There were four players for this game, with me taking on the Taliban, and the other players playing the Warlords, Government, and the Coalition. No one had played before nor had anyone played other games in the series, so no one was really ready for how the game would turn out since we were all learning the rules as we went along. The game played for 7 hours and we needed to look up rules very often.
Right off, tug-of-war started, with factions slowly setting up their strategy. Natural alliances formed, Coalition and the Government trying to work together, but unable to match the symbiosis that was happening between the Taliban and the Warlords. While this may seem obvious, setting up a good working relationship between the two factions is not that easy as the Taliban needs to be able to establish bases on the map, but can only do so with Rally, and this action would oppose the warlords who need unclaimed territory. Being unable to gain enough of a foothold on the map to share between my bases and neutral territory was something that plagued us for the entire game, which was only exacerbated by the Coalition’s removal of our forces.
The Warlord player slowly but surely established a presence in the South of the map, plopping down all of his bases for massive resource gains. His main problem was more in insuring that provinces would stay Neutral, something that was a real challenge to him. In the meantime, I established myself in the south and east of the map, but while I had the mass, I was unable to bring Sharia law, and Opposition to the COIN players, to those regions.
The first Propaganda card took everyone by surprise, coming up really early on, so no one was really in a position to win. By the time the second card came out, there were two clear front runners, mainly the Warlords, who was a few points short, but could have won if the Coalition didn’t Surge troops in and keep the Warlord 2-3 points short of his 15 points of Uncontrolled population but having more than the 40 points of Resources. It’s always difficult to balance the two conditions since they both have to be at a minimal level, unlike the other factions were they only have to add up to a certain level.
Since I was working very closely with the Warlord player, the Government and the Coalition players were accusing me of purposefully making deals with him to remove many of their soldiers, especially since doing so would mean that he would help remove Support token from key spaces by eliminating soldiers who could raise the support level, and in return I would abandon territories what I had already created opposition in so that he can claim them as neutral. His actions allowed me to Terrorize and establish terror and opposition in previously COIN controlled provinces. To this I would tell them things happen and if that benefited me, just view it as successful foreign policy.
In the end, when the fifth Propaganda card came around, I was up to 19 points and this without terrorizing the Provinces that I had bases in with underground guerillas that were successfully placed by the help of the Warlord player. Despite some last second wrangling between the COIN players trying to Stop my unstoppable victory, it was too little too late, and the forces of the Insurgency won.
Great game with great players, this game kept me at the edge of my seat for the entire time, though a lack of interest in play from the Government player did hinder some of the great debating and may have helped lead to my victory, I still loved it and will play it again soon hopefully.