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dave de boer
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I picked up this game at my local FLGS. I like it a lot and thought I would use it as a guinea pig for my first BGG review.

Cold war is a satisfying two player game that can be played in 30-45 minutes. For our family it joins Roma, Hera and Zeus and Battleline as short husband-and-wife games that provide an enjoyable experience without being too brain burning.

What is Cold War about? The theme, of course, is in the name. This game has two rival intelligence agencies vying to bring various neutral countries under the sphere of influence of their various countries. To be successful you need clever play of your cards, a good read of your opponent, a poker face and a little bit of luck. Cold War is a card game. The objectives are represented by cards. The groups which you play to claim the objectives are also represented by cards. The secret agents at your disposal are printed up in an oversize format to look like real ID cards. There are scoring tokens included, as well as a CIA and a KGB token that can be placed on an objective to show which side has claimed it. To me it is important for a game to have good components. A card game is limited in what it can do with components, but Cold War does not disappoint with the quality of the components.

The rules of Cold War have been explained thoroughly elsewhere. To get points (first person to 100 wins) you need to claim objectives, which are countries such as Cuba, Angola, etc. Each country has a stability number. Players take turns drawing 'group' cards, which have a points value ranging from 1-6. Players want to get as close as possible to the 'stability' number on the objective (9, 11, 13 etc) without going over. The player with the highest total from the cards he has drawn, without going over the stability number, claims the objective. In addition to their numerical value, each card has a function. A military card lets you destroy another card in play. A political card lets you take a card from your opponent or donate one to him from your own side. An economic card lets you reuse a previously used card. A media card lets you look at the top card of the draw deck and choose whether to play, leave or discard it. In this part of the game you are limited by the cards you draw, yet it is a lot of fun to match wits as you seek to claim the objective.

The real challenge in the game is provided by the secret agents. Before playing for the objective, each player secretly selects an agent from a group of six. (Each player has an identical set to choose from). After the objective has been claimed, the players reveal their agent and resolve their abilities. The Director allows you to claim a second, random objective. The Assassin allows you to kill the opposing agent, but you forfeit the objective back to the deck. The Double Agent lets you see what agent is played next round, or allows you to send an opposing agent on vacation for a round. The Analyst lets you look at the top three cards of the group deck and rearrange them. The Deputy Director does nothing, but he can't be killed or sent on vacation. The Master Spy is really fun. He lets you claim the objective if you lose it. Once played, an agent is out of the game for one round, unless he is killed by the Assassin or by going over the stability number of the objective (called Civil Disorder).

The agents are what give the game its twist and allow for bluffing and strategy. Is the opponent trying to lose this round so that his Master Spy will take the objective? Do I think he will play his Assassin this round? Players always have to keep in mind that if they draw a card that puts them over the stability limit, they kill their own agent, and he is removed from play.

There is definitely an element of luck in the game. The designers have included a few objectives in the objective deck that are essentially claimed by luck, since each player can only draw and play one card for these objectives. (I draw a 4, you draw a 5, you win the objective). Some players think this is too random. I think that the low point value negates the impact on the game that these particular objectives have, and it doesn't bother me to have a bit of luck in a lighter game.

Cold War is a great, light two player card game. The rules are easily mastered. Roll selection is always fun. The card play is tense. A game can be played in half an hour to 45 minutes. The theme is portrayed with black-and-white photography from the era. This is the kind of game that can be used to wind down together for a few minutes after a busy day, or it can provide an evening of scheming fun as you play a best of three. It is just plain fun to claim the objective and reveal your Director, only to find that your opponent has stolen it away with her Master Spy. Or to claim the opponent's objective with your Master Spy, only to find that she has played your Assassin, meaning you get the objective but lose your agent. There are lots of meaningful decisions to be made, and that to me is the mark of a good, fun game.

Brief your agents, give them their assignment and go win the Cold War!
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Sheamus Parkes
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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Nice review. Good showing for your first time. I like the small rules rehash and the large amount of text given over to analysis and impressions!


Personally, I would like to see a little cleaner formating. Giving the reader nothing but a large block of text is very daunting. Breaking it up with some headings and maybe a couple pictures can go a long way to keeping your readers engaged. Of course, that's just my opinion
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Ender Wiggins
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Great first review Dave - the first of many, I hope! You mention some of my other two-player favorites - Roma, Hera and Zeus and Battleline - would you say that Cold War is in the same league as those in terms of quality, and that you'll expect similar replay mileage from it as the others?
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Andrew Young
Wales
Wellesley
Massachusetts
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And if you never have, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.
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I thought the game lacked substance. It was dry and without any tension...

Hmm, hope I'm not missing the point or a rule...


devil


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Anson Wooten
United States
Springboro
Ohio
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Art by: Aaron Wooten www.aaronrwooten.com
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Thanks for the review Dave.

I'm always on the look out for good two player games. I recently picked up a copy of Cold War: CIA vs. KGB and I am thrilled with it. It's fun to play, doesn't take too long and has a cool theme (IMO).

I've been eyeing Battleline and Roma for my next purchase. Since you referenced both of these games in your review, I am curious how you feel they compare to Cold War?

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dave de boer
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We have had a lot of fun with both Roma and Battleline. Both games are simple enough to play and can be finished in 30 minutes. Both present you with lots of meaningful choices, which is what makes a game fun for me. I would say that both Roman and Battleline have a little bit higher luck factor than Cold War (just my opinion), but it doesn't make any of those games less fun than Cold War. Roma especially has given my wife and I some epic matches.
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Greg McDevitt
United States
Saint charles
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I really liked this game. I have only played it once but it was easy to learn but there is some deeper strategy that is involved once playing. I would recommend this as a good two person game.
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