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Subject: Worst CDG rss

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Joseph Courtight
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I'll be honest. Twilight Struggle is my least favorit of all CDG.

So for those which do not know a card driven game is one were players get a hand of cards and play one card on their turn. The cards generally have a command value letting you perform a number of actions from a list or play the card for an event and the text listed on the card itself.

I acquired this game based on its reputation. For a very long time the TS was rated number one on BGG. I think it earned this rating mostly due to theme. Most of the people alive today lived through the cold war and therefore it has a stronger connection than older conflicts. Such as Here I Stand or Successors. Far less people understand the 16th century political balance than the cold war. Additionally, being two players does not shrink its audience.

However a game does not get to be number one on pure nostalgia.

When it captures is the stress and paranoia of the cold war. It hits the mood perfectly. One thing which really helps is the idea that you have to make choices which you know will suck for you. Many times all your moves are bad and you just have to make the least bad move. This is great assuming you are okay with intensity in games.

Let me explain. When you play a card it can be for command points or for the events. The events come in two categories: those that benefit the Soviet Union and those which benefit the USA. If you play a card for the command points and it belongs to your opponent he/she can activate the effect anyways. I love that feeling of dread you get on your own turn. Now why would you play such a card then. Well, simply put you can only burry a few events and even if you do the card deck is small enough that it will only delay it. This gives a bit a paranoia especially considering how powerful the events are.

Your opponnents turns are equally as stressful for them and yes there are times when you do have legitment good moves to make.

Now let's talk about the negatives of such a system.

Certain events are going to happen and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Nothing at all. For example the US can forget about Cuba before Fidel. Any attempt to influence the island is likely pointless for that card. If you want to influence Cuba to the US you need to get the event overwith asap. In general it's not worth the effort.

A similar card system was used in Labyrinth. However, in labyrinth events generally have conditions which you can attempt to make false ahead of time, thus avoiding them. And while it is possible to minimize the events/make them worthless many feel unavoidable.

Do not get me wrong events add flavor and are neat to see them come into play, but this game is not an alternate world history kind a game. It has a strong scripted feel.

However all the complaining about the events aside, what really kills the game for me is not the events, but the fact that there is almost nothing besides the events. Most other actions in the involves putting influence on the board. You can either put influence on the board, based on the number of command points or they can roll a dice and to shift around some influence or once per hand you can discard a card to the space race and maybe get a point.

If you look at the Virgin Queen, Here I Stand, Successors, Strike of The Eagle, Labyrinth or any coin game you will see that there are options beyond the cards. In fact I'd say that there could be a game without the event cards. But instead of TS enhancing the game with the cards. The game is the cards.

I cannot recommend this game to anyone. This is my least favorit CDG of all the ones I played.

If you are going to buy this game, just know what you are getting yourselves into.

The game likes to mess with you and keep secrets from the new player and only once you memorized the deck will you be able to play for 'real'. It intense and can be stressful.

But it is the cold war albeit scripted cold war.

I think I was extra disappointed because I expected something better for such a highly ranked game.

Unfortunately I must call this the worst CDG, I've played.
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Jack
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
There are plenty of options aside from the events. You don't just play events from your hand. There are nuances like playing an opponent's card when it's of the least damage to you rather than Space-Racing it, Space-Racing a card into the discard pile AFTER the re-shuffle, coups, realignments, etc. If you say it's just events, you're missing the bigger picture. It isn't for everyone and knowing what cards are in the deck is important, but I'll have to disagree with you on a majority of what you said. Oh, except that it's better than Monopoly - we're in agreement on that one.
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Paul M
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
Dalek5 wrote:
...Certain events are going to happen and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it...

You lost me here.
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Jim F
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Re: Worst CDG I've played

But more importantly, is it a wargame?
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Eric C
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
Look... if you think all you do is play the events, you're not playing this game right. This didn't reach the top of the BGG rankings for nothing. Take a look at some strategy articles to get a better feel for what's allowed.

Games like Virgin Queen are sandbox diplomacy games designed to simulate a historical period. Twilight Struggle is like chess. The strategy is just SO much deeper, and I say that as a HUGE fan of Virgin Queen. TS is worth sticking with.

Your complaint about "not being able to stop your opponent's events" is a common one, but it's one of the most interesting parts of this game. You're right that Cuba very likely will go to the USSR at some point, but WHEN it goes can matter a lot. Deck management/hand management is a huge part of this game - it's a little hard to grasp when starting out.
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
Dalek5 wrote:
Now let's talk about the negatives of such a system. Certain events are going to happen and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Nothing at all. For example the US can forget about Cuba because it will be lost to Fidel anyways.


whoah whoah whoah whoah there!

Its OK if you didnt like it but this is not only not true its almost the exact utter opposite of how the game works. Managing those events is exactly where the tension lies, and the Point is you can and MUST "do something about it". If you are the US and you play Fidel Before you fill CUba, then you've avoided losing any influence, Thanks for the OPS. etc etc. you can put 2 back in Cuba now (if you wanted) or do 3 realigns at +1 since Cuba sits right next door and the USSR hasnt had time to get neighbours yet, I Think this chart
https://twilightstrategy.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/ts-real...
shows that 3 realigns at +1 has a 73% chance of sweeping the USSR right back out of Cuba.
you can also space race that card, putting influence in Cuba also makes a DEFCON suicide risk for the USSR because of the BG status of Cuba

The whole Point is trying to strategise when you can minimise OR AVOID COMPLETELY the negative effect of some events because most or all have some kind of prerequisite to either play or to damage you.

If that is the basis of you not liking it, that you didnt understand this (how many times did you play and who with, this would be one of the very first things I would demonstrate to a new player) then you should probably give it Another go, and Think a Little bit about the myriad ways you can "get out of jail" of all the bad stuff (unfortunately you just have to pick your poison as you cant avoid it all, but thats the Point, managing your Point scoring within that framework)

try Reading twilightstrategy.com for notes on all the cards and events and how you can indeed "do something" about all of them


edit: sorry, Fidel is 2 ops, not 3 ops, but general principle remains still over 50% to clear him out at +1 realign
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O.Shane Balloun
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
Your review is highly emotive, and no one can challenge the sincerity of your feelings, but I would assert that your opinions are not based on a substantial familiarity with the game.

Dalek5 wrote:
For example the US can forget about Cuba because it will be lost to Fidel anyways.


This was the first comment that struck me (and others on this thread), because it simply is untrue.

As a previous commenter pointed out, if you are the USSR and you hold Fidel, you may or may not use it to play the event. You may choose to use it for its 2 OPS, reseeding it in the deck in the hopes that the US finds it later.

If you are the US holding Fidel, you might very well choose to use the OPS and give Cuba over to the USSR at first. However, that doesn't foreclose trying to win it back later. Furthermore, a very common response is for the US to play the card, event first, and then use the OPS from the card to realign Cuba back to neutral. If the US is successful in this endeavor, the card is permanently removed from the game, and the USSR no longer has a foothold in Central America. This can have an effect on the mid-war for the USSR that ranges from merely annoying to devastating depending on how play is going. The range of possibilities is wide.

Based on this one example, my sense is that you really haven't fully explored the subtlety of Twilight Struggle and that getting beaten by a far more experienced player soured you on the prospective strategy.

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not suggesting by "soured" that you were a sore loser; rather, I think you mistook the disparity of experience between you and your opponent as a proxy for there only being one or two good strategies for any given card, which is simply untrue.

I would commend you to try this game about 10 more times and to look deeper.

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Inappropriate Andy
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
Dalek5 wrote:
For those of you which are preparing to scream in the comment board, just know that it is a better game than monopoly.

You're a brave man!
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Shawn Garbett
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
Some of the things you didn't enjoy go away with more plays, i.e. you will learn to mitigate events in many of the ways others have mentioned.

One of the things about Twilight Struggle is there is this feeling that every option is bad, and you're picking the least bad. Occasionally you get a gleeful moment with just the right card, but it's quickly spoiled by an adriot play by your opponent. There is this press of events coming at you. To get Ops from an opponent's card you have to suffer the event. A coup may fail on a dice roll. One wrong move, and the world could enjoy a long nuclear winter. All of this strongly evokes the theme of the cold war. This isn't for everyone, and not everyone is going to enjoy the crazy negative tension. This is okay. I get the sense from your review that even learning the game and moving past these misunderstandings, you would still not enjoy it for this reason.
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Rob Katuska
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
BoJack Horseman wrote:
the myriad ways

Someone actually used "myriad" correctly? Never.

+1
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Joseph Courtight
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
I should probably just hide from this review, but thanks to everyone which is civil.

For those of you reading the review and saying I lack understanding of the strategy you are proably right. I do not understand the strategy.

I played the game six times (once with the late war setup). Only on the 5th time did I survive as the US till latewar and not loose in the early war as either side.

My experience concisted of the following:
I played the got kill by some event of doom.
Tried to minimize the event of doom next game, just to get killed by a different one.

My real criticisms is that there is no game without events. I have never really been concerned with were to put influence or when do attempt a coup and when not to. I spend the entire game of every game doing damage control on events and wonder when to play said events. Events seem to be the only thing that matters.

To use the chess analogy. Its like playing chess and person teaching you explains how pawns work and then tells you hey there are other peices behind them. Do not worry about them you'll learn them after about 20 games or so.

After rereading my review I think I was harsher than nessessary and will probably tone it down at this afternoon when I am not writing half-asleep.

The reason the review is so harsh is because I expected so much better from this game, being number one for so long. But instead it is my least favorit CDG. Which makes me very sad.
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
You are right that there is no game without the events, but thats what drives the tension especially in how and where ops are used. Its certainly OK if that does not appeal to you. I personally experienced all the horrors and more in my early games (and would no doubt suffer them again against competent players), but contrary to your experience, only loved the game more. I Think in the first game I played against my wife I battered her right until the Point when some kind of headline tomfoolery gifted her a win by nuclear war. I was hooked from the start

If you just want to push influence around a board with more Control you're probably better off looking at operational level wargames maybe?

Dalek5 wrote:
The reason the review is so harsh is because I expected so much better from this game, being number one for so long. But instead it is my least favorit CDG. Which makes me very sad.


Oh but this is silly. Dont be sad, plenty of other games in the sea. Enjoy them. Other people like different stuff, this is not news, and applies across all things. I hate Pandemic Legacy so much I'd buy and burn every copy in existence if I was filthy rich, but a lot of people like it, I dont need to be in their club
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Moshe Callen
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
As others have pointed out, your review does not reflect an understanding of the game. Many of your criticisms are simply factually wrong.
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Inappropriate Andy
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
Dalek5 wrote:
I should probably just hide from this review, but thanks to everyone which is civil.
Please don't hide, you're entitled to your opinion

Dalek5 wrote:
My real criticisms is that there is no game without events. I have never really been concerned with were to put influence or when do attempt a coup and when not to. I spend the entire game of every game doing damage control on events and wonder when to play said events. Events seem to be the only thing that matters.
This 'damage control' and the constant feeling of 'all my options are poor but some are less poor' combined with 'when can I get rid of this event in the least damaging way' is the part of the game I like. It feels thematically appropriate to the Cold War, in my opinion.
It could be that this constant firefighting simply isn't your cup of tea, and that's perfectly ok.

Dalek5 wrote:

After rereading my review I think I was harsher than nessessary and will probably tone it down at this afternoon when I am not writing half-asleep.
I'd leave it as is. Challenging conventional opinion provides interesting discussion.
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Paul Schorfheide
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
Dalek5 wrote:
I should probably just hide from this review, but thanks to everyone which is civil.


I appreciate you writing a negative review. I don't agree with you about Twilight Struggle, but in general it's very helpful for people thinking of buying a game to get a mix of good and bad reviews. CDGs are not for everyone, and as you mentioned TS isn't for everyone who likes CDGs. I agree that TS can be a very frustrating game when playing against people of a different skill level. I mostly play against people with limited experience, so I have avoided reading anything on Twilight Strategy to keep things balanced (I'm not smart enough to deduce the best strategies without a website.)
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Kris Wei
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
The most common (mis?)view of Twilight Struggle here is:

Trash Game, Purely Depend on Luck.

Now we have another.

Trash Game, Purely Depend on Events.

Laugh.
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Re: Worst CDG I've played
Yes, we need MORE negative opinions in general, and that also includes from the hip "passionate" reactions. Knee jerk or otherwise. Not only for the chance to discuss these Points (even if of course most people on a game forum will leap to defend "their" game), but I Think its unhealthy that too much content just self fulfills into some idealistic view of every game as perfectly designed, tested and constructed works of genius and if you dont like it you're doing it "wrong". It sounds like you dont have the full grasp of it, but what you say about the way events are a vital Component of the game probably indicate this game is just not for you, and I dont know why any enthusiast of a game should ever feel the need to "get a titty lip on" because someone posts negatively about it, INCLUDING if its an unreasonable complaint (which I'm not saying yours is). Theres way too much pap written but people who write stuff that says nothing or is also based on a poor understanding of things, but frame it in a fluffy positive way get almost zero resistance, and are not held to the same rigorous standards that negative posters are held to. If anything, I enjoy the honesty and commitment from someone having an all out rant overreaction than the jumping on the bandwagon this is awesome, yay, thumb me please route.
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Jeremy Hager
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The game is absolute garbage when you first play it a couple of times. I got smoked by my buddy playing it when we first played, and I yelled "how the F*** is this game the top of the rankings?! I don't get it!"

Then I played a few more games and I figured out the nuances and how to minimalize damage from those events.

I'm still bad at this game. I still lose a lot online and with friends. And I love it. It's a brilliant game.

Give it a chance and the strategies and tactics will flesh out.

It is not a friendly game to the new user, and the learning curve is steep and brutal. But it's a good game.
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Jack
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Jeremy - I'm exactly like you. I suck at it and didn't really understand what the heck was going on, but I really love it now. It didn't help that it was also a theme that I really couldn't have cared less about in gaming. It's top 10 stuff for me and I consider it an accomplishment if I make it to the late war, much less win!
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again, its OK if you dont like it, but its not overly determined by luck, that can be seen by looking at games between the top players. I dont know what you mean by hamstrung strategy, could be an interesting discussion. Stressful yes, that is the appeal for some, the length only makes it more demanding. But it flies by pretty quickly once you know it. Its only 100 odd cards, not that hard to memorise the key ones after playing a few times. I would be interested to hear more discussion about what othr CDGs are better, and how they manage to work without knowing the cards, and without the stress and without being a good couple of hours long (or 3).
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Jonathan Kinney
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I am probably close to 200 games into this game (between online and in person) and it still makes me feel stupid more often than not. I constantly struggle to keep my head above water.

But I just love those times where it just clicks and I have my opponent on the run - not just in one game, but two or three games straight.

The point is that this games is all about pain mitigation. Can I use Grain Sales to the Soviets as the USSR player to ditch a scoring card that would really hurt me? You betcha! So not only do I get to use 3 Ops, I don't lose a ton of VP!

Read the strategy articles. Play against people WAY better than you and watch what they do. Lose with a purpose.
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Len K
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Dalek5 wrote:

The game likes to mess with you and keep secrets from the new player and only once you memorized the deck will you be able to play for 'real'. It intense and can be stressful.

.. exactly WHY a lot of us play TS!

1) IMHO any game that does NOT 'keep secrets from the new player' (=reward study and repeated play) isn't worth my time.

2) You mention other CDGs but I have a hard time understanding how it's possible to play any CDG well without a thorough knowledge of the deck. Yes, TS may be a little heavy on this one, but not overwhelmingly so.

3) What fun is a strategy game without constant, tense, gut-wrenching decisions? Especially one about the Cold War!
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Железный комиссар
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What other CDGs have you played (OP)?
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Joseph Courtight
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JohnRayJr wrote:
What other CDGs have you played (OP)?


Virgin Queen, Here I Stand, Successors, Strike of The Eagle, Labyrinth and several coin games.
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Alex Drazen
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jonocop wrote:
Can I use Grain Sales to the Soviets as the USSR player to ditch a scoring card that would really hurt me? You betcha! So not only do I get to use 3 Ops, I don't lose a ton of VP!


You'd have to be under Brehznev for Grain Sales to be a 3 Op. Also, as USSR, please do that in a game against me so I can win easily on DEFCON.

Although you were probably thinking of Five Year Plan when you wrote that post.
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