Another brick in the Wall
I played 1989 last night, and it’s clearly in the mold of Twilight Struggle. There are minor diferences:
- The realignment rolls (and coups) are rolled into “Support Checks” (well streamlined, I think).
- There isn’t a headline phase (boo!)
- Instead of just countng VPs when a scoring card shows up, you resolve a Hannibal-like battle. Nice.
Looking back at my issues with Twilight Struggle, they are:
- The neutral events dominate.
- The granularity of luck
- The screw — a handful of scoring cards.
How does 1989 compare?
Neutral Events — Well, there are less of them, but still pretty big. I think this issue is reduced. However, there are more “coded” events (that require a
prerequisite). Playing the USSR, there were ~4 event cards that never mattered because the “head of the chain” card appeared at the end of the first deck, and was then tossed to China (the “Space Race” in Twilight Struggle) after the reshuffle. That was great. On the other hand, having Solidarity show up as the Democrats first card was painful.
This ties in with Granularity of luck. My game took 3+ hours (it went the distance), and I’m still wondering how much of the game was determined by Poland falling almost instantly on turn 1. (To be fair, my opponent was so busy teaching me that he missed a card play that would have gotten an auto victory 1/2 way through the game). It’s wrong to judge after one game; but I suspect a few key cards that could swing a game.
The problem with the scoring cards is still there, but a) the scoring cards leave the game after the democrats take power in a country, so they ebb and flow. B) the person playing the scoring card gets initiative in the power struggle; a minor benefit but that offsets some of the pain of having one less card play. But only minor. My opponent had one turn where 2 of their 7 plays were scoring cards. Not pleasant.
Overall, I think that the issues I had with Twilight Struggle are basically still here, perhaps mitigated. Or just perhaps I don’t know the game well enough to know which cards (etc) are the big chunks of luck I should be watching out for.
So, my gut feeling is that this is an evolutionary improvement over Twilight Struggle rethemed to suit the source material. Not bad. Call it indifferent plus (due to novelty), with the jury still deliberating.