General Strategy: Reshuffles

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.

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14 Responses to General Strategy: Reshuffles

  1. Anonymous says:

    SALT is another card that is affected by reshuffles. SALT on turn 6 has lots of choices, SALT on turn 7 does not.

  2. DeDaan says:

    When playing with the optional cards, it’s even possible that the second reshuffle only takes place in turn 8, which leads to all Late War cards being in the game (and obviously a small part of the discarded Early and Midwar cards, including scoring cards, returning only in turn 10)..

    • sael says:

      Can someone explain a little bit more about the Turn 8 reshuffle? Because I’ve never seen that happened before. How does it work? Is it caused a full-hand ‘Ask Not…’ and then perhaps followed by an SALT? Since the board position of US would be definitely better at Turn 10 than earlier, can US intentionally create this ’Turn-8 Reshuffle’ so as to avoid any mid-war scorings until end game?

      • Idris says:

        Only seen it happen once myself. Was a combination of none of the card discarders (OMIT, Ask Not, 5YP) having their event used and the China Card getting used every round. So, yeah. Given a decent chunk of the card discarders in the game are US discretionary events, they could probably try for it. But, I don’t see the point. After all, some of the best American cards are recurring Mid-War events like Grain Sales and VoA, and their return in the late war is part of the kick the US has in that part of the game.

      • Dan says:

        I actually just had a situation like this. Optional cards were in. None of the “discard-type” cards were played for the event (ask not, etc.), the SALT-ABM trick was played (play ABM, use SALT to get it back, play ABM again), and China Card was played pretty frequently. After dealing for Turn 7, there were actually 2 cards left in the draw pile. So on Turn 8 the entire draw pile was the entire Late War deck, plus those 2 leftover cards. Soviets won on that turn with Wargames, but if the game continued, we would have had a Turn 9 re-shuffle towards the end of the deal. Totally bizzare. Without Wargames, Soviets would have gotten slammed with all the Late War US events.

  3. When should be deck reshuffled? in the moment it becames empty or when it’s empty and one card more needed?
    On Turn 7 we dealed all cards for both palyers and in that moment deck became empty!!
    So, should we reshufle immediately or later if we’ll need next card?
    We chose to reshuffle immediately, beacause of rule
    4.3 When there are no cards remaining in the draw deck, reshuffle
    all discards to form a new draw deck.
    Do you agree?

  4. Will says:

    If you draw both Decol and Destal on Turn 1, are are therefore obliged to Space at least one of them, which would you rather discard?

    • theory says:

      De-Stalinization is ultimately a lot worse than Decolonization, so I’d space Decolonization.

    • Daniel B says:

      In that case I’d at least consider play Destal early in Turn 1 before there’s much good influence to move around. It’s still bad, but not nearly as bad as it coming back on Turn 3 or 4.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is rarely a good idea.
        Even in T1 AR1 and even USSR would empty Poland, and even at high DEFCON USSR has very viable countries like Thailand and/or neighbors, France, Chile, India, South Africa…

  5. Ace-K says:

    Prior to a reshuffle, what order do you deal in? Specifically, suppose it’s the beginning of Turn 3, the US and USSR each have one held card, and there are nine cards left in the deck. If the USSR gets priority, he will get five of those cards before the deck is reshuffled; otherwise, he’ll get four.

    Or suppose the US has two held cards, and the USSR zero (e.g. due to the China Card and UN Intervention, respectively). How do you divvy up the nine cards then?

    If there are some important cards among those nine (or if they’re mostly duds), it seems like it could make a substantial difference, but I don’t know if there’s an official verdict.

  6. DB says:

    I’ve seen T6 reshuffles a few times, all when the USA has headlined Ask Not and chucked basically their whole hand. It’s less likely now with most people using the variant cards, but it can still happen thanks to Our Man In Tehran.

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