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Subject: Deserves its Ranks: 9 out of 10 rss

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Dustin Whitmire
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Welcome to my review of Twilight Struggle (GMT Deluxe Edition). I will try to break down several categories, and give my closing comments at the end. My scoring is on a 10 point scale. For reference, I have played roughly 10 games of TS within the last few months.

Quality
10 points: Really superb. The board is beautiful. The tokens are nice and thick, and the cards are made of the thickest stock I’ve personally seen in a game; they’re almost hard to shuffle, but in a rewarding way. I’m really impressed with them and the nice sheen of gloss that they come with.

Artwork
10 points: The pictures on the cards help elevate the thematics of the game. You feel like you just dropped De Gaulle on someone or that Reagan just gave his speech. And as I mentioned above, the board itself is just stunning. People will come over and look at what you’re playing.

Learning
9 points: The game has a large learning curve (learning the cards, defcon suicide situations, opening moves, etc) but it feels just right for the game. It’s something that a newbie can jump in and play (with help from an experienced player) and get a good feel for the gist of it. If someone wants to get relatively good at it though, they’re going to need to spend time remembering the cards and learning the strategy of various things. I still give it a 9, because it feels appropriate to the type of game and is not daunting to the intentional newcomer to pick up.

Interaction
10 points: I’ve never played a game like this where every little card of your opponent can have such a huge impact on the board. These cards are powerful. A player’s turn might be dropping a few influence markers here or there, or making a coup attempt in a particular country, but the events can be outright dramatic. The interaction is really fun because you feel like you and your opponent are constantly doing things that can make a big impact. Knowing when to play a card, burn an opponent’s one-time event, headline something vs holding onto it, space race a card, all while your opponent is responding in kind is very enthralling.

Replay
10 Points: Lot of replay here with cards coming up at different times, different opening strategies, different results on coup attempts, and more. Each side tends to play to particular strengths in different regions, but the randomness of when cards come out makes a big difference on how a game plays out; particularly the scoring cards.

Cost
9 points: Retails at $65, but there are several discount retailers out there. As I check Amazon, they have it listed for $45. Totally reasonable.

Theme
9 points: A clear theme that is certainly pervasive. Within the genre of “political games”, I imagine it ranks among the top 3. I can only think of a few other great contenders - 1960: The Making of the President, Founding Fathers, Die Macher, etc. If you are interested in this theme, then without a doubt this will scratch that itch.

Weight
8 points: I like a game that has a lot of moving parts, as long as they don't bog the game down. Twilight Struggle is a weighty game within the interaction of the cards and the back and forth between the players, but otherwise the game is surprisingly approachable and seamless. There are four things you can do with a card (Ops points/Event, Coup, Realignment, and Space Race) and they all seem very intuitive, while having a depth to them.

Luck
8 points: Ok. Here is a category that my opinion has changed the most wildly. I don’t mind luck in a game as long as it is manageable (whether to increase my opportunity to take advantage or to reduce the threat) and that luck is not an overbearing factor in the game. At first, I hated playing TS because I felt beholden to the Dice Gods in coup attempts, realignment rolls, card draw, and space race results. As I’ve played more, I see that all these things can be mitigated, largely except for one (Space Race) and now I realize that a player doesn’t even really want to get much ahead in Space because it becomes its own disadvantage (inability to Space lower Ops cards). I still feel the tension of the dice, but it’s not as much of an issue as I original thought.

Length
8 points: Length is largely affected by a player’s familiarity with the game. At first, you are spending a lot of time reading each card, verifying what a card does, and deciding what the best thing to do is, but later this all flows smoothly as both players become familiar with the game. My first game took 4 hours, and I thought “wow. This is just too much”, but my later games take under 2 hours (including setup) and can even be shorter.

Overall
TS is truly a work of art. This is really not even my type of game (2 player, high luck factors), but I have to acknowledge the masterpiece of game design that TS is. I find it remarkable that the designers managed to put such diverse historical depth into the game through all the unique cards and regions, and did it while crafting such a well-balanced game experience. I have heard that the US is considered the underdogs, but personally I've won as both sides handily.

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Mike Stevens
United States
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Your review is right on target for every thought I have about this game. I also have about 10 plays under my belt and I just love it. Bluffing alos becomes important when you are trying to get your opponent to think you have Middle East scoring then you drop the one time SE Asia scoring on them. Just a great game.
 
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Adam Kazimierczak
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While I appreciate Twilight Imperium's merits as a strategy game, it's a little hard to swallow the gushing praise for the super glossy but otherwise only serviceable cards and the very utilitarian world map board and chits.


It's a good game, but beautiful?
 
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Matthew Rooks
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kaziam wrote:
While I appreciate Twilight Imperium's merits as a strategy game,


Are you sure you're in the right forum?
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Jens
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Quote:
There are four things you can do with a card (Ops points/Event, Coup, Realignment, and Space Race)


Are you sure you are playing this right? Influence, coups and re-alignment all count as using a card for ops. So I would say there are five things to do with a card:

Event

OR

Influence / Coup / Re-alignment (+ Event if opponent's)

OR

Space race.

Quote:
My first game took 4 hours, and I thought “wow. This is just too much”, but my later games take under 2 hours (including setup) and can even be shorter.


I don't understand how people can play this in under 2 hours!
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Dustin Whitmire
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woonklepuff wrote:
Are you sure you are playing this right? Influence, coups and re-alignment all count as using a card for ops. So I would say there are five things to do with a card:


Yup. I understand, and play it as you say. Perhaps I could have written things more clearly? I thought the same thing, but kept with 4, because I think that is how the rule book presents it.
 
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Trent Boardgamer
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Great review. I'm looking at buying this game and this helps answer some important questions for me.

Thanks for taking the time to share.
 
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