13 Days is a new game out this year that was designed by Daniel Skjold Pedersen and Asger Sams Granerud, which is being published by Ultra Pro, a company more commonly known for their deck boxes and card sleeves than board games.

It wasn’t but a few weeks ago that I really heard about this game, it was being touted as “Twilight Struggle Lite” with the same feel but in a “playable time frame”.  I took note of the game because the idea of that was interesting, and I enjoy the Cold War theme immensely but Twilight Struggle is one of my favourite games of all time, and I don’t find the play time to be a hindrance to me. So I mostly thought, hey that sounds neat, but not much else.

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Walking past the Ultra Pro booth however I saw it out on the table being demoed and thought to myself, that it looks great, so we went back and demoed the game.

13 Days has a very uncluttered board, there’s 9 spaces on the map, each colour coded affecting one of the three aspects of the war: Military, World Opinion, and Political. There are three defcon tracks that correspond to these colours and are affected by heavy handed troop placement, the play of cards, and the resolution of agendas: the game’s main scoring mechanism. Each player chooses one of three agendas to start a round and marks each of the corresponding boxes or tracks with their nation’s flag. The opponent now knows that you will be attempting to influence or score one of those places, the other two are discarded.

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Card play is similar to other CDG’s except you only play four cards each, the last is placed into an Aftermath Pile, and you either use them to place troops or do the events. The simplicity of these cards and the small size of the map means experienced players will blow through this, the rounds don’t last very long.

After a total of 8 cards are played the purple world opinion spaces have special abilities that go off according to who has the most influence [number of cubes] in the space. Then agendas are resolved, points scored, and you check to see if thermonuclear war was initiated and we all die in a flaming radioactive mess.

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Image Courtesy of ‘EndersGame’ user from BoardGameGeek

If the world survives, two more rounds are played and the final scores are tallied. That’s it. It’s that simple. There are a couple of tie breakers, and after round three the Aftermath Pile [cards you have been discarding once a round] are turned over – the player with the most cards in the pile gets extra points. So it might be tempting to ditch an enemy’s really good event, but it might just win them the game later!

If you can’t tell already I loved this game. It is really tight. We’re experienced TS players, so we could easily hash out a full game of 13 days in 30-45mins. I didn’t think this was something I needed in my life, but I stood up from the demo table and walked right over to the cash register. This is a must for those too intimidated by Twilight Struggle, or for those who don’t have another player who can commit the 3 hours needed for that bad-boy.

Watch out for an unboxing coming up very soon as well as a more in depth strategic review of how everything works and interplays with each other.

-Alexander