In a typical game of Twilight Struggle, the draw deck will reshuffle while dealing out the cards for Turns 3 and 7. Occasionally, the deck will reshuffle immediately before Turn 10 as well.
What this means is that cards can fall into one of several categories:
- Any card played or discarded on Turns 1 and 2 will be guaranteed to be redrawn between Turns 3-7
- Any card played or discarded on Turns 3-6 will not be redrawn until Turns 7-10
- Any card played or discarded on Turn 7 or later will probably not be redrawn, and if it is, it would only be on Turn 10
Note that this is not a perfect overlap with when the cards come out:
- All Early War cards are guaranteed to be drawn between Turns 1-3
- All Mid War cards are shuffled in on Turn 4, and therefore are guaranteed to be drawn between Turns 4-7
- All Late War cards are shuffled in on Turn 8, and will be drawn only on Turns 8-10 (if at all)
What does this mean strategically? It means that when discarding your opponent’s vital events, you want to discard them on Turns 3 and 7, rather than on Turns 2 or 6.
This is most commonly applied to the two most important Early War events in the game: Decolonization and De-Stalinization. They are far and away the most important cards to draw, even more important than Red Scare/Purge. So as a US player, if I draw either or both in the Early War, I will do my best to hold onto them until Turn 3 before discarding them with Blockade, the Space Race, or UN Intervention. This guarantees that they cannot be reintroduced to the deck until Turn 7 at the earliest. If I sent Decolonization to space on Turn 2, by contrast, it could come back at Turn 3 at the earliest, and in any event not later than Turn 7. It’s a huge difference that dramatically changes the dynamics of the game.
It is therefore very important to consider what cards you hold on Turns 2 and 6, because those held cards won’t be coming back into the game for a very long time (if at all). For instance, if, as US, you are choosing between triggering the Voice of America event vs the John Paul II Elected Pope event on Turn 6, you should choose Voice of America, because it might come back again next turn, and hold John Paul. It’s not a huge deal for John Paul to be played on Turn 7, since he can only happen once anyway. Similarly, as USSR, if you are debating between playing Arab-Israeli War or Defectors for Operations on Turn 2, you should play Arab-Israeli War now and hold Defectors until Turn 3 so that you can have worry-free headlines between from Turns 3-6.
This also somewhat affects the Our Man in Tehran event, which is much more helpful on Turn 7 than on Turn 6.