You're right I should have given that more thought. I've seen so many key plays with Truman I hate to throw it away on something that doesn't have much impact on the board position.
That's interesting because I've never seen Fidel as "not all that big a deal" for the US. Once the USSR gets into Cuba, as a 3 stability BG, it's difficult to get them out. And of course it often turns into a hub or the hub of a struggle over Latin America as the USSR bolsters Haiti or Nicaragua, the US coups with a 1 Op card later, etc. etc. If the USSR isn't present in a BG in SA/CA/Africa elsewhere I agree it's a decent tradeoff for the DEFCON pressure though, but that wasn't the case for our game.
At the time I spaced it I didn't have Japan, so it was a 50% chance of losing S Korea and giving the USSR 2 VPs. From a decision tree perspective that seems like a average loss for the US, 50% chance of the US being up +2 Ops, 50% chance of USSR being up +4 and US +2 (total +2 USSR) with 2 VPs to the USSR. Of course, it would be better to space it in round 3, but my thinking was that by the time it came back I would have a good chance of controlling Japan and maybe even Taiwan (with Formosa in play).
Yeah, while I definitely love Twilight Struggle, I'm seeing a lot more of these situations in which one side or another doesn't have much of a chance than I recall seeing before the app came out. At least 3 or 4 of my games in the last tournament and this tournament seemed to be decided more by luck than skill. And with the slow pace of the game it's not ideal to have to work through these one sided contests to get to what I feel are the better games where both sides have a fighting chance. At the same time, I don't want to cut off chances of growing as a player by not learning how to play from a disadvantaged position.
And it's also an interesting game design choice in that this high degree of card hand and dice result randomness creates the variability in board states that we see across games, as well as interesting risk/reward choices of going for coups and realignments and rolling the dice, versus the more guaranteed influence placement. But the downside seems to be a higher proportion of lopsided games.
But even though I've seen more of these lopsided games than in the past, I'm not sure I'd say it's a weakness or problem with TS.
I need to listen to this Designer Notes podcast in which Soren Johnson interviews Ananda Gupta again. I'm pretty sure this came up, and when I originally listened to it I was more convinced it was an "issue" than I am now.
@Brian_Reynolds - as a veteran and highly successful game designer who obviously likes Twilight Struggle quite a bit, do you have any thoughts on this?