Marshall Plan

Marshall PlanMarshall Plan


On June 5, Secretary of State George C. Marshall announced to the world the US plan to reconstruct all of Europe. Due to Soviet pressure, Eastern European states did not participate. However, for the 16 nations of Western Europe that did, the Marshall Plan marked the first step on the road to recovery and ultimate victory in the Cold War.

Time: Early War
Side: US
Ops: 4
Removed after event: Yes


One of the most problematic US cards in the Early War.  No event places more influence on the board than Marshall Plan.  The best way to defuse this card is by controlling the important countries beforehand: if you’re able to sew up the 2-stability countries before it is triggered, then Marshall Plan influence gets mostly sent to unimportant countries.  At the very least, you want to use the 4 Ops of this card to control Greece or Turkey before triggering the event, lest you turn all of Europe blue.

Another option is to send Marshall Plan to space.  This is more plausible when you’re under Red Purge and therefore cannot control two of the Mediterranean countries with the card’s Ops.  Even if you aren’t, it’s sometimes worthwhile to sacrifice the 4 Ops of Marshall Plan: you’ll have to find the Ops eventually to play into Europe, but there are definitely situations where you’re better off in Europe without the poisoned 4 Ops of Marshall Plan.

The best way of playing Marshall Plan is with UN Intervention, which gets you the best of both worlds.  It is in fact probably the best Early War USSR candidate for UN Intervention, along with CIA Created (if you have influence in a Mid War region).

Ideally, you’d like to play Marshall Plan as late as possible so that the US can waste most of its effect.  If you can bait the US into controlling Canada before Marshall Plan, for instance, before playing Marshall Plan, you’ve effectively wasted a US Operations point.  In particular, if you do space Marshall Plan (or UN Intervention it), then it’s a pretty painless 4 Ops in the Mid War.

It goes without saying that if you also have NATO in your hand, you should play NATO first, before Marshall Plan (and before the US can trigger Warsaw Pact Formed).


This is best as a Turn 1 Headline, because you can adjust your opening setup to take advantage of it.  As the game goes on, it gets worse and worse because as countries are controlled, the influence becomes less and less helpful.  But it remains very powerful even if played in an Action Round; if you can get Marshall into the 2-stability Mediterranean countries on Turn 1 or 2, you probably won’t ever be dominated in Europe (and conversely you can assure Domination if you get France).

This is therefore the only starred US event in the Early War that I will almost always play for the event, because it is too risky to let this get into the reshuffle. If it comes back on Turn 3, it might still do some good, but if it comes back any later it probably won’t accomplish anything. Of course, there will be times when you don’t need Marshall Plan for European domination and/or desperately need the 4 Ops elsewhere, and in those situations you should feel free to let it go. But in general, Marshall Plan is the rare starred event that gets worse and worse as the game goes on.

On the flip side, be careful you don’t rush too quickly into Europe, as otherwise the effect of Marshall Plan will mostly be wasted.  Of course, there is always a sense of urgency in Twilight Struggle, and Marshall’s influence is even more wasted if you let the USSR take all the Mediterranean countries first.  But for example, if the UK is hit with Suez Crisis, there’s no need to patch it back up to 5 immediately as you may as well wait for the Marshall Plan influence.

The countries I target with Marshall Plan, in descending priority:

  • Spain/Portugal, Greece, Turkey
  • Italy, West Germany
  • Canada (if I don’t already control it), UK (even if I already control it, if Suez Crisis hasn’t come out)
  • France (only if I already control it or if I plan to play into it this turn, but not if I’m using De Gaulle or Suez Crisis)
  • Benelux, Denmark
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10 Responses to Marshall Plan

  1. Trevor says:

    This is just a general note. I really appreciate the insight and effort that you put into publishing these and I’m sure there is a huge silent majority that eagerly anticipates each new post.

    Spefically, are you advocating using the Marshall plan for the event as the US player. I typically like to see it in soviet hands so that I get a bonus 7 influence without paying for an action round. Consequently, I’ll shore up the med (turkey, greece) in drips and drabs and play Marshall for ops before turn 3 in hopes that the Sovs get it to help me defend France, WG, Italy and acquire Spain.

    • theory says:

      Yeah, I should clarify that. I think that if Europe is contested, Marshall Plan must be played as an event by the US (barring emergencies elsewhere) because the important countries (i.e., the Mediterranean countries, Canada) will be controlled by one side or the other by the time Marshall Plan comes back. If you don’t trigger it on Turns 1 or 2 it will come back anywhere between Turn 3 and 7; if it comes back Turn 3, it can still do some good, but by Turn 7 there’s nowhere for the influence to go, really.

  2. Aaron says:

    I agree with Trevor. I check back regularly for updates and am always excited to see a new card or new strategy. Keep up the good work!

  3. Viljanen says:

    As the US I’m happy to play Marshall plan as an event if I get it early. It ensures I will get those cheap Mediterranean countries. Without them, USSR can’t really hope to get Europe domination even if they can get France with de Gaulle or West Germany with Blockade. And getting Europe domination for US is almost always worth trying as the points from that normally help to keep US afloat to Mid and Late War.

    Conversely, if the USSR get Marshall, they can use the ops to take 2 countries from the Mediterranean making the event much less effective.

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  5. Sophie says:

    In a game today, I played Marshall Plan on Turn 1 AR1 as the Soviets for the Iran coup d’etat.

    Contrary to expectation, I think that the event was beneficial for me since it lured my opponent [who was an extremely experienced player whereas I’d only done two games previously] into spending ops in the early game taking control of the countries he gained influence in with Marshall Plan. Even though he did it gradually, it still gave me a tempo advantage outside of Europe when every op was precious.

    I’d already made the strategic decision to cede European domination [putting no effort there at all, and making sure to shore up East Germany and Poland up to 7+ influence in the mid-war], and so additional controlled countries really did very little for my opponent [he did end up with Romania from abdication+Independent Reds+my destalinization out of Romania, but that translated into 1 VP for him in exchange for a lot of cards spent.] I ended up with Asian domination, Middle Eastern domination, African control [temporarily – he kicked me out with VoA leaving sub-Saharan Africa void of influence], South American control, and Central American control before the game ended in my favor on turn 5 [though luck in card draws certainly played a role in my favor as well.]

    • theory says:

      Good point! Especially where you know you’ll cede Europe and he doesn’t necessarily know, using Marshall Plan as the Soviets can sometimes be less bad than you think.

  6. 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 it’s really hard for USSR to turn it.

    • Ben says:

      Yeah, if I’m headlining Marshall T1 (or sometimes even T2) and don’t have De Gaulle / Suez in hand, I’ll always set up 3/2/2 and start out with France control. The way I see it (1) if you have 1 influence in two of the three Mediterranean countries, you’re so far ahead in country count that the USSR is very unlikely to waste influence taking the third, and (2) if the USSR has/draws De Gaulle / Suez, them triggering the event is 3 ops they can’t spent elsewhere. Just make sure to overprotect (or even double overprotect) France to avoid losing it to a headline/AR1 DeG/Suez + 4 ops combo.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If you are a USSR player and control either France or Italy this card doesn’t really have much effect.

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