Twilight Struggle

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Twilight Struggle: The Cold War, 1945-1989
Strategy board game published by
GMT Games
No. of Players 2
Session Time ~3 Hours
Authors Jason Matthews and Ananda Gupta
First Publication 2005


"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 Fitzgerald Kennedy


Twilight Struggle: The Cold War, 1945–1989 is a strictly two-player card-based area control strategy board game published by GMT Games in 2005. Duck and cover, children! You'll find no conflict between sparkly vampires and werewolves here, only tense geopolitical maneuverings and the constant threat of war. Yeah, Twilight Struggle is pretty awesome.

In a game of Twilight Struggle the two opposing players re-wage the forty-five year Cold War between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, with the point of the game being for one super-power to utterly defeat the other and control the world! The game is separated somewhat into three distinct phases of the Cold War: the Early War (which lasts for the first three turns), the Mid War (which lasts for the next four) and the Late War (which lasts for the final three turns). Which phase of the war you are currently in determines which cards are available to draw from, which keeps the game in a more consistent historical framework as far as when real world events may come to play out during the game.

Scoring is done with Victory Points, which are plotted on a number line that runs from -20 to 20. The Victory Point track begins play at 0, and players will try to make plays to gain them Victory Points and hinder their opponent. Should the tracker ever reach either of the extremes the game automatically ends. -20 Victory Points represents total communist conquest where 20 Victory Points would be total American victory, thus the players will engage in a complicated game of tug o' war to move the track into their favor. The game automatically concludes at the end of the 10th turn should a winner not be declared before that point.

A 24" x 34" full color period-accurate cardboard map of the world is also included so that players can track their ambitions on the other lesser non-superpower nations of the world, actively trying to sway various nations to their side, realign them, or promote coups d'état to try to gain other nations as allies and puppets of your superpower. Players can also use cards to try to advance in the space race. The DEFCON level is also tracked, and if the DEFCON level reaches 1 the game ends in nuclear war.

Twilight Struggle has been highly acclaimed, being nominated and winning several gaming awards, including an unprecedented two International Gamers Awards, and it remains near the top of the highest ranked games on BoardGameGeek after holding the number one spot for over five years straight.


Twilight Struggle's website