A PC edition of Twilight Struggle has been successfully Kickstarted , giving the tactically-minded a crunchy slab of world-domination to get excited about. Two players control competing superpowers in the post-war era in a beautifully balanced battle for global influence. It's big, complex, and will surely be brilliant online, if GMT Games get it right.
The game is full of clever touches. You fight for victory points on a tug-of-war track, and earn them by accruing influence in cities across the world. You play cards to do this, but each card is a world event that may have negative consequences for your nation. You'll think things like "I can have these influence points, but do I want to unleash Che Guevara in the process?" and "if I play influence in the Middle East I'll gain dominance in the region, but is it worth triggering the Cuban missile crisis to do it?" Chancers can also gamble on the space race to earn some cheeky victory points.
The original boardgame was designed by Jason Matthews and Ananda Gupta, who was the lead designer of XCOM: Enemy Within, and a senior designer on XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It was released in 2005, and still has a lively competitive community, with regular tournaments. The backer rewards mention online tournaments that players can pay to enter and compete for prizes.
As anyone who's tried to unfold the four-foot board in a pub will know, Twilight Struggle's physical form is quite cumbersome. It's a game of many counters, cards, and progress trackers that ought to benefit greatly from a digitised edition. GMT say it'll "include a game tutorial to help players understand the game fairly quickly, AI opponents to allow you to sharpen your skills, pass-and-play multiplayer, and both asynchronous and real-time online play". The Kickstarter bid flew past the $50,000 target and is currently lingering around the $110k mark, which has activated several stretch goals, including the addition of five singleplayer scenarios.
At the moment it looks like you have to spend $30 to get the PC version, which comes with a physical version of the What If? expansion and a pack of promo cards. According to GMT, "the game is expected to be complete by February 2015". Hopefully it'll introduce the game to a big new audience. I look forward to total defeat at the hands of strategy masterminds the world over online next year.