NOTA: versión española próximamente.
This time in The interrogation we have a very special guest: Ananda Gupta. Together with Jason Matthews, Ananda is one of two designers of our beloved game Twilight Struggle. That said, no more presentation is needed.
We want to thank Ananda once again for his time and for being so kind to answer our classical questionary of this blog. Here below you can find his answers. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
How long were you working on the development of Twilight Struggle?
We started the design in 2001; once we settled on the Cold War as a theme, the design actually went quite quickly. We were finished in early 2003, and then the wait on GMT’s P500 list began.
Was it very crazy to get a balanced game with so many events and factors?
Not as much as one might think. We aimed much more at interesting events and getting players to feel like they were managing constant crises. The balance came later, when our playtest group hammered on it for us.
How many times have you played Twilight Struggle?
I can’t remember. Even today I sometimes get confused between different versions of the rules. I played against Stefan Mecay in a WBC tournament a few years ago, and put the Olympics on the space race! He looked at me in a very confused way, and I realized that I was thinking of a different version of the Olympics card that of course was never published. Needless to say, he beat me soundly.
How often do Jason and you play together? Confess… who plays better? 🙂
It was easier for us to get together when we both lived near Washington DC, but now that I live a bit further north and he is once again in a job with many responsibilities, it is hard for us to play games together much. I would say that I am probably better at card driven games in general, but Jason is a better Twilight Struggle player.
What do you think of the new Spanish edition of Twilight Struggle?
I am very eager to see how it does and how the European gaming audience responds to the Spanish version (as well as the other translations). Since the next game that Jason and I are working on may have more interest for European players, I hope that the Spanish edition helps pave the way for Spanish and other European players to enjoy our games.
Could you summarize Twilight Struggle in one or two phrases?
We wanted it to be about crisis management and always trying to figure out what your opponent is up to. And you can play it quickly!
Beside the Cold War, what other topics are you interested on?
Both Jason and I are interested in “under-gamed” subjects — subjects that there have not been many games about. I find Volko Ruhnke’s COIN series very promising for that reason. We also like topics that suit 2 players, and can be well treated in a game that isn’t too long.
What in the game do you like the most? And the least?
I think we managed to get the Cold War mentality just right — the relationship with the opponent, and the need to seize the initiative and get the opponent responding to what you are doing. What I like least is the fixed play order; the fact that the USSR always goes first is artificial and I wish we had something a little more elegant there.
Who do you prefer to play with, US or USSR? Why?
I almost always play the US, since I often teach new players, and the USSR play is less subtle early. As to what I prefer, I usually bid low for the Soviets, since with a few extra IP on the board I can usually acquit myself reasonably well as the Americans.
Do you prefer playing face-to-face or online?
I generally like face to face boardgames; I have actually played Twilight Struggle very little online, although that should not be seen as a criticism of Bruce Wigdor’s implementation (or anyone else’s).
What is your favorite card?
The China Card; we struggled for a long time with how to handle China’s role in the game, and I think the China Card is a nice elegant solution that doesn’t get players to behave very strangely when it comes to China.
And what is your favorite event or character in the Cold War?
I am partial to “Tear Down This Wall”; my favorite character is probably Margaret Thatcher. But I am fairly sure Jason will take quite a different view. 🙂
The chess match between Fischer and Spasski was quite relevant for the US press and it was about boardgaming. Why didn’t you include any card about this in TS?
The boardgaming angle actually didn’t even occur to us when we were doing the cards. But that would have made a good event. It was both good and bad that we were doing a game that covers 45 years of history; there were so many events to choose from, but on the other hand we would never be able to get every interesting event into the game.
Please, recommend us a book, movie or song about the Cold War.
I am partial to “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” – the version with Alec Guiness – which is being remade very soon with Gary Oldman in the role of George Smiley. I don’t know how they will get the whole story into just 2 hours though.
And finally, suggest your image or photo about the Cold War.
My favorite Cold War image is that of the Berlin Wall being torn down. I was in high school at the time and I still remember the amazement of my teachers.