I’ve played lots of “Twilight Struggle”, so I pretty much ignored this when it came out as I thought it would be more of the same, even though people on BGG were raving about it. Two things made be buy it when I spotted it in Orc’s Nest when I was up the West End last week – I noticed that, unlike Twilight Struggle, it could be played solo, and I had just come into a bit of money from selling off a load of plastic kits at the Cavalier Bring and Buy in Tonbridge.
The components are beautiful with a mounted mapboard from the off (unlike Twilight Struggle). We rolled for sides, and I was the Jihadists, though without much of a clue how to play as either side, it didn’t really matter. A quick read through the actions card and we were off. Nick had played a couple of games before, but we still managed to get some rules wrong – e.g. one of the terrorist actions is a major Jihad, and to succeed they have to roll less than or equal to the country’s governance level on 2 out of 3 dice. I failed to do this 3 or 4 times running, but we forgot that major jihads add a besieged regime marker, so the next attempt only needs one success on 3 dice to succeed – a failure also moves the alignment to the left, from adversary to neutral to ally for example – doh!! Nick was able to pick off my Islamist states by regime change actions as it was taking my jihads so long to succeed and he never had to divide his actions. It’s also really difficult to keep track of all the score tracks on the board, as moving the markers gives bonuses or minuses to various die rolls, but I think this will come with experience.
When we had to pack up after 4 hours, there were about 2 turns worth of cards left in the deck, but I think a one time through the deck game would be do-able in the time we usually have when we know the rules and strategies a bit better. The Vassal module is probably not as good as the Twilight Struggle one just yet, but the game lends itself to e-mail play more-so than TS, so we will probably get to know the rules better by playing over Vassal before we try face-to-face again. I really enjoyed the game despite my lack of knowledge – recommended.