Power comes with size. Add some quality cards and the power might be so great that the smaller opponent will never get the chance to rise. Soviet Union was the largest country in the world, after World War II fielded the largest army in history, and thus is represented in game as enjoying a big advantage in Early War. That is why it is custom among the online TS community to pay the US player with bonus influence points on the start. Current standard is 2 IP – in my opinion quite often not enough.
The problem lies in luck distribution. The longer the game, the more cards are drawns and rolls are made, the bigger is the chance that skill, not chance, will be the decisive factor in determining the outcome of the game. If I play against a significantly stronger opponent, I know that it’s unlikely for me to beat him on skill alone. I need also a healthy amount of luck. But luck needs opportunities, preparation, in short – a player’s help, if it is to surpass the difference of skill.
If a reasonably competent USSR player gets Decolonization, De-Stalinization, RS/P and some good ops and rolls even only in the Early War, even Riku Riekkinen might be unable to defend the capitalist cause. That is why, when facing a significantly stronger player, I am willing to pay 3 or even 4 bonus IP for the privilege of becoming the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. That way I increase the probability of luck deciding the fate of the world.
Similarly, if I happen to be the stronger player, I prefer for the game to be decided based on skill, with chance deciding only if it is a decision in my favor That is why in this scenario I am also willing to pay 3 or even 4 bonus IP for the right to play USSR against a weaker opponent. If I am a significantly better player, these 1-2 extra influence won’t matter much anyway. Should luck be on my side, the game will end in a steamroll in 3-5 turns. Should it dare to side with my opponent, I will probably still be able to survive at least until Late War – a lot of time for the skill difference to play its part.
I admit that when the opponents are evenly matched, 3 (and especially 4) IP might be a bit much to pay, but choosing USSR should at the very least save you from a crushing defeat – which I guess is worth something.
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