Twilight Struggle

I am somewhat struggling to find my way round the Twilight Struggle modules.

First of all, looking at the 3.1.2 version it is obvious how it is set up with live play in mind. It’s got chess clocks! Well moving on right past that.

To get there the setup window was way too big for my screen. I just had to keep pressing return and hoping I was not missing anything. I could not get a handle on the edge of the window to make it smaller.

Then I tried playing with the Soviets on one machine and the US on another. So I did the initial USSR deployment and saved my vlog file. When I loaded the .vlog file on the other machine it had skipped past the US deployment and gone straight onto the headline phase.

So I tried the module specifically intended for PBEM play. It does have a bit of documentation, which pretty much just says you have to use ACTS. But I can find no information on how to use ACTS neither in the module nor on the ACTS website. Nor is there an ACTS forum. I could send myself the results of a die roll but that is as far as I got.

Okay so I “know some stuff”.
(1) Michael Kiefte did most of the work, as far as I can tell, on the live-play version. The whole module is written almost completely in Java! Like look at the buildFile for it, hardly anything in there! There’s an individual custom class for every CARD!
(2) Super-helpfully, he shared his source code with me. I mainly used it to extract some good ideas from the chess-clock part of things, for use in my upcoming Paths of Glory 9.8 (which I may upload today, or maybe not, depending on if I think of any polishing touches to make first).
(3) I have only looked briefly at the PBEM version (because when I was an active Twilight Struggle player I used the PlayDek app for all my slow-play games). However I know a lot about ACTS since it’s one of the main ways people play Paths of Glory. Once you have an ACTS account, you’d want to look in the list of games and go to the “Twilight Struggle” area. If you started a game you’d find menus for sending messages, doing die rolls, and drawing hands of cards – basically in addition to doing the dice, this is a “secure 3rd party” way to do card dealing/shuffling/management. Take a look at this “journal” of a game: … p?id=77266. These will probably give you the idea of the flow. Essentially the Vassal module becomes a place to keep track of where the pieces are, and the “ACTS journal” becomes the official record of the game.

Hope that helps!


Well by using two different email addresses I have managed to create a game. However I cannot see any of those delicious menus you speak of.


It looks like you’re on a journal page. If you’re a member of a game, there’s usually a page “before” the journal where you have options like roll a die, draw a card, send a message and stuff?

Okay I managed to draw some cards. I suppose now I have to log onto the module and move those cards into my hand. Then the other player logs onto ACTS and does the same. I guess I’ll work this out eventually. Thanks for your help.

Here I made you a little walkthrough.

[attachment=0]How To Twilight Struggle.png[/attachment]

Basically you “take game actions” from that menu of cards and things – typical would be you click the card you’re playing (let’s say I’m the US player and I’m playing Warsaw Pact). So I’d click on that, and it would let me type a message, and I’d say something like:

Turn 1, US AR 3. Warsaw Pact.
Coup in Iran.

Something like that - I mean just basically telling opponent what’s going on. And then often in ACTS games the convention is that the opposing player “rolls attacks” (so they’ve checked the legality of your move before dice are committed).

So the Soviet player would see that, “request a die roll”, state the game results for the record (e.g. 3Ops + 6Die - 4(Stability) - 3 Soviet Influence ==> 2 US influence). And then he would say where he was doing his Warsaw Pact stuff.

And then he’d pick a card for his AR4 and play it, etc.

All of that is then recorded in the “Journal” so you can look back at the complete history of the game at any time. And if you’re “doing it right”, you can potentially reconstruct the whole game position from the journal. Not that it would be super-quick to do so, just that it CAN be done, which is part of the attraction for competitive tournaments and stuff.


Most players who have gotten used to ACTS don’t use the “cards” in the module at all – they manage them ENTIRELY on Acts. Then they just go and mark the effects of the cards (and other actions, Ops, Coups, Realignments, whatever) on the map.

You get used to Alt+Tabbing back and forth (or whatever the quick app switching convention is on your platform)


If you do decide to mirror card use in the module, it is easiest to do it from the card inventory - a list of cards you can right-click to send to hand, discard, play, etc.