When you have just learned a shiny new board game, especially one which is a bit longer and more complex than others, it’s nice to have some strategic direction. That’s what I aim to provide with my series Three Basic Tips – strategy advice for beginner and intermediate players that is easy to remember and yet gets you places.
Today’s game is Unconditional Surrender! (Salvatore Vasta, GMT Games). With its 56-page rulebook and a playtime of 50-100 hours for a full campaign, the game can look a little daunting. Worry not! It’s a surprisingly beginner-friendly system – in fact, it was the first classic hex-and-counter game I ever played, and I turned out just fine. (My mother had me tested!) Follow the recommended learning path of playing the four tutorial scenarios (along with the rules reading each requires), and you’ll be all set up.
While this article is about improving your chances to win, remember that winning is not everything – particularly not in a game that can take this long. In my current two-player game (online via boardgamearena.com), a combination of suboptimal play and bad luck on my part made it clear early on that I was unlikely to win the game. Nonetheless, it’s been a fun experience, and I always look forward to the weekly meeting with my opponent. Remember what the designer himself states as the objective of the game: “Have fun playing” (rule 1.1.1).
So, you know Twilight Struggle. The game has a certain fame to it – it was the best-ranked game on boardgamegeek.com for five years, after all. That’s even more impressive when you consider that a game of Twilight Struggle can easily take two hours, seats exactly two players and is a bit more daunting than most of the eurogames that tend to do well on BGG. Now, while it is not too hard to get into playing Twilight Struggle – the rules are elegant and not too complex – mastering the game is a whole different matter. There are 400+ threads on BGG’s Twilight Struggle strategy subforum. There is an entire website dedicated to brilliant little strategy essays on every single card in Twilight Struggle. When you play against an experienced player online, not only do they know every single card in the deck, they also seem to know which cards have been played already and which are still to come at any given moment of the game. So, is Twilight Struggle only for the select few, for the initiated who have dedicated their lives to the study of the game? By no means! The strategic basics are quickly taken in. See your fortunes in the Cold War improve by following these three tips.