Twilight Struggle: An AAR – Part 2

frontier wars 728x90 KS

How’s the new digital Twilight Struggle play? ~

Michael Eckenfels, 18 April 2016




In the last article, I described the basics to Twilight Struggle to pave the way for anyone that’s not heard of the game (which is probably only two of you). Here, my possibly disastrous game of TW begins officially.


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So now the Headline Phase begins, and my choices kind of stink, so I decide to go with RED SCARE/PURGE as my Headline card.


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RED SCARE/PURGE will reduce the USSR’s Op values by 1 for the remainder of the Turn, but to a minimum of 1 Op. It seems like the safest opening bid to starting the game, and certainly better than giving the USSR some early access to various countries throughout the world.


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My Commie opponent decides to start off with OLYMPIC GAMES. This card means the USSR sponsors the Olympics, and it’s worth 2 Ops. Mine will fire first, but this Event that the USSR is playing gives them a good chance of making an early jump onto the VP track.


Since my Event fires first and it affects USSR Ops play through Turn One, we move right to the Olympic Games.


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Now, I have a choice: I can choose to Boycott, which reduces the DEFCON level one (to 4 in this case) and gives the USSR 4 Ops to play with immediately. If I choose to Participate, we both roll a die, with the USSR (as the host country, and probably due to Soviet-powered steroids) gets a +2 to the die roll.


As the leader of the Free World, in this new environment immediately following the end of World War II, it would be remiss of me to be a “warmongering Capitalist pig-dog” by boycotting their games. Besides – good old ‘Murican athleticism might beat the odds and give those Commies what for, I tell you what. Of course we’ll participate!


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Aaaaand it’s not even close. The USSR wins by a wide, clear margin, showing that State-supported steroid use and guns held to the heads of their families are far better motivators than freedom. Sigh.


Let’s go ahead and get into the first Round and see how each side does. Hint: I apparently don’t put down my buck-oh-five.




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The Soviets opt to start with the China Card. This card always begins the game with the USSR. When played, the player receives +1 Ops to the Ops value of this card if it uses all its Operations in Southeast Asia. It is passed to the opponent once played. A player receives 1 VP for holding this card at the end of Turn 10.


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Thing is, the AI used it to add 2 Influence to Iraq, upping their current 1 Influence to 3 and giving them Control of that country. They used the third Influence in Lebanon, giving them Control of that country as well. That might have been done because my play of the RED SCARE/PURGE card, which reduces the USSR’s Op cards by -1 for the rest of Turn 1, made this Southeast Asia benefit moot.


They have a nice solid presence in the Middle East now.




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As mentioned, my cards kind of suck. I have four USSR Event cards that, if I play any for their Ops points, will fire the associated Event for that card:

  • DECOLONIZATION would give them +1 Influence in four different countries in either Africa or Southeast Asia. While a minor amount of Influence, this gives them a foothold in both regions, because you cannot place Influence in a country unless you have Influence (not necessarily Control) there already, or in an adjacent country.
  • VIETNAM REVOLTS* would give them clear Control of Vietnam and a solid foothold in Southeast Asia, which would be bad.
  • KOREAN WAR* gives the USSR a 50/50 chance of replacing my 1 Influence with its own Influence point in South Korea, not to mention giving them +2 Military Ops for Turn 1.
  • SOCIALIST GOVERNMENTS would reduce my presence in Western Europe significantly (by removing a total of 3 Influence, but no more than 2 from any one country).


As for my OWN cards:

  • INDEPENDENT REDS* has 2 Ops. The Event would add my Influence to Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, or Czechoslovakia so that it equals the USSR Influence in that country. The problem with that is, only Yugoslavia has USSR Influence in it, and then it only has 1. So using this Event now would be a waste of its potential. Since it is an asterisked card, if I play it for Ops, it merely gets discarded, and can return to the game later (though it might not return to my hand).
  • FIVE-YEAR PLAN is a good card; it has 3 Ops, and the Event forces the USSR to discard one random card. If the Event on the discarded card is a US event, then it occurs immediately. If the event is either USSR or both, it doesn’t fire. It would be a calculated risk.


I’m sure some of you are virtually screaming at your screen right now, something like “HEY IDIOT DO THIS THIS AND THIS…GEEZ…HOW DO YOU NOT SEEEEEE IT,” but as I made clear, it’s been a while since I’ve played this game and no doubt I’ll miss some things.


There’s always the option of burning a card on the Space Race track, too. It will get rid of one of my more onerous cards, but only has a 50/50 shot of me getting on the next space of that Track (which is launching a satellite). However, while that denies the associated event to my opponent, it also means I’m not putting any pressure on the Godless Commie this particular round.


Instead of thinking ‘what can I do with what I have,’ I need to examine the board and what needs I have currently.


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The Soviets have Control of one Battleground Country and one normal Country in the Middle East, as well as a presence in Syria, while I barely have a presence in both Israel and Iran. I’m thinking of trying a Realignment Roll in Iraq, but should also probably bolster my presence in Israel.


This game can drive you mad as a newbie. A veteran player would clearly see the best possible path, while all I see are nothing BUT paths, like some homicidal Choose Your Own Adventure book with twenty page choices.


I COULD react to the USSR, or I could try to do something to put HIM on the defensive – namely, place Influence in Asia. I think I’m going to go ahead and play my FIVE-YEAR PLAN card for its 3 Ops points, and see what I can do in Southeast Asia. Since I have the VIETNAM REVOLTS* card, I know the USSR does not, so if I commit to this, I’ll have little choice (that I see, anyway) but to burn the card on the Space Race track later this Turn to deny him the Event.


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First, I place two Influence on Malaysia to gain Control there. I also place one Influence on Iran to gain Control there, as well. I also experienced a bit of an issue, in that the game paused and seemed stuck on a “Waiting For Player To Decide” message. I tried several times to add Influence to different countries only to have this happen again and again, but finally it seemed to resolve itself when I double-clicked in an empty spot on the map. Why…who knows. In any case, I’ve done it.

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3 Responses to Twilight Struggle: An AAR – Part 2

  1. A. Jamil says:

    I’m originally from Malaysia. I can imagine the British suffering from Imperial fatigue and asking the Aussies to help transition Malaya gain independence, with a lot of US aid and investment. Especially from the Goodyear rubber company. And American military hardware to fight the nascent Communist Terrorists in 1947.

  2. Mark Oakley says:

    I hate it when people call the United States of America “MURICA”. It’s demeaning.

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