Twilight Struggle (2005)

Players: 2 - 2
Playing time: 180 minutes

Data from BoardGameGeek
"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.

A deluxe edition, published in 2009 includes the following changes from the basic game:

Mounted map with revised graphics
Two double-thick counter sheets with 260 counters
Deck of 110 event cards (increased from 104)
Revised rules and player aid cards

Upgrade kit for the owners of the previous version includes the following:

Mounted Map with revised graphics
New card deck
Updated Rules & Charts

There are also the deluxe mounted map and deluxe euro-style countersheet upgrades.

Richard Fisher

  • Rated this 5/10

Toast Crumbs

  • Wants to play this

Graham Charlton

  • Rated this 8/10
  • Owns this

Phillip McCaughey

Incredible game but I’m not sure why it works so well. The game is completely card driven which can mean that the game can stack against you, dumping a bad hand on you whilst your opponent gets an easy ride. I’ve nothing more than a passing interest in the Cold War period. You’re just playing cards to control territories. It can be chaotic as you’re not always sure what you’re planning against – THAT card could come out and scupper you entirely. It’s almost an abstract despite all of this theme on the board and cards. It shouldn’t work but it does. It really does. It’s the dual use of the cards: for events or op points that make decisions agonising at times. It’s the timing of the events, particularly the timing of playing your opponents events which really gets you really thinking. It’s the brinksmanship; the dicing with the DEFCON level in order to exert further control over the board. It’s the back and forth, tug of war over key countries; the timing of scoring cards, just trying to nip domination of a region at the right time. It’s the flavour of these real world events that you’re playing – and in my case, had heard about but quite often didn’t know that much about – that really hooks you into the game and makes you want to go away and read up on what was actually going on. It just works. And its glorious.

  • Rated this 10/10
  • Owns this
  • Wants to play this

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