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byGMT Games

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"Now the trumpet summons us again, not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are  but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle..."
__ John F. Kennedy

In 1945, unlikely allies toppled Hitler's war machine, while humanity's most devastating weapons forced the Japanese Empire to its knees in a storm of fire. Where once there stood many great powers, there then stood only two. The world had scant months to sigh its collective relief before a new conflict threatened. Unlike the titanic struggles of the preceding decades, this conflict would be waged not primarily by soldiers and tanks, but by spies and politicians, scientists and intellectuals, artists and traitors.

Twilight Struggle is a two-player game simulating the forty-five year dance of intrigue, prestige, and occasional flares of warfare between the Soviet Union and the United States. The entire world is the stage on which these two titans fight to make the world safe for their own ideologies and ways of life. The game begins amidst the ruins of Europe as the two new "superpowers" scramble over the wreckage of the Second World War, and ends in 1989, when only the United States remained standing.

Twilight Struggle inherits its fundamental systems from the card-driven classics We the People and Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. It is a quick-playing, low-complexity game in that tradition. The game map is a world map of the period, whereon players move units and exert influence in attempts to gain allies and control for their superpower. As with GMT's other card-driven games, decision-making is a challenge; how to best use one's cards and units given consistently limited resources?

Twilight Struggle's Event cards add detail and flavor to the game. They cover a vast array of historical happenings, from the Arab- Israeli conflicts of 1948 and 1967, to Vietnam and the U.S. peace movement, to the Cuban Missile Crisis and other such incidents that brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. Subsystems capture the prestige-laden Space Race as well as nuclear tensions, with the possibility of game-ending nuclear war.

Customer Reviews

A thematic wargame capturing the Cold War Review by Tom
A really special game. Loved it on first play.

A game driven by event cards, with tough decisions, different strategies, great card combos. An excellent insight into the history of the period. Area control with card driven action points. No direct combat, but boy is this game tense.

Plans can crumble due to bad dice, bad card draw or to events stealing cards. No room for complacency at all as the 2 superpowers square off against each other. Makes things all the more satisfying when leading ones side to victory.

Definitely a game for those who are used to complexity and willing to invest the time to get across the rules. (Posted on 29/05/15)
Wall-tearingly good fun Review by Mr Gorbachev
Twilight Struggle is an intense and highly thematic fast paced strategy game with a fascinating historic flavour. The fun in this game comes from scarcity and making tough decisions in a tense environment.

Twilight Struggle is described by this site as a 'quick playing low complexity game'. I would say this is slightly misleading. This is a game where the rules are relatively simple, as is the basic concept - you are competing for influence across the entire globe as either the U.S or the USSR during the Cold War, but, there is complex decision-making in abundance. You make incredibly tough decisions about where on the entire globe you should place the small amounts of influence you receive each turn. Each turn involves weighing up whether to take advantage of the benefits of an event, whether to simply place more influence, take a risk on a coup attempt to reduce your opponents influence or to play a card to the space race, all the whilst being mindful to avoid starting thermonuclear defeat (and suffering instant defeat).

The games rules are fairly simple, but there is a lot of complexity ‘under the hood’. This is a game that you will need to play a few times to really get a grasp of the strategies and mechanics. But, this game rewards repeat play. If you have someone who would be willing to play a 1-2 hour strategy game with you over a period of time then this is the number one game I would recommend. There is so much depth and strategy, and the toughness of the decisions and the scarcity of your resources really ratchet up the tension in this game in keeping with the Cold War feel. Playing over multiple sessions is truly rewarding as you explore new strategies to try to gain an edge.

One of the toughest but most rewarding elements is that the game fairly regularly saddles with you with the challenge of having to choose between multiple bad options, in order to pick the ‘least bad’ one. This is because whenever you play a card containing an event that favours your opponent that event will occur. And you will quite regularly have no other option but to play such an event. Effectively minimizing the impact of your Opponent having Nuclear Submarines or John Paul II being elected Pope can make a significant difference in the game.

Whilst luck plays a role in this game, it is a much smaller role than in a game like Risk. Die rolls matter, but it is rare that the negative impact of a bad roll can’t at least be minimized by, for example, conducting a coup in a country has a low stability (that is therefore highly susceptible to being couped).

This game has a lot of cool mechanics including the threat of ‘DEFCON suicide’ (triggering global thermonuclear war on your turn and losing the game), scoring being based on cards that come up at somewhat random times, the Space Race which acts as a way to get rid of unwanted opponents cards and a scoring system which means that if a game ever blows out in favour of one person then they will win (scoring is a zero sum +- 20 victory points).

Finally, if you enjoy this game then I recommend reading a strategy guide to get a feel for some of the depth that can be involved.

This is a fantastic two player game that keeps you on the edge of your seat and keeps you coming back.
(Posted on 28/05/15)

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Winner of the BGG Golden Geek, International Gamers AwardBGG Golden Geek, International Gamers Award