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1989: Dawn of Freedom» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The Wall as seen from the Twilight rss

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Ron
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You have played Twilight Struggle? Great. You liked it? Well, who doesn’t? Now there’s that new game, using the same mechanism. Will I like that too? Where’s the difference?

This review is for gamers who already played Twilight Struggle and I’ll try to point out the major differences between the two games.

The Setting

While Twilight Struggle covers many years and the whole world, 1989 takes place in – you’ve guessed it – 1989, and covers the eastern European countries behind the Iron Curtain. The players represent the Democrats and the Communists, who both try to convince the various countries that their ideology is the best. But in the end, the Communism will fall. And the victory point marker will decide who wins.

The Board and Support Points

Board Game: 1989: Dawn of Freedom
While TS’s spaces represent countries, 1989’s spaces represent either towns or groups of people, like the church, workers, farmers, elite, bureaucrats, students, etc. But they work just like the spaces in TS, it's just that certain events force you to act only in certain spaces. You place influence as normal (called “Support Points” in this game), and you also have to watch the connections between the spaces. Even the battleground countries have survived into this game – therefore some regions are more valuable than others when it comes to scoring.

What to do with Ops?

Here’s a difference. Basically you have two options: place them as Influence, erm, sorry, Support Points or make Realignment Rolls (going by the name of “Support Checks” here). Coups are gone. The Space Race has survived, but it is now called Tiananmen Square, although it serves exactly the same function as the Space Race track. As there are no Coups, the DEFCON track is also gone.

The Events

They are all different. Of course. But they work exactly like in TS. Oh, and, as a major change, there is no Headline Phase. Just Action Rounds.

The Scoring Cards and the Power Struggle

Here are some major differences. While they left the heart of the scoring unchanged, before you can score, you have to play through a Power Struggle.

A new deck of cards comes into play now, using 4 different suits of cards with different values from 1 to 6, and some specials (leaders and wild cards with special abilities). Each player is dealt a number of cards, depending on the number of spaces he controls in the respective country.

The attacker (the player who actually played the scoring card) then selects a card from one suit and places it face up on the table.

The defender has to match this suit. If he can’t, he’ll lose the Power Struggle. If he does, he can try to gain initiative by rolling a d6 equal or higher than the number on the attacker’s card. If he gains the initiative, he becomes the attacker and now he selects a card to play.

This goes back and forth until someone can’t match the suit played or runs out of cards. The winner gains two die rolls: One tells the loser how many influence points he’ll lose in the scoring country, and the other how many victory points the winner gets. If the Democrat wins, it is also possible to achieve a result where you have to remove the scoring card from the game. This means the country is already freed of Commies (more or less) and you can concentrate your activities on the other countries. Otherwise, the scoring card is simply discarded and will appear again when deck is shuffled.

After the Power Struggle, scoring takes place as normal, calculating Presence, Domination and Control, as well as +1 VP for each Battleground country.

Game End

1989 lasts 10 turns with each player playing 7 cards each turn. If there’s no automatic victory (+20 or –20 victory points), there will be a final scoring (as in TS - without the Power Struggle) and a special Commie bonus, where the Communist player can score additional points for controlling spaces. There is also a card in the “Late Year” deck that can end the game prematurely, if played as an event.

I already have Twilight Struggle, should I get 1989 too?

That’s a hard one. I dare to say that 1989 is the same game, but a different scenario.

Is it a better scenario? No, it’s just different. You have this Power Struggle ‘mini-game’ in the scoring procedure which is a fine addition, and the cards and regions are different. But apart from that and the different map, it’s the same game.

This leaves us with the theme. In 1989, I was 24 and all the events on the cards are memories to me. I witnessed the whole thing; I remember Lech Walesa, challenging the regime with his Solidarnosc; we sat in front of the TV, watching the people flooding over the Hungarian border in my country! And then finally, the curtain fell and the Eastern Block and its Iron Curtain were no more! The Union of the Socialist Soviet Republics disintegrated. The Twilight Struggle ended.

So, should you buy that game?
thumbsup If you have the same memories as I have, hell, what are you waiting for? Go and get that game!
thumbsup If you enjoy learning about European recent history, yes, go and get it.
thumbsup If you like Twilight Struggle and you are ready for a new challenge, by all means, buy 1989!

A final rating from the two players:
Ron
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(that would be me) rates it
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Andrea
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rates it

Thanks for reading.

PS: The Image has been taken from the BGG Gallery. Thanks to the contributor, User "1989Game" (and also one of the designers).

Edit: added the Avatar of Fjaeril.
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Brandon M
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A few points to make -

The support check mechanism is not the realignment roll mechanic by a different name. Only the active player rolls, only the opponent can lose So, and a good enough roll will put active player so into the space. All three of those are characteristic of the coup.

There is no defcon track so every space is fair game every round.

90% or more of the events only activate once so there is a greater chance of staccking the deck with clever card play than in TS.

The T Square track is always "ops value plus die roll" to determine a succeed. So whatever card you play influences your chance of success rather than just allowing you to roll for the space track like in TS.

-a good review overall. I disagree thatthis game is TS with tweeks and by a different name. I feel Ted has made several advances in the TS mechanics, added the power struggle mechanic from Hannibal: RvC, research the hell out of the game and made it a lot more asymmetrical of a game than TS.

I like that there is a genuine difference in how the communist plays vs the democrat.
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Jim Dietz
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I notice the game doesn't have Poznan connect with Bydgoszcz.
Quite amusing--because the way the PKP runs, that's pretty accurate...

(Not once while visiting Poland did I have a PKP train run on time. Not once.)

It was a very powerful experience for me to be in Poland and talk with people who lived through 1970, 1981, 1989, etc.
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Alexander Roberts
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Support Checks are if the coup rolls and realignment rolls had children. It's the two of them together remove SP(maybe add SP) and you receive modifiers (positive/negative) due to adjacency.

Strategy is a little different. You want to be able to gain control of worker, student, writer, church, and elite spaces. They provide valuable leader cards for use in the power struggle.

I had to think a little differently playing compared to TS. I used my events more often and I used my opponents events whenever I could that had minimal impact to me (just liked TS)

Overall, that was a pretty good review.
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Ron
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Yes, I confused the Twilight Struggle's Realignment Rolls with Coups. Stupid me. Thanks for pointing that out.

And thanks for the feedback to my first review here on BGG meeple
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Linda Baldwin
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Interesting. I had to pass on Labyrinth due to the theme (WAY too close to home), but this has possibilities. I'll admit, though, that the Cold War is far more ingrained in my memory than the events of 1989, so I'll look into it a bit further.
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Gabor Venczel
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Great Review!
Altough i have TS and we played it a lot, for me this game was a mandatory purchase. Since i live in hungary and i was grown up under the heavy russian boots, I was not just watched this events in the TV, it was a real experience for me. Our first game was somehow creepy for me. Goosebumps after goosebumps. I still remember the excitement and the hopes of the first free election- won by the Hungarian Democratic Forum, represented in the game with the famous Tovarisi Konec poster, the massacre in Temesvár (Timosara) in Romania, when i was went into the hospital to give blood along with many others to help the wounded hungarians there and so on, ..
So thank You for this game and sorry for my poor english!

Psid you guys notice, that one of the student leader in the power struggle deck is Viktor Orban, the current prime minister in Hungary? .-)
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Ron
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Fairlight wrote:
Great Review!
Altough i have TS and we played it a lot, for me this game was a mandatory purchase. Since i live in hungary and i was grown up under the heavy russian boots, I was not just watched this events in the TV, it was a real experience for me. Our first game was somehow creepy for me. Goosebumps after goosebumps. I still remember the excitement and the hopes of the first free election- won by the Hungarian Democratic Forum, represented in the game with the famous Tovarisi Konec poster, the massacre in Temesvár (Timosara) in Romania, when i was went into the hospital to give blood along with many others to help the wounded hungarians there and so on, ..
So thank You for this game and sorry for my poor english!

Psid you guys notice, that one of the student leader in the power struggle deck is Viktor Orban, the current prime minister in Hungary? .-)
Gabor,

I think it's really great that we have you - and I mean all the ex-Eastern Block countries here - back in Europe!

This game does a wonderful job of bringing these historic events, that a lot of us witnessed first-hand, back to our memories. It was a great year for Europe!
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JR
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Just got my first couple games of 1989 down today and I really liked a lot of the game, but I really don't enjoy the addition of the power struggle side-game. I found it interrupted the gameplay with an excessive amount of work to move forward and when we were finished the struggle, I had to re-acquaint myself with my card hand and the current state of the turn and the game. Also I found the lack of symbol matching between the leader cards (or event cards) and the related spaces on the board (elite, intellectuals, etc) was a bit of a hassle for learning the game. Since the symbols are so clearly laid out on the map, it seems logical to me to use those symbols on the leader cards and on the various action cards which specifically refer in the text to those spaces.

Those are my only complaints. I *loved* the map and the artwork. The card flavour is great. I love that the game isn't so unstable with silly end-game snafus related to nuclear war. I also liked the changes to scoring, having only two countries in the early year and the possible removal of scoring cards added an enjoyable dynamic.
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