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Subject: Twilight Struggle vs. 1960: The Making of the President rss

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AxonDomini
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1960: The Making of the President vs. Twilight Struggle
A Layered Review


These two games have been compared repeatedly since the release of 1960:MotP, and for obvious reasons. The underlying mechanics of the two games are very similar, and they even share a designer. “So,” you may ask, “why do we need yet another comparison?” For the simple reason that the intent of this review is to directly compare various aspects of the two games so that a person who has experience with one can make a more informed decision about the other.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit up front that I am a fan of 1960 and am not a fan of Twilight Struggle. This is not to say that I think TS is a bad game, just that a variety of design decisions made in the design of that game do not mesh with my own personal gaming preferences. In fact, there are several aspects of TS that I prefer to 1960. It’s just that the ones I don’t like happen to be central design elements that prevent me from enjoying it. In the breakdown, however, I will not only share my own perspective on the various game elements but also the perspectives of others who have posted about these games.

This review assumes you have a basic familiarity with at least one of the two games. If you don’t, there are plenty of reviews available that give a rules summary, and the rules for each are available here on BGG.

A headnote: This review ended up being significantly longer than I had intended. The more I thought about these two games, the more I realized how different they were and just how big an impact these differences had on the way the games played. Surprisingly, it also made me realize how many individual aspects of Twilight Struggle I actually preferred. It didn’t make me like TS any more, but it did help me understand a bit better why others prefer it to 1960. I hope it gives readers who are looking at one or the other the tools they need to make a more informed decision.

The First Layer – Everything Not Gameplay
These factors are purely esthetic. The amount of impact they have on a player’s enjoyment is purely a personal decision. Some feel they are irrelevant, others really want nice components.

Components
Starting with the most superficial aspect, the components, I think 1960 is the clear winner here. It has a mounted board with plenty of eye candy (but not in a distracting way), thick cardboard counters, wooden cubes and a cloth bag from which to pull the cubes. The cards are textured, shuffle very nicely and have an attractive “newspaper headline” design.

Twilight Struggle, meanwhile, has a cardboard map and a bunch of small cardboard counters to track influence. The cards are attractive and serviceable, though not quite as nice as 1960’s in my opinion. The map, while certainly functional, is fairly bland in comparison to 1960’s. Still, while there is no “wow” factor, nothing in the design will interfere with your enjoyment of the game.

Verdict: a win in 1960’s column, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with TS’s components. The cardboard map may be a bit of shock to those used to eurogames, but once you start playing I doubt you’ll even notice it.

Rules
Here the roots of each game show. 1960’s rules are clearly written in the style of a eurogame, while TS’s are written in the classic wargame #.#.# style (as in, “Please refer to rule 2.8.5”). Both are clear and easy enough to learn from. Honestly, it comes down to personal preference, but given the relative complexities of each game (TS is more complex than 1960), I think each publisher made the right choice regarding which style to use. 1960 doesn’t need the nested index format given it’s fairly straightforward gameplay, but TS benefits from it since it makes looking up rules while playing much easier.

Verdict: It’s a draw, unless you have a real preference for one style over the other.

Theme
1960 does a good job of getting you to feel like you’re running a presidential campaign. You need to balance campaigning in states, positioning yourself on issues and (very occasionally) buying media time. You’ll be trying to decide if you should focus your efforts on the Northeast, South or Midwest while battling fiercely over New York and Illinois for their electoral votes. The card events and their effects are very well done, and evoke the theme nicely. The World Series, Eisenhower and Nixon’s bad knee all make a showing. Election day is suitably tense as your last ditch efforts to gain support in key states are played out. In the end, the victor is often decided by one or two key states, just like many real elections. The one area that falls a bit flat in the theme department is the debates – they are fun strategically, but simply don’t feel like a real debate to me. It’s basically a card game, and that’s exactly what it feels like.

TS is no slouch in the theme department either. In fact, I would I have to say it has a definite edge thanks to the fact that it’s theme, the Cold War, is inherently more interesting to most people than a presidential election from almost 50 years ago. The USSR and USA battle for political influence around the globe, all the time flirting with nuclear war as the DEFCON level dips and then rises again. War flares in the Mideast, and not just once. Castro seizes power in Cuba, and all the while the two super-powers orchestrate coups from behind the scenes. Meanwhile, both try to woo China so they can benefit from its huge influence in the far east. From beginning to end events seem to spiral out of the control of either player as each is faced with the challenge of minimizing the damage they experience rather than maximizing their gains. Often times the successful leader is the one who played the best defense rather than the best offense. As with 1960, TS does have one thematic weakness – the space race. While some of the rewards for progress fit the idea of having superiority in space, the process itself is just discarding a card (a bad one) and rolling a die to see if you succeed. Whee.

Verdict: Both games do a bang up job, but I think few would dispute that Twilight Struggle oozes so much theme that it’s almost sticky with it. Space race aside, everything comes together incredibly well to make you feel like major events are coming fast and furious and you need to juggle them all as skillfully as possible to prevent your fragile coalition of countries from collapsing around you – and you better not bring about nuclear Armageddon while you’re at it. That, my friend, is more theme than you can shake a stick at. You lost an election? Poor baby. I blew up the world.

The Second Layer – The Big Picture
These are the basic foundations of the games. They’re the broad strokes that make you immediately realize that, while the two games are related, they are not at all the same game with different themes.

Card Events
While some may place the types of events as more of a detail than a big picture category, the impacts of events are so different in each game that they convey a very different philosophy. They just feel very different, at least to me. Since the cards are the backbone of the games, I consider them “big picture” items.

TS’s events come in two flavors – “That kinda sucks” and “Gaaaaah! My balls!”. You want a nasty event? “Quagmire”, a Soviet event, forces the US player to discard a card of at least 2 OP’s value and roll a die. If he rolls a 1-4, the Quagmire is over and play continues. If he rolls a 5-6, next turn he must again discard a card and roll a die, and so forth. If you don’t have any 2 OP’s cards, you’re just screwed until you get some. Talk about nasty! (For the record, the US has a card, “Bear Trap,” that works the same way). Many of the cards in TS use dice to determine their ultimate effects, which adds a whole other level of randomness to the already random card draws.

In 1960, there are no cards that are nearly that bad. There are some cards that will allow you to remove some of your opponents cubes from the board, exhaust their candidate card (more on that later), reveal their hand, etc. and these are definitely unpleasant when played against you. Nothing, however, is as bad as being hit with “Bear Trap” or “Quagmire” and will leave you still able to sire children. Also, only a handful of cards have any embedded random factors, and those don’t take effect until the very end of the game during the election.

Verdict: For me, the win goes solidly to 1960. There’s enough luck in card driven games that I prefer not to have wildly powerful effects on the events. Also, I really dislike rolling a single 6 sided die to determine how an event pans out – it strikes me as a weak design decision. Others, however, like the powerful events in TS and feel they add an added measure of tension and force players to plan for their eventual appearance. I suppose some might like the die rolls too, though I can’t recall reading any posts praising them.

Operation Points vs. Campaign Points
If you choose not to play a card for its event, you must play it for it’s action points (Operation Points in TS, Campaign Points in 1960). The actions that you can take with those points are just as important as the events on the cards. So, how does each game approach using those points?

In TS, you have four choices of how to use your OP’s:
1.Place Influence – Simply put some influence in a country. The catch is that you must already have influence there or have influence in an adjacent country. Players can have influence in a country simultaneously.

2.Realignment – Attempt to reduce your opponent’s influence. You don’t need influence there, but it helps. It also helps if you have influence in adjacent countries and if your home country is adjacent. The catch – it’s opposing d6 rolls to determine what happens, and if you lose the roll you’ll lose some influence there if you have any.

3.Coup Attempt – This is the good stuff. You get to attempt to toss out your opponent’s influence and maybe even add some of your own. The upside? You can’t lose any influence this way. The downside? If you attempt this in a Battleground Country (i.e. – a strategically important one), the DEFCON level drops a level, bringing the world closer to nuclear war.

4.The Space Race – This is basically a mechanism to get really bad cards out of your hand, although there are some points and nice abilities to be had if you roll better than your opponent.
In TS the OP’s value of cards range from 0 (for scoring cards) to 4 (for cards with really potent events). This means the overall power of each player’s hand can vary wildly.

In 1960 the idea is the same, but the points are called Campaign Points (CP’s). There are three ways you can use your CP’s:

1.Campaign Actions – Placing cubes in states. Only one player can have cubes in a state at any time. If you add cubes to a state where your opponent has cubes present, you start by removing his and then adding your own (if you have enough CP’s to do so). If your opponent has 4 or more cubes present, of if his candidate toke is present, you need to randomly pull cubes from the “political support” bag (called a “support check”) to see how many cubes you get to add – and it may be zero. Also, it costs you one point to travel from one region to an adjacent region (say, from the Northeast to the South), and you can only campaign in the region where you candidate is present.

2.Positioning Actions – Placing cubes on one of the three issues (Defense, The Economy and Civil Rights). Between turns the leader in each issue gets a reward based on how important that issue is at the time.

3.Media Buys – If you have media control in a region, you don’t need to do “support checks” (described above) in that region as a result of your opponent having 4 or more cubes or having their candidate token present.
The CP values of cards in 1960 range from 2-4. This is a significantly narrower range than in TS, meaning that the players’ hands are less likely to be wildly imbalanced.

Verdict: Twilight Struggle is the winner here. The choices offered by your OP’s points are simply more interesting (even after considering the annoyingly omnipresent d6 rolls to determine success). Each has it’s place in the game and it’s not always easy to determine which is the best choice each turn. 1960 has interesting choices too, don’t get me wrong. However, Media Buys are only rarely useful (I do about one per game). When campaigning, you go for the big states – there’s no reason not to. Travel costs make things a bit more thoughtful, but nothing like you face in TS. Positioning actions are important (some think too important – I disagree), but there’s only three issues so there’s not much to agonize over there. So, while there are some tough choices to be made in 1960, they don’t have the same feeling of agony as the choices in TS.

1960 does get some credit for the narrower range of point values, which helps reduce the impact of luck. This, however, is a purely personal preference. While I prefer that approach, others find the wider range of OP values in TS to offer more agonizing decisions in how to best manage your hand.

The Maps
By “The Maps”, I don’t simply mean “The Board.” I mean the areas that players are vying for control of and how they relate to and affect each another. Both games are, at their hearts, area control games. While the cards may drive the action, it’s how the board looks when scoring comes around that ultimately matters.

1960’s map is fairly simple. It’s a map of the continental United States plays Hawaii and Alaska. It’s divided into four regions – Northeast, South, Midwest and West. Players can only drop cubes in the region where their candidate token is present. Moving your candidate token to a different region costs you one campaign action.

The net affect of this is that it’s pretty easy to drop cubes wherever you want. The only exceptions are Alaska and Hawaii, each of which requires one campaign action to travel to and from the West. Otherwise, every region is adjacent to two others, so getting around isn’t that hard. You can’t travel TOO often, but if you need to get somewhere you can do it. As a result, geography has only a minor impact on the gameplay. There’s not much incentive to fight for the smaller states in most cases since getting cubes in the big states is just as easy.

TS, in comparison, has a very involved map. The adjacency of regions is of critical importance since key actions (placing influence and realignments) either require that you already have influence nearby or are made much easier if you do. In addition, the key regions (battleground states) carry an inherent risk factor – attempting a coup in them drags the world that much closer to Armageddon. Sometimes you have to settle for a coup in a less strategically vital area to get influence into a certain area of the world.

Verdict: TS, all the way. You do need to pay attention to the map in 1960, but it’s a fairly simple process. In TS you really need to study the map to see where you and your opponent are vulnerable and to develop a solid strategy. 1960 simply does not compare in this category. In all likelihood this is a consequence of the target audiences for each. TS is targeted more at the war game crowd, while 1960 is clearly aiming for eurogamers.

Forced Events vs. Momentum
This is a big one. Perhaps it’s THE big one. How each game handles playing a card with your opponent’s event is the single most defining difference between the two. Let’s take a look.

If you ever doubted that TS is a harsh, unforgiving mistress, doubt no longer. Why? I’ll tell you. If you play a card for OP’s with your opponent’s event on it the event happens automatically. Since you can only get rid of a mere fraction of your cards without playing them (usually only one or two), this means that during your turn your opponent will likely get one or more free actions. If you have more of your opponent’s cards than he has of yours during a turn? Tough luck. Suck it up and find a way to minimize the damage. This is why many players describe TS as a game of damage control. It often comes down to “How can I make this hand of cards suck as little as possible for me?”

1960 introduced the concept of “momentum”, which you earn by controlling one or more issues at the end of a turn. Momentum serves two purposes – it lets you trigger one of your events on a card played by your opponent, or it lets you prevent your opponent from triggering one of his events on a card played by you. Momentum minimizes the amount of damage that a bad hand can do, although if there’s a big imbalance in momentum a bad hand can still be pretty damaging. It also reduces, but does not eliminate, the need for solid hand management but adds an element of resource management that TS does not have.

Verdict: My vote goes 100% to 1960 here. I can’t stress enough how much I disliked having my opponent’s events forced on me during my turn in TS with no way to stop it from happening, at least in conjunction with TS’s intermittent scoring system (which I’ll get to). I also don’t like that, after a few plays, you pretty much know that most of the events are going to happen. TS fans will say that the forced events can be dealt with if you know the deck well and prepare ahead of time for the worst of them, and I have no doubt that they’re right. Unfortunately, this is not a style of play that I enjoy. I prefer not knowing which events will be seen in the game and using my cards to improve my position rather than minimizing the damage they do to me. I can appreciate how some might prefer the approach in TS, but I find it annoying.

Intermittent Scoring vs. Endgame Scoring
The final “big picture” difference is when, and how, scoring occurs. Scoring throughout the game will obviously result in different strategies than scoring only at the end. TS’s and 1960’s scoring system each reflect a very different approach to when scores are assessed.

TS uses an intermittent scoring system. In general, every now and then a player will draw a scoring card for one of the regions on the map. That card MUST be played before the turn ends, and when it’s played that region is scored. This, of course, means that one player will know that a region is about to be scored and can plan accordingly, while the other player is in the dark. This, in theory, is balanced out by the fact that a scoring card cannot be used to improve your position on the board. This also means that players must always be prepared to score any region that remains unscored. Thematically, this makes a lot of sense. The Cold War was a turbulent, unpredictable time and one never knew which parts of the world were going to suddenly become strategically important.

In 1960, scoring happens only at the end of the game. This make sense thematically, of course, since only election day really matters in a campaign. This gives players some breathing room to maneuver during the game since they know that they have the entire game to get the board to look the way they want. It also means that you can’t tell who’s going to win until the very end unless one player has a real runaway lead.

Verdict: 1960. Why? Largely because intermittent scoring combined with the forced events in TS is not a combination I enjoy. If you have a dog of a hand at the same time that your opponent has a scoring card, you’re in trouble. Yet another dose of randomness injected into a game that requires a lot of time and study. For others, the intermittent scoring adds dramatic swings of fate and they enjoy watching the scoring chit swing this way and that as the game progresses. Not for me, though, and I normally enjoy games that have intermittent scoring phases.

The Third Layer – The Details
Looking for the Devil? Here he is. There are plenty of comparatively small ways in which these two games differ, but a few have a pretty big impact on gameplay. I’ll cover them briefly here.

The Space Race vs. The Campaign Strategy Pile
Both games have a way to discard a limited number of undesirable events so they don’t get activated by your opponent. Let’s take a look.

TS has the Space Race. Every turn you can play one card to the space race (or two if you’ve progressed far enough). Each space on the track has a minimum OP’s value for the discarded card and a die roll range you must match to succeed. If your die roll is good, you get points or an in game advantage. Normally, you would just chuck a card with your opponent’s event that would do the most damage to your position.

1960 has the campaign strategy pile. At the end of every turn you must play one or two cards to this pile (one card before the debates, two cards after). The catch? There are small icons on the bottom of the card that actually have an impact on how well those cards will serve your interests in either debates or on election day. Often, discarding your nastiest card isn’t your best option. In fact, prior to the debates, playing cards with your events on them to the pile is usually more helpful. This means that choosing which cards to play to the strategy pile is often a tough decision.

Verdict: 1960, by a mile. I can’t stand the space race in TS. It strikes me as a rather weak, half assed mechanic that benefits whoever rolls better and containing little or no strategy. Fans will say that it’s primary purpose is to get rid of undesirable events, and that’s true. Even so, there are tangible benefits to rolling well in the space race and if one player rolls significantly better than his opponent, he’ll have a distinct advantage. In fact, if he rolls better early on he’ll get to play two cards to the space race for a round or more than his opponent, giving him extra shots at the benefits and allowing him to discard an extra undesirable card. In 1960, you face real decisions in which cards to play to your strategy pile and the choices are often far from clear.

The China Card vs. The Candidate Card
Both games also include an “extra” card that lets you take more actions and avoid playing an undesirable card.

In TS, there’s The China Card. The China Card is worth 4 OP’s, unless you use all your OP’s in Asia, in which case it’s worth 5 OP’s. Pretty handy! There is a catch, however. After you play the China Card, it gets handed to your opponent at the start of the next turn. To add an extra twist, it gives the player who is holding it at the end of the game +1 victory point. As a result, using the China Card can be a very difficult decision. You need to be sure that you’re getting a very solid benefit when you play it.

In 1960 each player has a Candidate Card. The card is worth 5 CP’s, but can normally only be used once per game. There are events that can either refresh your own Candidate Card so it can be used again, or that can exhaust your opponent’s Candidate Card to prevent him from using it. It’s definitely a tricky decision to determine when is the best time to use it, but never using it is definitely a waste of resources.

Verdict: TS by a nose. Both designs offer interesting decisions, but TS’s China Card is just a touch more interesting since playing it will offer a potential advantage to your opponent. There’s just no reason not to use your Candidate Card in 1960, so it’s just a question of timing.

DEFCON vs. Debates
These two game elements aren’t really similar, but they’re each an extra wrinkle to their respective games that have no corollary in the other.

OK, let’s just say it – the DEFCON track in TS is just cool. I’ve already described it previously, but I gotta admit that the potential to blow up the world is a great addition to the game. Whoever triggers DEFCON 1 loses the game – and deservedly so!

The debates in 1960 are interesting. You use cards you played to your campaign strategy pile during the first 5 turns during this mini-game, which happens on turn 6. You each secretly and simultaneously play a card to one of the three issues (based on an icon at the bottom of the card). One a player has two cards on an issue it’s resolved, and whoever has the most points on that issue wins the issue. The first issue won gives you 2 cubes to place anywhere on the board, the second 3 cubes and the last 4 cubes. It’s fun, and the reward definitely encourage you to win later issues rather than earlier ones. In the end, it doesn’t feel a whole lot like a debate, though, so themewise it’s a bit flat.

Verdict: TS. Nuclear Armageddon vs. two guys arguing at podiums? No contest.

The Breakdown
This is purely an unweighted count of which game came out ahead in more categories for me.


Esthetic Winner: Tie! 1960 has better components, but TS wins on theme. The rules are a wash.

Big Picture Winner: 1960, by a nose. I preferred 1960’s event designs, use of momentum markers over forced events and endgame scoring. I found TS’s map and choice of actions more compelling, however.

Details Winner: TS, by a nose. I like 1960’s campaign strategy pile a lot better than the space race (did I mention I hate the space race?), but TS’s China Card and DEFCON track are definitely great additions and highly thematic.

Conclusion
From the raw numbers above, it would seem like 1960 and TS are pretty close in how much I should like them. Sadly, that’s just not the case. The reason is the things I don’t like in TS I really don’t like, and as a result they suck the fun out of the game for me. This is a shame, since the elements I do like in TS I actually think are extremely good.

In contrast, there’s actually nothing in 1960 that I dislike, just a few areas I think could be done a bit better, and the things I do like I really enjoy a lot. It’s a bit lighter than TS and also a bit shorter, so it’s also easier to get it to the table (not that I want to get TS to the table in the first place).

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suPUR DUEper
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Hi,

Thoughtful review- thanks!!!

My mileage varies a bit on the space race v. debates/elections

1) Space race allows you to get rid of bum cards. The cost is a lost turn with a potential VP/special ability prize. Momentum chits allow you to get rid of bad cards. The cost is a "lost" turn (i.e. putting cubes on issues) with the possiblity of a special prize (i.e. endorsements. Pretty similar to me.

2) In 1960 cards held in the campaign strategy pile allow you to get support checks which involve pulling cubes from a bag. That looks an awful lot like rolling a dice on the space race.... Even the debates are a bit like rock-paper-scissors

I enjoy both games but TS wins by a considerable margin for me.
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AxonDomini
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TedW wrote:
Hi,

Thoughtful review- thanks!!!

You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


Quote:
1) Space race allows you to get rid of bum cards. The cost is a lost turn with a potential VP/special ability prize. Momentum chits allow you to get rid of bad cards. The cost is a "lost" turn (i.e. putting cubes on issues) with the possiblity of a special prize (i.e. endorsements. Pretty similar to me.

The big difference between getting momentum for the issues and the space race is that the issues are fought over by the players, while the space race is just an unopposed "roll and move" mechanic. Whoever rolls better gets better rewards. It's as simple as that.

Quote:
2) In 1960 cards held in the campaign strategy pile allow you to get support checks which involve pulling cubes from a bag. That looks an awful lot like rolling a dice on the space race.... Even the debates are a bit like rock-paper-scissors

There are three main difference here. The first is that the rewards for the campaign strategy pile are delayed. For the debates you're playing cards for five turns, with no idea until turn 6 as to what your reward will be. For the election it's the same - you have no idea if your four cards will help you or not until the game is over. The second is that the debates are an oppositional process. Your success depends on what cards your opponent chose and when he decides to play them. The third is that, as I mentioned, choosing the cards for your campaign strategy pile is a more thoughtful process than playing cards to the space race. All of these factors add up to the campaign strategy pile being an inherently more interesting process for me than the space race, which has about as much strategy as a game of "Sorry!"

Quote:
I enjoy both games but TS wins by a considerable margin for me.

I can certainly understand why. If the things that bother me in TS don't bother you I would think it would be a pretty amazing game.
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Well-written review, and though I disagree with your assessment almost entirely (especially on the issue of intermittent scoring vs. endgame only scoring) I can appreciate the effort put into it.
I will, however, point out how odd it is that you say you can't stand the space race and you can't stand the fact that you can't preempt and opponent's events. There is a clear solution here.
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houjix wrote:
Gyges wrote:
Well-written review, and though I disagree with your assessment almost entirely (especially on the issue of intermittent scoring vs. endgame only scoring) I can appreciate the effort put into it.
While theme dictates the end game only scoring of 1960 I really feel it sucks all of the immediacy and, as a result, most of the tension out of the system. Often there is little to no reason to do something now versus later, and perhaps that's why I find the game far more loosy-goosey and far more forgiving. Of course, the other major factor in this is the significantly smaller role of triggering your opponent's events, which is perhaps the single most important aspect of Twilight Struggle's design (see above post about).

Do you guys see a lot of opponents events fired in 1960? I've only played a few games (against my Twilight Struggle partner) and we a) rarely even get a chance to fire an event and b) when we do, the opponent almost always preempts. Seems like most of our momentum chits get burned at the end of the turn. In TS it seems like they happen a lot more frequently (even with the space race).
 
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Gyges wrote:
Well-written review, and though I disagree with your assessment almost entirely (especially on the issue of intermittent scoring vs. endgame only scoring) I can appreciate the effort put into it.
I will, however, point out how odd it is that you say you can't stand the space race and you can't stand the fact that you can't preempt and opponent's events. There is a clear solution here.

I'm curious what your clear solution is? To house rule the game to eliminate my issues with the game? It probably wouldn't be that hard. I'd even consider doing it if I hadn't found both 1960 and Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. The former allows me to enjoy some of what I like about TS (albeit in a lighter form), while the latter gives me a meatier CDG to play when I want.

Also, when I review a game I don't take house rules into account. I review it with the rules as written.

Or were you implying something else that I'm missing in the game itself? That's certainly a possibility.
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houjix wrote:
Gyges wrote:
Well-written review, and though I disagree with your assessment almost entirely (especially on the issue of intermittent scoring vs. endgame only scoring) I can appreciate the effort put into it.
While theme dictates the end game only scoring of 1960 I really feel it sucks all of the immediacy and, as a result, most of the tension out of the system. Often there is little to no reason to do something now versus later, and perhaps that's why I find the game far more loosy-goosey and far more forgiving. Of course, the other major factor in this is the significantly smaller role of triggering your opponent's events, which is perhaps the single most important aspect of Twilight Struggle's design (see above post about).

I think there's no question that 1960 is a less tense, less angst-ridden game than TS. Then again, how many games can be said to be as tense as Twilight Struggle?

I suspect many people's disenchantment with 1960 result from their hope that it would be another TS. It's not, nor was it meant to be. It's a fun, light-medium weight CDG that's good to sit down, have some fun with and move on. If you're looking for something with TS's depth, you're definitely in the wrong place.
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TedW wrote:
Do you guys see a lot of opponents events fired in 1960? I've only played a few games (against my Twilight Struggle partner) and we a) rarely even get a chance to fire an event and b) when we do, the opponent almost always preempts. Seems like most of our momentum chits get burned at the end of the turn. In TS it seems like they happen a lot more frequently (even with the space race).

I would agree with this. Momentum is not nearly as potent as many 1960 players think it is, and I suspect they're the players who haven't played Twilight Struggle. If you learn how to manage your hand, particularly timing your card plays, your opponent often won't be able to benefit much from their events on your cards.

You know, I really wish I liked TS more. I sure respect the hell out of it.
 
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suPUR DUEper
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jeffk wrote:


I would agree with this. Momentum is not nearly as potent as many 1960 players think it is, and I suspect they're the players who haven't played Twilight Struggle. If you learn how to manage your hand, particularly timing your card plays, your opponent often won't be able to benefit much from their events on your cards.

.

I am glad you mentioned this. I got the same feeling. There are several cards you can just play as your last card and no harm. Other cards are prevented by certain events. Some won't fire because the opponent wants to hold his momentum in case you have a better card later. Others you can avoid using the candidate etc. Still others get buried in the last two turns as support checkers.
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Mark Bigney
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jeffk wrote:
Gyges wrote:

I will, however, point out how odd it is that you say you can't stand the space race and you can't stand the fact that you can't preempt and opponent's events. There is a clear solution here.

I'm curious what your clear solution is?

The solution is to use the space race to preempt your opponent's events. That's what it's there for, not to get extra VPs.
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Jeff Coon
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Quote:
Forced Events vs. Momentum
This is a big one. Perhaps it’s THE big one. How each game handles playing a card with your opponent’s event is the single most defining difference between the two.

Verdict: My vote goes 100% to Twilight Struggle here.

It's too easy in 1960 to preempt your opponent's events. Much of the fun (and tension) of Twilight Struggle is how to deal with your opponent's events. There are juicy decisions to be made when you have 2 bad events, and you're forced to decide which one to play. Do you play Nasser and let the Soviets gain Egypt? Or do you play Fidel and let them take Cuba?

It also makes for interesting card play. There are actually several ways to refrain from playing your opponents events. You're usually able to get rid of one to the space race. Others can be made ineffectual by playing at the end of a turn. You can hold a card. You can play the China card and hold 2 cards. You can Blockade / Bear Trap / Quagmire yourself to discard cards.

In 1960, you just spend a couple of momentum markers. That's it. Bad event? Gone. And since a lot of the games don't wind up reshuffling the deck, that event is gone for good. Too easy.

Tension is what makes a CDG interesting. And while I do appreciate that 1960 is lighter, quicker, and is possibly a better game for unbalanced opponents, the high tension in Twilight Struggle makes it a superior game, IMO.
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Michael Basil
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Sorry guys, but I have to say that I like 1960 a lot more than Twilight. The simple mechanics make it a cinch to learn and it has a time frame that most beginners won’t get lost in. There is a lot of fighting over key states and campaign trail can heat up quite nicely. So I know this is going to take flack but 1960's 100% over Twilight.
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Jason Matthews
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Jeff, thanks for taking the time to write the in-depth comparison. It was a great read, and I am glad you like 1960.

I just wanted to chime in with a few comments. First, I think the macro difference between 1960 and TS is the open-ended vs. directed nature of strategy in the two games. As you noted, in TS you have intermittent scoring. But that's only half the story. Its is both intermittent and geographically limited. Even the geographical limitation has two phases (the early war, when only Europe, Asia and the Middle East can score and then the rest of the game which adds all the other regions). The geographic scoring really scripts TS players into certain strategies and actions. If its early war, and Europe and Asia have scored -- well, its time to focus on the Middle East. The game gives you cues as to what is important when.

In 1960, this is all wide open -- since there is only one scoring, and everything scores -- the whole board is always important.

Someone described this as "loosey-goosey." Which, it may feel like. But it also opens up the possibility of a real game-long strategy. You can actually start a game of 1960, decide what states you plan to carry, and spend the game trying to get your 269 electoral votes. You can't do that sort of planning in TS. You HAVE to react to the deck, or you will lose.

Another important element of open-ended vs. directed strategy is that there is no instant victory in 1960. You can have a strategy that takes 5 turns to implement. So long as it all rippens on turn 9, it does not matter that you were not carrying any major state on turns 6 and 7. In TS, again, you do not have the luxury of seeing this kind of plan come to fruition. If you allow yourself to get too far behind in points, you will lose early. If you are down by 7 and the Wargames card is floating around, you will lose. In short, TS is a very tactical experience. But so was the Cold War. Today, we see that there was a beginning, middle and an end to the Cold War. But while we were in it, we didn't think it would ever end. The Cold War seemed like an endless series of skirmishes.

An election is a "campaign" in the full meaning of the word. You go in with a plan, you are buffeted by outside events, but you need to keep your eyes on the prize. So, you adapt your plan, but the player who better implements their plan wins.

I suspect that the people who love tactics will love TS more. The people who enjoy creating plans and implementing them will be drawn to 1960.

Jason
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Now that's a review! Well done, Jeff. Unfortunately for me, the things that you found in TS to be deal breakers are deal breakers for me as well.

I was ready to buy this game because I enjoyed 1960 quite a bit, but it goes in the "try before buy."
 
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Man, you deserve GG, thumbs up, and my sincere thanks. I love TS and 1960 is in my mail to arrive any time now.

Your awesome review makes me believe that there will be room for both in my collection.

Thanks a lot.
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Gyges wrote:
jeffk wrote:
Gyges wrote:

I will, however, point out how odd it is that you say you can't stand the space race and you can't stand the fact that you can't preempt and opponent's events. There is a clear solution here.

I'm curious what your clear solution is?

The solution is to use the space race to preempt your opponent's events. That's what it's there for, not to get extra VPs.

Yep, and I even noted that in my review, which is why I didn't think that was what you meant. While I appreciate the purpose of the space race, I'm not clear on why there are these bonus points and in game advantages tied to it that are based entirely on a single d6 roll. In essence, the main mechanic to deal with the forced events, that I don't like, is a mechanic that I find fundamentally flawed.
 
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JasonMatthews wrote:

Jeff, thanks for taking the time to write the in-depth comparison. It was a great read, and I am glad you like 1960.

I just wanted to chime in with a few comments. First, I think the macro difference between 1960 and TS is the open-ended vs. directed nature of strategy in the two games. As you noted, in TS you have intermittent scoring. But that's only half the story. Its is both intermittent and geographically limited. Even the geographical limitation has two phases (the early war, when only Europe, Asia and the Middle East can score and then the rest of the game which adds all the other regions). The geographic scoring really scripts TS players into certain strategies and actions. If its early war, and Europe and Asia have scored -- well, its time to focus on the Middle East. The game gives you cues as to what is important when.

In 1960, this is all wide open -- since there is only one scoring, and everything scores -- the whole board is always important.

Someone described this as "loosey-goosey." Which, it may feel like. But it also opens up the possibility of a real game-long strategy. You can actually start a game of 1960, decide what states you plan to carry, and spend the game trying to get your 269 electoral votes. You can't do that sort of planning in TS. You HAVE to react to the deck, or you will lose.

Another important element of open-ended vs. directed strategy is that there is no instant victory in 1960. You can have a strategy that takes 5 turns to implement. So long as it all rippens on turn 9, it does not matter that you were not carrying any major state on turns 6 and 7. In TS, again, you do not have the luxury of seeing this kind of plan come to fruition. If you allow yourself to get too far behind in points, you will lose early. If you are down by 7 and the Wargames card is floating around, you will lose. In short, TS is a very tactical experience. But so was the Cold War. Today, we see that there was a beginning, middle and an end to the Cold War. But while we were in it, we didn't think it would ever end. The Cold War seemed like an endless series of skirmishes.

An election is a "campaign" in the full meaning of the word. You go in with a plan, you are buffeted by outside events, but you need to keep your eyes on the prize. So, you adapt your plan, but the player who better implements their plan wins.

I suspect that the people who love tactics will love TS more. The people who enjoy creating plans and implementing them will be drawn to 1960.

Jason

Excellent insights, Jason (of course), and I have to agree with all of them. I never considered the factor of the game itself telling you "Worry about Europe! Now worry about Asia also!" I'm not sure where I stand on that, but I think your very last sentence rings very true.
 
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tirelli wrote:
Man, you deserve GG, thumbs up, and my sincere thanks. I love TS and 1960 is in my mail to arrive any time now.

Your awesome review makes me believe that there will be room for both in my collection.

Thanks a lot.

Thanks for the kind words. I definitely think there's room for both. While they share the same basic mechanics, the games are wildly different. As long as you know that 1960 is a bit lighter and more relaxed, I think you'll enjoy it.
 
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Barkam wrote:
Now that's a review! Well done, Jeff. Unfortunately for me, the things that you found in TS to be deal breakers are deal breakers for me as well.

I was ready to buy this game because I enjoyed 1960 quite a bit, but it goes in the "try before buy."

See my reply to terilli, above. TS has many, many redeeming qualities. The "deal breakers" are all a matter of taste. Except the space race, and many TS fans feel the same. Just look to see how many times people have posted ways to "fix" it. I particularly like the one that gives you a -1 to your die roll every time you fail a space race roll. Or, using the OP's value of the card you discard to modify the roll. Both are good options.
 
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Mateusz Wilk
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This comparison is awesome, by far the best I've read on the subject. As I haven't played 1960 yet (I've only read the rules), your article gave me the best idea of the differences and similarities between the two games. Many thanks.
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wilk wrote:
This comparison is awesome, by far the best I've read on the subject. As I haven't played 1960 yet (I've only read the rules), your article gave me the best idea of the differences and similarities between the two games. Many thanks.

I'm glad you found it useful. I'm curious, did it sway you in one way or the other regarding 1960?
 
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Longest post I've ever read on this site and worth every line written. Personally, I love both games equally, since each is strong thematically. And it such a pleasure to play a game with so much real-world historical detail incorporated into it. As Truman said, "The only thing new in this world is the history that you don't know."
 
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Excellent review, and very informative as I have not yet played 1960, but am in love with TS.

One thing you may have missed a bit is that your revulsion (which I initally shared) at triggering enemy events can also be mitigated by choosing whether he activates it first or second. I used to always avoid triggering an opponents event and now I agree withe experts: high OPS are good, period! I know enough now to set up the stage to trigger an oppoenents event, or I let him place influence first, then counter him, or if he makes a dumb move use the influence for something better.
TS is great because it really becomes a skill, and not a zero sum game everything equal euro, where repeated play helps a little, but not a lot, despite erradicating most luck mechanics. The more you play the better you get and the more the mysterious system unfolds and delights you.

As someone working on two CDG deisgns I really enjoy these forums, and hearing people's opinions of the pros and cons of each game. Can't wait to play 1960 next month, I think I can apperciate TS and a lighter, faster cousin.

Again, well done!!!
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What an awesome thoughtful comparison, great job! I have not read any others as of yet and after this one I'm not sure that I need too.

I did buy both games unplayed actually after enough people I knew on here sung the praises.

It seems to me the dice in TS are the biggest detractor for you and after reading the rules and getting ready to play I can already tell this will be the same for me.

I would like to know from people toying with this which variant they like best and why or if someone could point me to a thread that discusses them all it would be appeciated.

Great job once again!

Jay
 
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jeffk wrote:
While I appreciate the purpose of the space race, I'm not clear on why there are these bonus points and in game advantages tied to it that are based entirely on a single d6 roll.

Therefore we play with the houserule that for every failed Spacerace-attempt there will be a +1 dieroll modifier (cumulative) until the move to the next space has succeeded. Mind you that a 'free' move also cancels the modifiers.
The thought behind this houserule is that even if the target for the next level in space technology has not been achieved, some knowledge was gained after all.
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