Wargame Review – Twilight Struggle

Twilight Struggle
Author: Ananda Gupta & Jason Matthews
Artist: Rodger B. MacGowan & Mark Simonitch
Publisher: GMT Games
Cost: $60 MSRP


The latest edition, a deluxe printing, gives owners of the game really thick and durable counters with rounded corners. They punch nicely and hold up well to repeated use. The deluxe board is a nice thick hard mounted game board. This is vast improvement over the heavy card stock board that came with previous editions and way better than the very first printings that included game board. The quality of the cards is top notch and nothing less than awesome! GMT Games is know for their use of quality components and this game is not exception to that standard.

GAME CONCEPT [From the GMT Website]

On November 9th of 2009, the world marked the 20th Anniversary of the conclusion of the Cold War.  That was the day that the Cold War’s most tangible symbol — the Berlin Wall — was relegated to the ash heap of history.  Unlike the 20th Century’s other great conflict, the Cold War did not end in an explosion of neutrons, but rather, an explosion of human freedom and optimism.  We had avoided what many thought inevitable — the destruction of mankind through armed conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States.  Overnight, the face of Europe had changed.  Suddenly, all things were possible.

That was now 23 years ago.  Sadly, we all learned that the end of the Cold War was not “the end of history.”  Mankind would find new ways to divide itself. While the threat of nuclear holocaust disappeared, newer and more sinister forms of conflict would take its place.  Where once superpowers bestrode the globe, decentralized networks and even individuals now command the world’s attention.

This Deluxe Edition of Twilight Struggle seeks to capture the feeling of  that earlier era.  Twilight Struggle is a two-player game simulating the forty-five year dance of intrigue, prestige, and occasional flares of warfare between the Soviet Union and the United States. Using the card-driven game mechanics pioneered in such award winning games as We the People and Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, Twilight Struggle recreates the conflict between the most powerful nation states the world has ever known. The scope of the game covers the entire world as it was found in 1945.  Players move units and exert influence in attempts to gain allies and control for their superpower. As with GMT’s other card-driven games, decision-making is a challenge; how to best use one’s cards and units given consistently limited resources? Twilight Struggle’s Event cards add cover a vast array of historical happenings, from the Berlin Airlift, to the Vietnam War and the U.S. peace movement, to the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Twilight Struggle is played over the course of up to 10 turns. Players utilize the hand of cards they are dealt to strategically “dance” on the global stage in an attempt to spread as much influence as possible. This can be accomplished in one of four ways.

1. Playing a card for the event – The text of the card will dictate how the card is to be played out. Many times the event will add your influence to the board or remove your opponents influence. Other times, the events will give you the opportunity to possibly collect victory points.

2. Using the Operations value of the card (the number in the star) to “coup” a country in an attempt to remove your opponents influence and if successful enough, you could add your own.

3. Using the Operations value of the card (the number in the star) to “re-align” a country in an attempt to remove your opponents influence. Even if you’re successful you cannot add your own influence into the country. The advantage here is being able to possibly reduce your opponents influence in multiple countries.

4. Using the Operations value of the card (the number in the star) to add influence markers or points in existing countries or adjacent countries.

All of this is under the cloud of looming thermonuclear war! Players, through the course of their actions will be restricted from where they can perform actions such as coups and re-alignments as this threat grows greater or recedes. The recession of the threat is only temporary, much like the real world!

This card play makes up the core the game with players going back and forth during the turn’s rounds. Once a turn is completed players with complete a super short checklist as they prepare to advance the turn marker. Once complete, it’s rinse and repeat until one of winning conditions is met. Player’s collect victory point through a variety ways including scoring cards, VPs awarded through the play of cards, space racing cards (a discard mechanism) and “war” themed cards can produce VPs.

End game conditions:

1. One player reaches 20 victory points. Game ends immediately if this condition is met.

2. During the scoring of Europe if one player has control of all of Europe.

3. A player triggers thermonuclear war, the non-triggering player wins.

4. At the end of ten turns, final scoring takes place.


Having logged in over 40 plays of the game throughout the past few years, it should come as no surprise that I really enjoy playing the game. I can’t recall a time when I turned down an opportunity to play this great game. The backdrop of the political theme and the timely or untimely card play makes the game dynamically different every time I have played it. The game is approachable by wide array of gamers. I have played this with my son when we was 9 and he was able to grasp the rules easy enough, but maybe not the subtleties of playing. None the less, he had fun. I have yet to play a game of Twilight Struggle where either player had a bad time.

This game, mainly due to the theme, will not appeal to everyone, but I would encourage everyone to do your due diligence and learn more about this game. If you every get the chance to try it, do yourself a favor and give a go. I bet your will like it!

~ Modoc

One Comment Add yours

  1. Chris Mata says:

    Everyone should be required to play this game in school for history class. The have to write a paper on the events that transpired within.


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