So in that sense the Sequence of play display is as central to the COIN system as the CPU is to a computer system. It not only determines what you will or will not do on any given turn, but maybe more importantly what you’ll deny your opponents.
However, the COIN CPU has changed a lot less over the years than actual microprocessors. It has mostly remained the same through the last 6 iterations, from Andean Abyss to Falling Sky. This is about to change, and here’s why: upcoming Colonial Twilight, a game about the French-Algerian War by Canadian designer Brian Train, will be the first two-faction COIN game.
The Sequence of Play Becomes the Initiative Track
A Few Changes
- Slicker presentation. The familiar 8-space flowchart has become a tight 6-space roundel-like track.
- A more granular offer. A single option is available in each space, compared to the do this or that of the standard display.
- A modified mechanic. Instead of taking the next action in line, the 2nd eligible faction gets to choose among all spaces that are adjacent to the one chosen by the 1st faction.
- Passing? Since the option of passing remains always available, it has been placed at the center of the roundel, adjacent to every action space. However, it is not clear if passing will be as key a decision as it is in standard COIN, since players no longer have the option of looking at the upcoming card.
Under those surface changes, however, the actual sequence of actions offered is not much different from the standard sequence. It’s still a COIN game, remember?
And a Big One
In regular 4-faction COIN, a maximum of 2 factions get to play on any given card, and in an order determined by that card. Such a mechanic becomes pointless in a 2-faction game, because normally both factions are eligible.
I have yet to see an event card up close, but it looks like in Colonial Twilight, eligibility is no longer governed by the (mostly random) order of the faction icons on each card.
So I figure it would go like this:
The first eligible player chooses an action out of the 5 on offer by placing his pawn on the corresponding action space. For instance, Execute Op & Special Activity. The second eligible player then has to choose his next action among the adjacent action spaces, Execute Event, Execute Limited Op or Pass.
Ok, so 1st eligible retains the crucial capability of limiting his opponent’s choice, more or less severely, just as in regular COIN.
The interesting twist is that now the generally more advantageous actions have an additional cost. The Operation & Special Activity and the Operation actions are displayed on shaded spaces on the track, reminding the 1st eligible player that if he chooses to execute one of them, he will have to give up initiative and become 2nd eligible next turn.
Eligibility thus becomes part of the player’s decision space. Does it sound as neat to you as it does to me?