Saturday, January 28, 2012

Twilight Struggle (GMT)

Game: Twilight Struggle
Publisher: GMT Games
Participants: Jim "HeavyD" D, Myself
Time: Fri, Jan 27th 7.00PM - 11.00PM

It was HeavyD's turn to select the game for our Friday night session and he selected Twilight Struggle. We are both fans of the game, having played it quite a bit in the years after its initial release. This was only our second playing in the past year. In our first playing we had both not played for some time and although we were a bit rusty had a good game with HeavyD wining a convincing game as the Soviets. This game felt a little closer and we were much more tighter with the rules (with one notable exception!).

Early War

I pulled a complete bone head move in the opening headline phase. I was the Soviet player and I selected CIA CREATED as the headline event. I was still not with it as the last time I played I was the US and my declining intellect thought that since I was the US last time, this would be a good opportunity to play this card. Well, I was the Soviets and thus gave HeavyD a huge head start on the opening turn. I had a scoring card (Middle East I think) in my hand (which I had to play with in view of HeavyD for the entire turn) and it was ugly. At the end of the turn he was up 4 VPs which it unusual for a US score early game.

Start of Turn 2

Despite my blowing the Headline phase, I wasn't in bad shape on the board at the start of the 2nd turn. I had pushed him out of Iran and taken control of Iraq, Syria and Egypt. He had control of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan. More importantly I had expanded into Pakistan and Afghanistan, with some influence in India already. Europe didn't see much action at all and was still in flux.

Asia and the Middle East, start of turn 3

Turn 3 started to look better, I was making good progress on the board and got a couple VPs back. Asia saw most of the action with HeavyD expanding into SW Asia, while I was able to get control of South Korea and India. I had Dominance there and it was going to be hard for HeavyD to make up the ground. We started to see the Defcon level stay at 2 resetting to three at the top of the turn, where I would usually Coup early in the next turn to get it back to 2. This made is very hard for HeavyD to make progress in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In Asia and the Middle East I had more BG countries then he and was close do Dominance as well. The America's were still largely inactive as is normal for the first few turns of the game.

Mid War

Turn 4 started with me ahead on VPs by +4. I was either Dominating or at least ahead in BG Countries in both Asia and the Middle East. Europe was still flat but HeavyD had made some progress there getting a little closer to Dominance. He had the De Gaulle event and was able to play it and then get ride of my influence there in the same round. I had made some good progress in South and Central America during turn three, gaining control of Cuba, Panama, Venezuela and Columbia. 

Start of turn 5

Central and South America were the focal points for the whole of turn 4. We both spent a lot of cards spreading influence there. A couple of times HeavyD had good success with realignments. I would either have to react with a coup or replace the lost influence right away. Turn six followed much the same path as the game was nearly always at Defcon 2 for the whole turn and limiting HeavyD's ability to Coup & Realign in the regions where I had the upper hand (Asia & Middle East). These were action filled turns with lots of Coups and realignments going on in the America's. We had furious battles over Cuba and Mexico with HeavyD finally getting the upper hand in those two areas. The scoring cards were adding VPs to my bottom line over these turns as well. Africa saw very little action except where I was creeping across North Africa so that I could eventually get back into Western Europe.

Start of turn 7

Turn seven started with me at +10 VPs and still holding strong in Asia and the Middle East. I was able to spread out into central Africa but the majority of the action stayed in Central and South America. I had the initiative. I had the upper hand in Asia and the Middle East and was staying slightly ahead in South and Central America. HeavyD was forced to react to my ventures, countering with realignments and coups. I was also staying 1-2 boxes ahead on the space race and this proved helpful several times as I was able to send a 2nd card into space on a couple of turns while HeavyD had to deal with my events in his hand the best he could.

Late War

On or around the 7th or 8th turn I realized that I had made an error in dealing the cards. I had been dealing out to a hand size of eight instead of the nine we both should have had. We corrected this for the late war and concluded that we both suffered equally so little action was required other then my own annoyance at making such a rules blunder over the course of several turns.

The Late War Begins, Start of turn 8

The prior couple turns HeavyD was able to start threatening in Europe and I believe we had one scoring there where he had Domination. I was able to get back into France and re-balance the situation late on turn six through. HeavyD had stabilized the situation in Central America, finally getting me out of Mexico and Cuba, but he wasn't able to get into a Dominance position there. South America was still very volatile with neither of us wanting to give up on that region. I had a three to one advantage in BG countries but was not going to get Dominance there due to HeavyD having spread all kinds of influence into the none-BG countries. Asia had turned into a backwater with neither of us spending much influence there, I still had a couple BG country lead in the region. HeavyD was able to score SE Asia though for like 5 VPs. Still I was maintaining my lead in both VPs and overall board position.

Europe and the Middle East turn 9

Turns 7 and 8 were a wild ones. I had Aldrich Aims, The Reformer and Glasnost in my hand when the turn opened. I started with Aldrich Aims (forcing HeavyD to discard a card and then play with his hand revealed. I then played the Reformer and Glasnost back to back to make some serious trouble in Europe. We saw all kinds of influence being poured into Western Germany while I was able to lock down control of France and Spain while making a play at Italy. HeavyD spent the whole turn chasing me, reacting to my moves by burning his big cards to make up progress I had made. Israel opened up as well and became a magnet for influence (via Suez Canal). Africa also came to life as we both started to pay attention to it. South and Central America both settled down with neither of us doing much there for the rest of the game.

Turn 10 opened with me at +12 VP and didn't last the whole turn. HeavyD was suffering from my knowing his headline due to the space race and I was able to make it pay. HeavyD tried one or two cards plays as last gasps but the writing was on the board, I was leading in nearly all of the regions with at least more BGs then he with a 12 VP lead there was nothing left for him to do but concede the game.

The Cold War Ends, Red Victory turn 10

This one was a good one, we both had a good time. Around turn 3 or 4 I was getting a little annoyed at the dice but at the same time I could see that I was still making progress and slowly gaining the upper hand. I really like how this game sees the focus shift with one player often taking the initiate and forcing the other to react to him. I felt like that was the case for most of the game. Getting the upper hand in both Asia and the Middle East early was big as I was able to then force the action to other places never allowing HeavyD a chance to come back and try and redress the lead I had in these two area's. Europe got a little scary for me and was the one point in the game where I thought I was reacting to HeavyD. But in a rare case of Late War event usage I was able to address that and move on. We've rarely seen some of the events played as events as we did in this game, usually the USSR player will take these strong late was cards (Reformer, Glasnost et al) and use them for opps. For once I found that the events proved more valuable then the Ops points. This game remains a favorite here with us.


  1. Hi Stephen,

    Thank you for your review and your blog...quite impresive!

    hop, in my favourites :)