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Monday, March 27, 2006


Back from Brimfrost/Twilight Struggle initial impression

Had fun. Met some new gamers.

The wife and I just attended the only game convention in Alaska. The whole affair went fairly smoothly. The place was packed on Saturday, mostly with CCG players. I think the organizers estimate there were 300+ attendees over the course of the weekend, not bad for a remote location like Alaska.

Arrived in Anchorage Friday afternoon. I didn't have to wait long to get into a game of Twilight Struggle with Sean, a fellow I had never met before. Twilight Struggle is a fairly new 2-player, card-driven game that I was only vaguely familiar with. Two players take the role of either the USSR or USA and vie for world domination in the Cold War era.

Twilight Struggle is basically an area-control based wargame. From time to time cards come up that cause the scoring of certain regions, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, etc. The player with the most influence in key nations (basically) scores points. Cards can be played for the event or played for the numerical value to gain influence in "puppet states", or played to advance in the space race, among other things.

Twilight Struggle was a game that was on my might-possibly-buy-list. I'm glad I got a chance to play a few rounds. I have since removed it from my might-possibly-buy-list. It isn't really a wargame, but it is as complex as a wargame. It is just too complex for the simple area control game it is at it's heart. There are no armies. There is no maneuver. Had the game not been released by GMT the game would have been met with a collective yawn from the wargame community.

Twilight Struggle might be a good gateway game to get wargamers familiar with the area-control mechanism and interested in much better German games.

We had to cut Twilight Struggle short in order to play in the Settlers tournament. Played 4 games of Settlers of Catan to 7 points, with open hands (resources were kept face up on the table). I wasn't thrilled about the modifications, but both rule changes were intended to speed things up.

I don't think the open hands rule served to speed things up much. I have seen various recommendations in the past that open hands be played when teaching the game to non-gamers. That might be valid, but when playing in a tournament, arguably, you would expect the participants to be familiar with the game. If you need an explanation of the rules prior to the game, you are probably in the wrong tournament.

The seven point rule did speed things up considerably. Actually, upon further reflection I kind of liked the seven point game. The seven point rule made the 4-player game feel more like a 3-player game, which is my favorite way to play Settlers. In a four player game the board tends to get very crowded and it is not unusual for one person to get completely screwed. The screwee is often not be able to expand his starting position beyond a couple very lean, poorly producing settlements.

The four preliminary games only lasted about 3 1/2 hours. The four players who made the final round agreed to play a normal game. I finished the tourney in second place. I came in second in 2 of the preliminary rounds and first in the other two. I finished third in the final game. I think Dame Coldfoot just missed the final round by a single point.

Great post, and welcome back! :)

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