Those Nasty Russians send US back
to the drawing board ...
Jeff Finkeldey and Michael Rogozinski
head a long row of Cold War combatants.
Christina Hancock was one of just
two ladies to try her hand in the event.
Twilight Struggle continued to draw well despite dropping
to its smallest field in its eight-year run. That decline was
compensated for by a significant number playing in multiple rounds
of swiss play as opposed to the earlier elimination format. Even
after all these years, TWS is still attracting new participants
as well, something few of the other CDWs can boast.
game has generally been seen to favor the Russians, particularly
in the early going, unless adjustments are made. In past years
we have tried bidding or the addition of the Chinese Civil War
variant, which prevents early Russian play of Red Scare and has
other balancing effects, with bidding as well. After discussion
with a number of experienced players, this year we played with
a standard adjustment - US received three influence. But players
were also required to switch sides each round. This approach
was well received and is largely consistent with the balancing
adjustment used by the online ladder. Games were all played using
the Deluxe edition rules, without the optional cards.
The tournament was resolved in five rounds, even with 53 players.
This was the result of the odd winners each round consistently
losing to the randomly selected opponent among those with one
loss. The final four unbeatens were Riku Riekennen, Stefan Mecay,
Randy Pippus, and Chris Byrd. Former champions Riku and Stefan
were matched in one bracket, while the two uncrowned contenders
settled the other bracket. Randy got off to a good positional
advantage by taking out Italy on Turn 1, but Chris was able to
maneuver the scoring cards to minimize the early damage. But
on Turn 4, the cards moved decisively in favor of the Russians,
with Russia scoring We Will Bury You for 3, followed by Cultural
Revolution for 1, OPEC for 5 and Arab-Israeli-War for 2 to push
the VPs up to 15. The trend continued at the beginning of Turn
4, with Randy scoring five points in the first couple of card
plays to end things.
In the other semifinal, Riku took advantage of Red Scares on
Turns 2 and 3 to gain position, but Stefan was able to offset
this enough with timely scoring to still take a substantial US
VP advantage (15) by Turn 4. On Turn 5, the Russian positional
advantage began to take over with the Russians headlining Allende
causing the US to drop South America scoring for a bunch of USSR
VPs. Scoring of Africa and Central America on Turn 6 sent the
VP count over to the Russian favor. Stefan managed to limp along,
but Russia headlined Ames on Turn 10, which effectively ended
any comeback threat.
The Randy-Riku Final was effectively over quickly. Riku took
advantage of Red Scare and the fact that the US held Arab-Israeli
and Korean Wars to pick up a bunch of early points and take positional
advantage by using De-Stalinization to move into France, Thailand,
South America. After Turn 1, VPs were already at 8. Mideast scoring
and a shortage of military operations made it 13 VPs at the end
of the second turn. Europe scored 5 for the USSR to start Turn
3. The US tried to fight back on Turn 4 and managed to use Ask
Not to dump a number of adverse cards (South America as well
as South African Unrest, Portuguese Empire and Willy Brandt)
but Randy drew Africa Scoring as a replacement, which gave the
game to Riku.
The game play, as usual, favored the Russians; disappointingly,
the Russian edge was stronger than usual with the Russians winning
46 games and the US 21. This trend maintained itself among the
players who won a lot of games. Of course, it also meant that
the alternating sides approach did not work as well as intended
since in later rounds, both sides had often played the Russians
previously. Clearly, there will be another discussion of balancing
options before next year.
The two past champs in the field met
in the semifinals with Stefan suffering a rare loss.
GM George Young watches Randy Pippus
vainly attempt to stop the Riku express.