The Great Twilight Struggle

The Cold War was a time of uncertainty in world history.  Two great superpowers, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. wrestled for control of territory, allies, and resources in a quest for supremacy.  The threat of nuclear war always loomed on the horizon as one misstep or faulty computer could trigger mutual annihilation and even the end of civilization as we know it.  Although that era is thankfully over, one can relive a portion of that tension and doubt through the board game Twilight Struggle.  Created by Ananda Gupta & Jason Matthews and published by GMT Games, this game seems like a natural fit for those who appreciate politics and games of strategy.

Twilight Struggle is a game for two players where each takes the role of the one of the superpowers.  Rather than fight each other directly, you battle over the remaining nations of the world through spreading influence in foreign countries, inciting coups, and fighting proxy wars like Korea and Vietnam.  In addition, a player should be mindful of the space race as it can create a powerful advantage.  The game features many, if not all, of the important historical events:  the formation of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the list goes on.  As a added bonus, to deter nuclear war, if a player intentionally or unintentionally causes a thermonuclear holocaust, the game ends immediately with that player losing.

The game last several hours and consists of ten turns, each of which comprise six to eight action rounds.  Should a player achieve global domination (twenty or more points than his or her opponent) the game ends even earlier.  I have found having played the game a dozen or more times that the Soviet player has an advantage over the United States player overall, especially in the early game, so I recommend offering some sort of influence boost to the U.S. player at the beginning of the game to level the playing field.

I give the game high marks for it’s historical accuracy and its re-playability.  On the minus side, there is a good bit of luck in the game which can often greatly hamper a player due to no great fault of his or her own both, what with dice rolling and in the cards dealt.  Twilight Struggle is highly rated on the popular board game site, currently ranked third among all board games.   Personally, I was so impressed with Twilight Struggle that I bought my copy after playing the game only once.  I should note, like many of the best games, you cannot find this product at a Target or Wal-Mart, but rather a specialty game store or online…and it retails for $55.  Nevertheless, I highly recommend giving this game a try.

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