In Colonial Twilight, each player begins any of the possible 3 scenarios with up to three Pivotal Event Cards that they can use. The Pivotal Event cards are meant to attempt to include into the historical narrative of the game various important political as well as military events that actually happened and affected the war. I really like these Pivotal Event cards and enjoyed them very much in Fire in the Lake and Liberty or Death.
What are Pivotal Events? As mentioned above they have a purpose to play in the historical narrative, but mechanically, a player can play their Pivotal Event card in order to replace the currently played Event card from the event deck. The important distinction here though is that each of the Pivotal Events has set pre-conditions that must be met to make the card eligible to be played.
They work like this. If the 1st Eligible player has not yet chosen an option on the Initiative Track, the other player can choose to play their Pivotal Event card, which preempts the normal course of the turn and allows them to carry out the actions listed on the card effectively replacing the shown event card as if it was not there. The player who chose to play their Pivotal Event card places it on the visible Event Card and executes the Pivotal Event actions instead. As a part of the process, the player of the Pivotal Event card will move their cylinder into the Execute Event space and will either become or remain 1st Eligible (see Action Point 1 for a detailed description of the Initiative Track). I loved the Pivotal Events because it is a way to stop a very bad event from taking place that could ruin your plans and to add injury to insult, it allows the player of the card to take back the initiative. The only bad thing is that each side has three of these cards so you will get to do this at least three times to your opponent but will also have it done to you three times as well.
In our first play, one of the Pivotal Event cards that I played as the FLN was the OAS card. It is devastating for the Government player as it provides a good, albeit extremely expensive, way for the FLN to combat Support in various regions.
A little historical background so you can understand how these Pivotal Events add in the historical flavor to the game.
The Organisation Armée Secrète or OAS (meaning Secret Army Organization) was a short-lived right-wing French dissident paramilitary organization during the French-Algerian War. The OAS carried out terrorist attacks, including bombings and assassinations, in an attempt to prevent Algeria’s independence from French colonial rule. Its motto was “L’Algérie est française et le restera” (“Algeria is French and will remain so”).
The OAS was formed out of existing networks, calling themselves “counter-terrorists”, “self-defence groups”, or “resistance”, which had carried out attacks on the FLN and their perceived supporters since early in the war. It was officially formed in Francoist Spain, in Madrid in January 1961, as a response by some French politicians and French military officers to the 8 January 1961 referendum on self-determination concerning Algeria, which had been organised by General de Gaulle.
By acts of bombings and targeted assassinations in both metropolitan France and French Algerian territories, which are estimated to have resulted in 2,000 deaths between April 1961 and April 1962, the OAS attempted to prevent Algerian independence. This campaign culminated in a wave of attacks that followed the March 1962 Evian agreements, which granted independence to Algeria and marked the beginning of the exodus of the pieds-noirs, and in Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry’s 1962 assassination attempt against president de Gaulle in the Paris suburb of Le Petit-Clamart.
So, there is a restriction on this card and when it can be played, which in some ways limits its effect, and attempts to balance its terrible power. The OAS card may be played only if de Gaulle is in power, which requires and is cancelled if the de Gaulle card is cancelled with the play of a Coup d’etat. This card also is one of two dual Capability cards contained in the game, and playing it gives either of the players its ability. Why is the card so good for the FLN and so terrible for the Government? Well, it allows the FLN to spread havoc in a space by placing a Terror marker and then sets that space to Neutral, AND has the added benefit of reducing the Commitment for the Government player by the amount of the Population of the space. It also has a steep price for the FLN though as it will cost resources in the amount of the Population. As a dual capability card, the Government player can use this as well but in our game, Alexander didn’t use it because he didn’t have a lot of extra resources at the time it was played that he could use. I on the other hand was able to use this card to terrible effect near the end of the game to continue to reduce the Support level of Algiers, which not only reduced the Support level for the Government player’s victory conditions, but had the added benefit of reducing his Commitment level. My opponent was able to get the Support back fairly easily, at a cost of resources and time of course, but he was not able to get back the Commitment that had been lost. One of the key reasons that I was able to win our first play with a final score of -11 for the FLN and -12 for the Government.
If you have missed our previous Action Points for Colonial Twilight, here are links to Action Point 1 (covering the Initiative Track) and Action Point 2 (taking a look at several available Ops). You also can check out the InsideGMT Blog where designer Brian Train talks a bit more about the Pivotal Events and the Propoganda Round: http://www.insidegmt.com/?p=15197