1989: Dawn of Freedom
I first played this about a year ago, then a couple of times towards the end of 2014 where i was testing out a variant I was working on to replace the Power Struggle (because I really hate that mechanic). We had a long gap but finally managed to break it out again!
For those who don't know, 1989 is a derivative of Twilight Struggle, set in 1989 as the cold war was ending. The board covers only eastern europe and the balkans (and the cards only cover 1989 itself rather than the whole cold war), and the game follows the struggle of pro-democracy forces against their communist overlords. There are a few streamlined things (e.g. there are no Coups or Realignment Rolls - there's just "support checks" which are mostly like Coups but that have a few elements of the realignment rolls in there. And no DefCon track or Headline events either), but otherwise it's very similar to TS.
I'd actually prefer it over Twilight Struggle if not for the Power Struggle mechanic that they use in it. They basically took the battle mechanic from Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage, changed the theme, and threw it in here to take place every time a scoring card is played. The effect is that you get yanked out of the Twilight Struggle-like mindset to play a totally random, pointless little mini-game with suits of cards.
Anyway, between reminding ourselves how to play it and fiddling with the variant rules (and trying out the original power struggle rules, which we again found to be very distracting and unsatisfying), it took us about 5 hours to get to the point in the photo, which was the end of Turn 6/start of Turn 7. (we'll pick it up again from here next week).
So far I (the Democrats) managed to take power in Hungary and Poland in the early game, and I delayed the East Germany scoring by 'spacing it' (there's actually no Space Race in this game - the Tianamen Square track is the direct equivalent, but I still say I'm 'spacing' the card if i use it there ) but the Communists managed to score and retain power in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. I managed to wrest control of East Germany from the Communists though thanks to a handy Monday Demonstrations card! But we are fighting a lot over Czechoslovakia (for some reason whenever I play this game there's always one space that's intensely fought over, usually just because we start fighting for influence there and refuse to drop it :). This time around it was Brno in Czechoslovakia, which was being hit by Support Checks and Ops in pretty much every turn of the game).
Now the deck's been shuffled again and the Czech, Bulgaria and East Germany scoring is back in the mix for Turn 7's cards, so things could really shake up in the coming turns!
(It's pretty late here now, so I'll post the variant Power Struggle rules tomorrow if anyone's interested).