Twilight Struggle is a fantastic two-player strategy game. It’s perfect for the winter season as you can sit down for an evening, share some wine and replay the whole Cold War on your kitchen table.
What is Twilight Struggle?
You get to be either the USA or the Soviet Union, and the object of the game is to achieve ideological domination of the globe, whilst avoiding nuclear war. It turns out that’s quite hard work, particularly when you’re trying to get ahead in the Space Race. I’ve found it much easier to turn the whole world to communism than to get capitalism to succeed across the globe.
How Does Twilight Struggle Play?
The game is driven by cards which each outline a Cold War event or character, and the decisions you make about when and how to play those cards will see you edge ahead of your opponent, or start to fall behind. No matter how it’s going for you, the tension feels real, as one poor decision from your opponent could see you make huge global gains.
How Historically Accurate Is Twilight Struggle?
One of the reasons I love this game is that I’ve learned so much from it. Whilst I remember some elements, largely in the Reagan era, I’ve discovered plenty more through the game, as I scurry off to look up the real outcome of events that have been on my cards. Each event is real, but your timing and your opponents responses will lead to differing outcomes.
I played it with my history student niece as she was studying the Cold War, and she loved it, it really helped to bring the period alive with the events played out on the map.
Just The Facts
Twilight Struggle is a two player strategy game. It’s aimed at adults and teenagers. The box says 13+, but I’d probably aim a bit older unless your kid is a history buff or game geek. It takes around two hours to play once you know the rules, but we probably spent four hours on our first game, getting to grips with everything.
If you get the choice, be the USSR, it’s much easier to win the Cold War as the Russians! Heaven knows how history happens.
More Two Player Heavyweight Games
Hannibal Rome vs Carthage has a different mechanic, but is great fun. I’m not normally a war game player, but this one feels more strategic as you take the side of either Rome or Carthage and seek to take control. Yes, there are elephants, and you can take them through the mountains.
Along similar lines Richard III is a great game, allowing you to decide whether the Tudors or Plantagenets win out in the War of The Roses. Great for playing after visiting Leicester car parks.
Hammer of the Scots is the last of this little group of fairly heavy weight battle games for two, perfect for a winter’s evening.
An All-Day Two-Player
Your job is to get your species to survive and adapt to changes on the earth’s surface, whilst your opponents try to out compete you for food and territory.
In the two player version you take on two species, so it’s almost like a four player, but you can of course get your two species to co-operate.
This is a giant game, and does take about 3-4 hours, or longer if you fit it around a meal break, but do plan ahead as once you’ve started playing you aren’t going to want to move it off the table, and even shifting it to the side is tricky as you don’t want any of the species you’re spawning to slip onto another hex or fall on the floor. Be ready to eat out or from the sofa, this game dominates the dining table.
If you like Twilight Struggle, and you enjoy US politics, then you’ll love 1960, a game based on the election battle between Nixon and Kennedy.
Look out for a used copy or wait for the reprint if the current cost looks scary.
This handy little film shows you the gameboard and a selection of the cards, as well as giving you a speedy rules overview.