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Subject: Any dissenting voices on Twilight Struggle? rss

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Matt Keyes
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Richardson
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i'm about two inches from picking this game up - it looks great and i've only heard good things. Is there any voice out there who didn't enjoy it? i just want to be sure i'm not missing something that might alter my decision.

Thanks!
 
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Jim Cote
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I was all hot to play TS, but my only chance was online. The experience was not very positive, but mostly due to the terrible interfaces (really slow, too much panning and zooming, etc). I'm hoping to give it another chance face to face. I found the system pretty elegant, except for the events themselves; each one is unique, each does something different to the state of the game, and as a new player, you have no idea what to expect for events. I think 2 or 3 plays face to face would get me over that hump.
 
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P. Al Williams
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I enjoy this game immensely. But I hope there's someone out there who doesn't.
 
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Jonathan
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I'm a big fan of TS (I even have the microbadge), but I have heard some negative comments. One that I hear a lot is that TS is "not a wargame." Even if this is true, I'm not sure why it would be so bad. Others claim one side or another is over or under-powered. Early on the rumor was that the Soviets were too strong, now some are saying the US is too tough. I've had a pretty even split in my games, your mileage may vary of course. I think the worst thing I could possibly say about the game is that the rules for realingment roles almost never get used. One of the variants in the second edition addresses that with one of the optional rules. I've had a lot of fun playing TS, and I'd recommend it highly. Good luck!
 
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Brad Miller
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Well, I like the game. But...

I think that the card luck is a little too strong. In other words, the hands that you and your opponent are dealt will have more to do with the outcome of the game than HOW you choose to play those cards. Which si a bit of a bummer. But the game is engaging.
 
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Chris Farrell
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I've enjoyed TS, but it is a bit pricey.

I think my biggest worry is about play-balance. When it first came out, some people were screaming that the US couldn't win. I didn't believe it then, but I've now played about 12 times and I have never seen a US victory that didn't involve an experienced US player against a Soviet player playing for the first time (that was 2 games). Every other game has been won by the Soviets. My wife and I have played a few times, we switch sides every game, and the US has never won.

So I dunno. I'm sure someone will chime in here with a comment about their smashing US victory over their better Soviet opponent, and I'm sure some of this is just luck, but I am honestly somewhat skeptical of the play balance at this point.

I also think it's a little long for what you get out of it.

I like Twilight Struggle, as the fact that I've played it 12 or so times would indicate, but I'm also not as enamored of it as the average rating, and you were wanting dissenting voices

I have a review here:

http://homepage.mac.com/c_farrell/games/reviews/TwilightStru...

You can also read all the comments for the game here. There are plenty of people who give it an average rating or worse and have interesting comments.
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Michael Denman
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It's very popular in my group, but I don't care for it. My main gripe would be that it's nearly impossible to do well without knowing the cards in the deck. Sure, if you own the game you could study the deck or you could just play it enough that you learned the deck... but I'm not interested in doing either.
 
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Scott Nicholson
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It didn't do much for me. As has already been said, I found that the cards dictated my success more than I did. If I got good cards at the right time, it was easy to win, and if I didn't get cards I needed, it was much harder to do well.

 
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P. Al Williams
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The first time I played I was the Us, and won handily.
The second game (AFAIK) played the US player also won handily.
 
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P. Al Williams
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I should caveat that this was my first CDG experience, though I've got Here I Stand waiting in the wings for the right moment.
 
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George Kinney
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I'm kind of a dissenter. I admire the game, it definately was different than anything I'd played up to that point, but I traded it cause it was obviously not going to hit the table very often.

I don't play wargames in general for a number of reasons, and although this particular game didn't contain many of the things that are major turn-offs for me in that genre, it was close enough.

I don't think there is any objective way to know if it will appeal or not until you try it. And the up-side is that it is well-known enough to be readily tradable if it doesn't win you over.
 
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david funch
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Williams, I've got Here I Stand coming in the mail. I plan on doing a PBEM game of that as soon as I can, maybe we can get a game going together. So there's at least one other person that doesn't know what they're doing.

On topic: No game is perfect and different types of gamers are willing to forgive different types of faults.

For me, I love having to manage the hand I'm dealt. Every game I've played I've had good hands and bad hands, it's part of the game. Complaining about it is like saying you don't wanna play poker because you might not get good cards.
 
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Scott B
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Well, allow me to add a dissenting voice to the small choir. I think it's a quality game, but there are some issues that will make it appeal less to certain people. It's modestly long for a 2 player (non-war)game; not too long, but still, 3 hours is 3 hours. Your actions are dictated by the card deck; not a big deal for me, but, as has already been pointed out, this will be a big turnoff for some people. Finally, at times, it can seem like you're playing near the bottom of a very deep well, where your every action takes you slightly further from losing immediately, rather than closer to winning. My two opponents got down quickly, and just lost heart, so I was able to win fairly easily. However, I think this is one of 2 GMT games everybody should seriously consider owning (the other is Battle Line).
 
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Chester
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Its funny....I think the game is over-rated and over-hyped, I've had a few very frustrating games among the times I've played it....yet I just bought the reprint.

My biggest beefs are that the single draw deck can tend to allow imbalanced distributions of cards, where one player has a significant advantage through only chance. There are a couple cards that seem over-powered, particularly Red Scare/Red Purge. I know the reprint has tried to address this, but I don't think the fix (increasing it to 4 OPS) is enough to make any real difference. I think its still an automatic play, and if the same player were to draw this one two times in a row...that is really a big advantage.

I've played a fair number of wargames, particulary CDG. I don't think of Twilight Struggle as a wargame. I think its pretty close to being a great game...and I'm still willing to play it if I have an enthusiastic opponent, but I wouldn't go out of my way to find one.

Between two equally experienced players, particularly players that know the decks equally well....you can have a very satisfying enjoyable game. But every so often you'll feel like the winner was not determined by the game play decisions, but by the luck of the draw.
 
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Ralph H. Anderson
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One of the themes running through the comments here is that people are not happy with the "luck" in the game - but nevertheless they enjoy playing it, especially as one person put it "playing with an enthusiastic opponent."

As a comparative example: one of my current favorite games is Friedrich. This game is all about the game play and not all about the finish. Certainly you want to win, certainly you do everything you can to win, and frequently you are on the edge of your seat hoping you'll win. But most of the time you will not win - no matter which of the positions you are playing. And as the Prussion/Hannover player, with certain card draws it is impossible to win. In fact, the way the Deck of Fate is stacked at the beggining of the game already determines many of the players who can or cannot win. And this does not damage the fun of the game at all - in fact it greatly enhances it! It adds an element of danger to each round of play that keeps the game humming.

Twilight Struggle is also like this. I don't play this game just to win. The whole interest is in the ride - every decision is important which makes it a lot of fun to play. I haven't played enough to say that it is all one way or the other in terms of who wins - but the final scores have been close enough - or the situations close enough - that I am not really concerned about it. And even if you think they are - then play two games - once on each side - and determine the winner by the point differentials.

I also don't buy that the cards are overpowered one way or the other. The more powerful cards will either help you with more Operations point - or with a fantastic event. If it is your opponents event - using the great Operations points will help him with his event. If you play it for your event, then you are usually taking a great card that helps your side out of the game. Much better to keep it play later since it may make much more of a heachache for your opponent or solve a headache for you if you do. (If an opponent has to play your event it is agonizing. If you have your own events in hand, then you can play those cards- especially for ops points which means one fewer of your opponent's events you will have to play that round. I belive in keeping the deck rich in your good events!)

It is certainly not the perfect game - but it is a lot of fun. If you like longer games and two-player games, then its a great buy. If you don't, then these may count as points againt acquiring it.
 
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Scott and Suzy Krutsch
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As one of the few traders of this game (hint hint ), I thought Twilight Struggle was well-developed and reasonably decent, but I prefer the card-driven games with "real military units" to move and fight with... a bunch of countries with numbers in them just doesn't make my heart go pitter-patter!

Scott
 
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Trevor Murphy
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It's a pretty good game, mainly because it does an excellent job at making the most of its theme. The cards provide a great slide show of cold war history (making the somewhat dry mechanics a lot more palatable) and the map looks suitably grand and tangled.

Those dry mechanics do leave a little to be desired, though. If you consider Twilight Struggle as an abstract, a lot of the gamee comes down to dice rolls and card draws, which can result in an unhappy feeling that Fate is batting the victory chit up and down the scoring track at whim. Still, at the end there's usually a satisfying feeling of fullness. Agonizing over the dice and watching the superpowers creep like fungus across the map makes for a wonderful tension.
 
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Andy Daglish
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Played once. The Soviets were doing well everywhere from the start, but despite this the VP differential remained pretty static, until they lost the Vietnam war. This allowed Wargames to win for Blue in phase 3.

Its simple and repetitive, and best moves can be obvious, and after a while this may get boring.
 
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Philip Thomas
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It is neither simple nor repetitive. You do have to know the deck, I admit. If you know the deck you can make long-term plans and it becomes less of a reaction to the cards.
 
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Scotty Dickey
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Brandon
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I have TS on my wish list. I may try to push someone in my family in that direction as an idea for a Christmas gift. The main reasons I'm interested are that I'm just getting into wargames and it sounds like it could be a nice hybrid/transitional game. If I'm going to play a 'tweener', I'd rather it lean more toward a wargame than a eurogame. Otherwise, I could just stick with the wall of eurogames I already own. Also, I've read that a number of geeks have been able to convince their non-wargaming wives to play this game. I really love the thought of a wargame that my wife and I might eventually be able to play together.

By the way, David and Al, I'm currently playing my first game of Here I Stand in a PBEM game. It is technically my first real wargame (excluding the times I played Diplomacy in High School). I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying it. My interest in the period may skew my attitude toward the game a bit, however.

This brings up my final point. To hear something like dissenting voices on both of these games, you guys should check out the Point2Point podcast (if you haven't already). They have played and reviewed both games. In each case I would say that they seemed to be a bit underwhelmed. I think they enjoyed the games, but had some issues as well. I think they are currently hoping that future play will elevate the status of these games. Anyway, the podcast is a must-listen for wargamers (or wargamer wannabes).

http://point2pointsource.com/xoops/modules/news/

 
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Eric Brosius
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I strongly encourage people to try Twilight Struggle. It's true that it's not a wargame; rather, it's a political game with war events. Like wargames, it forces you to respond to sometimes outrageous swings of good or bad fortune---it is not like an archtypical euro game in that respect, but on the other hand it does share that feature with games like rubber bridge and poker.

There is a large group of "card-driven wargames" with an enthusiastic following. I'm a big fan of Paths of Glory myself, for instance. There's a substantial learning barrier for most of these games, so it's hard to know whether you might like them, but it would be a shame if they were exactly the games you would like and you never found out. With Twilight Struggle you can try the "CDW" concept on a non-wargame and get a reasonable idea about whether to invest in learning more. Many of the other games have much less luck in them, especially the "two deck" games in which each player has a separate deck, eliminating the possibility that one player will get all the good cards. So if your objection is the luck, try Twilight Struggle and ask yourself whether you'd like it except for the luck, and if the answer is yes, try one of the two deck games.

I'd expect to win Twilight Struggle at least some of the time against a significantly better player, just because of luck. I'd have no chance to win Paths of Glory against a significantly better player, because there just isn't enough luck for that to happen.
 
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Brian Bankler
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I bought it, played ~7 times and sold my copy. It's not bad, but there is too much luck for the length. In particular, there are a few neutral cards (Red Scare/Purge; Salt Treaty, some high ops) that often determine games.

I wouldn't mind trying 2nd edition, though. I'm not sure what they changed but if they tweaked the deck it could vastly improve the game.

In any case, I have a full review/discussion in the reviews.
 
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mrbass
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Everyone thinks it's unbalanced for either US or USSR their first few games of TS. After playing over 35 times it definitely it is balanced and luck more often then not does not determine the outcome. It took me about 5 games to figure that out that it was indeed balanced.

If you become a good Twilight Struggle player you'll realize how to minimize the inevitable damage and set yourself for later in the game. As long as you can absorb it without losing then it's probably worth it depending a few factors. True the USSR is favored during the the Early War but this is by design. Luck factor is way less than Wallenstein and I love that game too.

Having said the above I don't blame people for not liking the game. Why would one want to spend 12 hours to discover it's a balanced game (4 games for example). If one doesn't like it after their first game there is nothing that can be done. I'm just glad I personally stuck with it and it's easily the best game with the most gut-renching tension out of all my euro games I own by a long shot.
 
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marc lecours
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It is absolutely true that knowing the cards increases your chance of playing well enormously. BUT don't learn them before your first game ! ! !

There is huge fun in playing blindly, and discovering the cards as you go along. In your first game (between two newbies) one side will probably win quickly (usually the USSR). But so what.... it is a fun game to just play. Because it deals with a subject that many people know about, you can use your political intuition to guide your play rather that knowledge of the cards. The only tip that is worth knowing is that the USA should concentrate on containing the spread of communism rather that make too many points.

The fun of this game initially is discovering the cards, seeing their effects and figuring out for yourself the best strategies. Later on the fun comes from managing well your hand and mostly from guessing your opponents hand and intentions form the clues he/she gives. The game is tense from start to finish especially for the USA. (there is not much room for mistakes).
 
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Justin
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/104292 is my review, it even has the word 'dissentive' in the subject

i'd still suggest buying the game if it's your only way to try it. most people seem to like it, and i'm sure it will trade easily here on bgg if it's not your cup of tea.

the further away from the game i get, the more i want to play it. but then after i do, i'm reminded of why i didn't. it's astounding how much thematic "pull" the game has.
 
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