MrSaturday Turns 40 – a Drax report in a number of parts


If you’re going to do a review on Twilight Struggle then you have to use a picture from Doctor Strangelove, it’s a rule.  I checked.

A glorious weekend of gaming stretched out before us in a very nice location in Connemara, no 3G, no Laptops, just good buddies, a stack of food, (None of it good for you) and a horse load of games…..

MrSaturday successfully beat Jesus by 7 and we celebrated in true gaming style.  I’m going to split this big event up into a few smaller snippets and look at the games I got to play.

First up was Twilight Struggle

Let’s cut to the chase, I want a copy of this, it’s awesome, there’s a good reason it’s number one on the boardgamegeek list of games, I have it set-up on VASSAL, anyone who wants a game let me know.  So without any prejudice let’s begin

TS is a two player only game where players take on the roles or either America or the USSR and duke it out in the cold war from the late 40s to the fall of communism.  The game is essentially map based where players use influence to turn countries around to their ideology.  Each turn of which there are ten consists of drawing a set of eightish cards from a communal stack and picking one event to kick off that turn.  The other player doing likewise.  Then the rest of the cards are used either for their resource value or card event.  All of the events are actual historical events, like the Berlin wall coming down, the bay of pigs and so on and all have effects on influence around the world or just screw with the other players plans.

photo (23)

The cards available to draw from get added to at certain turns along the way so middle era and late era card stacks get added as the game progresses.  Resource are a number on the top let hand corner either Red (USSR), White (USA) or two colour (either) and these can be spent to up your influence levels in different countries, usually ones that border your other countries.  Up your influence enough and you’ll be in charge of that country. Coup actions, realignment and just increasing influence will change both your influence and the influence of the enemy in a specific country so it’s a juggle to protect your interests and screw up the opponents with limited resources.

If you’re Russia as I was, you generally burn Red or Red and White resources but it’s possible to use White only resources belonging to the Americans but you also have to kick off the event which is in favour of the Americans as well. I found myself trying to pick the lesser of two evils several times when I wound up with a number of American cards.


As the game starts the only areas open for business are Europe and Asia but as the game progresses through the three eras, South America, Africa and The Middle East open up and cause more headaches. The game is very much a zero sum game with one score track that runs from +20 USSR to +20 USA.  As you score which itself is an event card you play, you advance the track in either direction.  Get to +20 for either and it’s game over.  A few other late game events can cause the game to end as well. I found myself scratching my head (it may have been the company I was keeping) to figure the best way to manage things, do I dig my heels in in one place and give the opponent a free ride in another region? Go for this event and screw him up here but leave myself open to a coup?

While this goes on a few other slider mechanics are being affected, a big one being the conflict track.  Not necessarily a bad thing as it scores you points if you’re ahead but it also ups the defcon level and it’s game over man if you reach the highest one.  The space race is also another recipient of influence and getting ahead at this allows you to see what you’re opponent is going to do in advance.  So all in all a plate juggling affair with limited resources.

I have to say I really liked it, it’s surprisingly fast for such an epic period.  It says 3 hours on the box but I reckon we got through it quicker than that on our first game, but we did have an advisor whom unlike us knew the rules and had managed the world a few times.  The game definitely needs a few play throughs so you understand what can happen.  Even thought it’s pretty much the same thing each game, events can change or not happen and it should stay pretty fresh.  The artwork, components and cards are of high quality and although it’s not a FF game it does have a great solid feel to it.  It is a longish game but it’s well worth the investment in time.  I found myself waking up the next day with the game going around my head and thinking about new angles I could have come at. All in all a cracker

More to come, what this space



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