The Cold War. A dangerous time for the world. A dangerous time to be a spy…but that is exactly what being a spy is all about.

Therein is the introduction to Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War, a two player game that plays in 45 minutes or less.

In Confusion, players take on the roles of either the United States or the Soviet Union. Each side is vying for control of a suit-case marked “TOP SECRET” which starts in the center of the board. On your turn, you attempt to move one of your spies in order to advance towards your goal.

Yup – I said attempt to move.

You see, as the game begins, you don’t really know how each of your spies move – your opponent does. So when you attempt to move a spy, your are actually asking your opponent, “can I move this spy here?”. Your opponent then either says yes or no.  If your move was legal, your spy stays in the square into which he moved; if your move was illegal then your spy returns to where he started.

Again – your goal is to grab a TOP SECRET briefcase (which starts in the center of the board) and bring it over to your opponents first row. Of course, no spy game would be complete without a bit of conflict – and Confusion has a great simple mechanic for handling this. Move one of your spies (successfully!) onto one of the enemy spies, and that spy is eliminated (without revealing it’s movement rule to his player).

Sound confusing? Agreed. But the game really plays quick and easy – harder to describe than learn for sure.

The components in this game are absolutely fantastic – the spy pieces are separate from the movement tiles. Both piece types are nice chunky plastic with embossed and painted evocative symbols. A mounted map-board continues the theme perfectly. To complete the experience, each player has a dry-erase dossier which is used to keep track of which moves are valid or not – both for himself and his opponent.

This game isn’t for everyone. If you don’t enjoy deduction, then certainly don’t bother with Confusion. However if you are a fan of light strategic games, then you cannot go wrong in picking up a copy. Personally, I love it.