Archive for February, 2013

Twilight Struggle

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11, 2013 by Danny_Noe

Image2 players

ages 13 and up

180 minutes playtime

Following World War II came a clash of two superpowers; The capitalistic United States of America, and the red communists of The USSR. This conflict would continue on from the mid 1940’s until the early 90’s, and was known as The Cold War. The constant threat of nuclear war, and the increasing tension of paranoia and subterfuge made this a very long and trying time; it also makes for a pretty amazing card-driven strategy game. Twilight struggle puts two players into the seat of the leaders of USA and USSR and has them both clash heads throughout the entirety of The Cold War. Through armed battles and politics, these players will duel to come out on top, and see how they fair within The Cold War.

The Pieces

Twilight Struggle comes with handfuls and handfuls of tokens representing a player’s influence withing a country on the map. The board has many countries connecting to one another represented as boxes where you can place these influence tokens. There are two dice which are used to determine certain card events, military coups, and other varying factors. There are also several miscellaneous tokens to keep track of turn order, round order, def-con status, military ops, events, the space race, and scoring. 

Since this is a card-driven strategy game, this comes with over one hundred event cards that each player uses to simulate all the events that happened during The Cold War, and to also screw the other player over to their benefit. These cards are broken into three different decks; Early War, Mid War, and Late War. Each of these cards can be used for their event, or used for their military points to perform strategic actions. Some of the cards, when used, are removed from the game permanently, while others are discarded and used again in later rounds. There are also scoring cards, which are required to be played each round, and are one of the main ways of winning the game. Each one of these cards are unique and interesting to read about. With a card-driven strategy game, it’s all about the cards, and these are some of the best I’ve seen.

The Rulebook

As intricate and deep of a strategy game as Twilight Struggle can get, the rule book is very friendly to get into. For people who have never played a card-driven strategy game before (this is my first), it takes a few reads to understand how it all works. After you get some practice in and begin to understand it, the rules become very fun to learn. The first part of the book is a standard tutorial of the game. The next part is an example of a few rounds of the game to give you an even better understanding. The final part (my favorite) is a list of all the cards in the game and an historical description of them. There’s no real strategic advantage of reading these descriptions; it’s just a fun history lesson that gets you into the game and immerses you just a little bit more. 

The Mechanics

The game is played over ten turns. Each turn is broken into several rounds of card playing by each player. You don’t get to draw a new hand until the next turn, so you’ll be using nearly all of the cards you have (commonly, you are left with one card remaining). If you play a card that is for your superpower (USA or USSR) and don’t use the event, but instead use the military points on it for strategic actions, the event doesn’t take place. If you play a card with an event for the other player though, the event takes place regardless. So, if you want to use Japan Defense Pact for its amazingly high Military Value, the USA player still gets to activate the event (which gives him control of Japan). This requires careful planning, as you obviously don’t want to play your enemies cards, as your hand dwindles each round you will need to play these cards eventually. 

There are also neutral and scoring cards. Neutral cards can be played by either player, and if they don’t want to play the event, it won’t take place. The scoring cards, however, have to be played by the end of the round. Sometimes, this is good as you might have a lot of influence in the continent being controlled. Other times, it could get tricky if you don’t have much influence there, so you’ll strategy will focus on that scoring continent and attract the attention of the opposing player, causing him to try and stop you gaining influence there so he can score more. 

Overall

If you head over to www.boardgamegeek.com and search for Twilight Struggle, you’ll notice that it’s ranked #1 Board Game, #1 Strategy Game, and #1 War Game. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, if you love strategy games, war games, and board games, then you should be in possession of this game. Keep in mind, too that this is not a light game. It will last hours, so you’ll need to plan a session with your buddy. The good news, though is that you don’t technically have to play all ten turns. There are specific rules that allow you to go as many turns as you want to and then score accordingly. Since this is a more “serious” game, it’s not for everyone, but for people who want a deep, intense strategy game that’s easy to learn and exciting to play, this is the game for you.

FINAL SCORE: 9/10

Also, at the very end of the rulebook, there is a page of developer commentary, describing their reasoning for the designs of the game. As someone who loves commentary on DVDs and video games, this is a pretty amazing thing to read. If you pick up this game, give the last page a read; it’s very much worth it. 

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Posted in Uncategorized on February 6, 2013 by Danny_Noe

want

SlickGaming

Fire Emblem Awakening CoverWith a story involving ancient dragons, a land divided by turmoil and different rulers, and a character suffering from amnesia, one might think Fire Emblem: Awakening is a run-of-the-mill tactical RPG. But looking at the game in such a way only scratches the surface of what Fire Emblem: Awakening has to offer: a huge cast of varied characters, approachable yet deep gameplay, and cutscenes that are more stunning than some console games.

 

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