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The Long Twilight Tutorial: So You Want to Learn How to Play Twilight Struggle Part II

Last week I started breaking down the elements of Twilight Struggle by breaking down what each part of the board represents. This week I will be discussing cards, influence, and scoring, the three cornerstones of Twilight Struggle.

Cards: Cards have several elements to them. At the top they have an identification number for their number in the deck. In the top left hand corner there is a number in a star, the number is the Operations Value or Ops of the card, which ranges from 1-4. The star can either be blue, for an American event, red for a Soviet event or half and half for an event that belongs to both sides.  Beneath this line, which also indicates whether it is an Early, Mid or Late War card is an image that represents the event in question. Below this image is the card’s name and possibly an asterisk. The asterisk indicates that once the event is played, the card is removed from the game instead of being placed into the discard pile. The final part of the card is the event text.

Playing a Card:  Turns of Twilight Struggle are played out as a number of action rounds, each action round each player is able to play one card. When playing a card, if the event either belongs to you or is neutral than you decide whether to play the card for the event or for the operations value. If it is an event that belongs to your opponent than you decide you play the ops before or after the event happens.

Headline Phase: The beginning of each turn, both players select a card to play for the event in the Headline Phase. After selecting their cards, both players reveal them and the card with the higher operations value goes first, the US goes first on a tie. Scoring cards can be played during the Headline phase and have an ops value of 0.

China Card: The China Card represents the People’s Republic of China and how it played both sides against each other rather than being firmly in one camp. It begins with the Soviet player and after being played is handed face down to the opposing player. It follows the rules of any other card except it cannot be played in the Headline phase and a player does not have to play it. At the end of turn 10 it gives the player holding it 1 VP.

Operations: Playing a card for operations can be broken into three broad categories: placing influence, coups, and realignments.

  • Placing Influence: You may increase the amount of influence you have in a country you already have influence in or is adjacent to a country in which you have influence at the beginning of the current action round. Influence is placed at a 1:1 ratio in regards to operations and can be placed in any matter is legal following the above rules. If you are placing influence into a country that your opponent controls then influence cost is a 2:1 ratio to influence being placed. Once that control is broken then it is placed on a 1:1 ratio as normal.
  • Realignments: In order to realign a country, an opponent’s influence must be in the target country. It cost 1 operations point per realignment roll and each player rolls a die. Add in the following modifiers as pertinent: +1 for each adjacent controlled country, +1 if you have more influence in target country than your opponent and +1 if your superpower is adjacent to target country. The winner of the die roll then removes influence equal to the difference between the two rolls. This does mean it is possible to lose your own influence because of the roll. Keep in mind that Realignments are under the same restrictions as Coups with regards to DEFCON and that influence is never added due to realignment. If you decide to realign for an Action Round then all of the Operations points must be used for realignments, they do not have to the same country however.
  • Coups: In order to stage a coup, the opponent must have influence in target country. The target country’s stability number is doubled, and then the player rolls a die. If the die roll+ the operations value of the card is greater than the doubled stability number than the coup is a success. In this case, first remove opposing influence and then add influence until the influence change is equal to (Roll+Ops value)-Doubled Stability number. Remembering that couping battleground countries degrades DEFCON. When you stage a coup you receive military operations equal to the ops value of the card used. Finally, coup targets are restricted by DEFCON limitations.

Scoring: The ultimate purpose of operations and events is to give you a favorable position when scoring cards are played. Scoring cards are played in an action round and may not be kept from turn to turn. Determining scoring is the same for each region, except Southeast Asia. Scoring is broken into three primary categories:

  • Presence: A superpower controls 1 country in the region.
  • Domination: A superpower controls more total countries (battleground + non-battleground) AND more battleground countries
  • Control: A superpower controls all the Battlegrounds in a region and has more non battlegrounds than the opposing superpower. Note that this means if a superpower has all the Battlegrounds and none of the non BG he is still considered to have Control.
  • Victory Points are also rewarded for each Battleground a superpower controls as well as any country adjacent to an opposing superpower.

When scoring a region, each player adds up the amount of victory points they receive and they are difference in victory points between the two of them is the effect on the victory point track. A scoring of all regions occurs at the end of turn 10.

That covers the fundamentals of how to play Twilight Struggle yet only scratches at the complexity of the game. Next week will hopefully be the last part of the Long Twilight Tutorial in which I showcase Turn 1 of a game. However there is no guarantee of that in which case the last part will be put up as soon as possible.


2 responses to “The Long Twilight Tutorial: So You Want to Learn How to Play Twilight Struggle Part II

  1. Pingback: The Long Twilight Tutorial: So You Want to Learn How to Play Twilight Struggle Part III | Another Gamer Guy

  2. lambolt ⋅

    FYI “Control: A superpower controls all the Battlegrounds in a region and has more non battlegrounds than the opposing superpower. Note that this means if a superpower has all the Battlegrounds and none of the non BG he is still considered to have Control.”

    this doesnt make sense as worded (logically inconsistent), though perhaps you are mixing up the actual definition which is this

    “A superpower has Control of a Region if it Controls
    more countries in that Region than its opponent, and Controls
    all of the Battleground countries in that Region.”

    so it needs all of the BG countries and still more TOTAL countries, regardless of their BG/non BG status.

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