Ron Jacobsen, moderator of the TS Ladder reported the following:
“Kurt Kuhlman, owner of the ACTS website, has implemented multiple improvements to the Twilight Struggle module. If you like what you see, please remember to support ACTS without which a lot of PbeM play (like Age of Renaissance) and especially the TS Ladder would hardly be possible (actually, we should all be remembering to support ACTS with a little annual contribution to help it keep the lights on).
The changes include:
Shuttle Diplomacy now has a mechanism to play the event “on the table” so that it does not improperly get placed in the dicard pile or get reshuffled when it should not. When the US plays this event he should choose the “Active Event” button. (When the USSR plays the card for ops, this will happen automatically.) Both players will then see Shuttle at the lower left of their screen listed as an “active card”. When the Asia or Mideast scoring card is played then either player must click on Shuttle Diplomacy and click the “End Active Event” button. This will put Shuttle in the Discard pile.
For those playing Deluxe with optional cards, Our Man in Tehran can now be played correctly without Moderator intervention by using the “Return to Deck and Reshuffle” button. The US player draws his 5 cards and then does either a Discard or Return to Deck play for each of them. Note that the US player is on an honor system here since he could theoretically return a card he did not draw to the deck. (No simple way to program around that.) So if anyone would like the Moderator to validate the US play, please contact me. But I suspect most games can now sail on without waiting for Moderator help.
There is a new button in options for how to a play card, “Play as Operations (No Event)” Functionally, this button works the same as the Discard button. However, its purpose is to make it clear how a card is actually being played and to prompt players to play asterisk events correctly. You should use this button whenever you are playing an event that does not have its prerequisite fullfiled (e.g. NATO, Kitchen Debates, Solidarity, etc.) or when playing an event that has been prevented (Willy Brandt after Tear Down this Wall, Flower Power after Evil Empire). In these situations, the asterisk events should not be removed. Hopefully this new button will avoid accidental card removals and also serve as a prompt to keep players from accidentally playing events that are not vaild. Also, for those of you that want to adhere to the letter of rulebook, this button is appropriate for use when playing a card to the Space Race. Many of us think that you “Discard to Space”, but that is actually a euphamism. What you are actually doing is playing operations for a Space roll, and placing the card in the Discard pile without activating its event. (A very fine distinction that clarifies a couple rulings.) But the Discard button works fine too. This new play button does not create any ability that did not exist in the module before. It just makes it less likely that errors will be made with asterisk events.
When Defectors is played as a Headline event, the other Headline event will now be correctly discarded (instead of occurring as an event). You used to have to fish asterisk events cancelled by Defectors out of the Removed pile and discard them. Now it is handled automatically.
The original Aldrich Ames card will no longer be in the deck when you start a game using the optional cards. It used to be that BOTH versions of Ames were in the full Deluxe deck.
Permanently Removed cards no longer appear in the Discards list, to avoid confusion. It used to be that asterisk events would appear in BOTH the Discard and Removed piles on the turn they were played. At the end of the turn they would be revert to the Removed pile only. There was no good reason for this and it confused most players who noticed it. Now asterisk events are always only seen in the Removed pile.
The turn can no longer be advanced if either player holds scoring cards. It used to be that if a player held a scoring card when the turn was advanced, ACTS would advance the turn and announce who held which scoring cards. This was disasterous in the event of an accidental double-ending of the turn. Even if the turn was rolled back, key information about which scoring cards had just been drawn would be revealed. This could only be cleaned up with massive moderator intervention. But now, if someone tries to end the turn when a scoring card is held, ACTS will not advance the turn and just note who is holding a scoring card (not which one). If you encounter this situation, in general you should try to roll back one play and let the offender play out his scoring card. (He will also likely have paid the penalty of revealing his held card.) The game was not intended to be lost by held scoring cards. Rather it is mandatory that they be played. So corrections should be made rather than taking a win on a technicality. (There are actually two ultra-rare situations in which a player can “legally” lose by holding a scoring card and I have only seen one of them ever occur in a game. If you don’t know what they are, feel free to ask me separately.)
The Variants to choose from when creating a game have been slightly modified. ACTS used to offer the “Original” game (2nd Edition) and “Deluxe with Optional Cards.” However, Deluxe without Optionals is also a popular way to play and now the official Ladder default game. Unfortuately, it was not possible to create a third variant button for plain Deluxe without screwing up a lot of stuff in the Module. As a compromise, the following action was taken: The first variant button now reads “2nd Edition or Deluxe without Optoinal cards”. The only (non-cosmetic) difference between these two versions is 2 IP in Canada at start for the US and the use of Ames Remix in place of Aldrich Ames. Therefore,the Aldrich Ames card in this variant has been changed to now include the text from both 2nd Edition Aldrich Ames and “Ames Remix”. You use whichever text is relevant to the variant you are playing. (Which, for the Ladder will now be the Remix text, unless the players have specifically agreed to 2nd Edition.)
Finally, some spelling corrections have been made. Pershing II is now “deployed” rather than “destroyed”. :-)”