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Subject: Ender's Concise Overview: A Hot Game about the Cold War rss

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Designed by: Ananda Gupta & Jason Matthews
Publisher: GMT Games (2005)
Suitability: 2 players, ages 13 and up
Game length: about 3 hours


There's a lot of good things that can be said about Twilight Struggle, which is currently the top ranked game on BoardGameGeek. With a broad appeal that has potential to please eurogamers and wargamers alike, it's not entirely surprising that Twilight Struggle is at the top of the pile, and is regarded as one of the very best of modern board games. I picked up the Deluxe edition from GMT, and a history course about the Cold War that one of my children was taking proved to be a opportune time to get it to the table for the first time a few years ago. Since then I've also been able to enjoy several face-to-face games with a friend locally, and explore online play with another friend abroad. One can never have too many friends in war!


For those who aren't familiar with this modern classic, Twilight Struggle sees two players compete against each other as the US and the USSR, in a bid for world domination and influence during the Cold War era. The game is primarily driven by cards which feature key historical events that are true to the time period and reflect various elements of the tense political and military international cat-and-mouse game that characterized the Cold War. Like global chess performed on the world's biggest stage, this subtle conflict ebbed and flowed in favour of both the Americans and Soviets alike during different stages, and the game captures this nicely. The cards feature events as well as action points that can be used by players to increase their influence in various countries, thus trying to control and dominate specific geopolitical regions, or to perform other actions such as military coups or advance in the space race. When played, scoring cards for these various regions are the main way that the victory points needed to win the game are earned.

The genius of the game lies in the fact that when you play cards that feature events benefiting your opponent, these events will trigger even though you choose to use the card for action points, whereas an event card favourable to yourself requires you to choose between triggering the event or using the action points. This creates an enormous amount of tension, mirroring some of the feelings of the very real historical period that serves as the backdrop of the game. A complete game also often features many micro-battles in particular regions. When an area seems to become important to your opponent, you can rarely afford to ignore it, and simply by virtue of your opponent's interest it also becomes important to you. I particularly appreciate the historical flavour of the game, and the attention to detail.

It has to be admitted that Twilight Struggle isn't for the faint of heart. Even though the rules are not super complex, it is definitely possible for experienced players to become good at the game by knowing the cards and by making strategic choices that pay off later in the game. Ideally it also requires being able to set aside a block of three hours or so to complete a single game in one sitting. But if you can find that time and a fellow gamer or friend willing to take on the challenge with you, few gaming experiences can equal a tense game of Twilight Struggle with an evenly matched opponent. Very highly recommended!


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mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

NB: Since BGG's image server is still down and no new pictures can be uploaded, this week I've opted to post my concise but long overdue review of BGG's #1 ranked game.
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Ahmed Hadzi
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Nice and concise.

EndersGame wrote:
Even though the rules are not super complex, it is definitely possible for experienced players to become good at the game by knowing the cards and by making strategic choices that pay off later in the game.

This could be said for just about any game. Rules are very simple though.
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Karl Bunyan
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ahmedhadzi wrote:
EndersGame wrote:
Even though the rules are not super complex, it is definitely possible for experienced players to become good at the game by knowing the cards and by making strategic choices that pay off later in the game.

This could be said for just about any game. Rules are very simple though.
Not quite any game, but I think it happens more in 2-player games, and more in Twilight Struggle than in most 2-player games.
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Don't over look Campaign Manager 2008, created by one of the same makers of Twilight Struggle.

Can be found cheaply enough, a decent game.

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why so short? i love your long & detailed review format, and was thrilled to see that you were finally reviewing TS. however, i was disappointed to find this "concise" review instead.
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abe18 wrote:
why so short? i love your long & detailed review format, and was thrilled to see that you were finally reviewing TS. however, i was disappointed to find this "concise" review instead.
Sorry to disappoint you; as mentioned on my subscription list, the fact that BGG's image server is still down prevents any new pictures being uploaded to the site, so I wasn't able to post the more detailed pictorial review I'd written for this week (on a different game). Considering that I'd not written a review of BGG's #1 ranked game until now, this proved to be an opportune time to correct that longstanding omission with a shorter article.

Twilight Struggle is a terrific game, and I hope that this overview gives an idea about some of the qualities that in my opinion make it so great, such as the thematic immersion, the tension, and depth of game-play.
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EndersGame wrote:
abe18 wrote:
why so short? i love your long & detailed review format, and was thrilled to see that you were finally reviewing TS. however, i was disappointed to find this "concise" review instead.
Sorry to disappoint you; as mentioned on my subscription list, the fact that BGG's image server is still down prevents any new pictures being uploaded to the site, so I wasn't able to post the more detailed pictorial review I'd written for this week (on a different game). Considering that I'd not written a review of BGG's #1 ranked game until now, this proved to be an opportune time to correct that longstanding omission with a shorter article.

Twilight Struggle is a terrific game, and I hope that this overview gives an idea about some of the qualities that in my opinion make it so great, such as the thematic immersion, the tension, and depth of game-play.

i understood that you couldn't include pictures, but your usual written review portion is still way more detailed.
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Daniƫl Muilwijk
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abe18 wrote:
why so short? i love your long & detailed review format, and was thrilled to see that you were finally reviewing TS. however, i was disappointed to find this "concise" review instead.
I think we're all part of Ender's secret investigation where he tries to find an answer to the question whether thumbs are earned by reviewing games thoroughly or just by reviewing popular games...
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ShepparCon was a Blast!
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Thank You to all those that attended BorderCon this year and made it special again!!!
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Seabie wrote:
abe18 wrote:
why so short? i love your long & detailed review format, and was thrilled to see that you were finally reviewing TS. however, i was disappointed to find this "concise" review instead.
I think we're all part of Ender's secret investigation where he tries to find an answer to the question whether thumbs are earned by reviewing games thoroughly or just by reviewing popular games...

I think the answer to that question is generally pretty clear. New titles are always more popular, quality analysis may account for about 20 additional thumbs on top of that. Followers of a reviewer probably add a good 10-30 thumbs depending on how popular a reviewer is.
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Matt
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I thought this review was a masterpiece of conciseness, and perfectly fitting for #1.

(I enjoy your longer reviews, too, especially for games I'm not familiar with.)

Excellent use of existing imagery, too. Those few photos capture the essence and the key mechanisms in the game.

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Jim F
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You know with Hitler? the more I learn about that guy, the more I don't care for him
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Maybe you should have waited. It's not like there was a rush on.
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Jon M
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How dare you post a review that isn't at least 10 pages of detailed analysis of the game including pictures, pictures of you taking the pictures and pictures of someone taking pictures of you taking pictures.

It's an outrage - hand in your golden reviewer badge immediately!

In fact I'm so mad I'm going to shoot my computer!

BANG...
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Einmal ist keinmal
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Jon_1066 wrote:
How dare you post a review that isn't at least 10 pages of detailed analysis of the game including pictures, pictures of you taking the pictures and pictures of someone taking pictures of you taking pictures.

It's an outrage - hand in your golden reviewer badge immediately!

In fact I'm so mad I'm going to shoot my computer!

BANG...
Easy, man. No need to lower DEFCON.
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LC
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Well, that's, like, your opinion, man
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Wait.

Are we, somehow, under the impression that the reviewer owes us a certain type of review? Is he paid to do these?

Gamers are accused of being an entitled lot. It appears to be a correct assertion.

Thanks for the reviews over the years, Ender.
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Jim F
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Lawcomic wrote:
Wait.

Are we, somehow, under the impression that the reviewer owes us a certain type of review? Is he paid to do these?

Gamers are accused of being an entitled lot. It appears to be a correct assertion.

Thanks for the reviews over the years, Ender.

Nobody owes anyone a good review. There are plenty of mediocre ones. What attracts attention to this one (and comments) is that people don't normally stop by and thumb them in such large numbers.
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LC
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Well, that's, like, your opinion, man
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Gotcha. I'd hate for a thumb inflation issue to devalue thumbs.
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Trent Boardgamer
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ahmedhadzi wrote:
Nice and concise.

EndersGame wrote:
Even though the rules are not super complex, it is definitely possible for experienced players to become good at the game by knowing the cards and by making strategic choices that pay off later in the game.

This could be said for just about any game. Rules are very simple though.

Yes the rules are quite simple, but the complexity of game play strategy certainly is not.

I look at this game much like I do chess. The basic game premise is quite simple, but the strategy of the game can be quite complex.

I don't find this level of complexity in most games, where every little thing that occurs requires a reassessment of your strategy. Most games have far fewer variables occurring at any one time. I do agree it's not the only game I would say this about, but they are certainly not in the majority or even common.

In saying that maybe your experience with the games you plays varies from mine, each to their own.
 
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Lawrence Davis
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Ashiefan wrote:

Maybe you should have waited. It's not like there was a rush on.
I couldn't agree more. This is Ender's worst game review and he should have waited to post it when the pics would have been allowed. It's only been like 7 years ago since this game landed on shelves. Why rush it and put out sub-par Ender work?
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Mike Strangfeld
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doh! came here looking for a clear walkthrough on this one... I've yet to purchase but have the Game as an app on my phone.

With that said...

I just discovered all these reviews so thanks much!
 
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