Twilight Struggling: or, examples of poor leadership in the cold war

With @Captbnut and @Benkyo starting a wave of Twilight Struggle games through various means,I thought it’d be interesting to hear how you caused global nuclear war. Or any interesting plays. Or won global nuclear war.

I’ll start. I have a new dislike for 5 Year Plan after accidentally reaching Defcon 1 with it twice, vs the AI. First time I had Grain Sales to the Soviets and 5YP in my hand as Soviets. Played Grain Sales, randomly drew 5YP, and the AI couped like there’s no tomorrow. Lesson learned, won’t do that again. 5YP still great though right?

Next time, as USA, I play 5YP at Defcon 2. Cause why wouldn’t you? Great option to reduce the opponents hand size right? Anyway, I draw Duck and Cover, which reduces Defcon and everyone green with envy.

5 Year Plan. It’s just not as good as I thought it was. Or hanging out at Defcon 2 is more hazardous than I thought.

Anyway, what’re your stories?


5YP is risky to hold, sure, but it is still the only way for the USSR to discard a bad scoring card.

One time, my US opponent headlined Missile Envy, I had no better option than to hand over 5YP (thinking at least they wouldn’t get a headline coup), which then hit Grain Sales, which then hit Junta. Double hand-size reduction, gave up a way into S. America, and they got a headline coup.

1 Like

Longest Bear Trap/Quagmire? I think mine is 9 AR, shortly after which I lost.

1 Like

A use that did not occur to me, and probably would have been really helpful in that game. Maybe I’ll remember next time.

That 5YP, grain sales combo is rough. Really really rough.

Mines 4 AR. I have a bad habit of spending all my high points cards first, which my friend takes advantage of. Was 9 over two turns? It must have been. Rough game.

1 Like

Yeah, my memory is hazy, but after all my 2+ OP cards were gone I was stuck with a bunch of 1s and Scoring cards, the Scoring cards were compulsory plays in the final ARs, then I still had all the 1s going into next Turn. Got out of it shortly into that Turn, but by that point it was all over.

I didn’t realise they went into the next turn. Blimey

I was playing the AI as the Soviets the other week. I was crushing it. Mid war, 15 points up and ahead in 5 regions.

I looked at my hand and the 3 cards I had left were CIA, 5YP and D&C. DEFCON was 2.

Lesson learned

1 Like

Nether did I, the first few times my friend and I played together in person. I don’t think I realized until the AI tried it on me. Pretty big game changer if you can get it to last between turns.

Ohh, that’s rough. That’d be so demoralizing for me, having to play them after being denied your earlier rounds and knowing you still have to deal with it next turn.

Honestly, by that point it was just funny. The game had been really unfair in the lead up to that point too, so it was just icing on the cake.

1 Like

The thing I’m getting at the moment when I’ve got 5ish different games on the go is forgetting which side I am.

1 Like

I can only handle about two at a time.

1 Like

I can’t play 5 games well!!

I had a 6 AR with the AI once, and guess what? I lost that game too. It would have been longer if I had not lost.

You will remember my defeat against you where I managed to survive the longest to turn 7, and then ruin it by couping a battleground thinking the Defcon was at 4 instead of at 2 (it was at 4 on my game against Lalunaverde).

You know, the app does change the commit button to a “Defcon warning” button whenever you about to do something that (could, theoretically) cause suicide.


I think on the coups appears on the middle of the coup window, in big red letters, instead of on the right side button. I still managed to miss it a few times…

Playing Russia, just played CIA cause defon is at 3. It’s safe.

Used it to coup Panama… Like a genius.


I knew LaLunaVerde was holding Blockade*, and I had been ensuring I had a 3 OP USSR card as my held card or last AR card for a Turn or two.

Then one morning, about 5am, he played “Ask Not…”** on AR6 and without thinking I got rid of two annoying USSR cards.

Of course, I drew bad cards, and his next AR was Blockade.

Given how close our game was, I can probably attribute my loss to that one mistake. My fault for playing on the toilet at 5am!

In another recent game, I won as the US on play of Lone Gunman***. I played Lone Gunman for the win!

My opponent thought that a coup in Cuba would secure him victory, but hadn’t noticed I had spent the entire Turn setting up a realignment of Cuba to play Cuban Missile Crisis**** so my forced play of Lone Gunman wouldn’t cost me the game!

In an interesting extra twist, he would have been forced to play CIA***** first, had he not deliberately played Bear Trap****** to be able to hold CIA to next Turn.

Card details

* US must discard a 3 OP card or lose all influence in W. Germany
** US may discard any number of cards and draw replacements
*** USSR sees US hand and can take a 1 OP action (meaning the USSR can usually win via a battleground coup to take Defcon to 1 in the US AR)
**** Unless USSR removes 2 influence from Cuba, instigating a coup will cause the USSR to lose
***** US sees USSR hand and can take a 1 OP action (the US version of Lone Gunman)
****** USSR must discard a 2+ OP card and roll 1-4 to cancel the event (if no valid card is in hand, the USSR skips the AR - meaning the 1 OP CIA would stay in hand and carry over to next Turn)


Ahh, the classic 5am “I’m awake enough to do this” lie. It’s caught me out with many things.

It might be cause I was awake at 5am, but I’m having trouble parsing this. Did you have Cuban Missile Crisis in play?

1 Like

If I had played Cuban Missile Crisis while the USSR still had influence in Cuba, the USSR would simply have spent 2 influence to cancel the event. First I had to get rid of 5 USSR influence in Nicaragua through coups, then realign out the 4 USSR influence in Cuba, then play Cuban Missile Crisis for the event, and finally I could safely play Lone Gunman.

(All the while hoping the USSR wouldn’t twig what I was doing - I had no spare OPs and no spare ARs if my opponent decided to coup back Nicaragua!)

1 Like