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Subject: TS first impressions from a long-time strategy gamer rss

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Ron Gilbert
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This is my first attempt at a review, so bear with me on this one…:). I’m not going into a lot of detail on the game itself…there are plenty of good reviews here that already do that. I’m just giving everyone my impressions as a long-time strategy gamer.

We played our fist games of TS this weekend, and all I can say is WOW!! After reading the rules and the session reports here I thought it was going to be a good game, but it exceeded my already high expectations. We only planned to get in 1 or 2 games, but ended up getting in 3.5 (the .5 ended when we accidentally mixed the discard & draw piles and had to restart). I’m glad I didn’t play this at Prezcon because I doubt I would have played anything else. (and I would have missed out on the other 5 or 6 new games I learned that week)

Here are my thoughts:

First, my opponent was my brother and we’ve been playing strategy games since the 70’s (Panzer Leader/Bliltz, Squad Leader, Arab Israeli Wars, half a dozen Columbian block games, etc). So, although we’re just learning the TS rules, we are very experienced strategy gamers.

I’m a wargamer at heart, and the idea of playing a political game turned me off when I first heard about TS. But, once we started it didn’t feel like a political game at all…it felt like a wargame for world domination…I quickly forgot about missing thinks like tanks, air power and supply lines.

As expected, the quality of components was top notch (deluxe edition).

One thing that struck both of us is the elegance of the rules. The rules are not very complicated and they are very well written with good examples. As much as we both like the complex strategy games from the 70’s and 80’s, we had to admit that this game system is cleaner, but just as tactically challenging to play.

I really enjoyed all of the strategic options and challenges in the game. Since you’re almost always getting good opponents cards, you have to constantly weigh your benefit from the card versus what your opponent will get. Is it worth the US playing Socialist Governments for 3 Ops so they can coup Iran, when it will cost control of Europe?

I also like the fact that you can’t dominate everywhere so you have to pick and choose your battles. Should I try and dominate Asia and give up the Middle East, or just block my opponent from dominating either one and try to pick up points later on in another region?

The thing I like most is how well bluffing works in this game. Since scoring is done via random cards, you never know when a region will score and if your opponent has the card. As an example, in one game the USSR failed on a coup in Africa on their first play. I didn’t have any scoring cards and neither of us had anything in South America, so I spent 2 low point cards there for my first 2 plays as a feint…this forced the USSR to spend 2 good cards to try and counter my influence. This raised the question of did they counter because they fell for my bluff, or do they have the scoring card? (it turns out the Africa coup had been a ploy by the USSR and they actually did have the South American scoring card)

The only negative we had was the card that reduces the OP value of your opponents cards by 1 for the remainder of the turn (Red Scare/Purge). When played in the headline phase, this can be devastating – especially to the US on the first two turns when they are just doing everything they can to hand on. For the USSR I had one game where the US played this on me, then followed it with Bear Trap on AR1…I missed my first Bear Trap role, then had to sit there the rest of the turn because I didn't have any more 3 op cards to discard…very frustrating, but I realize that combo isn’t going to come up that often. Red Scare/Purge was the only card we thought might be overpowered.

Of the 3 games we played, 2 were very close. Surprisingly, the US won 2 out of 3, and the USSR win was only by 1 point.

The blowout game was largely due to (1) the Red Scare/Purge & Bear Trap combo, (2) I missed on all of my coup attempts as the USSR (I rolled one 2, and the rest were 1's), and (3) in 4 realignment rolls with a +3 I managed to reduce the US influence by 1 (not to take anything away from my brother...he made all the right moves to make me pay for those things).

Overall, I’m extremely impressed with this game and I recommend it to anyone that likes intense strategy games.

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Nick Cochran
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This is why TS is always at the top of the BGG charts.

Even when I lose, I have a fantastic time.

Glad you enjoyed it!
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Daniel Hogetoorn
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Exactly. And another thing, even if you are hit by Red Scare/Purge twice and you are rolling only '1'-s and '2'-s, you still have chances to win until the very end. One of my most amazing victories looked like this. I was playing USSR and I was getting hit from the beginning. I didn't roll anything. All was a mess and in round 8 my opponent was on 17 VP. My hand was full of US cards and 4 of them gave the US enough points to lose the game. Suddenly I received a VP due to U2 Incident, which meant I could play Alliance for Progress for 3 VP to him which put the balance on 19 VP. However, I was holding the China Card and I decided to play Terrorism, which obliged him to play all of his cards this turn. I could just make it to the last action round (throwing 1 dangerous card on the Space Race and keeping 2 for the next round). His last card was Lone Gunman while DEFCON was 2! :-) It's a wonderful feeling to play a game where any small decision counts!

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ErikPeter Walker
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I don't get the hype.
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Henry Rodriguez
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Voxen wrote:
I don't get the hype.

You don't get the game.
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Dan
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Voxen wrote:
I don't get the hype.
In USSR, hype gets you.
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Beyer
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Voxen wrote:
I don't get the hype.
But an elaboration as to why might spur an actual relevant discussion.
When people read reviews I reckon it is mostly because they are looking for a new game to try/buy and any those who disagree can or should add their view to the discussion.
Slinging mud around only serves to make you look like someone who won't argue for his point, thus making your (possibly) valid point invalid.

If someone takes the time to write a review and you want to add something, please take the time to write a proper answer. This way everyone benefits.
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Anjohl wrote:
Voxen wrote:
I don't get the hype.

That's because you likely aren't a wargamer with an agenda to promote a sub-par game.

What an un-informed post this is.

Please, Like or dislike any game you want, but just because someone else has a different opinion doesn't mean they are wrong or have a hidden agenda.

Some people like TS, others don't. This is what makes our lives so interresting (we are not all the same).

Nice review though.

Cheers, Haring
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Edward
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Anjohl wrote:
It's not ill-informed at all. Explain to me how a 2-2 player euro/strategy game with a significant chance element became"

A) The number one ranked game here
B) Classified as a wargame

It's absurd that people rate this game so highly, especially since the game was modded/updated by the developer into the far superior 1960. How can you rectify TS's and 1960's relative positions given that the latter is a far more strategic and improved update? Theme does not make a game, and I posit that most of TS's appeal is in the theming.
How dare people like things I don't like! They must be wrong to enjoy it because it is only possible for other people to enjoy things that I also enjoy.
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D Weimer
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Anjohl wrote:
It's absurd that people rate this game so highly, especially since the game was modded/updated by the developer into the far superior 1960. How can you rectify TS's and 1960's relative positions given that the latter is a far more strategic and improved update?

Okay, I guess I'll bite.

1960, while a perfectly serviceable game on its own merits, does little for me but remind me I'd rather be playing Twilight Struggle. I rectify their relative positions with a crazy theory. It's complicated, but it goes something like this. People like Twilight Struggle better.
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Anjohl wrote:
It's not ill-informed at all. Explain to me how a 2-2 player euro/strategy game with a significant chance element became"
A) The number one ranked game here
B) Classified as a wargame

About the change element:

What's wrong with chance. We take chances everyday. I know that a certain type of player prefers a more mathematical approach to there games. I tend to like both types and the chance effects in TS suit me fine.
Just saying that chance doesn't make a bad game.

If it's ranked 1 or 10 mil. I couldn't care less. The ranking at BGG is that way for a reason, but it doesn't mean everybody only bought the game because it's "No. 1 at BGG".
The reason this "2-2 euro" is No. 1 is because a sh*tload of people give it a high ranking, which means nothing if you don't want it to mean anything.

I know there has been a lot of discussion about TS being a wargame or not.
BGG has a method of classifying games into catagories, and perhaps it's not a good system. Again...Who cares.
I classify it as a "sort-of-wargame". It's a game about a war, but call it whatever suits you.

Please enjoy 1960 (I never played because of theme, but I'm not saying it a bad game), but in the same effort, let other people enjoy TS.
If you DO think something is actually wrong with the game, please address your issues in the appropriate forums.

Cheers, Haring

EDIT: Typo's
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Ron Gilbert
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A couple comments on the TS rankings:

Everyone has different priorities in what they want in a game. For me these priorities include; (1)multiple ways to win, (2) some kind of fog of war mechanic that allows for bluffs and misdirection, (3) a theme I like, and (4) a degree of randomness (but not so much that it's all about luck).

When we rank games we rank them based on our personal experiences. So, when someone ranks a game keep in mind they are ranking it based on the games they have played. There may be other games out there they would like better if they played them, but they are irrelevant for their personal ranking purposes (ex: before playing TS my top rated game would have either been Julius Caesar or War of the Ring.)

Also, I think the "theme" of a game is important to a lot (most?) people. Someone can make a game with great mechanics about moving piles of dirt around the yard, but I doubt I'd ever be interested in playing it. (that's one of the reasons I'm not a big fan of Hammer of the Scots...the mechanics are great, but I just don't care about the theme).

Ron

PS: thanks for the positive comments on the review!
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Michael Kiefte
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Ron, that was a very nice review.
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Michael Kiefte
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Anjohl wrote:
Voxen wrote:
I don't get the hype.

That's because you likely aren't a wargamer with an agenda to promote a sub-par game.

If you're going to limit yourself to trite comments, then, please just give it a 1 and be done with it. That's what it's for.

Ron posted a well-written review. You could do the same. You have that power. If you're going to impress someone, that's what you'll have to do.
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Jason Weed
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Great review.

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Edward Wehrenberg
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Voxen wrote:
I don't get the hype.

Well, that's great. Cool story, Bro.
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The Mighty Greedo
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ron42na wrote:
I’m not going into a lot of detail on the game itself…there are plenty of good reviews here
I wish people would stop prefacing their reviews with that exact same sentence.
 
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Ron Gilbert
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Greedo wrote:
ron42na wrote:
I’m not going into a lot of detail on the game itself…there are plenty of good reviews here
I wish people would stop prefacing their reviews with that exact same sentence.

It sounded better than "I'm too lazy to go into details". :)
 
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Anjohl wrote:
How can you rectify TS's and 1960's relative positions given that the latter is a far more strategic and improved update?

Because it's not a given?

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Dan
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Agreed. I'm not sure how you can claim 1960 is more strategic or less luck-driven when there is a mixed deck of 120 cards. In TS there are at least two turns when you have a pretty darn good idea what your opponent is holding. This is because it has separate decks which mix at predetermined times.
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oeolycus wrote:
Agreed. I'm not sure how you can claim 1960 is more strategic or less luck-driven when there is a mixed deck of 120 cards. In TS there are at least two turns when you have a pretty darn good idea what your opponent is holding. This is because it has separate decks which mix at predetermined times.

Anyone with a moderate amount of experience with both games knows that 1960 has more luck, not less. Which is not to say that it's a high-luck game, but there's no denying that the luck has a greater impact.

Only gamers with hidden agendas against dice claim otherwise. Objective fact.
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Beyer
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I don't understand why there is so much rage about TS ranked number 1.
The critique I come by most often is something along the lines of:
Quote:
Twilight Struggle isn't THAT good.

But when you sit down and think about what the rating actually say about a game I reckon it makes perfect sense.

You see when 5000 people (number arbitrarily chosen) all rate the same game according to the definition given by BGG (you know the ratings that come up when you hold the mouse over the question mark button when you are rating the game) a lot of those people who tried TS will always want to play it. So many people enjoy the game so immensely that they will always suggest it if there is time to play.
This doesn't mean that a lot of people won't like Dominion MORE than TS it means that so MANY people like TS enough to give it such a high rating.

It has appeal to so MANY people that it's average rating is so high.
Many games have more war, many games have more theme, many games has more euro, less dice, more dice, more colours, more laughing-out-loud fun during gameplay, more games have shorter playing times, more games have tougher tactical decisions... but on average Twilight Struggle appeals to SO many people that on average, this is a game you will most likely enjoy if you pick it up.

That ALL that rating means. Buy it, odds are you'll like it, many people do.
 
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J Mathews
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Anjohl wrote:
You should try 1960 Making the President, it cleans up the TS mechanics, and removes the chance elements that the dice add.

In every way the superior game. If Matthews had been smart, he would have themed it around the Somalia UN Campaign, or WWII, then it would be considared a wargame, and would be ranked 1st or second overall.
1960 also removes the tension, difficult decisions, and flow that TS has too. The cubes are unnecessary and the debates are annoying. I am not sure what is superior about it. I agree with the person above who says that 1960 just reminds them that they could be playing TS. Btw, not a wargamer (check my Top 10) and I don't really have an agenda.
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Beyer
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BrenoK wrote:

It's quite subjective, sure, but one thing about it bugs me: how can anyone think an election is a better theme than the cold war?

Because sometimes small scale scheming is closer, more personal and thrilling that large scale scheming?

Who's to argue what kinds of themes are preferable to another? Themes are meant to invoke feelings or to justify some odd rule here and there thus they will appeal to some and repel others.
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Daniel Hogetoorn
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I'm really disappointed that such an enthusiastic review of a newbie ends up in a useless discussion if 1960 is a better game than Twilight Struggle... Please stop all these 'off topic' comments and return to the basics: playing the game you like. Have fun!
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