Spielenexperiment: Turning 4 into 2

I had a thought, after I wrote this introduction to Colonial Twilight (http://www.insidegmt.com/?p=10121) which explains how the 2-player Initiative Track works in that game.

Can any or all of the currently published 4-faction COIN system games be satisfactorily played with 2 players, using this mechanic?

First read a review of that mechanic, if you didn’t click through. Then print out the graphic.


How did we make the Sequence of Play work with only two players? Well, the sequence of play is still largely the same; like the other games in the series, you still always have two factions executing operations or events in a turn, except now it’s always the same two, who are 1st and 2nd Eligible. The Initiative Track (during testing it was variously called the Horseshoe, the Pentagon, or Home Plate) is a way to retain the flexible turn order of the 4-player iterations of the COIN system, and some of the gamesmanship involved in choosing what to do in a turn.

In each turn, the new Event Card is revealed and the 1st Eligible has a choice of any space on the Track. After executing their choice, they place their cylinder on the appropriate space, and the 2nd Eligible player may choose from any space adjacent to the 1st Eligible player’s cylinder. So, for example, if the 1st Eligible player executes the Event Card, the 2nd Eligible can choose between Op + Special or Pass. Sharp-eyed players will notice that the relations of the choices to each other are essentially the same as in the flowchart-like diagram on the Sequence of Play player aid supplied in the other, 4-faction games: I just came up with a different way to visualize it.

Less sharp-eyed players will notice the two shaded spaces on the Track. If a player is 1st Eligible and chooses either one of these, they become 2nd Eligible in the following turn.

Here’s the idea, using A Distant Plain as an example:

Players take 2 Factions each, with normal 1st and 2nd Eligibility determined by what they do on the Initiative Track; but which Faction they control that gets to do something is determined by the leftmost faction order on the Event Card drawn.

So, let’s say We are playing Coalition and Government, and They are playing Taliban and Warlords. (ho hum). The card drawn is “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, which has a faction order of Taliban – Coalition – Government – Warlords. According to the Initiative Track, We are 1st Eligible and can pick any space on it, but the action is done by the Coalition (as it is leftmost in the faction order). They is 2nd Eligible, so the choice of space is determined by what We did, and the action will be done by the Taliban (leftmost in the faction order).

If a player Passes, the executing Faction gets whatever number of Resources the game they are playing decrees for that Faction.

Be sure to use the No Reveal Option as detailed in 2.2; looking one card ahead in the 2-player iteration ruins the game. And for victory conditions, they are unchanged: use directions in 1.5.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who tries this out, to see if it changes much from the existing method.

About brtrain
This blog is mostly devoted to posts, work and resources on "serious" conflict simulation games.

2 Responses to Spielenexperiment: Turning 4 into 2

  1. Pingback: UNSOC Playtest After Action Report - Hot Blood & Cold Steel

  2. Pingback: Obligatory end-of-year review, 2020 | brtrain

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