This isn’t a full fledged AAR but it does give a basic idea of the Middle East superpower option.
We started a new game last night. Michael asked why the Middle East is a different color. I explained that is an option in the Terrorist expansion. You know what comes next: “Can we play it?”
“Yeah!” chimed in Gabe, “Can I be the Middle East?” Sure. Why not?
We haven’t play tested this option much yet. We did have 5 players, so it would make a good trial run. We didn’t use the actual terrorists. This option supposes that the world of Islam finally got their act together somehow and united as a superpower. I know. Not likely but still an interesting ‘what-if’ to game out. Gabe took control of the Islamic Federation. As soon as he did, Michael was alarmed. “All of our oil is there!” he exclaimed. True. Gabe started the game in possession of 80% of the world’s oil production. Now what?
Did the world explode in Total War on turn 1? No. Actually, it was one of the most docile starts I have seen. No company seizures. Everyone was very polite. Turn 2. Turn 3. Turn 4. No war. Prices crashed. All this peace led to a major global recession. No demand for resources. Interesting but why?
It seems that no one even dared to start seizures. Seizures tend to escalate and spread. That snowball ends up with Gabe seizing everybody’s oil. There is only 1 way to get it back. A good old fashioned and expensive ground war. Japan was a little more bold. Their oil ended up in Alaska and Venezuela. They didn’t depend on the Middle East.
China, Russia and the Islamic player all built up big ground forces. China went $6 TL into debt researching ABMs. The rest of us started on modest ICMBs stockpiles. The US researched ABMs for only $2TL, much to China’s annoyance.
Now what? I was Russia. Something has to happen. I declared Scandinavia as a vital interest zone. Fair warning. I then proceeded to overrun Finland, Norway and Sweden, seizing big mineral factories along the way. I got really horrible luck. Every minor I invaded had 4-6 armies. The minors were rolling good too. I suffered horrific casualties. Well, you can at least try console yourself with all the salary expense you will be saving next turn. Wouldn’t you know it? I ran short of men. 1 minor army left in Sweden. I had to wait until next turn.
Yep, you guessed it. The US sold 10 additional armies to Sweden to bolster their defense at the end of the turn. Why? They had a big 5 pt mineral factory there. As long as Sweden stays neutral, they keep it. If I conquer it, I can seize it. The beauty of Arms Sales is that the US actually makes money by selling ‘armies’ to Sweden to defend their factory.
So, I build up 9 sets of armies. This is plenty to replace my losses and take out Sweden. The next turn goes well. Sweden actually roles bad, so I take them down easily. In retaliation for their insolence, I seize the US factory in Sweden and their oil company in the Urals to boot. There is not much the US can do to me anyways. I’m too far away and the US doesn’t have a big navy built up yet. As long as I keep Gabe happy I’m fine.
After all this, China decides it’s time to make a move. He declares war on the world of Islam and invades. Gabe responds by seizing everybody’s oil. A questionable move. China has lots of armies. He is already in a major war with 1 player. Why make everyone else your enemy too at a time like this? He must be pretty confident. Makes me think of Hitler after Pearl Harbor. The US was technically at war with Japan after that. Roosevelt wanted to get involved with the European war. How could he get public support to declare war on Germany because Japan attacked? Luckily, Hitler obliged and solved this political tangle for him: Germany declared war on the US. There, now we’re at war. In hind sight, this turned out to be a huge political blunder for Hitler. How much longer could US entry into the war have been delayed? Perhaps long enough for the Germans to finish off the Russians. This proves Hitler was clearly insane right? What sane, normal person would ever do that? …..well, besides Gabe? …..or maybe that just proves Gabe is not normal or sane…..
An interesting conundrum came up during the Islamic-Sino war. The Chinese poured through Kazakh, Afghanistan and into Iran. The Arabs had lots of reserves to strategically move up to the front. The problem was that half of them were in Africa. So? Well, Israel is neutral. You can’t strategically move your armies through there. Israel effectively splits the Middle East in 2. This makes things very awkward for the Islamic player. We all pondered the significance of this and made plans to sell tons of armies to Israel at the end of the turn. Poor Gabe was already stretched too thin. No time now to take out Israel with the Chinese bearing down. Let that be a lesson. Gabe’s saving grace was that he did have a sizable navy built up in the Arabian Sea. This allowed him to transport his armies into Iraq. This works but takes twice as long and twice as much oil. Sigh.
The war raged on with attacks and counter attacks. Both sides taking massive losses. Both sides started with near full levels of supplies. These steadily drained to dangerously low levels. Be careful of this. You want to keep fighting. Don’t forget, you will need those same resources to build replacement armies at the end of the turn!
The Chinese closed in on Saudi Arabia. I expected the Arabs would retreat and fall back to Egypt. Nope. Gabe stubbornly dug in for a final stand and reinforced. His defiance paid off. Rolling tons of hits on the dice, he decimated the last wave of the Chinese forces. Exactly the result I (Russia) wanted to see. Let these 2 grind themselves into the dust. Then I swoop down from the Caucasus and take them both out, along with most of the world’s oil. Only 1 problem: I attacked first. Now I’ll have to wait until next turn. Who was pulled to attack last? (the sequence is randomly drawn) The Islamic Federation.
What was going on in Japan and the US while all this fighting raged? They were both quietly planning for a financial windfall: buying bonds. Researching new factories. Amassing stockpiles of supplies. Not to build with; to sell. Once a war breaks out, prices usually skyrocket. If you are careful and time this right, you can sometimes win by bankrupting all the combatants after hostilities settle down.
So, back to the war. Gabe sizes things up. The Chinese only have about 4 armies left in Iraq. No reserves in China. China has only has 4 navies. Hmmmmm….. Gabe still has about 12+ armies and enough supplies to attack 3-4 times. He goes for it. He sails the bulk of his force around India and invades Canton. The defending and badly outnumbered Chinese Navy is wiped out. The Chinese reinforce all their armies back to Chang Sha. Next blow? Gabe attacks. Again get a very lucky roll and all but wipes out the Chinese. The Chinese reinforce everything back to Beijing for a final stand. This turns out to be a fatal mistake. Gabe still has a huge fleet. He sends 2 armies into Chang Sha. That counts for 1 of his 3 ‘attacks’. He uses the 2 remaining attacks to invade Beijing with all remaining forces: 6 armies carried on 2 navies. Gabe has 4 other navies along for support. They are able to fire at the Chinese armies also: cruise missile and air attacks. The final 4 Chinese armies are destroyed. Beijing falls. Gabe spends 1 more set of supplies to attack out of Chang Sha into undefended Shanghai and Chung King. This counts as 2 of his 3 attacks. War over.
So how did Gabe pull off this stunning victory in 1 turn? Was it all just luck? Not completely. It is important to note the power of a big navy here. Gabe could not have won without it. The supplies alone to march his armies from Saudi Arabia to the middle of China unopposed would have taken more than he had. His navy gave him the power to rapidly re-deploy a large force to a different theater. Michael did not have to the naval force to respond or counter this. He was out maneuvered. Note how the big navy also backed up Gabe’s forces on the coast. The key word here is coast. This goes back to Michael’s mistake. If he fell back to Chung King, Gabe’s navy would have been powerless to help. This might have made a difference. The problem with that is that Chung King is only a couple of moves from Canton. I think Michael was trying to get further away. It looks further away but on the coast, a big navy can close that gap real fast. But, as we always say: That’s hind sight. Live and learn.
Now it get’s interesting. The US gives up on the economic strategy and builds up for war. They even ally with me! Remember? I’m the evil Russian that seized his Swedish minerals and oil from the Urals. Why? Because Gabe just seized all of his oil. Nathaniel is also still sore at Gabe for not holding up his end of the alliance in the last game. -Watch out for that. Supremacy players do remember. What you do now will impact future games.
So the US and Russia build huge forces for next turn. The poor Arabs can’t. They spent all their supplies on stomping the Chinese. They do capture 8 ABMs from China, along with a pile of cash and 6 factories. They also have enough remaining minerals to max out their ICBM force to 12. Without armies, the Islamic player must rely on the nuclear threat to survive the next turn.
After trade, Gabe attacks first. He launches a preemptive nuclear strike. He fires 11 ICBM’s at the US and Russia. Targeting our cities and heavy troop concentrations. The 12th strike might have triggered a nuclear winter. Meaning: he would lose and come in last place. It’s only a 1 in 6 chance but still, not worth the risk. The beauty of this plan is that his enemies cannot retaliate without risking the same fate. There is just one slight flaw in his otherwise cunning plan. Gabe forgets that the US also has 8 ABMs. The US shoots 8 down so only 3 relatively insignificant areas get nuked. This miscalculation could be disastrous! The US launches an ICBM counterattack but how many? Gabe has 8 ABMs also? Should he fire all 12? If he does, all Gabe has to do is not fire any ABMs in response. Nathaniel will surely trigger a nuclear winter and lose the game then. That leaves Gabe in 1st place. If Nathaniel fires 6 ICBMs, he doesn’t risk a nuclear winter but Gabe will likely shoot them all down. Not good, but it was the best we could come up with.
So Nathaniel launched 2 volleys of 6 ICBMs each. So did I. Gabe missed a few ABM shots. What was the net result after the nuclear dust clouds settled? The US and Russia had minimal damage. We nuked all Arab cities but 1: Cairo. 11 ICBMs had been detonated on land. I had lots of armies and Cairo was undefended. The only problem was I had no navy. The only ground route to Cairo was blocked by nuclear devastation. I was also a step away from bankruptcy with $12TL in debt. The US didn’t have a big enough navy to get anywhere. All of us had lost our stomach for nuclear war.
So now what? Well, it was a work/school night. Mothers and wives were calling. We decided to call the game on points. Gabe came in 1st. He deserved it. It was a hard fought victory. He had lots of cash, no debt, 2 supply centers with tons of factories, resources and ABMs. How long did all this take? We started after dinner and finished around 9:30. 3-4 hours? Not too bad. It was still an interesting situation. We could have saved the game and duked it out again the next day as a conventional war to the finish. With our combined efforts, I think we could have brought Gabe down. But then Michael asked, “What about the terrorist armies? How do those work?”
Nah, let’s just start a new game tomorrow!