Name of the Game: Twilight Struggle
Name of Reviewer: Will
Number of players: 2
Approximate Play Time: Around 3 Hours
Twilight Struggle is strategy game with a Cold war theme. Twilight Struggle has two players compete against each other as the US and the USSR in game to gain influence and control the world. The game’s core mechanic is the cards given to each player at the start of each round. These cards will either be a scoring card or an event card. A scoring card will evaluate a region and give points to whoever has the most influence in that region and must be played before the end of the round. The event cards are where the complex strategy of the game reveals itself. An event card will have both an event and an action points value. Since you and your opponent draw from the same deck, the event may be associated with you or your opponent. When the event card is associated with your faction, you must decide between using the card for the event or for the action points value. If the event belongs to your opponent, the event will happen if you use the card. This leads to tough decisions about what cards to use, and when to use them.
Twilight Struggle is game that is easy to learn, but at the same time incredibly hard to play right. Strategy starts to develop as players begin to become familiar with all of the cards and begin to have a better idea of what cards will come up in future rounds. As players become more familiar with the game, there is a lot of room for bluffing and misguiding your opponent by the actions you take.
The game fits the cold war theme very well. A complete game will have micro battles in a region against your opponent simply because your opponent seems interested in that particular region. Nuclear war is always a potential threat and often you find yourself needing to get rid of certain cards or play them before your opponent does, otherwise nuclear war will end the game and you will lose. The game is very tense and every action has a consequence.
Every time I have played Twilight struggle I have enjoyed it and learned something new about how to play the game just a little bit better. Games can be a lot shorter when the players are not evenly matched, but most full games have taken me about 3 hours to finish. The sides seem to be balanced, though some people believe it is easier to play as the USSR. The game does have some dice rolling and is partially luck based.
I would not recommend this game for a party or for a family get together. Twilight Struggle is game that gets better with experience. It is ideal for 2 players who are looking for a hobby or for bringing multiple copies to a game group.