Twilight Struggle: Historical Example of Play Project

I've set myself the task of storyboarding the entire Cold War as portrayed by Twilight Struggle. This process is geared towards providing new scenarios beginning with each and every game turn.

While I've tried to do justice to the evolving geopolitical picture and done some reading-up, I'd be grateful for any suggestions on how to further improve this historical storyboard. And what's your take on game balance starting off in Turn2?

Here's what the board looks like after the below has taken place (i.e. the setup for the Turn2 scenario):




Opening Setup:

USSR: 2 in Poland, 1 each in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.

USA: 4 in W. Germany, 2 in Italy, 1 in France

The communists had as yet not entirely consolidated their control over these countries. Non-communists still had a strong voice in government (e.g. in Poland until Jan ’47, in Czechoslovakia until Feb. ’48 and in Hungary until Jun ’48, I’d say.)… Chose not to place anything in Romania, since there’s ROMANIAN ABDICATION and

Frankly, I’d love to add more influence to the Eastern Block countries (just short of control) and do likewise for most of Western Europe’s non-BGs, but such are the confines of the setup.

As for the US setup, I toyed with say only 1 in Italy and 1 in Greece to further enhance the nature of Southern Europe being the “soft underbelly” of US influence in Europe (given the great strength of communist and socialist parties in those countries). But I decided to instead capture that dynamic with the Soviet Headline card.

As for W. Germany, I gave the US full control since the Allies were actually running the place and the socialist SPD (not to mention the pretty minor communist KPD) just weren’t as strong as their Italian and French counterparts.


USSR: SOCIALIST GOVERNMENTS: 1US each removed from the UK, France and Italy. USA: FIVE YEAR PLAN: FIDEL discarded.

The USSR was very much on the offensive in Europe at this point. France had an absolute left-wing majority in parliament and the Italian communists and socialists were giving the Italian Christian-Democrats a run for their money. And of course the Atlee government was in power in Britain. Not that they were in any way pro-Soviet, but obvious from the Reaganite-Churchillian hawkish stance of the game, they might be considered weak-willed – say by granting India & Co independence…

The fourth Soviet Five Year Plan (1946-50) fell short of the goals Stalin had set, particularly in terms of agricultural production. Moreover, the Soviet Union exploited the resources of its East European satellites, thus hardly endearing it to the outside world (represented by the FIDEL discard).


1st Soviet Action Round:

3OPS: DE-STALINIZATION: 1SU each to Iran, Greece and Italy.

Iran was one of the very first points of contention, with communist-backed Kurdish and Azeri separatists in the country surging and then being defeated. In Italy the monarchy was abolished following a hotly contested 2 June 1946 referendum (with the leftist forces naturally being for a republic), while a civil war flared up in Greece (March 1946).

Stalin sought to keep communist parties abroad on a very tight leash and pressed for them to become Stalinist mirror images of the CPSU. Hence the use of OPS rather than that of the DE-STALINIZATION event (which had to wait until Krushchev’s indictment of Stalinism at the 20th Party Congress in 1956).

1st US Action Round:

2 OPS: VIETNAM REVOLTS: Coup in Iran. 4 die roll +2=6 result. 2US now in Iran. Then the Soviet event is implemented.

The Western-backed Iranian government triumphed against Azeri and Kurdish separatist rebels and reneged on promises to supply the USSR with oil.

In November 1946 tensions between the Viet Minh and the French escalated into a full-blown war that was to end after France’s humiliating defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

2nd Soviet Action Round:

1 OPS: TRUMAN DOCTRINE: US removes 1SU from Greece. Then the Soviets place 1SU each in Thailand and Laos.

Since Britain, facing a severe post-war economic crisis, was no longer able to shore up the Greek government against the ELAS insurgents, the US assumed that role as stipulated by the Truman Doctrine.

Thailand at the same time in considerable turmoil following the assassination of King Rama VIII. The Soviet control of Laos represents the intensification of the First Indochina War.

2nd US Action Round:

3 OPS: CONTAINMENT: Coup in Thailand. 4 die roll+3=7. 2US in Thailand.

A military coup brings a reliably pro-US government into power.

3rd Soviet Action Round:

4 OPS: MARSHALL PLAN: 1SU each to Poland, France, Libanon, Burma. 1US each to W. Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Benelux, UK.

Poland became a People’s Republic, France was experiencing chronic instability, while Libanon and Burma were among the nations which gained their independence in the 40s.

As for the Marshall Plan, Franco’s Spain did not get any loans given the regime’s past chumminess with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

3rd US Action Round:

2 OPS: DECOLONIZATON: 1SU to Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Indonesia. 2US in France.

The independence movements in the Maghreb were gathering steam as events such as the Massacre of Sétif had made a deep impression on the Muslim population.

The French communists left the government and Indonesian nationalists were fighting for independence against the Dutch.

4th Soviet Action Round:

1 OPS: CIA CREATED: 1US to Italy. 1SU each to the Phillipines and Malaysia.

Among the adjustments to the new cold war, the CIA was created and one of the organisation’s first actions was to massively inject funds into the Italian national elections of 1948 so as to ensure a Christian-Democratic victory over a united leftist list. Together with the Marshall Plan, this helped ensure Italy became a firm ally in the Western camp.

Over in South-East Asia, communists were further on the march… The Hukbalahap in the Phillipines and Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA) in Malaysia.

4th US Action Round:

1 OPS: ROMANIAN ABDICATION: 1US to Malaysia. Soviet event.

The British began their successful albeit protracted counterinsurgency campaign against Malayan communists that was only to be concluded in 1960.

King Michael was forced to abdicate and Romania thereupon became a People’s Republic. At first much under the iron first of Moscow, Romania went sometimes its own ways after the death of Stalin.

5th Soviet Action Round:

EVENT: INDO-PAKISTANI WAR. Pakistan invaded. Roll 3. Failure.

Newly independent Pakistan was later to become in the 50s a US ally, but the two states rising out of the ashes of the British Raj were at this point not really on the Cold War radar and fought over Kashmir from October ’47 to December ’48.

5th US Action Round:

1OPS: BLOCKADE. DE GAULLE LEADS FRANCE discarded to meet the card’s requirements. 1US to Israel.

Stalin’s blockading of Berlin badly backfired and closed a lot of doors in Western Europe that had previously been open (simulated by the discarding of the DE GAULLE card).

The US rushed to recognise Israel upon the end of the British Mandate of Palestine and the American public’s sympathies were very much on the Israelis’ side in the ensuing First Arab-Israeli War.

6th Soviet Action Round:

2OPS: INDEPENDENT REDS: 1US to Yugoslavia. 1SU each to Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria.

Tito’s Yugoslavia moved out of the Soviet camp over the summer of 1948, while the Soviets tightened their grip over other East European countries.

6th US Action Round:

2OPS: Arab-Israeli War: Rolls a 1. 1US each to Canada and Norway.

Both the Arabs of Palestine and neighbouring Arab states performed very poorly in the First Arab-Israeli War, save for Jordan’s small Arab Legian – the most professional army in the Middle-East (apart from the British, of course) at the time.

While both Canada and the US had had contingency plans for a US-Canadian War prior to World War 2, the bond forged by fighting Hitler very much thawed relations, while over in Norway, the Labour government was appalled by the Soviets’ engineering a communist takeover in Czechoslovakia.

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