The long-awaited spiritual successor to Twilight Struggle, Imperial Struggle, appears to be finally making its way into players’ hands nearly four years after it was first announced.
Set during the height of the Cold War tensions between the US and Soviet Union, Twilight Struggle is a game for two players that pits the nations against one another in a strategic battle of wits. Depicting the events leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, players must use military units, cards and resources to outplay their opponent and potentially change the course of history forever.
Imperial Struggle was first announced in late 2016 as a spiritual sequel to Twilight Struggle from designers Ananda Gupta and Jason Matthews. GMT Games, which released Twilight Struggle, initially announced a planned release for Imperial Struggle of Q3 2017. The upcoming game was made available via the publisher’s P500 programme, which requires a game to have a minimum of 500 pre-orders before being produced; Imperial Struggle racked up more than 4,500 orders in total. Despite quickly achieving the required number, the game’s release date slipped into 2018, followed by a delay into 2019 and, finally, this year.
In Imperial Struggle, players become the respective leaders of Britain and France during the particularly turbulent period of European history known as the Second Hundred Years’ War. Beginning in 1697, the two-player game enables the players to experience historical events as the formation of European empires and the French Revolution, eventually ending with the fall of the Bastille in 1789.
Described by GMT as being relatively low in gameplay complexity yet high in strategy, Imperial Struggle will apparently provide players with a narrative that’s large in scope but manageable in terms of play time, with the ability to play a complete session in an evening. In an attempt to mirror the savage rivalry between France and Britain during the Georgian era, Imperial Struggle will allow players to prevent their opponent from benefiting from economic opportunities and even declare outright war on each other.
Once the fighting ends, players will be able to exchange treaties - taking back territories that they might have lost during battles - and work on building their nations at home as well as abroad. Certain events in the two-player game will offer players the decision to steer their empires in different directions, even changing history in their favour.
As well as Twilight Struggle and Imperial Struggle, GMT has published a number of wargames including Battle Line, by Lost Cities designer Reiner Knizia, and Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea - one of Matt’s favourite games of 2019.
A spin-off from Twilight Struggle, Twilight Struggle: Red Sea - Conflict in the Horn of Africa, was announced earlier this year. Part of GMT’s Lunchtime Games series, Red Sea is designed to be a much shorter game than the original Twilight Struggle and sees players engaging with the Marxist revolution of Ethiopia in 1974.
As well as beginning to ship out to those who pre-ordered it via the P500 scheme, Imperial Struggle has now been given an official release on GMT’s online store, where it costs $59 (£47).