I recently participated in the “Online TS World Championships” a two-day event designed to let Europeans play real-time with North American opponents, run by Daniel Hogetoorn out of the Netherlands. 6 Rounds of Swiss were scheduled, starting 12:00, 15:30 and 19:00 GMT each day.
There were 9 from Europe (GMT +1) 7 from North America (GMT-5 to -6) and 1 Australian (GMT +9:30!). The two players that ended 5-1 played a previously agreed 7th round and Janusz Wojciak (Poland) defeated Daniel Dunbring (Sweden) with a US Auto Victory on Turn 7.
The format used was the Wargameroom program with a 1:15 time limit. It was previously agreed to use the Deluxe Edition and Optional cards with bidding for sides. The lower (AREA) ranked player started the bidding.
In 48 Games the average bid, in extra starting US Influence, was 1.33: 1×0, 31×1, 15×2 and 1×3. Overall the USSR was 29-19(60.4%). Breakdown by Bids, Side, Type of Victory, VP and/or (T)urn:
Now it is a given that this is a small sample. The 2nd Edition has been competitive with a US bid of 3, as used by the ACTS TS Ladder, and the latest Report is USSR 497-467(51.6%). The recent Wargameroom regular season used Deluxe Edition with the Optional cards and 1 extra and the USSR was 160-130-2(55.1%). In the play-offs the USSR was 23-15-1(60.3%).
In my view the balance with the Optional Cards is 2.5. It’s a dither, as I want 3 as US and only want to give 2 as USSR. The Ames Remix is quite welcome but only can apply to Late War situations. Norad can be dramatic but needs the 2 in Canada, possibly goosed by Marshall Plan and/or Special Relationship to justify foregoing the 3 Op, since all early Ops are so telling for balance. Che is good for the USSR and sometimes Cambridge, while Tehran and AWACs are not unwelcome for the US.
Why are early US Ops, with the bids, so telling? To diminish the Soviet Steamroller. This classically occurs with a big coup roll on Iran/Italy supported by early Destalinization/Decolonization and timely Scoring Cards which may reoccur starting T3 before the US can recover. Each Op can potentially deny or flip a Domination. The field in this tourney leaned toward 1-2 however. Bidding in theory should lead to a balance, but experienced players can game it to advantage, specializing in a side.
Given my bias I was willing to accept a 1 or 2 bid and took the USSR 5 times. I was 2-0 against a 1 bid and 2-1 against a 2 bid, with 3 of those games Steamrollers, Auto Victory on T4, T5 and T5. My loss came when I was out-played against an effective Norad and Wargames, while my other Soviet Victory was an early bid for Europe Control that was only stymied by US control of more countries but that eventually led to a Defcon trap.
2 of my US opponents started without US influence in WGermany, a gambit classically dependent on negating Blockade and/or depending on Marshall Plan to cover. However that was what allowed me to coup Italy and go for the Europe Control
So I was the only one who took 3 to play the US, but I failed my self-proclaimed ‘advantage’. I played a comeback game against a strong Soviet start
but I lost by 13 noted above when it fell short. On T10 my opponent negated an US Africa Domination with Five Year Plan and I failed a Space Roll for 3 VP that would have allowed a last-card play of Star Wars/Voice. It might not have been enough anyway as he prudently reinforced his position but it was my hope.
Thanks to Daniel for the tourney and congrats to Janusz for his Victory! He was one of the 5 unrated players who entered(!). There was a good spirit throughout in the chat room and 14 out of the 17 entrants went the distance.
As far as “World” status goes I appreciate the intent to give Euro and North American players an equal field, since travelling to the World Board Gaming Championships in Lancaster PA is not open to all, and that type of experience is what was offered here. The ACTS Ladder uses a PBEM and has gone 24 rounds with up to 114 multi-national participants. The recent Wargameroom Leagues had 53 players, also with significant multi-national participants and has argubably been the crucible for creating high-ranking players. A new season is about to start. It’s a big world after all.