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Twilight Struggle
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Twilight Struggle

third printing

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Product Awards:  


Designer(s): Jason Matthews, Ananda Gupta

Manufacturer(s): GMT Games

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Product Description

"Now the trumpet summons us again, not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle." – John F. Kennedy

In 1945, unlikely allies toppled Hitler's war machine, while humanity's most devastating weapons forced the Japanese Empire to its knees in a storm of fire. Where once there stood many great powers, there now stood only two -- the United States and the Soviet Union. The world had scant months to collectively sigh in relief before a new conflict threatened. Unlike the titanic struggles of the preceding decades, this conflict would be waged not primarily by soldiers and tanks, but by spies and politicians, scientists and intellectuals, artists and traitors. Twilight Struggle is a two-player game simulating the 45-year dance of intrigue, prestige, and occasional flares of warfare between the USSR and the USA. The entire world is the stage on which these two titans fight. The game begins amidst the ruins of Europe as the two new superpowers scramble over the wreckage of WWII and ends in 1989, when only the United States remained standing.

Twilight Struggle inherits its fundamental systems from the card-driven classics We the People and Hannibal. It is a quick-playing, low-complexity game in that same tradition. The game map is a world map of the period, whereon players move units and exert influence in attempts to gain allies and control for their superpower.

Twilight Struggle's Event cards add detail and flavor to the game. They cover a vast array of historical happenings: the Arab-Israeli conflicts, Vietnam, the peace movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and other such incidents that brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. Subsystems capture the prestige-laden Space Race as well as nuclear tensions, with the possibility of game-ending nuclear war. Can you, as the U.S. President or Soviet Premier, lead your nation to victory? Play Twilight Struggle and find out.

The rules for the third printing are the same as the second printing.

Product Awards

BoardGameGeek Awards
Best Wargame, 2006
BoardGameGeek Awards
Best 2-Player, 2006
International Gamers Awards
Best 2-Player Game, 2006
International Gamers Awards
Best Historical Simulation Game, 2006

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Jason Matthews, Ananda Gupta

  • Manufacturer(s): GMT Games

  • Artist(s): Mark Simonitch

  • Year: 2005

  • Players: 1 - 2

  • Weight: 910 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is a domestic item.


  • 228 full color counters
  • One Deluxe 22"x34" full-color cardboard map
  • 110 Event Cards
  • Two six-sided dice
  • 24-page Rule book
  • 2 full color Player Aid cards
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.9 in 5 reviews

by Nick P.
Nearly Flawless
February 19, 2009

Twilight Struggle is one of the best games I have ever played. The mechanics of the game are nearly flawless. The was the game is formatted, entices both competing players is an epic struggle to create and maintain influence throughout the world. This is done through coups, realignments, and through increasing your own influence. All this is done in 10 rounds 6 turns for rounds 1-3 and 7 turns in rounds 4-10. During this time players will try to achieve enough victory points to claim victory over the other. All this can be done in less than two hours.

This is a card based game. In which players receive a certain amount of cards per turn, but can use the cards in 3 different ways.

  1. You can spread influence, or make a coup/realignment
  2. Each card has an event on them which can be used at least once in the game.
  3. Or, a card can be used on the space race.
A nicely added twist to the game is how every card is predominately used for the American player or the Russian player. This therefore adds equality to the game that certain cards will benefit one player while they will hurt another. There is a near equal amount of both to spread equality and add a nice twist the game. These card events are also historically accurate, and the event name usually corresponds with the card effects.

What I personally enjoy about this game is the strategy involved with placing influence throughout the world. Each county has a value that is used to determine how much influence is needed to control the country. In the game there are scoring cards which are used to receive victory points. You score points by controlling countries in each region. This is where the strategy comes in. You can dominate one region at the expense of others. This is a great feature which makes players think about how they sped their very limited influence values.

Pro: Can be played in less than two hours. (allows multiple plays in a day)
Pro: Intriguing, well balanced card based system
Pro: Great use of strategy in placing and controlling countries
Pro: Historically accurate, and event corresponding cards
Pro: More than one way to use the cards
Pro: Victory point track which allows a smooth scoring system to the game
Pro: The rules are explained in an easy to learn way

Con: The pieces of the game are very basic, and produced very poorly. The board is a flabby card-board piece. It is not stable at all, and is folded about eight times. All the pieces are cardboard cut outs which could have been made better in my garage. However, the cards are well made, e laminated and strong.

With the exception of the poorly made pieces, the game has fantastic mechanics, and should be ON TOP of every gamers shelf. This game is well made and is worth every penny. If you are mildly interested in board games, this is one that should be at the top of your list.

July 06, 2007

a game (for 2 players) covering the political and military struggle of the forty year period of cold war. each player represents a superpower and tries to increase its influence (from presence to domination to control) in the different countries and regions of the world. as the gameplay is card-driven each turn the players have to use their action cards either for certain operations like placing influence or attempting coups in one or more countries or they can play their cards as (historical appropriate) events, then the respective action described takes place. at the same time you also have to take care of your position in "space race" and of course you must not to trigger nuclear war which would mean to immediately loose the game.

in the ten turns of gameplay and more than three hours of real time you need a lot of planning and strategic thinking, but also some luck with the cards (hand management can be really tough at times) and the dice (when attempting a coup for example) to win the game, nevertheless it's often up to you if you take the chances (and risks) of rolling the dice. basically the game is very well balanced, the board is great (arranged very clearly) and also the other gaming material is of pretty good quality.

you'll experience hours of great entertainment and excitement. a masterpiece.

(initially published on * a blog on boardgames, comics, books and music)

Very popular game at our club
April 19, 2006

This game was introduced at our club as soon as it came out. We have some very serious gamers, who often do play-testing. Most of us have been playing wargames and such for 20+ years. This is one of those rare games that was an immediate hit with everyone who has tried the game. It became so popular, that we are having an in-house tourney (for bragging rights, I guess). When we get together to play, we often fuss about which game to play. There's always someone who doesn't like the game suggested. Not so with this game.

It is a 2-player game. It takes about 15 minutes to learn, if you have someone to show you how: Probably twice that, if you must learn on your own. It's a complex game, but not complicated. Most games of it I've seen have taken about 4 hours to play, once you know how, unless someone gets the auto-victory early, which seems to happen often enough. It's a well-balanced game. At first, in our club, the Soviets won most games, but now, it seems evenly divided. It's a card-driven game. so it never plays out the same way twice. We play many card-driven games from GMT, and we flat-out wear them out.

As with other GMT games, the historical detail is accurate and extensive. These guys are pros. Trust their games. Buy this one!

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