We had a fun play test game last weekend. I played the Commonwealth. Two notable lessons:
This is about the worst starting position I’ve ever seen. We did the quick play option: starting with 6 cards each. All but 2 were seized before I even got to pay salaries! On turn 1, China invaded and overran ALL of India. Then they blockaded my remaining oil production in Borneo. Russia was making threatening moves towards Poland, so I decided to land there ‘preemptively’. Total disaster. I invaded with 2 Navies and 6 Armies. The Poles ended up with 3 Armies. The first round of fire I missed: No losses to the Poles. They scored 2 hits out of 3 and sank my fleet. On the second round I killed 2 Poles but 1 remained. ……so all my Armies died. The Russians attacked next. They thanked me for weakening the Poles first and making it so easy for them to seize my company!
All 9 of my starting forces were destroyed on turn 1. India with 2 companies there lost. I had one remaining company that produced 2 grains somewhere in Africa. Game over? Is there too much luck in this game? It sure looked bleak. Can you imagine a much worse start? (besides being conquered on turn 1?) No worries. Time for a tea break and to practice my stiff upper lip.
No, it wasn’t game over. Long story short, I recovered and finished the game on turn 5 in 2nd place. Not bad. This game has a way of equalizing things out. Often times a weak start is a blessing in disguise. Nobody worries about you then. They focus on big threats. That certainly won’t be you. This gives you time to rebuilt and gather strength. Just be careful not to let yourself become too easy to conqueror. If a player can easily finish you off in 1 turn, they will.
The bottom line lesson here is: Don’t give up. Don’t worry about luck. Don’t cry about bad starting cards or a bad turn order pick for trades and attacks. It doesn’t matter. With a little work, you can overcome even disastrous looking situations. Keep a good attitude and focus on how you can maximize what you have now. You can turn things around. You may need to do lots of fast talking for awhile though.
-This is an interesting related side note. Worthy of a discussion of its own someday. A key factor in turning things around was: turning China against Russia. They started the game off as allies. China overran India. Russia overran Europe! It was hard to finish off me. Hard to reach all the far flung reaches of the empire in 1 turn. At this crucial moment, I posed this argument to China: What happens after you finish me off? Russia still has 2 Strategic Reserve cards to your 1. Which one of you will finish me off and get my card? Even if it’s you, Russia will have had 2 cards for several turns. You are still going to lose against that advantage. Alternatively, if we act now, we can still muster enough strength to take Russia down. Especially if we can enlist some support from the Terrorists. Sure enough, we talked the terrorists into to taking Russian oil in Iran and moving into the Caucasus. It was like magic. Russia ran rough shod over Europe and were eyeing Great Britain. As soon as China was no longer a friend, all that changed. All those Russian Armies had to head east. That immediately opened me up to start making temporary, harassing raids into Spain, France and Germany.
Lesson learned: Don’t let China and Russia become friends. No good can come from this.
During the grim turns, I didn’t have many options. What could I build that could possibly threaten Russia? Russia and China both had around 25-35 Armies. I had 0. I did have enough supplies left over to build 5 sets at the end of the turn but what? Should I build in Australia and try to take India back? Build in the British Isles and try to land in Europe? Both of those strategies seemed hopeless. (I should have mentioned earlier that we agreed at the beginning to play a nuclear free game.) Then, I thought of the queen. What would Britain do? Build Navies of course! I may go down but let me go down in true British style. I built 5 sets of Navies. That’s right. Not a single Army to defend any of my capitals. I don’t need Armies if I control the seas right? Russia couldn’t build Navies because they needed lots of Armies to defend their vast land holdings.
You got it. Next turn I scattered like the wind. All around the world. My fleets shut down 85% of the Russian economy by Naval Blockade. What good does that extra Strategic Reserve card from Europe do you now? You can’t build enough to fill your own card! Out of 20 Company Cards, Russia could only use 3: one mineral, one oil, one grain. Nice. That will teach them respect for the Royal Navy. Now let’s see you build a Navy big enough to outnumber and subdue mine, while still building enough Armies to keep the Chinese at bay, and with only 3 unblockaded companies. Good luck with that.
Yeah, sorry. I had to gloat and enjoy my moment of glory. Remember my disastrous start? Are the Navies too powerful in Supremacy 2020? Are the blockades too strong? Nah, it worked out. That was only for 1 glorious turn. After that turn, the Russians were as shocked as I was! They build a few Navies in the Baltic and Black Seas to open up trade. They also built and transferred a bunch of Armies back into Europe. With these they were able to start reducing parts of my blockades and opening up most production in Europe at least. That revived their economy enough to keep the war against China going. Also keep in mind that if you can’t produce resources, you can always buy them on the market. It’s a safety valve, albeit an expensive one.
So was Russia destroyed and brought to their knees over 1 turn of my Navies running amok? No. It severely cramped their style. It cost them a lot of money. It cost them a lot of time and resources to open up their economy to 65% production again. What about the other 35% scattered around SE Asia, S America and Africa?
Rule Britannia! Britannia, Rule the Seas!