I love Twilight Struggle. It’s stupendous. If you haven’t played it, I recommend you turn to the person nearest you and shout “You’ve held me back long enough! I’m playing Twilight Struggle”, then run out and buy it. Somewhere.
Maybe be a bit careful with that all the same.
A Distant Plain (not to be confused with a distant plane) is a game I knew nothing about a few months back and now it’s standing there in the front of my brain, laughing at my attempts to ignore it. It’s by GMT who made Twilight and it uses a map (this time of Afghanistan) and it sees four players duking it out for a win.
I really like the way Twilight Struggle plays, it’s simple even though it looks like it should be complex but it’s complex insofar as the possible strategies to win and how suddenly for a simple game it gets bloody complex fast. I’ll stop now, you get it, it’s great. A Distant Plain has some similarities but it’s a different animal in a lot of ways which is great. What’s really super is you’re not limited to just two players, and of the the four factions you get to play one of, each work in different ways, they even have different orders they can give each turn, so there is massive replay value in this game. The only negative being that it’s hard to figure out what people are up to unless you’ve played a few games and by a few I mean several.
The four factions are The Coalition Troops, The Afghan government the Taliban and the Warlords. Just that alone should get your ears up, how many games do you get to play as ‘the bad guys’
The Coalition want to get out of dodge but win hearts and minds, they work with the Afghan government but they need to be wary of them as they could have the coalition doing their dirty work and grab all the aid. They possess great firepower and mobility which is great IF they can find the enemy
The Afghan government are trying to get patronage and above all resources as well as foreign aid. They have to help the Coalition if they want to win but are subject to dissertations, infiltrations and fairly crappy but numerous troops.
The Taliban are trying to muscle in and take control, this they try to do without exposing themselves (all relevant jokes were made). Like the Government they’re also trying to gain control and extort resources and maybe throw in a bit of terrorism while they’re at it
And the warlords, well some people just like to watch the world burn. in their case they just want to cause trouble and benefit from the chaos. They don’t want anyone in control of areas so they can continue to raise poppys and generally be all warlordy.
Ok that’s a bit simplistic and if you happen to be the real coalition, afghan government, Taliban or warlords I apologize for simplifying your noble struggle but it’s a difficult audience I have to work with.
The whole asymmetrical thing is great, I’ve played twice now, once as the warlords and then as the coalition, two completely different animals with completely different strategies.
It’s a difficult game to figure out, you’re constantly on a razors edge with someone close to winning, sometimes it’s even you and the game is a real roller coaster AFTER you’ve played it and got your head around it.
The game plays out as either the long pretty empty map or shorter predefined map. The long game is just that. You’d want a good six hours to play it thus the whole not a thur night thing.
I like this game. I’m not there yet with it but just like a maths theory in school i didn’t understand I know it will click in in a while. I’ll do another review of this game when I’ve played another few games. Whenever that might be
Now this game was not a hit with a lot of the Thur night crew, it’s long and it takes time to get the most out of it. It’s also not my copy but I reckon it may well turn up at Knavecon and if our plans for a mini Knavecon before the real one take off I’ll be playing a few more games. Until then, try Twilight Struggle and if you like it, THEN it’s worth having a look at this. Don’t be fooled by the simple four pages of instructions, this IS a complex game but I’m confident just like Twilight it’s worth the in time. I reckon I might read up a bit more on this game before the next match.