Twilight Struggle is a two-player strategy board game based on the events of the Cold War. It takes place between 1945 and 1989, and is based on real world events.
One person plays as USSR while the other plays as USA. Players move to gain influence or control of countries around the world as depicted on the game map. There are many difficult decisions to be made by each player at every turn, since many cards in the game do not provide clear bonuses for the player that has to play them.
This game is historically accurate, as all Event cards in it have a real event from the cold war, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, and historical figures such as Fidel Castro.
Pro An intimate player versus player battle
This game is specifically designed for two players. One assumes control of the USA and the other the USSR as you battle head-to-head for influence and control of countries around the world. Each event card that comes into play has the potential to not only benefit you, but also benefit your opponent, meaning you'll be paying extra attention to what your opponent is doing at all times.
Pro Stays exciting thanks to new events being added over time
There are three event card decks in the game - the early war, mid war, and late war. As the game progresses, the decks will enter into play one by one. This steady drip of new content helps keep things exciting and fresh for the duration, as the situations you'll be dealing are based on chronological historical events.
Pro Has clearly laid out rules and other learning aids
There rule book for Twilight Struggle is well-written, and easy to understand and reference during the game. The game board itself is also very informative with cleanly designed and labelled elements, which is very helpful as you're becoming more familiar with the complex game mechanics and rules.
Pro Very tense gameplay
Twilight Struggle perfectly captures all of the tension of the Cold War through the way that players must play all of their event cards each turn, even ones that would possibly help their opponent.
Each card has two values - operation points and and an event. By taking advantage of the points on the card, the event goes into play no matter whether it benefits you or your opponent.
The result is a game where both sides feel tense as they try to out maneuver the other player.
Pro Incredibly thematic
The event cards used in the game are all based off actual events that occurred throughout the Cold War which helps the games theme be even more immersive. Real historical situations and people from the era are referenced often, which draws you into game world, and allows you to play through a part of history.
Con Lots of pieces to keep track of
There are many little cardboard tokens (260 to be exact) used to track all the various game states and scores. This sheer number of game pieces may be rather tedious to deal with for some people. Since they are small and numerous, it's also very easy to lose or misplace them.
Con Steep learning curve
There are a lot of different mechanics in this game, and a lot of various game systems to keep track of. For that reason alone, expect to spend the first few games referencing the rule book quite often. It's definitely not a lightweight party game or something you can pick up and play easily. It takes time and dedication to understand the rules.