The Battle Above the Game Table

By Chris Kluwe

An interesting thing I have noticed while testing Twilight of the Gods over the past five years is that the game places a very high premium on not merely reacting to what your opponent is doing, but also on "reading" their preferred play style. Much as poker players try to get a read on their opponents, this aspect is something we deliberately designed into the gameplay and watching it play out across the table is always entertaining.

So what do I mean by "reading their preferred playstyle?"

Well, one thing that differentiates Twilight of the Gods (TotG) from other card games in the collectible/expandable milieu is that TotG is as much about playing the other person as it is about playing the cards you draw. Again, the comparison to poker is remarkable: In poker, great players win not just by knowing their odds of drawing to a specific combination of cards, but also by deducing when their opponent is bluffing, slow-playing, or just lucked into a winning hand from a losing hand (so now you must cut your losses). Is your opponent ahead and taking advantage of that by pushing you around even if you're not sure they've got the goods? Or is your opponent down in a psychological rough patch after a setback of some sort that you can take advantage of?

Twilight of the Gods demo

Chris Kluwe (right) demonstrates Twilight of the Gods at BGG.con

Gameplay Auguries

In TotG, similar calculations apply based on your opponent's playing style. Are you playing against an opponent who likes to trade lots of cards early, setting up their resources for mid- and late-game dominance? Are you playing against an opponent who won't trade multiple cards for fear of giving away too much of an advantage, prolonging the early game? Is your opponent someone who likes to Manifest frequently, meaning you should seek out more Forced Trades and Seizes, to throw off their traps? Are you playing against a player who just loves getting creatures on the field, and isn't too worried about what they trade away to get them placed? Can you bluff/convince your opponent into taking a trade that doesn't seem disadvantageous for them at first, but sets you up for a huge play later on?

Each such example affects how the game itself plays out, and that is just from focusing on one aspect – accumulating resources! The same thing applies with the TotG Sacrifice mechanic, too.

Is your opponent someone who Sacrifices early and often, trusting that they'll still be able to apply pressure later into the game, despite being behind on resources? Is your opponent someone who never Sacrifices until the very end, saving their resources for one last surge, but leaving themselves vulnerable to early pressure? Can you gall your opponent into Sacrificing to stop a card that you deliberately played in order to entice them into giving up resources as a seemingly worth-it countermeasure, or do they accept that momentary disadvantage and then try to make you face the same dilemma during the next turn?

Twilight of the Gods demo

Publisher Alan Emrich (left) and designer Chris Kluwe (right) playing Twilight of the Gods

The Usual Suspects

Within our playgroup, each player has developed their distinctive playstyle, and I'm sure that's also true for your playgroup! You must account for these playstyles if you want to maximize your chances of winning. Some of them are aggressive, others are defensive; there are those who Sacrifice early and those who Sacrifice late. Two players playing with the exact same deck will bring their wildly differing playstyles to it which leads to wildly different game outcomes. It is this combination of deck and player variability that I think the TotG team is most proud of cultivating because it means when you beat another player, you had to beat them, not just the random draws of cards in your respective decks.

Ultimately, no matter how you build your deck, no matter what cards you include, you must take into account the human element across the table from you as well. This is what has kept TotG fresh for us on its development team even after 5+ years of working steadily on it. I'm still just as excited to sit down and test cards, even old cards that I know like the back of my hand, because it is what my opponent might try to do with them that makes or breaks the game. I know that I am matching my wits against another living, thinking person, and if I can read them better than they can read me, I can probably win.

Therefore, when you find yourself playing Twilight of the Gods against your friends, co-workers, or even someone you just met at your local game store, remember that in this game, you don't just play the odds; you must play the other player every single game.