The Twilight Zone Challenge: Struggle for the Twilight Globe


@Hardco, when first reading this in the rules.pdf (astoundingly not included in the in-app rules section) i was baffled by the big difference of start influence of 25-15
and in spite of this the US is regarded as the weaker side :thinking:
why? card decks balancing this?


I think part of the issue with the TS challenge was that the games could easily go a couple months if people aren’t taking their turns fairly regularly. It’s hard to stay engaged if you are at the end of a challenge list and it might be a year to make it to the front of the queue…

As for starting influence, the values are somewhat thematic, but not all influence is equal. The 4 and 5 influence in Australia and the UK does not provide much value in the game. Influence in battleground countries is worth significantly more value than non-battleground influence. The starting battleground influence is pretty close at 7 to 6.

But yes, the card deck strongly favors the Soviets in the early war. I mentioned earlier that there aren’t many must-space US cards in the early war, and if you take a look at the soviet early war cards, you should see how significant the power level difference is. Some of the Soviet cards are deemed so powerful, that the best play is to not space them, and just hold them until turn 3 so they don’t get reshuffled until turn 7 at the earliest.

The additional two influence for the US generally stems two of the more significant challenges that can result in an early war steamroll:

  1. Without extra influence, the Soviets can headline Socialist Governments and just walk into Italy on turn 1 (preferably with Duck and Cover to prevent a retaliatory coup). Despite several punishing early war soviet cards, Europe generally favors the US, and rarely changes control, as it can only be couped at DEFCON 5. If the Soviets can lock down Italy on turn 1. They don’t even need to score domination in Europe, it is generally enough to just prevent US domination, and you are essentially denying them 18 points over the course of a game.
  2. With a turn 1 headline of Arab-Israeli War or Suez Crisis, and a good coup in Iran, the Soviets can eliminate all US influence in the Middle East on turn 1. If the US counter-coup into Iran fails it is weak, it can be challenging for the US to get back into the Middle East. If Middle East scoring appears twice before then, the Soviets will likely score 16 points, and be unable to come back

Long story short, an additional starting influence into these two countries goes a long way to balancing the early war!


Personally, I never really played the game much and was never interested in a tourney/challenge since the game is iPad-only. I’ve owned it since launch and my first full play was for the decathlon. But what @Hardco said is a big factor, too.