General Strategy: Opening Setup

Each side begins the game with the ability to place Influence in Europe.  (Note that this is Influence, not Operations points for influence.)  The USSR can place up to 6 in Eastern Europe, while the US can place 7 in Western Europe.


The standard opening setup for the USSR is 4 East Germany, 4 Poland, 1 Yugoslavia.  There is rarely any reason to deviate from this setup.  As USSR, you overcontrol your two battleground countries, vulnerable to East European Unrest and Mid/Late War events. Your 1 influence in Yugoslavia provides you with access to Italy, keeping your options open, as well as Greece.  Occasionally, you will see people play into Bulgaria, as it also provides access to Greece and is the only Eastern European country inaccessible from the rest of Eastern Europe.  But it does not provide access to Italy.

Alternatively, the “Comecon Trap” setup is 3 East Germany, 4 Austria, 2 Yugoslavia.  You headline Comecon, gaining you control of Austria and Yugoslavia.  (You can also do this with Warsaw Pact Formed, but Warsaw Pact is a critical card for the USSR in the Late War.)  On AR1 of Turn 1, you are now able to realign West Germany and Italy at +1.  Against a standard US setup, if you are successful, you can obliterate the US position in Europe in a single play.  However, this gambit is risky: not only are you not couping Iran (thereby allowing US unfettered access to western Asia), but it can be easily thwarted by a US headline of Defectors, Truman Doctrine (if they played enough into Austria), Duck and Cover, or even Marshall Plan.


The standard opening setup for the US is 4 West Germany, 3 Italy.  As USA, you take the two safest battlegrounds in Western Europe, and the overcontrol of Italy guards against a Socialist Governments headline and/or T1 Italy coup.

If you have Marshall Plan in your opening hand and plan to headline it, you can open with 3 West Germany, 2 Italy, 1 Greece, 1 Turkey.  You still end up with the same 4/3 in West Germany and Italy, but you get two of the three critical Mediterranean non-battleground countries (the only two that the USSR has easy access to) and make it very difficult for the USSR to ever score Domination against you.

There are several reasons why you may want to leave West Germany empty.  For example, you fear Red Scare/Purge + Blockade, when you have no cards to discard, or alternatively, you hold both Blockade and De-Stalinization in hand and want to play Blockade without discarding any card this turn (so that you can hold De-Stal through the reshuffle).  In such situations (assuming you lack Marshall Plan), you can open with 4 Italy, 1 Greece, 1 Austria, 1 Turkey.  This guards Italy against Socialist Governments followed by a coup or Duck & Cover, provides an additional adjacency to Italy in case Socialist Governments removes adjacency to Italy and you get couped out, and provides access to West Germany so that you can threaten to take it immediately.

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73 Responses to General Strategy: Opening Setup

  1. Jack Rudd says:

    I’ve been pretty successful in my home games as the USSR using the 3 POL/3 FIN opening, with the aim of using the four influence in Finland for Destalinization purposes later. (It has the minor advantages of being vulnerable to neither Independent Reds nor Truman Doctrine.) What are your thoughts on this setup?

    • theory says:

      Well, no matter where you place your influence, you can always use it for De-Stalinization.

      The main drawbacks of your setup are:

      1) No access to Italy or Greece, which can prove helpful;
      2) US can play 1 influence into Finland on opening setup and headline Truman Doctrine to wipe out 4 influence.

      Independent Reds is not really a big deal against 1 Yugoslavia influence.

    • rikuriekkinen says:

      I don’t like it, because Eastern European Unrest makes USSR lose presence in the Europe while US gains dominance. Now if USSR coups Iran, US can play Europe Scpring for big points. Even while I say that IPs are much more important than VPs at the start, 9VP swing is simply too much.

      On the other hand it makes quick Europe domiation a possibility, especially with Socialist Governments. So I too have used it even lately, if I’ve gotten Eastern European Unrest & Truman Doctrine (see theory… also if USSR plays it in this situation USSR doesn’t lose any IPs). Then Europe Scoring & needing to headline Socialist Governments are bonuses for that setup, but not as crucial as those others.

    • paddyodoors says:

      I’ve played this setup as the USSR, and I don’t like it in the general case — mostly for the reasons already stated by theory and riku.

      However, when I have a really crappy hand that includes Truman and Independent Reds, I’ll do this setup every time. With a low-ops hand, I won’t be doing any T1 IPs into the Med countries anyway, focusing on using my limited resources on Asia (critical) and Mideast where Soviet success is practically impossible without aggressive play.

    • Alsadius says:

      I’ve played with this one a few times – the other advantage that it has over the more typical setups is that it gets you a non-battleground immediately, to help you score domination. The other natural choices for this are Yugoslavia and Bulgaria (depending what you want access to), but Finland is not in the Independent Reds area, so you can burn that event without giving the Americans anything. If you plan an aggressive event-based European opening (instead of gaining control by placing influence, where you’d just go Greece/Turkey), then this can give you an extra 4 VP from the domination.

      This is a niche circumstance, admittedly. I don’t think it’s a good general play. (I used to like it more, but the flaws Strategy outlined below became clear to me after a few tries). But once in a while, it lines up right. Independent Reds is the deciding factor, IMO – if that’s not in your hand, Finland is the wrong play, even if you can score domination on turn 1.

      For a real dream example, imagine a Russian starting hand of Red Scare/Purge, Defectors, Independent Reds, Blockade, Socialist Governments, Nuclear Test Ban, De-Stalinization, and Europe Scoring. You headline Red Purge(safe from Defectors), go old-school and coup Italy AR1 with Test Ban, place some influence into Italy and France early (burning Independent Reds for no effect in the process), Socialist Governments him out of even the UK, Blockade mid-turn after you’ve probably wiped out any 4-ops he might have, and go for the gusto.

      You aren’t likely to get Europe Control in one turn unless your opponent is a total newbie, but you can probably get 3-4 battlegrounds for a really firm domination, pop the scoring card for somewhere between +7 and +11 (since he might even lack presence). Then you end the turn by De-Stalinizing the Finnish influence away, mostly to salvage your position in Asia that you left hanging to get this aggressive Europe start.

  2. NoNamium says:

    This doesn’t mention 4 East Germany 4 Poland 1 Austria, which I’ve seen to be “the regular” opening on Vassel. Any comments on this opening.

    • theory says:

      Nothing really “wrong” with it, just no point to the IP in Austria compared to Yugoslavia. It isn’t vulnerable to Independent Reds, but it also takes a lot more effort to take Austria than Yugoslavia, which can be controlled with COMECON or something. Yugoslavia also provides extremely important access to Greece, allowing an early USSR Marshall Plan play, with 2 into Greece/Turkey preemptively before the event.

  3. SnowFire says:

    As a side comment… I don’t think the COMECON trap works if the US player realizes what’s going on, or at best, it becomes a “scare US player into leaving W. Germany empty” opening ploy. Assume no Truman / Marshall Plan in hand… but… if you just abandon W. Germany, then 3 France / 3 Italy / 1 [Greece or Turkey] means Italy will be realigned at +0 rather than +1. (I suppose there’s also 3 France / 2 Italy / 2 Greece as well to really screw over realignments, but that risks a turn 1 coup in Italy -> possibly take W. Germany -> force US to massively overcontrol France to guard against Degaulle and Europe control loss.)

    Anyway, if you do this, leaving W. Germany empty isn’t the end of the world (as Riku’s hype indicates), and the USSR has a bunch of IPs committed in not tremendously relevant Austria / Yugoslavia and still needs to spend a turn taking Poland at some later point.

    • Anonymous says:

      Generally, in my opinion, it’s very rare for the USSR to realign Italy in AR1, since there’re may have other probems. So there’s no worrying for Italy’s being realigned.

      • SnowFire says:

        The context is the COMECON trap opening. While realigning Italy basically never happens outside of it T1, if your USSR opponent opens in Austria / Yugoslavia, they are basically declaring intent to realign Italy if you let them.

  4. trevaur says:

    In the Blockade article an opening was suggested for US players that have Blockade and De-Stalinization or Decolonization in their opening hand that involves leaving West Germany open. What is this opening setup? It seems like you would have to put 3 into France to guarantee access to West Germany, but that would be vulnerable to De Gaulle. Should you only do this opening if you have De Gaulle as well? Riku Riekkinen said in the Blockade article “I actually think leaving West Germany is very valid opening for US with almost any cards. As the 2nd turn cards can easily validate it.” Can anyone expand on this and be more specific?

    • SnowFire says:

      Can’t comment for Riku, but I’ve tried 3 France / 3 Italy / 1 Greece, and that’s what I’d suggest playing if I ever have turn 1 Blockade + nothing I want to discard to it. Sure, it’s vulnerable to De Gaulle, but France is always vulnerable to De Gaulle, just like Italy is always vulnerable to Socialist Govs-> Duck & Cover. Make the Soviet player actually play him; it’s just a repairable 3 ops swing if not headlined, and if the Soviet player does a turn 1 headlined De Gaulle-> Control, you get to fortify Iran / Afghanistan in exchange. (Okay, and risk losing to a hilarious Brush War of Italy if you lose out on W. Germany, but that’s the breaks.)

      • trevaur says:

        Yeah, I suppose if you tried this and the USSR headlined De Gaulle, took France on AR1, USA expands into Afghanistan on AR1 and then USSR takes West Germany on AR2, USA could play NATO for the event just to be completely safe from losing to Brush War, especially if USSR gets Greece and Spain/Portugal as well. At this point, it seems like you should just massively over-control Italy and just resign yourself to Soviet Europe domination at least until late war.

  5. Gorgia Da Leontini says:

    It’s amazing for a new player like me having a site like this one….
    talking about an us setup with an empty w.g. sounds good a setup like this?
    italy 3 spain/port 1 turkey 1 greece 1 benelux 1 with a marshall plan like headline?
    looks to me like soviets have a real hard time to counter, and if his efforts are directed to germany i can easily get access to the golden triangli iran/pak/afg or have an advantage in the battle for france

    • ddddddd says:

      Why put 1 into Benelux? Given that Benelux is a 3-stability, I’d leave it and go into Canada towards NORAD. Otherwise I admire the strategy – you’re essentially conceding the European battlegrounds knowing that without the 2-stability Med countries, a Soviet domination in Europe will be very OP costly. However, if he coups you out of Italy and rolls big, you could be in serious risk of a rare Europe control loss.

  6. Gorgia Da Leontini says:

    Thx for the answer, 1 in Benelux just to have a way to enter in West Germany in case of need (sorry for my english is not my mother tongue). I’m a new player with little number of game played, but i’m trying something interesting to avoid placing influence in WG when i’m the us, i’d rather spread my influence, i don’t like 4 in WG….

  7. Cal says:

    Very interesting to read these. I’ve seen another US setup get played occasionally and outlined on bgg, but it’s less a real setup and more of a gimmick similar to Fool’s Mate in chess that you would usually play to see if the opponent falls for it. ‘The Truman Trap’, relies entirely on the USA holding the Truman Doctrine card and several high-op cards to back it up.
    1 in W. Germany. 3 in France. 3 in Italy (or at least 2 in Italy and 1 in Greece/Spain/Turkey, but that’s more vulnerable to socialist governments). The idea is that an inexperienced USSR player will see W. Germany only with 1 influence and play a high op card, pouring influence to try to pull it away from the US for domination of Europe. The US counters with doing the same, putting just enough influence in W. Germany to counter so the USSR can’t get it with a 4-op card. This continues until the USSR wises up/runs out of cards and then out comes Truman Doctrine, leaving the US with a massive amount of influence in W. Germany and having the USSR waste a lot of cards. (Hopefully triggering a lot of US events, or possibly even giving the US the China Card.)
    Of course it has vulnerabilities: any experienced USSR player is going to realize what is happening and not even try to get into a bidding war. This can also backfire for the US if Socialist Governments is headlined (so the US would either need Defectors or to be holding Socialist Governments). The over-control can also be made irrelevant if Blockade successfully activates. DeGaulle and Suez can also cause problems by eliminating control of France. But even if the USSR player doesn’t fall for it, picking up W. Germany in time for Europe Scoring shouldn’t be too difficult.

    • Jack Rudd says:

      That’s a hilariously terrible opening. “Oh look, I’ll ensure that De Gaulle actually activates at full power when he’s played against me. And I’ll make Suez Crisis even stronger as a turn 1 Headline than it already is.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Having so much extra influence in W. Germany is unhelpful, and if you’re pouring in that many high-ops cards, actively counterproductive due to the potential of Blockade wiping all your influence. It would require an extremely high-op hand to execute, and for what?

  8. Ormay Tamas says:

    Hi guys! Nice site. Ok, here is a US starting setup I came up with: occupy WGermany with 4 points and Spain(you can either put one extra on WGermany or boost up Canada).If you are not afraid of De Gaulle(it is in your hand for example) you can start putting points on France too .The main idea is to leave Italy empty and have at least one point in some of it’s adjacent countries. If the USSR puts points on Italy on his first round you can coup back on your AR1 since Defcon is still at 5.If the soviets choose to coup Iran at his AR1 ,you can simply put enough point to controll Italy in your AR1 and it will be protected by the Defcon, which is at 4 now.With the Europe scoring in your hand you can easily dominate EU by your AR2 or 3 maybe and play the scoring in your favour. I tried this a couple of times as US and it can result in players waiting for the other one to coup first.I also tried countering this with the USSR, by tinkering with WGer in my AR1 (using 2 points to disrupt US control) and put points in Italy .This way the US player must decide either to coup Italy or repair WGer leaving you with some initiative.
    What do you think of this starting setup?
    Thx for your replies and regards,
    Ormay Tamas
    Hungary (3 point stability) 🙂

    • OneDollarBill says:

      I don’t see much potential in this setup. If USSR places 3 influence in Italy, you’d pretty much have to roll 5 or 6 with a 4 Ops card for your coup to really achieve its goal. (This is one of the reasons the 3-IP-to-Italy-setup for US is used so much.) Also, if you fail the coup completely (roll 1 or 2), USSR can both take Italy and lay some influence to France. Even if USSR couldn’t control France (even with de Gaulle and Suez Crisis out there…), they’d still have 3 battlegrounds making Domination real easy.

      This tactic doesn’t help much in other areas either. By couping Italy on your first AR you still allow USSR to perform the Iranian coup before you can spread your influence to Western Asia.

      You should also remember that a headlined Socialist Governments will get rid of your access to Italy, making it even more important for you to win that coup big. I also find it very unlikely that you could hold back to Soviet domination if they manage to headline Red Scare.

      So, all in all, I would not use this setup. Though it is nice to see that people try to find alternatives to the “basic” setups. 🙂

  9. pietshaq says:


    I have played four games against my mate on Saturday and we had two unusual openings which made us think that US is miserably poor in Europe with only a littke unluckiness.

    When I was USA, my opponent put start influence 3POL/3YUG. He then headlined Socialists Governments and Earned 6VP for AR1 Europe Scoring. I did not have Marshall Plan, Defectors, East European Unrest; in fact I had NORAD, US/Japan Mutual Defence and six USSR cards. It seems that I had no defence against the 6VP. I’ve lost this game in the Early War.

    When I was USSR, he started a little unusually, with 4GER/1FRA/2ITA, which proven to be better in the particular situation than 4GER/3ITA. He headlined Five Year Plan, taking away Nasser from me. I headlined Socialists Governments, taking 2 from GER and 1 from ITA, then I used a China Card for realignment rolls and, with some dice luck, he ended up with no influence in Germany, Italy, and Iran. Had he put 4GER/3ITA, he would also end up with no influence in France since my dice advantage in Italy was 3. It seems that he also had no defence against this setup, it was just luck – quite big but still probable. And he could not prevent my Europe control. The only luck he had was that Europe Scoring went before my Europe control but at the beginning of Mid War I have won the game anyway on 20VPs. Forcing him to repair Europe I gained advantage in Asia, Middle East, and some in South America.

    Could any of us prevent such a damage? I realised that standard setup leaves West Germany with a +1 modifier for USSR’s realignment rolls which he can try with China Card on AR1 and DEFCON 5. USSR statistically zeroes US’s influence in West Germany which seems to be very powerful. What should be US’s reply? I know that the fact I’ve taken Iran too helped me a lot but even if I did not would it be enough compensation?

    best regards

    • OneDollarBill says:

      You seem to have some misconceptions about the realignment rolls. You get +1 to your roll for

      * having more influence in target country than your opponent (controlling target country is not necessary nor does it give any bonuses)
      * every country you control adjacent to the target country (US and USSR themselves count here.)

      So AR1 USSR realignment on W.Ger.: US gets +1 for having more influence in W.Ger., USSR gets +1 for controlling E.Ger. = +0 for either side.

      As for the subject, 6 VP at start sure stings but certainly doesn’t cost you the game right there. Fortifying one battleground in Europe (preferably not France, though) is enough to prevent Soviet domination and you are free to grab Afghanistan/Pakistan. You’ll probably get those VP’s back when Asia gets scored.

      Besides, when Narshall Plan comes to play, chances are that you will get enough non-BG countries to overcome USSR domination, rendering following Europe Scorings a non-issue.

    • SnowFire says:

      An opening of 2 ITA / 1 FRA or 2 ITA / 1 GRE can be punished pretty hard by a Socialist Governments headline anyway without need for realignment hype, since there will be no American influence left in the Mediterranean if those 3 influence are zapped. The Soviet player can coup Iran, dropping DEFCON (so no risk of an Italy coup later). The US player has no way to reclaim Italy nor even take the 2 stability Med minors in response. The USSR gets to make a play for Asia / the Middle East *and* at minimum deny US domination (just take Italy once the US moves back into France), possibly take their own Europe domination (take Spain too, and the US can’t stop you from taking Greece & Turkey).

  10. I think it would be interesting if a few (5-6) more optional cards were added and there was a deck building phase for each side prior to the traditional set-up. All of the shared events would still be included, but each player could change out a couple of their exclusive cards, i.e. the U.S. player could remove “Defectors” prior to shuffling/play and add “Our Man in Tehran” (ip unchanged). The number of cards in used in the game would be the same; but it would allow players to be slightly more self-determining in regards to when and where they would strike. I love the game as is and lord knows is challenging enough as it is, just a thought.

  11. trevaur says:

    As the US, if you are dealt Socialist Governments in your hand are you safe to only put 2 influence into Italy? As far as I know the purpose of the 3 inf in Italy is to protect yourself from getting wiped out of the area from Socialist Governments. 2 in Italy and 1 in Greece is even better against AR1 coups than the standard setup because in the standard setup the USSR just has to get the US out of Italy and then take it on the next AR. This can be accomplished with a combined total coup roll of 7 (dice roll plus ops), wheras if the USSR gets a combined total coup roll of 7 against the 2 in Italy 1 in Greece setup then the US can spend a 4 ops card to put 3 in Italy and 1 in Afghanistan. Not only is the US more likely to keep Italy against AR1 coups, it also gives the US a firmer foothold in the region and a head-start at competing for the Mediterranean 2-stab countries. I’m assuming that the only reason that this setup isn’t standard is because a Socialist Governments headline would remove you from the area, but if you have it in your hand it seems like a better setup than the standard 3-in-Italy. (This is all assuming that you are putting 4 in WG. You could play around with this a little more if you aren’t planning on filling up WG immediately. Socialist Governments is a huge threat that all “Standard” opening setups must address, so if you have it in your hand you can do things like putting 1 in WG or Austria and the rest in Italy and the Mediterranean countries if you have Truman Doctrine or Blockade+Decol/De-Stal respectively)

  12. Musashi84 says:

    I have a lot of doubt about starting strategies of both US and USSR suggested.
    As US, I’d never put 4WG/3It! Why? USSR will have a 3ops card for sure, and that means 33% chances of loosing Italy, forever, 50% with a 4ops. No comment if you fear a Socialist Gov…you would be left with 1 in Italy: say goodbye to pizza… And coup on Italy is much better than coup on Iran, since it can’t be counter-acted.
    As US I prefere much more a 4WG/3Fr. The reason is simple: you avoid any dangerous realignement on Ar1 on WG (you can’t go there from Italy) and you can go to Italy even with a Socialist Gov headline (USSR or drop DEFCON or occupy Italy…unless D&C). Do you fear De Gaulle? IMHO De Gaulle is higly overrated: played by us, is a no-action card (3 for 3), played by USSR is still a 3 instead of 3. Having US being cutted off from Italy (and Greece, and Spain), is much worse than fight for France (if you want to…you can still avoid domination with not-BG countries, since you can still enter Spain).
    I would put points on Italy only with D&C or Marshall as headline.
    On a long term plan, I always prefer to forget about Europe untill Marhsall, and then occupy easy non-BG countries. As anybody stated before me, is not Europe the key continent. But if you let USSR cut your access to Italy/Spain, can also spend all his ops to other region, sure that he’ll get Europe without any problem.

    As USSR I prefer 4 Austria/ 2 Poland. Why? 1 Yug is just the best way to suck from EEU/Truman…no more pizza neither souflaki for red comerades…
    3 points on Poland are useful just to play Europe score at the real beginning of the game…not what you should want to do…If you put just 2, you have plenty of time to put the third. 4 on EG is just a waste of time, since US should never go to East Europe (even if Warsaw has been played, why should you go to expensive an useless 3-stability not-BG countries, when you have Med countries, Benelux and Nordix?!?). On the other side, with Austria 4, you can go to Italy for sure, you’re not afraid of Indipendent Reds (and you should, if you put enough points on Yug, to avoid EEU and Truman) and can realign on WG with a +1 if US doesn’t control France.

    By the way, another consideration on stating turn AR1, what do you think about playing De-Stalinization as US? USSR shouldn’t have that many points to replace, unless un-protect other key countries. And letting USSR occupy far countries would not be that dangerous, since DEFCON should allow you to coup them (or, at least, few of them).

  13. Gorgia Da Leontini says:

    I don’t think the option France is a good one, you have to fear not only De Gaulle but even Suez Crisis. Let’s say you are 4 WGER e 3 FRA. The ussr Headline Suez crisis plus an Iran Coup in AR1 and you’ll find yourself out of middle east and with a very weak Fra with only 1op, as a result you’ll have to fight even for italy. If the ussr put 1 op in YUG and AUS teh next round you’ll have to choose repair france, go to italy or counter coup IRAN. If you repair france as USSR i go then to Italy and you will say bye bye to Rome, if you countercoup IRAN the same i go to italy 2op and you say bye bye to Rome and 2 op in AFGHANISTAN and the next turn you’ll have again the same question, go to Pakistan or Repair France (that now i, as ussr can get through Italy and even with de gaulle still to play). If you repair France then i coup again Iran, if you go to PAKISTAN with 2 op i use the china card and flip control to me. With this opening you seriously risk to get out of Asia, Mo and Europe Easily i think.
    Moreover let’s say about coup, if i put 3 in italy as Usa, the Ussr with a 3op card to push me away has to score at least 4, but allows me to strenghten Iran, and spread in Afghanistan. A good USSR player will never Coup an iTaly with 3 inf, when can coup an Iran with 1 inf and close your way to western asia. About the countercoup in Iran remember that doing so, you leave to ussr yhe last coup of the round, and this is not good.

  14. patrick says:

    what’s your opinion on 6 FRA/1 TUR set up?

    • Charles Martel says:

      As USSR, I’d laugh and take Italy and West Germany for an easy Europe domination.

      • Gorgia Da Leontini says:

        and with de gaulle and suez even an easy europe control i would say…

      • patrick says:

        USSR can’t take both in one turn… but US gains easy access to western asia and stays in the middle east. IMO, this is much more important then europe +5/+6 vp swing

  15. Anonymous says:

    Has nobody thought of reallignment roles for the USSR on turn 1? Suppose the USSR plays 3POL 3YUG. If the US adopts the standard opening of 3ITA/4WG then with a good ops card (the China card if necessary) the USSR can eliminate Italy and possibly/probably take a chunk out of West Germany as well. On the next turn the Soviets can occupy Italy and put France under threat. This sort of strategy seems to be a ‘game breaker’ since with a good headline event the USSR gets an almost unshakeable grip on Europe and may get a really quick win . Nato as a headline event is the only problem. Try a few turns as a ‘dummy game’ and see what happens.

    • SnowFire says:

      If you check the alignment probability charts, you’ll see that there’s only a 64% chance of nuking all 3 influence from Italy if you’re rolling at +0. If Italy keeps any influence at all, the USSR is in deep, as the US gets a free tempo to refortify Italy – drop 1 in Gre – expand from Iran.
      Now consider that this opening is very fragile to East European Unrest (you just lost PRESENCE in Europe) or even Independent Reds. And if the US sees this coming and is really terrified, they can fall back to something like 3 ITA / 1 GRE / 1 TUR / 1 SPA / 1 AUS which is legit anyway, since US places second. Now you’ve got extra influence tied up in Yugoslavia that isn’t real useful and it’ll get Independent Reds’d later anyway.
      If I had a 4 ops card and felt like making a #YOLO Europe play, I’d just coup Italy myself but only have 1 influence in YUG.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks SnowFire – I understand the perfectly valid point you are making. You say ‘only 64%’ – but this is nearly 2/3rds. Remember also that the charts show a value of removing ‘at least’ the stated number. You have a 17% chance of removing all 3 from Ita on the first roll. You have a 64% probability is removing at least 3 fro Ita, although you would obviously stop when all had gone. eg: You have a 35% chance of removing all 3 Ita with a 2 ops card, so if you regard a 4ops card as (2+2)ops you can see how you might take something from from WG as well.

        My real point is that an aggressive USSR player can gamble (and not too much of a gamble?) on an all out Europe offensive if they are so inclined. In a sense they can spoil the game by adopting an all-in strategy at the start. If it doesn’t work they lose, if it works they win. Obviously a lot depends on headline cards and cards held etc. I suppose I am arguing for a ‘no reallignment rolls in Europe in turn 1’ rule or something similar.

        • SnowFire says:

          Well, a no-handicap or +1 US handicap game offers much, much safer odds on couping Iran than hoping to realign out Italy is what I’m saying, and also gives you mil ops. In the 36% case of realign failure, it’s a disaster; a weak coup roll is annoying but is more likely to do *something*.

          Still, best case scenarios. Let’s say I open 4 WGer / 3 ITA vs. your opening, and you get lucky on realignment rolls and knock me out of both of them entirely. Well, that sucks, but it isn’t a game loss. It basically means I concede Europe, some that can happen anyway due to the likes of Blockade. However, I can still expand from Iran & Israel and also drop a single influence in France. This forces the USSR to immediately blow ops on taking Italy and possibly going into W. Germany too – and the USSR has already spent a 4 ops on the realign, so might be running low on power cards. If Italy is denied and W. Germany is unviable (say USSR stuck 2 influence there and Blockade is a threat), I just go to 5 influence in France (maybe 6 eventually) to stop De Gaulle shenanigans. The best case is *good* for the USSR, sure, but it isn’t a game win, and there’s a cost elsewhere on the map.

          • Anonymous says:

            Losing both WG and Italy (unlikely)seems pretty bad to me – you would need 7 ops to get them back. Assuming you did as suggested – expand from Isr and Iran and put one in Fra – USSR could leave Europe for the time being by trying a coup in Iran or expansion elsewhere. At some point the USA has to deal with Europe to get some battleground states.

            Alternatively USSR could take Italy and if you went into WG could reallign again. You could get into a sort of card war, both sides just realligning. Remember if the USSR gets all the battleground states he could get an auto victory. If USA digs in an Fra he will need to expend a lot of ops points to keep it safe.

            • SnowFire says:

              Exactly – it’s bad, but it isn’t game over, because if the USSR seems to be going for the Europe auto-victory, the US should immediately dig into France hard and deny it. It’s ops-expensive, but so is taking over the rest of Europe by the USSR. And the US doesn’t need “some” battleground states – it just needs one. (Okay, and ideally ensure it doesn’t get surprise re-aligned out lategame by some kind of surprise How I Learned -> Glasnost headline-> AR1 combo or the like.]

              Let’s assume US played something like 1 Afghanistan / 1 [Egypt or Jordan or Iraq] / 1 Francein response. If the USSR ignores Europe to coup Iran or Egypt or something, then the US can just walk right back into Italy for 2 ops (+spend any additional ops on Afghanistan / Pakistan as needed?), which seems like it gives up the main gain achieved from the gambit. If the USSR plays 2 influence into Italy + 1 influence into West Germany (more likely what I’d do as USSR?), the US immediately piles 3 more influence to overcontrol France, and should attempt to throw an additional influence in when given the chance. It’s still an equal 3:3 ops trade. Europe domination is lost, but that was kind of expected after such a lucky initial realign.

              To back up to the original idea, though, for what it’s worth, I would consider such a play more reasonable in a +2 handicap game, where couping Iran isn’t a very good idea. Still high-risk / high-reward, of course.

              • Anonymous says:

                Yes, although we are both assuming no adverse headline or other events, and a lot of 3 ops cards. It seems to give the USA a big headache and a long uphill struggle, and the US is at an early disadvantage anyway. To reiterate my main point, this sort of strategy spoils the game for me, which is why I suggest a ‘turn 1 no re-alignment role in Europe’ rule. I am new to site, but not the game, so by +1 handicap I am assuming an extra US token??

                • SnowFire says:

                  Hey, I mentioned adverse headlines – there are several US headlines that wreck this strategy completely (EEU, Independent Reds, Marshall Plan, even Europe Scoring), so it’s riskier for the commies!

                  The usual handicap rules are to give the US extra influence at game start that can only be placed where the US already has influence (so no Americans in Chile). Usually the US piles the extra influence into Iran whether it be +1 or +2.

                • akalinich says:

                  1. The strategy is unlikely to work for the USSR.
                  2. The US can make minor modification to their opening setup to make sure that it won’t work.
                  3. Even if it does work, the USSR has gained less than you suggest.

  16. Matthew says:

    I’m confused. Austria has a stability of 4. Putting 4 into it during the opening set up allows you to control it. So how does playing Comecon for the headline phase give you control of Austria?

    • theory says:

      You are correct. However, US can put influence in there too during opening setup. Comecon helps secure it.

      • testing_testing says:

        So does that mean that the US should keep Austria at a maximum of +2 to USSR during initial setup if they suspect he Comecon trap (to stop USSR gaining control of Austria in the headline phase)?

        • SnowFire says:

          That is one possibility, but even better is just not to play into the Comecon trap at all per comments elsewhere. Just don’t open into West Germany and control both Italy & Greece – a perfectly respectable opening anyway, and the trap is defanged.

  17. lambolt says:

    Italy has a stability of 2, so opening with 3 there for the US, how does that protect against Socialist Governments (which could immediately put Italy to 1) and then a T1 AR1 coup of Italy (requiring a total of only 7 for the USSR to take control of it, a 50% chance with a 3 OPS card?

  18. lambolt says:

    In the Comecon trap you list setup as EGER 4, AUS 4, YUG 2 and then say Comecon trap gains you control of AUS and YUG to get the realignment bonusses, but isnt Austria already controlled by the setup 4IP? Where do you put the other comecon points? Also why is it called a trap when that setup is almost telegraphing it as an option and thus allowing the US to setup and/or headline to defend against it?

    • Alan Tormey says:

      You need 4 in Austria because, as the US, if I see you set up with 3 influence in Austria, I will set up 4WG/2ITA/1AUS and you will not get control from COMECON. The US can’t put 2 influence into Austria without giving up control of either West Germany or Italy.

  19. I don’t understand the gains with your opening setup with Marshall Plan. Yeah, you get Greece and Turkey from the start, but it’s enough to have 1 influence in Spain/Portugal, Greece and Turkey. If USSR takes one of them with 3 ops you can take the other two with 2 ops which is enough.

    I think the best opening setup for Marshall Plan is 3 West Germany, 2 France, 2. Italy. This gives you instant domination in Europe and USSR can’t do anything about it.

    • SnowFire says:

      The idea behind leaving France empty is that it makes De Gaulle & Suez less efficient cards for the USSR. If you have De Gaulle, it becomes a net +2 ops rather than +0 ops for example, and Suez goes from -1 ops to ~0 ops (possibly even better if you don’t care about ever fixing the UK). The USSR can’t swoop into France as a surprise (requires either going through W. Germany or Decolonizing into Algeria) so if they make a play to get France access, you’ll be able to respond, and the USSR is often a bit nervous of making such plays anyway thanks to the likes of Truman Doctrine.

  20. MK says:

    I quite like to do 5 Austria, 4 East Germany as USSR. Why?

    You threaten to realign West Germany at +1 in AR1 and have access to Italy, threatening to realign there at +/- 0. And it defuses East European Unrest, Independent Reds and Truman Doctrine.

    The only ways for the US to deal with this threat are to either leave West Germany almost empty, or to go to France instead of Italy. Both are very advantageous to the USSR in my opinion.
    If they go ahead with 4 West Germany, 3 Italy I just use a 4-Ops card to realign them out, with any excess rolls spent on either Iran (-1 modifier, but if you get them out there they have to coup Iraq to get back in) or Italy (at +/-0; if you want to go ahead and steamroll over Europe).

    And it gets even worse with Socialist Governments in the headline – take 2 out of Italy, 1 out of whatever (not West Germany, of course as you want to use your realignment bonus)…

    The only truly effective counter I found is a Marshal Plan headline by the US, and it does not even work that well against a Socialist Government headline.

    Worst case: you have no luck in your rolls and the US scores a quick Europe Domination on you – that sucks, just the same way it sucks to roll a 2 on your Iran coup.

    • SnowFire says:

      This opening will scare the US out of opening in W. Germany, sure, but will make Poland much softer to JP2 & Solidarity & require more of an investment. (And… opening W. Germany as empty is *totally legit* even when not seeing this kind of USSR open, so it’s not a tragic loss or anything.) 4 ITA / 1 GRE / 1 TUR / 1 (ESP or DEN) will mean that collecting a Europe domination for the Reds will be slow & ops-intensive, and the US will use that time in Asia & the Middle East.

      If you have Socialist Governments and want to make a T1 play for Europe, if anything I’d want to *encourage* a 4 WGe / 3 ITA setup so that I can HL SG, knock Italy to 1, then coup it. This opening encourages the W. Germany influence be spent elsewhere which might make SG’d Italy a less compelling coup target – e.g. Greece influence so that the US can just “walk back in” if you merely remove the US influence but don’t gain control yourself on a coup roll.

  21. Anonymous says:

    As US, I prefer the following setup:
    2 FIN, 4 GER, 1 AUT

    West Germany because almost every US player would do this. If you don’t claim GER in opening setup, USSR often will do it during Turn 1.

    Finland because it is adjacent to USSR (1 VP) and very stable. I put 2 Influence in opening setup there, the third w/ Marshall Plan, and the fourth with operations. Then I wait for the USSR to play DeStal and removing his/her influence from Finland. Then it’s 4/0, and I have it controlled.

    Austria to keep access towards Italy. I do not place Influence in Italy until Defcon has gone below 5, because at Defcon 5, USSR can coup me away from Italy.

    What do you think about this US setup? Comment! :0

    • SnowFire says:

      Think of it this way: control of Finland is worth 1-3 points, depending on how quickly you take control of it and how often Europe Scoring is played. (Maybe even 4 VPs if Final Scoring happens.) It costs 4-5 ops to harvest this (including 2 very influential opening ops in your setup). So… if you had a 4-ops card in your hand on turn 1 like Nuclear Test Ban that said “gain 2 VPs”, would you play it for the event, or would you use the ops somewhere else?

      (Spoilers: the answer is “no, that event would be bad.” The return on investment in controlling Finland is terrible by early game standards. Control of Italy is worth 4-30 VPs or so over the course of the game, and you just left it wide open. Fear of coup is reasonable, but that’s why you stick 3 ops in Italy, not just 2.)

  22. Anonymous says:

    My USSR opening: 4 AUT, 2 YUG
    Able to knock down West GER at +1 (via Realignments) without Blockade. If my AR1 coup against Italy fails, I will add 1 more Influence in Yugoslavia to realign Italy at +1 too. If I also hold De Gaulle, I have a non-irrelevant chance of controlling Europe (and winning the game) in Early War. (Do not forget to put 3 Influence into Poland!)

    What do you think about this USSR setup and Turn 1 strategy? Comment!

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s really bad, mostly because you’re cheating. If your Italy coup fails, you can no longer realign in Europe either.

      • Anonymous says:

        oh yes, I found the mistake… (It was from a game variant where Coups only are Defcon-restricted, but not Realignments)

        You have to realign first. It is a similar strategy to Comecon trap, just without Comecon. If you hold Socialist Governments, you can weaken GER and Italy in Headline Phase.
        On AR1, use a valuable Ops card (3 or 4) to clear West GER. If you are lucky, you can kick US out and use your remaining Realignment attempts against Italy.
        Then watch what US does:
        -> US coups a battleground (anywhere on the board): take over West GER on AR2 via placing Influence.
        -> US does not coup (for example, to repair West GER via Influence): Coup Italy on AR2.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Marshall Plan Opening 3 GER, 2 FRA, 2 ITA
    Do not fear De Gaulle. If USSR headlines De Gaulle and pumps Influence into France on AR1, you realign it at +2.

  24. Charlie says:

    One U.S. setup I’m interested in (haven’t used it yet) is:

    4 W. GER, 2 ITA, 1 TUR

    The idea being you sacrifice the chance of an early Italy coup in exchange for access into the Middle East. It could protect against a Suez/Arab-Israel War headline and subsequent Iran coup from the USSR by allowing an immediate path back in for presence.

    You force the USSR to choose between Italy and Iran on its first coup and adjust accordingly.

  25. Johnny says:

    Is there a “standard” play for the US when they have 2 bonus influence due to initial bids?

  26. Murphy says:

    This is why I’m starting to hate this game and this community. “USSR can place up to 6 in Eastern Europe.” Followed by a discussion about how to allocate 9 influence. What the heck. This perspective is just pervasive, people have so forgotten what it was like to first approach this game that they don’t even realize how they perpetually gloss over details. So much is taken for granted. And this is the first paragraph of the first introductory article.

    My lament is that there are no newbies out there who can explore the game with me. Even the app has only one AI difficulty so you can’t simulate playing against someone as clueless as you as you probe this puzzle.

    • theory says:

      You start with 3 influence in East Germany, as printed on the board. It seemed more confusing to describe how much you were adding, and easier just to write how much you end up with.

  27. Anonymous says:

    If I’m USSR and get dealt Independant Reds I think it’s always worth going 1 in Austria over Yugoslavia.
    And while it’s definitely harder to get Austrian control if you can then it adds a layer of protection against Tear Down This Wall play in late game so it’s worth at least considering.

  28. Anonymous says:

    US Setup: I think sometimes it is better to setup 4 GER, 1 AUT, 2 ITA.
    If USSR coups Italy to 0/1 (die roll 3 with a 4 Ops card, or 4 with 3 Ops), you can easily retake Italy with a 3 Ops card.
    With standard setup, Italy would be 0/0 in that specific case, but USSR has access to Italy via Yugoslavia, while you haven’t.

    • Alsadius says:

      I can see the argument, but why not Greece in that case? It gives you Turkey access(much more useful than Hungary), it’s much easier to gain control of later, and you don’t have the Soviet worry of late-game Tear Down This Wall realignments

  29. Letsdo says:

    So weird to see this old strategy.

    Nowadays no one moves into a none BG as the USA turn 1, people play into France, and the USA is almost always +2. Heck, at +0 I’d still prefer 4 Italy 3 Germany, as this offers protection from SG.

    • Alsadius says:

      Wait, what? Why would you play into France, just to have Suez and De Gaulle take it away? Why does protecting from Socialist Governments matter so much that you’d give up West Germany control right off the top, when you can just repair SG’s damage with ops before he can score the continent?

      And when you say USA +2, do you mean handicap? Because yeah, that changes things a lot, but that’s not what these posts are about.

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