Tom vs Bruce, Afghanistan ’11, turn 20

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, where we stand after the first 20 turns

Turn 11

Bruce: Remember that song, “I Fought the Law (and The Law Won)?” That’s the kind of whining I expect to hear from today’s liberals. It’s like writing a song to complain that “I Ate a Whopper (and It Tasted Delicious).” Leave it to whiny liberals to complain that things are just as they should be. Which is the only reason I could imagine anyone voting for some of these presidential candidates. Your defense policy is that ANA training will take an extra turn? What kind of platform is that? And how about this one extra PP per move? It’s a nonsensical policy that runs directly contrary to what makes Afghanistan great. Of course, people did also vote for Bernie Sanders.

Tom: Hey, how is that fair? Geryk gets stability and look what I got:

Politics, man. Every now and then, Afghanistan ’11 gives me a handful of possible options. “Hey,” it asks, “wouldja rather?” Then it offers a gentle shoulder rub, a kick in the shin, or full immersion in a pit of sewage. Is this a trick question? I choose the gentle shoulder rub. What else? Five turns later, I get the kick in the shin. Well, at least I didn’t get the pit of sewage. This is called an election.

With my new president, I lose the sweet bonus PP I was earning for the previous president’s anti-corruption stance. But this new president flips the policy on infrastructure, so now movement is less expensive instead of more expensive. I guess it all evens out in the end. That’s something I’ll be telling myself a lot between now and 2020.

Turn 13

Bruce: My overarching policy for this game is that people are friendly so let’s go visit them! I’ve got a pretty regular shuttle from Alpha Base (named after the base I recently built on Alpha Centauri in the game Moon Base Clavius) to all the local villages, with a special express truck service to Tanai and Khanashin. The trucks have “UN” painted on the side, which in this game stands for “United Nations” but in real life stands for “Unternehmen.” I think this explains why I don’t seem to be getting much of a bang for my buck with the convoys. If only Johan Nagel would let the market work, rather than insisting on some kind of collaborative government “solution.”

Tom: UN aid is definitely slow work. It’s much more gratifying to call an airstrike on enemy militia and see a little heart with a +5 fly up out of the local village. Who doesn’t love fireworks?

Bruce: I don’t, most of the time. I’ve never understood the American fascination with them. But that’s another story for a different article about something else. In the meantime, my Air Force pilots have missed two airstrikes in a row, and I’m getting pissed at them. You might even say that the game is broken because that’s not the way odds should work.

Tom: So Bruce Geryk doesn’t love fireworks. I suppose he also doesn’t love Toby Keith, The Bachelor, monster truck pulls, or Mountain Dew. Sad! So, Geryk, what’s your FOB situation? My first FOB at the intersection of the highway and river now has a hospital and a vehicle bay. I’ll be putting an artillery pit there shortly, since I’m getting a lot of contacts in the cluster of mountains east of the river. On turn 13, I built my second FOB up north of the HQ, on the other side of those mountains. With a vehicle bay, it’s a handy way to keep tabs on the two villages up there, and eventually to get guys to the villages tucked in the northeast corner.

Bruce: I’ve got an FOB at the eastern end of the highway right where it turns south. It has an artillery pit and a vehicle bay. I’ve been flying drone missions over the far northeastern town (Awi) and sending ANA troops out there to keep an eye on the situation. There is a lot of Tango-Alpha-Lima-Indigo-Bravo activity over on that side of the map.

Turn 15

Tom: Geryk, how useful are helicopters for you so far? I’ve got my locally trained Afghani pilots flying everyone around in Mi-8s, but I was doing so well that I called in a Blackhawk. I even called in an Apache when I had a surplus of PP.

Bruce: I don’t really go for the Apaches, myself. They’re great when they’re in the right spot, but there are often more expedient ways to deal with sudden threats (read: howitzers or airstrikes) than flying an Apache all over which way.

Tom: I wouldn’t have bought the Apache, but I didn’t have any other way of reaching a revealed Taliban militia way over against the west edge of the map. They were too far from any artillery or infantry and my F-16s were on cooldown. They were even too far for the Apache to reach on the turn I bought it! But they didn’t seem like they were going to reach any viable targets for at least another turn. So I forked over the PP, flew the Apache towards the militia, and watched them slip back into the fog of war when the next turn started. I was ready to spend the PP calling in a drone to search for them, but first I had a couple of village contacts queued up. Sure enough, one of the villages tattled and the Taliban unit reappeared. A few more hexes of flight and the Apache was able to work its magic.

You’re right that artillery and especially airstrikes are a great way to deal with enemy units. But Apaches are the equivalent of mobile artillery. In fact, mobile artillery so mobile that it can cross mountains. They do, however, spend a lot of time sitting in bases waiting for a target to show up. Shame they can’t stick around for the endgame Taliban offensive.

Bruce: Speaking of that, what does stick around for the endgame Taliban offensive?

Tom: The people of Afghanistan! Everyone else gets to come home to spend time with their families, and not in that way Mike Flynn, Jason Chaffetz, and John Boehner get to spend time with their families. But, yes, all the American units leave when it comes time for the endgame Taliban offensive. Although, technically, what’s going on is that the endgame Taliban offensive starts after all the American units have gone home, which is in — checking my watch — 20 turns.

Bruce: I wonder if there could be an exception for, say, a different American president…

Tom: Maybe someone will make an Afghanistan ’17 mod. You can just drop MOABs anywhere you want, whenever you want, no matter how few political points you have. You win when you’ve finished construction on your hotel in Kabul.

Turn 16

Iron Man Company has sallied forth to engage some bad guys revealed by a drone I’ve parked over the Stone Triangle. This should be easy.

But apparently the company commander is the same guy piloting Geryk’s F-16s a few turns ago.

Fortunately, I’ve got a hospital smack dab in the middle of the map at Alpha Base. I wish we could rename our bases. I’d call mine Hope in Afghanistan.

Turn 17

Tom: Have you built any waterworks, Geryk? I wish the local villages could maintain them better. I just got a random event that decreases the cost of waterworks. That would have been nice earlier on, when I was getting the five nearest villages set up with fresh water. Just my luck that as soon as I buy a bunch of goodwill, it goes on sale at Costco. “Well,” I figure, “Might as well make hay while the sun shines…” That’s my attempt at a rural aphorism. So I figure I’ll take advantage of the lower prices. I send my Buffalo out east to hook up the more remote villages with waterworks. It’s one turn out when two of the previously built waterworks spring leaks and I have to call it back to repair them. Which reminds me of another rural aphorism. “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. But build a man a waterworks and you’re going to get stuck fixing it every dang time it breaks.”

Bruce: Here’s a funny story: the first time I built a waterworks, it got sabotaged the very next turn. I wasn’t really even paying attention. So when I saw the leaking water animation, I thought, “huh, I wonder why waterworks spill water all over the ground! Seems really wasteful and a weird way to represent it, but I guess that it’s to emphasize that it is a waterworks. It took until I built my next waterworks to figure out that one had the undamaged waterworks model, and one had the damaged waterworks model. So I went and fixed the broken waterworks. This time I’ve got waterworks next to Ghunday, one of the three towns that make up the so-called “Stone Triangle” in the northeast corner of the map.

Tom: Ah, I like that. The Stone Triangle. Let’s totally use that. I’ll draw up some official paperwork:

Turn 18

Tom: Sometimes storms pop up in Afghanistan. You might think they’re no big deal so long as you’re not counting on an airstrike that turn. Otherwise, the only effect is that units don’t get to move as far. But sometimes you’ve got your movement planned a little too narrowly. For instance, look how close this Buffalo got to returning to a FOB before it ran out of fuel. All because of a storm last turn.

There’s nothing like a air drop at a critical moment. Manna from heaven!

Sure, it’s kind of embarrassing to rely on an air drop when you’re literally just outside the gates of your base. I mean, you’d think the soldiers in the FOB could chuck some bread rolls over the fence or something. But at least it makes the C-130 pilots feel useful.

Turn 19

Bruce: Well would you just look at this: some Tallee-ban decided to get all fancy and plant a poppy field right next to a Coalition headquarters. Is that crazy? That’s crazy.

Tom: Aww, they brought you flowers!

Bruce: I can’t begin to understand what they were thinking. That’s another 1000 PP! Thanks, Talibs!

Turn 20

Tom: My first opium field showed up in the intel report last turn. Finally, they brought me flowers, too! They just didn’t tell me where they put them. But a village tattles on the flowers. Stay tuned for me and Geryk to give some plants the what-for.

The score so far

Tom’s hearts-and-minds: 61
Bruce’s hearts-and-minds: 48

Next week: turn 30

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