which seem far more complex than the combat rules in Cuba Libre or Andean Abyss
And there's no support/opposition to keep track of. And three of the factions commands are identical.
 
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Oerjan Ariander
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plainscape wrote:
brian asklev aursen wrote:
I have never tried Falling Sky, and am curious as to why many find it easy as it has rules for battles which seem far more complex than the combat rules in Cuba Libre or Andean Abyss
And there's no support/opposition to keep track of. And three of the factions commands are identical.
Almost identical. Three Factions have Commands with identical names, but most of the actual procedures are slightly different.

Regards,
Oerjan
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