Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Type of game: Card game, bluffing, Cold War awesomeness
Number of players: 2
Learning curve: Easy+
Estimated time to play (first time/subsequent times): 45 minutes/30 minutes
Estimated setup time: 4 minutes
I found this game for sale for about $20, and it’s a tremendous value. Each player chooses a side, KGB or CIA, (which are functionally identical) and competes for influence in various countries around the globe while killing each other’s spies.
If that sounds awesome, it’s because it is. It is the second greatest Cold War game of all time. (Third when East vs. West comes out.) At the beginning of each turn, you and your opponent each choose one of six spies, and place them face down. Depending on who wins the country phase, you could kill the opposing spy, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, or even better, absolutely nothing. During the country phase, you each compete either for a special card (worth 5 influence) or a country (5 to 20 — might be some as high as 30). First one to 200 influence wins.
Each country has a certain level of stability; if you go past it, you trigger a civil war and lots of bad things happen. (Avoiding it is as simple as grade school level arithmetic, coupled with probability.) Crudely put, it’s a bit like blackjack, but you can “kill” the other guy’s cards, or take them for yourself.
Calling it loads of fun is an understatement. The only caveat is that the rules take two or three readings to get a grip on; they’re written a bit poorly (the actual rules are quite easy to understand). Other than that, I have nothing but praise for this one. Highly recommended!