TURN 2 – Truman
Tom: I play the Comicon card. Oops, I mean Comecon, which I suspect is something very different. The card tells me it means “The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance”. “Comecon” is a terrible way to shorten this. Comeass, perhaps. Comecon, not so much. The card lets me put four points of influence anywhere I want in Eastern Europe so long as the US doesn’t control the country. Which, at this point, is pretty much anywhere in the Eastern Europe. Why does it let me do this? Because Comecon.
One of the few things I miss from the actual physical boardgame is that the manual includes a paragraph or so of history for each card. Basically, flavor text for history nerds, which is invariably going to be a smidge more than you can fit on a playing card. It would tell me what Comecon is while I wait for Bruce to take his turn. I suppose I could alt-tab over to Wikipedia, but Wikipedia is probably going to tell me way more than I want to know. The Twilight Struggle manual tells me just enough to give the card some context. As it is, I’ll just have to infer that the Soviet Union had a council that gave money to countries in Eastern Europe. In other words, they copied the Marshall Plan.
Bruce: Comecon seems like a great card, because you get to place four points of influence, which is a lot, using a card that only gives three Ops, which is less than four. Sounds like a deal? Except it isn’t because there really aren’t four Eastern European countries that are worth placing influence in right now. This is the big fallacy of events: just because they offer the chance to place more influence than the card’s operations value doesn’t mean that the event is actually worth more than the operations value. Events are great for setting up other moves, such as removing enough influence in a country to break your opponent’s control so you can swoop in on the next round, or blocking your opponent from placing somewhere you don’t want him or her to place. But just using events because they seem to offer a “discount” is not the best way to use them.
Tom: That can’t possibly be true. Anytime I see something on sale, I know I should buy it because I’m getting it for less than normal. In effect, I’m being given money to buy something.
Bruce: The Influence Tom placed on the cheap in Europe would have been far more useful right now in Asia, where I just scored for a +5 victory point margin (my Domination against his Presence). I’ve gotten off to a lead here, which is unusual for the US in the early game.