Monday, 19 June 2017

Cuba Libre: a rough night in Havana for the Syndicate

El Che
I'm playing Cuba Libre (by GMT Games) in an effort to teach myself the game, including the unique capabilities of each of the four factions, the Government, the Directorio, the Syndicate, and the 26 July Movement, which I'll hereafter refer to simply as 26 July. I'll try to update this blog as I progress with observations and historical notes. The game includes a detailed flow chart and AI notes to allow you to play on your own, with the other factions being managed through the flow charts. You'll see what I mean as we go along. I apologise in advance for any mistakes I make, but this is the point of the exercise.

I have chosen to take the role of the Government faction. I've gone with the standard set up, which has the Government in control of all the major cities, plus the province of Las Villas. Control is achieved through having more units in a province / city than other players combined. For example, in Las Villas, at the start of the game, the Government has three army units and there is no organised opposition at all.

Turn 1. The first event up is Fat Butcher. This relates to Nicholas diConstanzo, a notorious mafia kingpin who controlled a lot of the casinos in Havana in the 1950s. His activities draw US heat on the Government. First up is the Directorio, and they choose to go with the event, which costs the Government (me) 8 in US aid.

The second player is 26 July. With the event option gone, he opts for an operation. In this case he chooses Terror and pays 1 resource to activate a unit of guerrillas in the province of Habana. He places a Terror marker in Habana, and its passive support for the Government disappears. It is now neutral. Terror also allows 26 July to conduct a secondary activity, in this case a kidnap. There is an open casino in Habana and no police in the province, so a kidnap can go ahead. 26 July rolls 1d6 and comes up with a 4: the Syndicate transfers 4 resources to 26 July.

Turn 2. Pact of Miami is the event. This was an agreement between the various exiled revolutionary groups to try to cooperate in forming an eventual government in Cuba. This is not an event that favours me, the Government player. Remember, the Directorio and 26 July played last turn, so are both ineligible this turn. However, Syndicate goes first. We can also see that a propaganda card is up next. Theoretically the Government can actually win here, and win early if it is able to act. The propaganda phase is when the players evaluate whether any of them has achieved their victory conditions, and the Government begins the game closer than the others to winning. This would be an ideal opportunity for me to win if I could get my total popular support from 15 to 19 in one turn, but the Syndicate is first, and they choose to use Pact of Miami, which immediately makes the Government ineligible to play this turn or next turn. Nasty. The Government effectively loses his turn, but is treated as having acted. In addition, the Syndicate player uses the event to remove 26 July units from Habana (remember the casino incident?) and the Sierra Maestra. With no second player, we proceed to propaganda.

Propaganda. Nobody is in a position to win, so we proceed to resources. The Government gets +15, 26 July gets +1, the Directorio gets +2, and the Syndicate, with three casinos open, gets +6. However, US support is downgraded to Reluctant from Firm, as the total support for the Government is under 18. This means a cut in arms sales to Cuba and the cessation of training programs for the Cuban military. Scrutiny of the Batista government by the US Congress and media becomes more severe. You will note that I, as the Government player, have not had a chance yet to act. The propaganda card does allow me to use civic action programs and I spend 4 resources to bring the city of Camaguey to active support of the Government. The same goes for Santiago de Cuba, which moves from passive to active support. The Directorio raises a new unit in Las Villas. I am forced to move three army units out of Las Villas as I don't have a base there. I send 2 units to Camaguey and one to Santiago de Cuba. I also now have the opportunity to move police, so station one unit each to protect the tobacco and industrial economic centres, plus add two police in Las Villas to replace those troops. This also lets me maintain some semblance of control there.

Turn 3. Operation Fisherman. I'm not sure about the history surrounding this, but will try to find out. The card allows the 26 July player to get a base and one underground unit in Pinar del Rio, out on the western end of the island. 26 July is first up, and guess what, he takes that one. It also means the Syndicate loses control there. Up second is the Directorio again, and they decide to raise a new unit in Las Villas, costing me control there (two guerrillas now face two police units).

Turn 4. This turn is interesting as it is my first real turn in the game. I decide against the event, and go with the training action for the government. I recruit 4 police units in Camaguey city and 3 police plus 1 army in Santiago de Cuba. I also opt for civic actions as my secondary specialist action in Camaguey, raising the level of support there to passive. The Syndicate moves second, and also ignores the event, choosing instead to raise his own units in Havana, Habana province and in Pinar del Rio. These are his first units on the board as he doesn't start with any active and he probably needs them, what with all the kidnapping going on in Habana and those reds landing in Pinar. With his secondary action he generates some cash from his casino in Havana, which he places under his new mob unit there.

Turn 5. And so to turn 5. This will be 26 July and Directorio again. The event is El Che, which 26 July predictably takes, giving the communists a permanent insurgent ability. The first guerrilla unit they move can flip back to underground immediately, making it immune from attack. I THINK they get to keep that until the next propaganda phase. Directorio then plays a blinder: he activates his guerillas in Havana, Camaguey and Las Villas and puts down terror markers in all three, downgrading government support in the process. Las Villas goes to passive opposition, Camaguey province (not city) goes to active opposition while Havana drops to passive support. He also takes out a unit of Syndicate mobsters in Havana using his follow up assassination action, and nicks their cash!

That's where we'll leave it for today. Thanks for tuning in and more when I get the time!

1 comment:

  1. The AI mechanics are interesting. I've played some games that simulate other human players but never one in which the human player can be forced to miss turns like you did. Fascinating.