Recommend
46 
 Thumb up
 Hide
19 Posts

Twilight Struggle» Forums » Reviews

Subject: 20 Questions About Twilight Struggle... rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
The Compulsive Completist
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


1) What kind of games do I like?
I like light to moderate games. Dominion is a long time favorite. Memoir '44 is a regular. Other games of note are Cosmic Encounter, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Citadels, Small World, Dixit, and Pandemic.

2) How would I describe Twilight Struggle?
If Risk is Gilligan, Twilight Struggle is the Professor.

3) What makes me qualified for a Twilight Struggle review?
Probably nothing. Well, I do own the game...that's something. I don't have a lot of Twilight Struggle sessions under my belt. I can tell I will never be great at it. That said, take this review for what it is worth; a light/moderate gamer branching out to more depth.

4) What made me think I was ready for Twilight Struggle?
When I bought Twilight Struggle I still wasn't sure I was ready for it. I log onto BGG every day and Twilight Struggle haunted me. It sits on top of the list staring at me. Silently beckoning me, daring me.

I researched the game with a wonderful 60+ minute "review" of the game play that can be found here...http://boardgamegeek.com/video/9064/twilight-struggle/bgrwj-.... It is a comprehensive overview of the game play and really gives you a good base of what the game is all about. The next day I downloaded the instruction booklet.

Everything was familiar and clear thanks to the review but Twilight Struggle has a game weight of 3.3. My collection is comprised of light to moderate games. Sure I own Ricochet Robots with a game weight of 2.7 but Twilight Struggle was obviously no Ricochet Robots. I have tackled Memoir '44 and all the expansions. They can get a little "cumbersome" combining all of it's rules but we were able to handle it just fine. Was my eleven year old son ready to tackle the Struggle with me? Maybe I should post here on BGG asking if Twilight Struggle was for me. I'd probably get fanboys that would say "of course" or those that said it was too much for me and that would just piss me off.

So I sat in limbo for months. Never pulling the trigger. Twilight Struggle sat on my wish list...still haunting...still staring...still silent...still beckoning...still daring. And then...

5) And then what?
I was doing my typical meandering about the BGG forums and came across something that changed my life. Something that was so perfect it must be mine...
...I saw these wonderful dice. One glance at that hammer and sickle and I knew I had to own those dice...and now I had to have a game to go with them. I can't say I never would have bought Twilight Struggle without them but those dice are, without a doubt, what finally clinched it for me. I was now the owner of the number one ranked game on BGG. You would no longer haunt me, Twilight Struggle! (Dice supplied by fellow BGGer nightglider1)

6) What is the minimum age for Twilight Struggle?
An intelligent 10 year old can grasp teh rules but you'll need some patience if you're in an "I'm-trying-to-learn-the-rules-and-teach-my-kid-at-the-same-time" mode. I would recommend 14+.

7) What's in the box?
First, a quick mention about the box itself. Awesome! Full color, glossy finish, thick cardboard. The box has a nice color timeline of the Cold War on the sides of the bottom portion of the box that can only be seen when the lid is removed. Very cool and something extra that wasn't required but welcomed.

8) How are the instructions?
What seems like an intimidating 32 pages booklet is really 2 pages of introduction and components, 7 pages of sample play, 11 pages af card histories, and 4 pages of miscellaneous stuff. This leaves just 8 pages of real instructions to go over for your first game. 8 pages! Don't get me wrong, the other stuff is useful and great to have but Twilight Struggle's essence is boiled down to 8 pages of instructions.

9) What is bad?
The pictures on the cards are poor. The pictures are small, often they are somewhat blurry, black and white photos. The designers would have done themselves a favor by having original artwork on the cards. Maybe just front pages of newspapers would have worked better. The inadequate artwork detracts from an otherwise good looking game. Fortunately, ugly cards don't inhibit actual game play.

10) How did the first game go?
Here is my original session report...
Quote:
My eleven year old son played our first game this weekend. I am still a bit shell shocked by the weight that is Twilight Struggle. Our gaming collection is comprised of light to medium weight games and this was our first dip into the "serious stuff". The rules weren't overly complicated but there is obvious a lot to keep track of. The number of decisions that need to be made is what is overwhelming.

That said, I thought I would let you know how things went. I am sure we have gotten things wrong but I am sure we are are mostly on the right track.

My son is a brilliant boy who I need to read the rules to once and it is locked in his brain. For the most part, he is the one who is clarifying the rules as we play: "No, you can't do that because..." and "We have to do this first because...".

I expected our first game to be just a few rounds because to get a feel of the game but because neither of us knew what true stratagies to use we were all over the place. Had an experienced TS player watched I am sure they would have been horrified.

I was the USSR and at one point I had five high OP point cards in my hand that all favored the US. One of these was Bear Trap (I believe, it was the US equivelent of "Quagmire") and I intentionally played it for its OP points so the event would trigger. With some "lucky" rolls i was able to dispose of two of my other cards that I wanted to trash. Was this played right? Not sure.

Well, we made it to the 10th round after about 4 1/2 hours. The whole game we helped each other along..."Do this because it'll help you here..." and "If you did this it may set you up here...". Once again, A TS player my shudder at the thought but we weren't the coldest of war enemies.

It was the bottom of the third action round in the 10th round. I had conquered all but the last spot in the space race with my son a few spots behind. I was leading in all of the regions except maybe Asia. I was down by 11 VP. I thought when we got down to scoring it would be close. He was sure I was going to win. I decided to coup in some South American country just so I could get some Military Operation points. It was then that my son shouted "YOU LOSE!" The DEFCON was at 2 and I had forgotten to even pay any attention. 4 1/2 hours of trying to decipher TS's instructions and strategies had finally taken its toll. 4 1/2 hours.

I would recommend watching the link above again after your first game and soak everything in while the game is fresh. You'll probably notice a thing or two you missed the first time.

11) How long do games last?
3-4 hours once you get the hang of things.

12) How is the theme?
This is dripping in theme. The theme is fantastic! A true strong point of the game. Staging a coup in a country is easier and less risky in some than others. There is a space race that you need to keep an eye on. Tension gets higher as the DEFCON level drops. Real world events play out and impact the two nations in realistic degrees of severity. Really cool stuff here.

13) What are Twilight Struggle's weaknesses?
TABLE TIME! It just doesn't lend itself to getting to our table often enough. It takes a long time to play (3+ hours). There is a considerable amount of learning curve. Game experience will trounce those new to the game. It can only play two players. All of these hurt the game seeing much action and Twilight Struggle needs lots of table time in order to really shine. It is a perfect game for two gamers wh play together often.

14) How would I have improved the game?
Those themed dice really should be standard in the game. They are awesome! The Victory Point score track should have a serpentine layout with consecutive numbers on different rows still adjacent to one another. Something needs to be done with the pictures on those cards. Really bad.

15) How did I tweak the contents?
As noted I added the dice. Love the dice. I also went to my local drugstore and bought a two sided, fourteen compartment pill organizer. There are seven compartments on each side (one side with red snapping lids and one side with blue). I sorted my Influence markers in these compartments.

Much better than the Ziplock bags that are included with the game. I did have to toss the cardboard insert that comes with the game but the game lid still closes fully and I am much better organized for it.

16) Are card sleeves necessary?
Probably, if it is going to get heavy use. I really don't weigh in much on sleeving or not sleeving. I see arguments for both sides and have typically not sleeved in my games (although that is changing a bit). I do think games, like Twilight Struggle, that mix cards that see different rates of play are good sleeving candidates. You don't want aged early war cards standing out with pristine late war cards.

17) Is Twilight Struggle too much game for the light/moderate gamer?
The rules are learnable but there is depth, depth, depth here along with a time commitment. That depth and commitment can mean the game is more stess-inducing than stress-relieving. I think some light/moderate gamers play for the joy of games and may not want to put in the amount of effort required. Memoir 44 is probably a better choice for those people. That said, I think Twilight Struggle is the gateway game to the "heavier" games. It does what it does very well.

18) Am I glad I own the game?
I appreciate it as a great quality game. I love the theme and the game mechanics. I am worried that the depth of Twilight Struggle will limit the appearances at the game table. Not only do you need 3 intense hours dedicated but you need a well-schooled opponent. Those requirements may be restricting for some gamers. I am happy to be an owner but it isn't a game I need in my collection.

19) Do I recommend Twilight Struggle?
Ironically, Twilight Struggle still haunts me but now it silently stares from my game closet as I walk past. Silently staring. Beckoning me to play just one more game. Daring me.

Twilight Struggle is more thought than play. More commitment than spontaneity. And for me more work than fun. That said, it is great game. If you have the time, the opponent and the work ethic then this is definitely the game for you.

20) Where does Twilight Struggle rank in my collection?
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/69970/624-questions-ab...
50 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
badge
Caution: May contain wargame like substance
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review. I always like reviews where people explain their opinions.

I'll note that Pete Hooper is the king of custom dice and is having some made for 1989: Dawn of Freedom. I just my custom dice for Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?.

I mostly play TS on wargameroom where you can through a game in about 90 minutes. It does take a while to get to that point though.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Andersen
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My wife says "no." I say bury it in an order. Thanks
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
flag msg tools
Hockey Mask wrote:

9) What is bad?
The pictures on the cards are poor. The pictures are small, often they are somewhat blurry, black and white photos. The designers would have done themselves a favor by having original artwork on the cards. Maybe just front pages of newspapers would have worked better. The inadequate artwork detracts from an otherwise good looking game. Fortunately, ugly cards don't inhibit actual game play.

Could not disagree more. Period photos are very atmospheric: original artwork would have been pointless and distracting.
26 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stefan Kaiser
Germany
Kriftel
Hessen
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mi_de wrote:
Hockey Mask wrote:

9) What is bad?
The pictures on the cards are poor. The pictures are small, often they are somewhat blurry, black and white photos. The designers would have done themselves a favor by having original artwork on the cards. Maybe just front pages of newspapers would have worked better. The inadequate artwork detracts from an otherwise good looking game. Fortunately, ugly cards don't inhibit actual game play.

Could not disagree more. Period photos are very atmospheric: original artwork would have been pointless and distracting.
+1 from me

I think the pictures on the cards are EXACTLY what they should be. So thematic...

But great review ! Really liked it.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Smith
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Very useful review and spot on for those thinking of buying it. The simplicity of the rules but depth in game play is brought across very well.

The issue with needing to learn the game itself is a very valid one although you could say this about any game with substance to it. However I am unbeatable with my opponents now even playing as US without any optional cards or balancing optional rules as I have had 10+ games and they have had 1 or 2. That is not because I am a better at game play but because I know more tricks and traps.

I totally disagree on the cards, I think they evoke the period very well and many were pictures in the newspapers at the time. However that is a mater of taste and does not detract from your review at all.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Crawford
United States
Goose Creek
South Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This review seemed directly tailored towards me. I, too, would describe myself as a moderate gamer and I have every game (except Citadels) that you listed. Memoir 44 is a particular favorite at the moment. But I also have Agricola which - like Twilight Struggle - stared at me from its perch atop BGG's Number 1 spot for weeks before I finally could stand it no more.

My feelings on Agricola mirror yours on Twilight Struggle. I'm glad I bought it, I won't pass up a chance to play it, but I don't often get it to the table. I've played several times but will probably never be very good at it. Oh, it also continues to stare at me...

Thanks for your review. You answered the questions about Twilight Struggle that I've asked myself. I think there might be a little space left on the shelf. Hopefully, it will find space on my table as well.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Erick Sklar
United States
Toms River
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Where can I get a pair of those custom dice for Twilight Struggle
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
flag msg tools
badge
"Roll dice and kick ass!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Gralem wrote:
Where can I get a pair of those custom dice for Twilight Struggle
They're fan-produced to order and the last batch is sold out AFAIK, so unless you can buy a pair from someone who's bought more than one I imagine you'll have to wait until nightglider1 decides to produce another batch. Still, you've got nothing to lose by GMing nightglider1 to ask if he's got any left.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Hooper
United States
Rockford
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm waiting to hear back from a few people who have asked to buy my leftovers, but please feel free to send me a GM.

If they don't forward payment in the next few days, I'll move down the list.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Sy
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Learn to play Twilight Struggle on Vassal. Its play-by-email feature makes it particularly convenient to play.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
flag msg tools
badge
"Roll dice and kick ass!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
TheRakeman wrote:
I agree with many of the points you touch on in your review. I can tell that Twilight Struggle is a fantastic game that is pretty much the best of the card driven designs, but at the same time I don't play it often, nor do I particularly desire to. I'm still kind of perplexed on how it has been #1 so long, as it is a particularly unfriendly design to newcomers, much more than Agricola/PR were.

It does definitely fill a niche in my collection, though.
I'm not at all sure that this is absolutely true. I introduced a pal of mine to TS not long ago. He picked up the basic mechanics quickly and went on to win a convincing victory. Sure, this guy's an experienced gamer, but the friend I introduced to TS before him had previously only played Ivanhoe- a lot, and Labyrinth- a few games. He was quickly a much better player than me, and still has the edge overall. So my experience doesn't match your comment. I suggest that perhaps the lack of movement and conventional combat makes TS more accessible than the cardplay and the game's general depth might otherwise suggest, and that this might contribute to the game's popularity.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Virre Linwendil Annergård
Sweden
Stockholm
flag msg tools
Forza Bajen!
badge
... and still sober
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
TheRakeman wrote:
as it is a particularly unfriendly design to newcomers, much more than Agricola/PR were.

(Note, all people are individual variations will be there)

No, just no... there is a multitude of problems with this argument.

I think 1) You think everybody is like the one newcommer you know.

I would say that this is definitly easier to explain than Agricola (then again I personally as a used gamer do not get Agricola... And I have no problem with this or games such as Men of Iron), I think the thing is that the goals off this is much more clearer than Agricola, and your choices is much more visible.

As to Puerto Rico, I don't know about that either, the problem with Puerto Rico is that the newcomer is going to lose big in games with knowledgeable players. This happens in TS to but there is a better possiblity for balance (as the early game favours the Soviets)

---

About the OPs opinions on gametime, I still have not played a 3+ game and most games is lost (usally) or won for me in between 1 hour and 2 hours.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
The Compulsive Completist
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
virre wrote:
About the OPs opinions on gametime, I still have not played a 3+ game and most games is lost (usally) or won for me in between 1 hour and 2 hours.
You are quite right that if there is an early loss the length of game time diminishes quite a bit. But if a game does "go the distance" I think 3 hours is a realistic time table. That said, I would neve want to try and "squeeze" a game in 2 hours with a possibility that we wouldn't finish.

I am sure with more experience our games will speed up a bit also.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Hewson
United Kingdom
Surbiton
Surrey
flag msg tools
I bought this...
badge
...as I had no idea what to spend my GG on!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
I am sure with more experience our games will speed up a bit also.

Not necessarily

My first 4 or 5 games with my wife all went to at least turn 8 or 9, we started at about 2 and a quarter hours, got down to well under 2 hours, but then games started taking longer as we both knew what cards were out there so had more to think about especially at headline.

We are probably about the 2-2.5 hour mark now (assuming no early finish).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Smith
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
TheRakeman wrote:
I'm not really making an argument, just an observation.

virre wrote:
I think 1) You think everybody is like the one newcommer you know.

I've had this game played with 5 newcomers and all have had the same reaction more or less. They all understood the rules but none did "well" and I got the feeling they didn't really grasp how to do well either. Just my experiences with the game - I imagine introducing this game to wargamers would be a lot easier.

Yes the rules are simple but the game quite deep, which is one reason why I felt the review was well written as it put that across clearly.

I think that is true of most games worth playing it is just more apparent with TS rather than a fault. As most people here are gamers it will not affect it's rating, in fact I like that depth so it's a big plus for me and I suspect many others.

New comers will know where they went wrong and they get that urge to give it another go and see if they can do better. The game seems to have a lot of pulling power. Everyone I have played it with wants to play again and some have.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tandoori Chicken
msg tools
Avatar
I started playing TS a couple weeks ago and I am completely hooked. I had not played a board game other than chess in about 20 years, since playing some old Avalon Hill WWII-themed games with my father. Recently, I was fortunate enough to make a new friend who introduced me to TS and I love it. I agree it requires a certain commitment to play, but I think that is inevitable given its strategic depth. It is tremendously replayable, and combines elements of complete-information games with a card-driven mechanic slightly reminiscent of MTG. Momentum can shift multiple times in a single game, and there are enough decisions to make that things stay interesting, but not so many that it becomes overwhelming (a la Hearts of Iron III, if you'll forgive the PC gaming example).

I did not find it at all difficult to learn, but I suspect mastery will be slower in coming. Fortunately, there is a fantastic resource online in the form of theory's TwilightStrategy.com website. Some time spent reading the articles there and familiarizing oneself with the cardlist should allow one to do more than OK in casual games.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls