Designed by Ananda Gupta and Jason Mathews
Published by GMT Games
Card Management, Area Control, Dice Rolling
Becoming the top rated game on Board Game Geek is an impressive feat, especially for a long (2 to 3 hours, or 4 for your first few times) two player risk-like game. This would not be the case if "casual gamers" had their way, but the truth is - even people who may not usually enjoy longer two player strategy games recognize the brilliance of this game.
It may not always be the game that gets to the table the most often, but it definitely is one of the most well designed games that I have had the pleasure of playing and reviewing.
I was given a copy of the deluxe version from GMT Games for the purpose of this review. The components in this version are fantastic. The board is beautiful and well laid out. There are a couple of things that I wish was a bit different though: I wish the slight color contrast between regions was a bit greater making it easier to quickly see regions and I really really wish the action round track was somehow along the bottom of the board, the side of the board, or a separate little board. One of the things I have struggled with most with the game is forgetting to move that marker and it would help if it was closer. Not a huge deal, and I will probably just make my own track to do this.
The quality of the cards is good, but I do wish it was nice linen type quality instead (I'm a card snob - once you have had deluxe cards its hard to go back!).
One of the biggest things that I think this game has going for it is actually the use of theme. This game hands down is the best application of a theme. The game successfully oozes theme in every little thing. The tension and tug-a-war feel is very reminiscent of the cold war (or so it seems - I guess I don't really remember much and wasn't even alive for much of it). Although, side note, it seems like with everything going on in the world today (especially with Russia) that another "cold war" doesn't seem to far off. That is another great thing with Twilight Struggle and the theme - it is something very real.
The game mechanics are also very well designed and utilize the theme well. It does have a strong Risk-like feel to it, but even with some dice rolling, the game seems much more strategic to me. The dice rolling isn't necessarily a bad thing either in my opinion to keep some sort of luck element to it on key decisions makes the game have that tension! It can be frustrating of course when you always seem to roll the wrong numbers, but it doesn't completely make the game unbeatable for you.
I'm amazed at how simple the game really is. There isn't too much more to it than some other strategy games that people play - but Twilight definitely has a learning curve. The game uses cards based on real events, people, wars etc. - and knowing how these cards interact with each other and when to play certain cards and when to send cards to the space race is very important and will come with experience. I have played a few games now, and I think learning the game with another player is the best way to go (in other words, you will both be learning the game together and one person won't have an edge on the other).
The game is just so good! The game does favor the USSR in the early game, and from what I have read - USSR wins about 60 percent of the time compared to the USA at 40 percent. The few times I have played this and have switched superpowers - Russia has won every time. I like the challenge that brings, but it is something that worries me somewhat about the game. USA does have some edge gained during the mid-war it seems, but maybe it could be a little more balanced in that regard?
I love this game and I am giving it a 10/10. Will it be my most played game in my collection? Probably not, given the length of the game, but I definitely enjoy Twilight Struggle a lot and that is How Lou Sees It!
(I was provided a free review copy of this game from GMT Games. There is a more detailed video review below. If you liked this video review, please like and follow!)