Tom Chick and Bruce Geryk have started a game of Afghanistan ’11 using the same seed (8B52H7SA1K1W, if you’d like to join us). Every week, they’ll post an update for ten turns of gameplay.
After the jump, the first ten turns
Bruce: I see commanding this Freedom Force kind of like coaching a football team. First of all, I need a starting lineup. That’s going to be three infantry companies, three MRAPs to drive them around, a SpecOps team, a Blackhawk, one Husky, a Buffalo, and two supply trucks. That’s an even twelve players, just like on a football team.
Tom: It was my understanding there would be no sports analogies.
Bruce: Like any good coach, I gotta make a game plan. My game plan starts with completely writing off the two villages in the north, Obeh and Koji. While the United States’ advanced airlift technology means I can chopper in better than Ponch and Jon, I’m going to have a real hard time keeping those villages supplied with UN
graft aid. And clearing those roads of IEDs is gonna be a real struggle given the distances involved. So while I may “drop in” (I kill me!) to say Shalom, I’m probably not going to have a regular presence there. Instead, I’ll focus on the villages directly west (Tanai) and east (Khanashin).
Tom: My starting line up is basically me just buying stuff until I realize there’s not a whole lot of money left, so I should probably stop buying stuff. That’s how the military works, right?
Bruce: I get my first big break: some locals in Tanai give me a tip on a big poppy field directly to my south. So I quickly deploy a rapid response team and Blackhawk them down there. The poppy party is so tremendous that it’s selected as this week’s Tom vs Bruce cover image. I pick off another poppy field the following turn. That’s 2,000 extra PP and I haven’t even finished the third turn.
Tom: Speaking of Tanai, I just noticed it isn’t even connected to the highway! That’s the sort of thing that’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. I built one little hex of dirt road to complete the connection for a nice hearts-and-minds boost. Hopefully, Bruce hasn’t noticed the gap and he just thinks the bumpy patch between the highway and the village is just a particularly egregious cattle guard.
Bruce: So it turns out there’s a reason that the poppies are growing faster than in Flanders fields: unbeknownst to the Bee Gees, there is apparently some kind of opium fever sweeping Afghanistan. The way I see it, the more poppy fields there are, the more one-thousand-point bonuses there are for me, the best general, to collect using my extreme poppy-removing skills.
My secret sauce is visiting villages, which I do using all manner of transport. Actually, just two manners: MRAP or Blackhawk. I stupidly lose a supply truck by trying to drive it over a bridge before my Husky has secured the area. That’s where you’d probably put a booby trap too, right? On a bridge. I really need to train some Afghan Army units so they can go knocking on doors themselves and uncover some of these boobies, but I need an FOB for that and I’m not quite there yet. in the meantime I’ll built some Soviet-looking APCs for them to drive around it. And a big howitzer.
Tom: Building a forward operation base was one of the first things I did. On the very first turn, I sent a Buffalo to build it right next to the bridge on the highway, east of the headquarters. FOB rush!
Which might explain why my finances are so touch-and-go during the early turns. I think there’s something weird going on with my political point calculations. It might just be the calculator. But for whatever reason, I’ve inadvertently run up a deficit. I’m unable to build the infrastructure I need. Basically, I’m sending communiques to the quartermaster asking for pipes and scaffolding and crushed gravel and a backhoe and he’s all, “And how are you gonna pay for this, General Chick? You spent all your political points FOB rushing the Taliban.”
(Note to self: “FOB Rushing the Taliban” could be the name of my memoirs when I recount the events of this game for posterity.)
I even get word of some Taliban from a local village. I can see the Taliban on the map, way out of my soldier’s reach. I call the local Air Force guy, but he won’t send over his F-16s.
“But I can see them right there!” I tell him. “They’re gonna get away.”
“Sorry. No can do,” he says. “F-16s cost 200 political points. You only have negative 1420. Come see me when you can run a fiscally responsible military operation.” It’s like getting turned down for a loan. I watch the Taliban scuttle back into the fog of war.
I even have to trade in my Blackhawk, which I probably shouldn’t have bought in the first place. President Hanif’s infrastructure policies make it more expensive for me to move units around, and helicopters are already expensive without the infrastructure policy surcharge. Bruce is gadding about Afghanistan, paying $2.95 a gallon for regular gas, and I have to buy the $3.25 premium gas because President Nanif doesn’t carry regular. I bet Bruce is even flying Chinooks.
Bruce: A Chinook is actually a fine idea, and I spend the largesse Congress has afforded me for being such a kickass poppy remover on one of these twin-rotor freight haulers. I use it to carry a howitzer out to my new forward operating base just south of Ghunday at the far eastern edge of the highway just as it hooks south. I call it “Bravo Base,” because that is like people saying bravo to me, the best general.
Tom: My naming convention for my infantry is Marvel superheroes. No joke. I have Punisher Company, Iron Man Company, and Wolverine Company. No one has earned the title Captain America Company yet. I was toying with the idea of naming my Afghani units after DC superheroes, but that would be a dick move.
Tom: “Not Enough Aid,” the newspapers announce. This random event means I get less hearts-and-minds score when I deliver UN supplies to a village. Since hearts-and-minds is the primary measurement of how you’re doing, and since delivering aid is a fundamental part of earning hearts-and-minds, it’s like I’m being arbitrarily docked victory points. Hopefully Bruce gets hit with a similarly terrible random event. Is there a random event that turns all your soldiers into chickens, like polymorphing in World of Warcraft? I hope he gets hit by that.
Bruce: Firefight! Bravo Company makes contact with the wily Talibs just outside Conar. They just showed up when I walked into the village. If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were waiting there to ambush me. Fortunately, they are no match for Bravo’s superior training and firepower.
Tom: After some fumbling around, I finally get my financial feet under me. With a few waterworks for the local villages, the political points start pouring in. My special forces get into play a couple of Mi-8 helicopters flown by Afghani pilots. Who needs Blackhawks once the locals get Hip? That forced joke was for all the military hardware nerds out there.
Tom: Elections get under way. I’m not really excited about any of my candidates. My official position on the election is ABO: anyone but Obeid. That guy’s bad news.
Bruce: I conclude this segment (which I’m calling Operation Turns One to Ten) with the destruction of yet another poppy field. That’s like the four millionth poppy field I’ve destroyed so far, and I can thank our fine President Muslim Hamed (although we still gotta work on that name) for being so cooperative with the forces of freedom. Wait a minnit – his Social Reform position is pro-Taliban! He gives me 20% less intel from each village! That leaves only one explanation for the amazing success I’ve had in getting the intel to clear so many poppy fields: me! I’m like the Gen. Bill Belichick of Afghanistan.
Tom: Is that a sports thing? It’s a sports thing, right? While Bruce is busy kicking over potted plants, or however they grow those flowers, I’m going all Hurt Locker on the Taliban. I’ve got two Huskies driving back and forth from my main base, disarming bombs as fast as they can plant them. It’s so satisfying when a Husky unexpectedly scoops up a string of three IEDs. Boom, boom, boom, one-two-three, with a sweet PP payout. Ka-ching! It’s like matching three symbols on a slot machine, but a slot machine that trashes one of your supply trucks when you don’t hit a winning combo. Here’s how that looks in the message reports along the right side of the screen (provide your own ka-ching! sound effects):
The score so far
Tom’s hearts-and-minds: 57
Bruce’s hearts-and-minds: 52