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
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.
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