Twilight Struggle is a stupendous game. Maybe even the best 2 player game out there. I've played some epic games of it. The best of which kicked off at 11pm at a Knavecon. Sometimes you just don't have the three to four hours it requires to play. Enter 13 days a cut down version that uses a lot of the same mechanics but plays out in maybe 20-30 minutes (or in my case 5 as I kept nuking myself). It's good, it's definitely not As good as TS. more like pitch and putt versus golf.
13 MINUTES is like mini golf without the windmill. it's a cut down version of 13 days and it's not bad at all.
The game uses a lot of the same mechanics as 13 days and a few from bloodbowl team manager. It also tips it's hat to Love Letter insofar as it only consists of a small number of cards. 13 in this case. Also 13 influence cubes.
Both players pick either USSR or USA as their side. Both play a little different but mostly the same.
When the game starts players secretly bid a number of their precious influence cubes to see who goes first. Both sides bid of cubes are removed from the game. One card is randomly picked and placed face down (Cuba) and it's worth two points at the end if you have the most influence cubes on it. Then it all kicks off.
Each turn a player plays one card from their hand of two. The playing field is made up of your side of the table. The neutral middle and the opponents side. When you play a card it goes into either your side or the middle. You then have the option of putting down or taking up, up to the amount of cubes listed on the card onto any card on the table. Putting any cubes on a card (a card on the table is termed a battleground) moves it one step towards your side of the table, taking back cubes moves it one step towards your opponent.
The other option when playing a card is to use the event text instead (if the card is neutral or your sides card). Event text tend to be more powerful with things like place cubes on two battlegrounds. Swap a card from your influence zone to your opponents. The whole your zone my zone thing is to break ties if you have equal influence (including zero each) on a battleground. In grand TS tradition if you play a card with the opponents symbol on it they get to kick off the event before you can spend the influence.
Each turn more and more battlegrounds open up and hard choices have to be made about where to spend your limited influence cubes. Which to let your opponent dominate and which to hold onto. I think Kenny Rogers may have sung about this.
The last sting in the tail is the nuclear symbol at the top of the card in one of three colors. If at the end of the game you have in your Zone three cards with the same color nuclear symbol then Kaboomy! It's game over man for you. Sneaking in a third nuclear symbol into the opponents zone is a sweet way to win (and I've yet to pull it off)
The game is cheap. It's fast and it's portable. It's a very small game just a small stack of cards and a few cubes. It punches above it's weight for what's in the box and because it's so quick you'll want to replay immediately.
I like it. It's good fun maybe not quite as good as 13 days and certainly not as good as Twilight Struggle but it's a quick fix and it fits nicely in that zone. Worth a look. I'll have it at Knavecon which is closer than you think!