Twilight Struggle ranks as the number one wargame in the world, according to Board Game Geek. Published by GMT Games, Twilight Struggle is a two-player battle. Two world superpowers scramble for supremacy. One plays as the United States and the other as the Soviet Union between 1945-89, in the Cold War.
This wargame features hand management in the form of multi-use battle cards. Also key are point-to-point movement, and, as a result, area control and area majority. You’ll become absorbed in theme as influence spreads into adjacent countries!
One side wins outright by getting to 20 points. This pendulum swings back and forth as the power struggle shifts. Like real modern warfare, each strategic decision is crucial. If no side reaches their maximum, then the side with positive points at the end wins.
Each round, players gain increasing action cards from a historical deck. Round One starts with the aftermath of World War II. The Vietnam war, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Space Race also have an impact on proceedings.
These cards drive the action in Twilight Struggle. Cards usually favour either the US or the Soviet Union. (This makes that part of the card worthless if in their rival’s hand). But they’re not useless! Cards also qualify for their points value. You can ‘spend’ them to apply more influence on the board in an area control/majority nature. Hand management becomes the pulsating heartbeat of the game. How will you react to the historical timeline that you and your opponent create?
Certain cards or military actions (sometimes involving dice) push the threat of all-out nuclear war to the brink of no return. (Also, a premature end to the game!) Players cannot adopt a gung-ho approach to Twilight Struggle. Instead, they’ll have to be smart, sneaky and tentative to succeed in the long run.
If you’re a wargamer or a Cold War history buff, then Twilight Struggle will push all your buttons. (Hopefully not the big, red ‘Nuclear’ one, though…)
Player count: 2 players
Game length: 120-180 minutes
Age rating: 13+