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Subject: Help me get it rss

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Filip Cam
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Me and a friend recently played our first game of Twilight Struggle and didn’t enjoy it. Since the game is so highly rated here I figure we just didn’t get it, so I’ll describe our experience here and perhaps someone can explain what went wrong. We had no prior experience with CDG’s but expected to like this game a lot.

The first problem is that we played for over 6 hours and only got to the end of turn 8. Reading all the cards and choosing one each action round just took a lot of time; 2-3’ per card. Do you generally decide in advance in what order to play your whole hand of cards? Or does the game only take the 3h specified once you know all the cards by heart?

The second problem is that we used almost all our op points for placing influence. Very rarely for a coup, never for a realignment roll. I wanted to do more coups and realignment rolls, but when considering the things I could do with, say, 3 op points, placing influence points always seemed the best choice. Surely I must be thinking wrong? Perhaps the problem was that we only placed just enough influence to control a country?

Thirdly, we always seemed to be battling for all regions simultaneously; without anyone ever having firm control of any region. Is this how a normal game goes?

Thanks for any advise. Watching a sample game by two players who know what they’re doing would help too I guess.
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Martí Cabré

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TS is a game that improves with playing. You should know each side's cards, what can happen, what could happen and prepare your hand each turn playing either to go for the kill, either to avoid a killing blow.

Also, playing with someone with more experience is more rewarding as the card combos and map tactics become more explicit.
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Tanks Alot
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There are a lot of video posts here on BGG in the game area. Some are good, some are bad. Some will make you want to play less haha. Just give the game 4 tries before you give up. It gets faster

I had to play the game about 3 or 4 times to appreciate it. Try and be a little experimental and try a coup and see what happens. You will see how the mil ops effect the game. You will also understand the struggle for continent control and which ones come in the game as more decks enter.

I am no expert but I have really enjoyed learning the history of the cold war through this game. You can also probably find an opponent to teach on vassal

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/videos/thing/12333/twilight-str...

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Ben
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krommenaas wrote:
Since the game is so highly rated here I figure we just didn’t get it, so I’ll describe our experience here and perhaps someone can explain what went wrong.

There are more experienced/knowledgable users who can likely give you better advice, but I'll give it a shot.


krommenaas wrote:
The first problem is that we played for over 6 hours and only got to the end of turn 8. Reading all the cards and choosing one each action round just took a lot of time; 2-3’ per card. Do you generally decide in advance in what order to play your whole hand of cards? Or does the game only take the 3h specified once you know all the cards by heart?

With just a little experience, you should be able to decide the order of your whole hand in advance (with some flexibility to react to your opponents choices, if necessary). The first game always takes a while. You do not need to learn all the cards by heart; you will become more familiar with the cards, and, more importantly, with the way the cards present information (terms, sentence structure, etc.).


krommenaas wrote:
The second problem is that we used almost all our op points for placing influence. Very rarely for a coup, never for a realignment roll. I wanted to do more coups and realignment rolls, but when considering the things I could do with, say, 3 op points, placing influence points always seemed the best choice. Surely I must be thinking wrong? Perhaps the problem was that we only placed just enough influence to control a country?

Coups are an essential part of the game. First, the Soviet player should want to use them to control the Defcon level (by keeping it at 2, he/she can get ~2VP per turn from the military operations track). Second, coups allow you to gain presence in countries that you did not have access to. Make sure that you are following the influcnce placement rules correctly: you may only place influence in countries where you had influence or countries adjacent to where you had influence at the start of the turn. Coups, by contrast, can be anywhere that your opponent has influence. Also, make sure that you are spending two points to place the first influence in a country that your opponent controls. That tends to make influence a little less valuable.


krommenaas wrote:
Thirdly, we always seemed to be battling for all regions simultaneously; without anyone ever having firm control of any region. Is this how a normal game goes?

Usually, yes. But one of the primary skills in the game is knowing how to pick your battles wisely. Sometimes it is worthwhile to make only minimal effort in one region so that you have more resources to use in others.
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Adam Ruzzo
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FWIW, a "normal" game has the defcon sitting at the 2-3 mark for 90% of the time.

The reason for this is that coups are a more efficient use of ops points (in many cases) than they are for placing influence. Lets take a common scenario:

USSR plays vietnam revolts (giving them control of vietnam) and then in a later turn takes control of Thailand with 2 influence (it is a 2 stability battleground state). The US is unable to place influence in Thailand because they do not have any adjacent countries from which to spread the influence (remember that in order to place influence in a country with OPs you MUST have had influence in an adjacent country at the start of that card play).

Lets say the defcon is at 4 also (no coups/realignment attempts in europe). So the US attempts to coup Thailand with a 4 ops card. if they roll a 1, USSR is reduced to 1 influence. If they roll a 2, the USSR is removed from Thailand. If they roll a 3, the US gets 1 influence in thailand. If they roll a 4+, the US gets control. So they have a 50% chance of wiping out the enemy influence AND taking control of a very important battleground state in Asia. Those are pretty good odds and it's a much bigger swing than taking over a currently neutral state somewhere. And on top of that, they just couped a battleground country which means the defcon drops to 3 and now the USSR cannot counter-coup thailand to get it back. On top of that they just gained 4 military ops making sure the US won't lose any VPs at the end of the round.


Usually the USSR is the one performing most of the coups though. When a new turn starts the defcon is back up to 3 and so USSR gets the oppertunity to coup first. This means that the low stability countries in the middle east are often couped in the first action round by the USSR. You can take iran/Egypt/Lybia from the US this way and they can't counter-coup because you just dropped the defcon to 2. In addition, if the USSR doesn't have influence in any non-battleground countries outside of europe, asia, and the middle east , the US cannot coup this turn and will find it much harder to meet the required military ops (and will thus, likely lose 2 VPs at the end of the turn).

So couping is very important for the USSR in the early game to both deny the US any chance of counter-coup as well as make it hard for them to coup anything important and thus will have to 'waste' ops couping a useless African non-battleground in order to get the required mil ops.


If USSR plays more aggressively with coups in your second game it will likely turn out a bit different
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Alexei Gartinski
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Twilight Struggle is an area control game. Have a look at the scoring cards and when each of them comes into play. Then try to focus on winning these scoring areas. If your opponent does the same, most of the time you will be both fighting for the same areas: that adds a lot of tension. At the same time, doing something in the non-scoring or not-immediately-scoring areas will divert the attention (and resources) of your opponent, and will allow you to build up your forces for future scoring...

You see? That's where the strategy comes into play
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Michael Kiefte
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Quote:

The first problem is that we played for over 6 hours and only got to the end of turn 8. Reading all the cards and choosing one each action round just took a lot of time; 2-3’ per card. Do you generally decide in advance in what order to play your whole hand of cards? Or does the game only take the 3h specified once you know all the cards by heart?


I had forgotten that the box said only 3h! I can play a game much faster than that, but I know all the cards by now. I'm a little fuzzier on the late-war cards, but the first three turns in the early war go very fast. For your first game, I would expect to put a fair bit of thought into the cards themselves -- they are the heart of the game. Your second game will likely go a little bit faster and then the third game, faster still.

Also keep an eye on how the cards interact. For example, if you're the U.S. player and you hold Romanian Abdication, Independent Reds, and Truman Doctrine, the U.S. can control Romania, which is a huge pain in the a** for the Soviet player. Notice that Romanian Abdication is actually a Soviet card, but can be great for the U.S. depending on what's in your hand. After a while, you don't even think about this stuff, but it's really fun to "discover" these combos when you're playing for the first time and the look of horror on your opponent's face is priceless. Every now and again, I discover a new combo which is why the game is so much fun.

Quote:
The second problem is that we used almost all our op points for placing influence. Very rarely for a coup, never for a realignment roll. I wanted to do more coups and realignment rolls, but when considering the things I could do with, say, 3 op points, placing influence points always seemed the best choice. Surely I must be thinking wrong? Perhaps the problem was that we only placed just enough influence to control a country?


If you don't do enough coups each turn, you are penalized VPs based on the DEFCON and your required military Ops. Also, if you don't coup, then you allow your player to coup/realign in Europe/Asia/Middle East. Generally, the first person to coup has an advantage as he denies his opponent the opportunity to coup in one of those regions. Also, if a coup pushes DEFCON to 2, you deny your opponent the opportunity to coup in a Battleground country.

In general, coups are less efficient than placing Ops. However, there are other strategic points to keep in mind. It may be impossible to place Ops in a target because it's not adjacent to any of your influence. Also, placing influence doesn't reduce your opponents influence which can otherwise spread to adjacent countries. Also coups reduce DEFCON which can deny your opponent the opportunity to also coup in places that you want held secure. In general, coup considerations can be a little complex.

Realignments are rare in practice. You want to look for target countries that are surrounded by your controlled countries and which are not adjacent to many opponent controlled countries. Otherwise, they're not that effective. Also, if you have influence in the target country, you're likely to lose it. If your opponent has an isolated country and removing all influence from there can shut him out of an entire region (i.e., he won't be able to spread influence), then it's a good idea. However, the real trick is to prevent that situation from ever happening to you. For example, reducing DEFCON means that realigns almost never happen in Europe/Asia/Middle East. Also, don't leave your controlled countries isolated and surrounded.

I've used realigns very effectively against inexperienced players, but rarely otherwise. It's usually a waste of Ops.

Quote:
Thirdly, we always seemed to be battling for all regions simultaneously; without anyone ever having firm control of any region. Is this how a normal game goes?


Between two equally skilled players, that's the way it could happen. Another outcome is one player dominates some regions while the opponent dominates others.
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Christopher Hill
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Krommen,

Don't give up on it just yet. Becoming familiar with the card events will definitely make your games play faster. Most of the games I have played are between two and three hours.

Most new players like to place influence because it is one of the easiest actions to do. As your experience grows you will appreciate the impact of a timely coup attempt or realignment roll. For instance, maybe you can change the scoring state of Europe with a coup attempt just prior to playing the scoring card. Having performed the coup attempt before your opponent shuts them out of being able to do the same thing in retaliation until they can move Defcon back up the track. Coup attempts also help with military ops and if your opponent doesn't use them you can gain some victory points.

Realignment rolls can be a good way to keep your opponent in check. For instance it can be difficult for the Soviet player to make his way into Central or South America early on. Realignment rolls can prevent the US player from expanding too quickly by removing some of their influence. Realignment can also be a good alternative to coup attempts since they don't affect Defcon in battleground states.

Yes, battling over the regions is the name of the game. Obviously, some regions are more valuable than others, but the game really comes down to timely scoring without letting your opponent know you are holding a certain scoring card. It becomes very obvious sometimes when your opponent plays his first two or three cards into a given region that he is holding the scoring card. Experienced players will soemtimes do this to bluff the opponent and then play a scoring card for somewhere else.

TS really is a great game, but it is not for everyone. Some folks just don't care for the randomness of the CDG system. I for one, like the challenge it presents. Managing your cards into a victory can be very rewarding.

I do hope you'll give it another try.
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Fabian Mainzer
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Be welcome to have a look at the current play-by-forum game "Darren vs BGG" where you can learn a lot how to play (from the US side) plus reasoning of the how's and why's, plus you can actually take part by voting or submitting your own plan!
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Urban Presker
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Hey,

i also played my first game yesterday. We came to turn 4 and we played for 3,5h. In the beginning it was very slow for us, since we were both reading the cards for the first time, had to remember the rules etc.

So the thing is, that i consider myself a semi-experienced board game player and i played against a colleague from work, who never played any board game before(but she likes to play card games).

She is from Germany(west) I'm from Slovenia(ex Yugoslavia). In order to mix up things, she played USSR and i played US. I also wanted to give her advantage which i thought she needed... BIG mistake.

The Russian forces tore down the wall and came storming in Europe, while US forces were busy in Middle East and the last thing they did was a failed coupe in Afghanistan...
(i don't know why, but i thought that UK was a battleground country and when she said that she has just won i was first like no way my Russian friend...)

So to conclude; it took a long time, it was slow paced and i lost.

I loved it and we are playing again this weekend!
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Warren Bruhn
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Krommen, your challenge with TS is partly just learning a CDG for the first time. I've only played TS once so far, and I've played a CDG only 5 times (1 x Washington's War, 3 x Sword of Rome, and 1 x TS). I think it may have been easier for me because I had played other variable initiative games (VG The Civil War) and games with random events tables. I was then able to grasp that the cards were a way of poducing some variable initiative, while taking events off of a random events table and putting the events under the control of the players, but at a cost of initiative.

I got the impression that TS is a bit like chess, in that there will obviously be a lot of learning to do before one feels competent at the game. It is probably not the easiest CDG to learn, but not the worst either. (I'm having a bit more difficulty trying to understand Paths of Glory.) However, once the variables of the game are understood, then the game is wonderfully tense. I loved it after one play. It will undoubtedly get better after I've bought a copy and studied the rules and the cards. It feels very flexible to me. I can imagine that there is no perfect opening move, and no perfect strategy to pursue.

My friend and I took about an hour to buy (he bought it), set up the game, and skim the rules. We then played 5 turns in 4 hours. I'm sure we can cut that play time per turn in half as we learn the game.
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Roland D
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krommenaas wrote:
The first problem is that we played for over 6 hours and only got to the end of turn 8. Reading all the cards and choosing one each action round just took a lot of time; 2-3’ per card. Do you generally decide in advance in what order to play your whole hand of cards? Or does the game only take the 3h specified once you know all the cards by heart?

Hi Krommen,
don´t give up. We played TS now 3 times. The first play was nearly as you described. We needed less time cause we played some CDGs yet.
But you have to get into the cards in overview. So, that no american scorecards are in the early war. Or how the gamble with defcon and war operations will work. These are things which you will unterstand with time.
In my opinion it is good, that you are both new to the game, so no one has an advantage, both are struggling.

We (wife and me) are never judging a game after the first play or rating this try. It´s more a demo.

Next game will run better, trust me. Don´t give up too soon.

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R Larsen
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If you can play often, TS is a good game, if not, its bad. Of course, IMHO.
I had great expectations, tried it once - took 8 hours....

Took a long time before I could make my gaming partner play it again.
Second time took maybe 'only' 6-7 hours. It was ok, but mainly tiring.

Tried to play a game against an experienced player - had no chance as he knew all the cards!

I didnt feel much like playing it more, and havent since - too many other good games out there.

To me, the requirement, that you have to know all the cards pretty well, just makes it impossible for me to get good at this game, as I will play it max twice a year.

I can see why people like the game, but that kind of investment does not attract me. I will any time prefer an ASL, a block game, whatever, that doesnt require that I play it all the time, in order to do it decently.

So, if you have time to play it very often, hang in there, and you can get it down to 3 hours probably. If not, find something better to play.
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He Krommen,

Wees welkom net over de grens in Holland, dan laat ik je precies zien (in 't vlaams) hoe het werkt..

But to be good for the rest of the guys reading this thread.

The game indeed gets better the more often you play. I play once a week against my trusty opponent at least and the games are stiller getting better, and 2 games are never alike.

coups are essential to learn, as are the cards.
You can play without realignment for a while (we did), but once you progress with this game the too become essential (mostly for the US-player).

the game takes some commitment in learning the cards, but if you like the cold war, most cards become familiar quickly.
Only some of the more abstract cards are a bit harder to remember at first.
Also you will eventually need to learn about the "danger" cards under certain circumstances (5YP during DEFCON2 or Ortega with US influence in Cuba).

Cheers, Haring (of salut zoals wij in Antwerpen zeggen)
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RLarsen wrote:
If you can play often, TS is a good game, if not, its bad. Of course, IMHO.
I had great expectations, tried it once - took 8 hours....

Took a long time before I could make my gaming partner play it again.
Second time took maybe 'only' 6-7 hours. It was ok, but mainly tiring.


My brother and I learned playing on Vassal, which I recommend since the module does so much of the book keeping for you. After a couple of vassal games our face to face games have always been about 3 hours long. I'm not surprised you found it tedious if you played for 7-8 hours! Well done for persevering for so long.

You don't have to memorise all the cards to enjoy the game. Initially you'll just pick up on a few that had large repercussions on previous games (for us these were south-east asia scoring, opec, wargames etc). Also I enjoyed the game much more when I realised that a hand of my opponents cards is _not_ a bad hand, but an opportunity to dispose of them on my terms.
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krommenaas wrote:
The first problem is that we played for over 6 hours and only got to the end of turn 8.

"A call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle..."
Well JFK did warn you.

krommenaas wrote:
The second problem is that we used almost all our op points for placing influence. Very rarely for a coup...

"Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms..."
It's good you're heeding the trumpet's call, which is not what I can say of the many warmongers here. shake

krommenaas wrote:
Thirdly, we always seemed to be battling for all regions simultaneously; without anyone ever having firm control of any region.

JFK did also ask to "forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West..." and you're going all over to unite them.

So by my count you seem to be doing just fine. Just remember to ask what you can do for your country!
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R Larsen
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ShallowThought wrote:
RLarsen wrote:
If you can play often, TS is a good game, if not, its bad. Of course, IMHO.
I had great expectations, tried it once - took 8 hours....

Took a long time before I could make my gaming partner play it again.
Second time took maybe 'only' 6-7 hours. It was ok, but mainly tiring.


My brother and I learned playing on Vassal, which I recommend since the module does so much of the book keeping for you. After a couple of vassal games our face to face games have always been about 3 hours long. I'm not surprised you found it tedious if you played for 7-8 hours! Well done for persevering for so long.

You don't have to memorise all the cards to enjoy the game. Initially you'll just pick up on a few that had large repercussions on previous games (for us these were south-east asia scoring, opec, wargames etc). Also I enjoyed the game much more when I realised that a hand of my opponents cards is _not_ a bad hand, but an opportunity to dispose of them on my terms.


Playing at the computer online is not really an option for me. Just dont like it. PBEM is great, but not for TS.

I think the problem (for me) is exactly that you will have to remember the cards, even if only some in the beginning, and when to play them, in order to enjoy a quick game of TS. When you can only get to play this game rarely, that is not possible, so every time you start from scratch.
Thats the reason I mentioned that playing it often, its a great game, if not, find something else that doesnt center on this 'mechanism' of remembering cards better than your opponent.
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RLarsen wrote:
. PBEM is great, but not for TS.


I find TS to be perfect for PBEM, assuming you agree to a card-play-a-day or better pace. If anything the tension ramps up even more as you have to weight to see if your attempt to minimize damage has worked, or if things are going to get worse, if your trap has sprung, or if you opponent has out maneuvered you.

What makes it a great PBEM game is the fact that most card plays are very self-contained. You often don't need to wait for your opponent unless you want their event to go before your OP play.
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Filip Cam
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Thanks for all the response guys! I'll try to persuade my friend to give it another go.

How does Hannibal compare to TS? Lighter/heavier? Quicker/slower?
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Michael Kiefte
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krommenaas wrote:
Thanks for all the response guys! I'll try to persuade my friend to give it another go.

How does Hannibal compare to TS? Lighter/heavier? Quicker/slower?


Apples and oranges. Hannibal is slightly lighter. The cards aren't terribly complicated and you never have to play your opponents events. There isn't as much card management in Hannibal and there are few unique cards. The cards are the core of Twilight Struggle. In Hannibal, they're just a means to an immediate goal.
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R Larsen
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krommenaas wrote:
Thanks for all the response guys! I'll try to persuade my friend to give it another go.

How does Hannibal compare to TS? Lighter/heavier? Quicker/slower?


Since I have now been a bit negative in this thread about TS, in the defense for CDG, I must say that I love Hannibal. I will any time prefer Hannibal to TS.

Ruleswise, Hannibal is heavier than TS, but it is probably a bit less heavy, stresswise, than TS - not that it doesnt have it's high tension moments. Well, for me, Hannibal is perfectly tense all the way through.

I would suspect (according to what we hear here) that TS can be played slightly quicker when you are into the cards. In Hannibal you dont need to know the cards, except for a handful really important ones. But in Hannibal there is more 'work' on the board.

To me, Hannibal is more of a wargame where the cards and their events make for interesting twists and surprises. TS is really a card game, where knowing when and how to play the majority of the cards in the deck(s) will decide what happens on the board.

It takes longer to read the Hannibal rules, but its easier to get good at the game.
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