During the 20th Party Congress, Nikita Khrushchev openly attacked Stalin’s leadership of the Soviet Union. It was seen both inside and outside the Soviet Union as the beginning of a new era. This proved to be a particularly bloody assumption for Nagy’s Hungary. Khrushchev had no intention of “liberalizing” Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, even if he was trying to bring an end to the cult of personality that had characterized internal Soviet government.

Time: Early War
Side: USSR
Ops: 3
Removed after event: Yes


This is probably the most important Early War card in the deck.  Without De-Stalinization, it will be very difficult to contest the Americas.  As such, no matter how tempting, I almost always try to use all of the influence from De-Stalinization into a Mid War region.  Occasionally I will put one into Thailand, if I need immediate access to it, but the card is best for fighting for the Mid War regions.

I also rarely headline this card, because it is a very risky card to have Defectored.  Moreover, you have to play this at DEFCON 2, so that the US doesn’t just coup out your influence immediately.

If you have Decolonization, then De-Stalinization is an easy choice: all four into the four South American battlegrounds.  If you don’t have Decolonization, I will tend to put a couple into Africa (perhaps Angola and Algeria), and the other two into South America (one in Venezuela and one in Argentina or Chile).  I don’t usually place it into Central America, because I can coup Panama, Fidel grants me Cuba, and Mexico is too easily realigned out.  More importantly, De-Stalinization into South America gives me more access than De-Stalinization into Central America.

Remember that The Voice of America is the perfect antidote to De-Stalinization, so be sure to fortify your position by the Mid War so that VoA cannot just remove all of your influence.


Like Decolonization, this is a hold-until-Turn-3 card.  Whether or not the USSR triggers this can be game-deciding, so spacing it on Turn 3 earns you a massive advantage.  By Turn 7, this card is mostly useless, and can be safely played for Operations.  But I would rather give up West Germany to a Blockade than play this in the Early War.

In many ways, De-Stalinization is like Puppet Governments, with the key difference being that it is guaranteed to be drawn by Turn 3, when it still matters.

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36 Responses to De-Stalinization

  1. Ryan says:

    What about as a turn 1 US headline? With very little to even move around its almost a devastating headline. If you move anything AR1 becomes a choice between coup in Iran or fixing what you moved and letting them into Asia.

    • SnowFire says:

      Poland and Finland are free from Soviet tyranny for now, congratulations. I’m not sure that accomplishes much – the US can maybe score a fast Europe domination, sure, but Poland won’t stay free for long, and trying to zerg rush it is telegraphed by walking into E. Germany and potentially owned by Warsaw Pact anyway. Let’s say that the USSR player has a horrible low-ops hand turn 1 and believes he’d lose coup wars over Thailand and Venezuela and the like. I’ll take 1 France / 1 Chile / 1 South Africa / 1 (Iran / India?) and still be pretty darn set. Coup Iran (with a 3 ops if necessary by sticking 1 op in Iran pre-emptively), threaten France if the US doesn’t scramble, and still have a safe harbor in South America to start expanding from on turn 3. (Maybe even throw 1 influence in Costa Rica if you want.)

      Anyway, as far as my own comments… if NORAD is active, but Canadia is not yet US-controlled, it is highly tempting to stick an influence in a rather colder part of the Americas. Not necessarily a *good* idea, mind you, but really funny, which is the important thing. Threaten Soviet Canada! Get humiliation points in Europe (!) scoring! Mounties armed with hammers & sickles wearing funny Russian hats raiding North Dakota while riding moose!

      • Ryan says:

        If I were playing US and held the euro scoring card, headlining with de-stalinization would be the easiest 5 points ever if you are simply going to clean out Europe for me. My intent would never be toward a euro control win. If I didn’t have the euro scoring and you drained Finland and Poland I’d likely try hitting with eastern European unrest just to give you and extra hard time rebalancing the region.

        Granted much would depend on the other cards I’m holding but that’s the beauty of this game.

        • SnowFire says:

          Still not really sold on this being a good idea for the US even w/ Europe scoring in hand (since I think you can safely assume that Poland is the best place to De-stal the influence from – certainly better than risking N. Korea). Let’s assume the standard set up of 4 West Germany / 3 Italy, and 4 E. Germany / 4 Poland 1/ Yugoslavia. De-stal is headlined, Finland goes to 0 and Poland goes to 1. A perfectly reasonable AR1 play is to stick 1 Soviet influence in India for Asia access and collect France with a mere 2 ops card – now the US can’t even score a Europe domination. But let’s say the USSR does the more traditional Iran coup AR1. Okay, the US can score a ninja Europe dom AR1. Now the Soviets just collect France with a 2 ops on AR2, and can re-collect Poland for a mere 2 ops whenever convenient, and get their own Europe dominations later + Algeria access. So… that seems suboptimal for the US. Let’s say the US dumps 3-4 ops in to secure France. If the US dumped the full 4 ops in for control, the USSR was going to eat a Europe domination anyway whether Poland was controlled or not. If they didn’t, you can maybe fight it out if you don’t fear Truman Doctrine, or Degaul your way to victory, or just plain go advance the board elsewhere like Algeria / Panama / Asia. The worst this means is that the US can score Europe without having finished control of France if you haven’t recovered Poland yet – hardly a bad fate.

          Don’t think East European Unrest changes much either. If E. Germany was overprotected, it just means it’ll cost 1 more influence to recover Poland. EEU is okay if the US does try and zerg rush a Europe control victory, Warsaw Pact being spaced, I suppose.

          Anyway, the above scenario should be compared with holding / spacing / blockading De-stal, where you might draw it yourself again on Turn 3, or maybe the Soviets don’t draw it until Turn 5, or you manage to hold it until turn 3 and skip the reshuffle: the Soviets don’t get free extra anchors in the Americas or Africa or France. Which seems better than maaaaybe getting a slightly easier Europe domination.

        • maclochlainn says:

          Assuming Soviets take more than 1 out of Poland…

  2. Jean says:

    Any thoughts on where the best places are to take influence from to move with De-Stalinization (especially if played during the first turn)? Would it be worth holding onto it until Turn 2 and you have more influence? Seems risky to me.

    • ddddddd says:

      Good question. Unless you don’t have anything better to hold to Turn 2, I would definitely recommend getting this card out in the First round. If you don’t have a better hold, however, then DeStal doesn’t really do much for you till Mid war (unless you’re somehow locked out of Asia/Middle East – not sure how you could manage this by the end of Turn 1 – an awful Iran coup?)

      In the first Turn, it’s usually best to play this card once Defcon has worked its way down to 2 (you don’t want to DeStal 1 influence into Nigeria just to see it get coup-rolled with a 6 by the US!) Because of this you will usually have one or two Influence going spare somewhere, from Comecon/Warsaw/Romanian Abd’ etc.

      If not, and you haven’t advanced your position in Europe at all, the best places to take influence from are probably Poland and Finland. Finland is virtually always irrelevant, and Poland is easily repaired. Obviously the big risk with Poland is that the US is packing Europe scoring, (so watch out for tell-tale signs of this for the first few AR’s), but if he is holding it and doesn’t give anything away, well, that’s just bad luck, and you can console yourself that the Destalinised influence can harvest big points later on 😛

  3. Cal says:

    If the USA player does successfully hold this card until the third turn, he should definitely space race it then. Holding it into the mid-war brings with it the possibility the Soviets will activate it with Missile Envy.

  4. dangulica says:

    In CCW variant, if the Soviet player has placed only 1 or 2 IP in China, are those removable? Can they be used for De-Stalinization?

    • Charles Martel says:

      Solution: Forget that CCW ever existed.

      • Felix says:

        Why? What is wrong about CCV? Do you think it favors the US too much?
        One more question: even when the USSR has placed 3 influence into China and got the Card, can the Sowjet player not still remove influence from there for De-Stal?

        • Charles Martel says:

          What is wrong about CCW is that almost always isn’t worth it for the USSR to get the China Card. Most of the time, it just removes the China Card from the game.

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  8. Guns says:

    Disclaimer: I am new to this game and have not yet been able to test all this in practice against a good opponent. This is purely theorycrafting.

    With that out of the way, US headlining is obviously not a good idea, but what about using De-Stalinization as US T1 AR1 action? Drawing De-Stal on turn 1 is a huge pain for the US, because it’s your hold card then for the next two turns, which, without the China card, can be a huge problem. Have the bad (yet not uncommon) luck of also drawing Decolonization in turn 1 or 2, and you have no good options. And all this trouble and hand-management headaches just so you can make it come back later in the game, when it will still be annoying at best.

    However, just playing this as your AR1 action (provided you are not Red Scared) and have the soviet event go first, creates quite the conundrum for the USSR player, it would seem. First of all, there is not much influence to go around at this point, so the USSR player has to take some influence out of annoying locations. Provided the Iran coup succeeded (as is expected), Iran (if 2 or more influence), Iraq, Finland and Poland seem likely targets, which is irrelevant for europe, but does slow him down in the middle east. If the Iran coup failed or he has only one influence there after the coup, he obviously has more problems, as neither Iran nor Iraq can safely lose influence, which means more influence out of Poland (which has to be prepared lest he be dominated) or influence out of Yugoslavia, severely limiting his access to Europe.

    Next he gets to place that precious influence, which also presents soms interesting problems, as Defcon is now at 4 (unless he couped with Duck and Cover, but then you should have just countercouped Iran). He can’t place it in (or if he’s smarter: next to) Thailand, because then he pretty much just gives you Asia’s most important country (or at least a much stronger anchor to it than 1 point in Malaysia). Two points in two diferent countries next to Thailand seems the best short run option, but then De-Stal is the USSR card usually used for access to South America and/or Africa (unless he counts on also getting Decolonization for the latter, which can be a risk). “Checking” Thailand leaves only 2 influence to go to another region. Two battlegrounds in South America means that he risks getting a weak foothold in Sth. America while giving you a strong one after your coup. One in Africa and one in South America would just be silly, as would two in Africa, as USSR really want to use De-Stal to ge a foothold in South America. Otherwise he’s gambling on Allende/Junta, which carries serious long-term risks.

    After all this, it would seem that the best thing to do for the USSR player would be to “check” you in multple locations by placing influence in non-battlegrounds, so that a coup by the US would not lower defcon and not lose the USSR player access to precious regions. However, then the US player would have the option to use the ops points of De-Stal on realignments (an even more attractive option if you were lucky enough to be able to headline Containment). Two influence next to Thailand and two influence in South American non-battlegrounds seem like the most attractive option for the USSR (though two in Africa might also be an option if his concerns are purely towards the mid-game).With three (or with containment headline, four) ops, that gives you a decent chance to boot him out of one region. Furthermore, his next action(s) will nescessarily require strengthening his tenacious foothold wherever there is influence left, still leaving Defcon at 4 for your next turn, at which point you can still realign or coup wherever you want. If he still has a foothold near Thailand, he may possibly be tempted to coup, say, Panama, to protect that foothold. But then you can safely use your strongest card to coup Iran back, bringing Defcon to 2 and a road into the Iron Triangle (unless, of course, he coups with Duck and Cover, which would, admittedly, suck).

    At this point, the hypotheticals become to convoluted to keep track 🙂 I may have missed several options a good USSR player might use to really annoy the US, but as my knowledge of the game stands right now, it would appear that just playing De-Stal on US T1 AR1 gives the USSR a good number of bad to mediocre options, gives the US an immediate and decent counter to nearly all of them without getting pushed on the defensive too much and permanently gets rid of one of the USSR’s most dangerous tableturners. Obviously not applicable in all situations (don’t do it when you’re Red Scared, don’t do it when he headlined Decolonization or played it on AR1, don’t play it if it’s your only 3+ ops card and you don’t have Blockade, be aware of the risk of running into a clever play if you don’t have Duck and Cover etc…). But under many other conditions, it seems like it would be the most interesting way for the US to get rid of this powerful USSR card.

    Also, it would be worth it merely for fucking up his T1 plans 🙂

    • Charles Martel says:

      This is a pretty bad idea. If I coup Iran as the USSR on AR1, and the US plays De-stal, I will indeed happily place 1 inf in Venezuela, 1 in Chile, 1 in Brazil, and 1 in Laos/Cambodia, pulling off 3 influence from Poland and 1 from Finland.

      Spacing De-Stal and Decol is far, far better than playing them.

      • Guns says:

        “Spacing De-Stal and Decol is far, far better than playing them.”

        Of course. The premise was that that can be pretty difficult given certain T1 hands. Is spacing it in T1, to see it come back after T2, always a better idea than just playing it at the least optimal time for the USSR, with an immediate 3-ops counter to at least a part of what he does? It’s gone then. I would never suggest this for Decol, since that comes back no matter what.

        Your placement of influence is very good and indeed presents a conundrum to the US, pretty much forcing him to coup Laos/Cambodia (without lowering Defcon), which means you get your next turns to shore up South America. It still means, in a best case scenario, that you trade control over South America (a mid-war region into which the US has quite a few roads) for a potentially very lopsided SE-Asia Scoring, a stalemate in Asia at best (and US domination if you’re not careful), temporary US domination in Europe and the requirement of serious future investment in Poland, lest John Paul (or heck, Truman) ruin your day, all while not being able to quickly shore up the Middle East.

        Naturally, it’s still not an actually *good* play for the US, but on those rainy days when the US draws De-Stal and Decol in T1, it seems like it might well be the preferrable bad option.

      • Anonymous says:

        What about the risk of moving into these battlegrounds before CIA created has been played?

  9. BamBix says:

    Still, you are assuming that USSR will put the influence in a 2 stab country. Why? I will happily put 1 in France, 1 in Chile, 1 in South Africa and 1 in India. Unless you want to get happy couping 3-stab countries, you have just given me 4 footholds in important areas!

    • Guns says:

      I actually think this is a bad option for the USSR in this scenario. France hardly matters, any US player should be prepared for a couple of soviet points in France. As this is US AR1, you almost have a guarantee Truman will be able to take care of that at some point. Assuming the Iran coup succeeded, India is largely irrelevant since it is then de facto USSR territory in any case, and in case of a “race” the US would still get to Thailand first through Malaysia. Chile and South Africa are the most annoying, but who says you have to use those 3 ops to coup? Just realign him out of Chile (and if you’re lucky, out of India as well). As for South Africa, remember that the scenario where this play could be considered is US starting T1 with both Decol and De-Stal. Decol is usually used to get a much stronger foothold in Africa than 1 inf in South Africa, while simultaneously threatening the US in SE Asia. Knowing that this won’t happen until turn 7, means the 1 inf in South Africa is not that much of a threat.

      I think Charles Martel’s option is still the best. 3 in South American battlegrounds and 1 in a non-battleground near Thailand leave the US with no really good options, and at the very least forcing him to choose, and it is almost a non-choice. Assuming a succesful Iran coup, you cannot risk The USSR getting easy access to Asia domination (and SE Asia “domination”) so soon. This leaves 3 inf in South America, and while the USSR does need some time to shore up it’s temporary overextension at high Defcon, De-Stal will have served it’s primary purposes of securing a good foothold in South America.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think it works as a turn 1 ar 1 card for the US if the uSSR has couped Iran and got 0, 1 or 2 influence. Draining Poland or Finland to hit mid war targets, with all early war scoring to come, removing it from game and allowing you to space something else is an alright result.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible to place this influence anywhere in the world, where the us don’t have control? I mean even if you are not adjacent to it

  11. Anonymous says:

    stalin’s mousetrap:a hyper-aggressive all-out-attack aiming for europe control by turn 1
    initial deployment: standard comecon trap; 4 into austria, 2 into yugo
    if the us use standard deployment 4 west germany, 3 italy, headline destalinization.
    transfer 3 into france and 1 into yugo (taken from finland, syria, 2 north korea)
    in your first turn, you will be able to realign both italy and west germany at +2 for a devastating blow (priority given to west germany; should take 2 rolls on average to empty).
    next turn repair any damage (f.ex. to france) and place 1 into west germany to minimize the impact of truman while preparing for the takeover; if the americans dare to come back realign them out again using your huge advantage…
    possible counters in the headline (from most benign to worst): defectors (harmless); defcon drop (just grab france and put 1 into uncoupable chile); purge (annoying but still possible to succeed); unrest (really, really crippling; i would attempt to repair austria and take france for a +1 roll on both targets)

    • lambolt says:

      do US players deploy as standard when they see a comecon trap setup by USSR? Also, I think it seems unlikely you can “realign them again” since that would mean DEFCON left at 4 after the first turn which seems a bit unlikely doesnt it, or you mean if you spend the whole first turn in a Europe ops war?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Can someone comment on the interaction of this card with CIA Created? I am a new player, so I am sure that I play far from optimally, however I would be extremely hesitant to place influence into Central or South American battlegrounds as the USSR, during the early war, if this card was still not accounted for. In games I have played so far, there seems to be very little struggle over the mid war regions until around the second half of turn 3. Do the benefits of placing into the Americas early (say turns 1 or 2) outweigh the costs of potentially causing DEFCON suicide or having to headline the CIA Created card at DEFCON 3, wasting an action and exposing your hand? I know this card is super important to have for the USSR but I just find the analysis a little confusing since it ignores the DEFCON suicide possibilities. Thanks so much!!

    • haytil says:

      Yes, the benefits far outweigh the difficulty in dealing with CIA created. As a US player, I would happily play a game where CIA is removed from the deck beforehand, if the Soviets agree to similarly remove De-Stalinization from the deck. That should tell you how important this card is for the Soviets, how much the Americans hate it, and how much it trumps the CIA.

      Don’t think of it as a choice between “Placing into Americas early vs Cost of CIA”. Think of it as “Placing into Americas AT ALL vs Cost of CIA.” Without De-Stalinization, only Allende can guarantee you an entry into South America. And it may come far too late for you. Meanwhile, De-Stalinization also potentially gets you into Africa (or other problematic places that you don’t otherwise have easy access to).

      The same goes for Fidel and Decolonization. Are you really going to give up on the third world entirely, just because of the CIA bogeyman?

      The CIA is rather easily defused by Soviet players during the Early War, even with influence in the third world – many players are just reluctant to do so, for one reason or another. But unless you have some critical cards in your hand that you want to keep secret (like multiple scoring cards), then it’s generally not a big deal to expose your hand and give up the AR1 coup during the Early War by playing CIA as your first move. Consider:

      -A good US player will have some idea of what’ s in your hand already, based on what’s been played, as the Early War deck is fairly small.
      -Unless you have influence in 1-stability African battlegrounds, there are unlikely to be any good US coup targets for their 1-op CIA. And if you do have African battlegrounds, you can just coup right back next turn.
      -You’ll likely end up getting military ops from Korean or Arab-Israeli Wars, so ceding the 1-op coup to the Americans probably won’t cause you to lose VPs on Required Military Ops anyhow.

      As the US, I’ve won so many games because my Soviet opponent was just way too stingy to play CIA during AR1 when he had the chance – and it came back to bite him on the ass.

      I’ve also lost a fair number of games where the Soviets De-Stalinized into South America and controlled it for 10 points.

  13. Dorba says:

    What about headlining EEU and then playing De-stal for the ops turn 1, assuming you have a fairly high ops hand and the Soviets use a big card for the Iran coup?
    This would basically mean you are removing possibly 7 influence from Europe (or North Korea) before you even decide what to do with the 3 influence (invade europe or NK, coup a 2 stab country in south america and get access yourself, all while forcing them to react to a card that really should be a boon for them.

    Warsaw pact ruins everything though. Still it would be in interesting way to put some pressure in an unexpected way. I guess conventional wisdom is probably right about this card.

  14. maclochlainn says:

    I love playing Destalinization in headline of first turn as USSR. Take 1 from E Germany, 1 from Poland, 1 from Finland, and 1 from Syria. Place 1 in India, 1 in Chile, 1 in France, and 1 in Israel.

    Syria to Israel expands your ME options (why not), France puts pressure in Europe and gives you access to Algeria, and Chile and India are uncoupable and give you deep access to Asia and S America. Indo-Pakistani War is a risk so I try to take Iran/Pakistan as quickly as possible, but usually if US focuses on the Iran coup then they cede France and thus Europe to me. Also important with this strategy is to buffer Poland and E Germany back up before the late war. But usually this play gives me a huge board and VP advantage in the early war.

  15. Alan says:

    The most over rated card in the deck. It’s an interesting card with some useful potential but I cant see it being the most importatnt early war card. I wouldn’t mind but for both cards thast place significant influence in Europe (Warsaw Pact and COMECON) the general startergy / advice is to play for ops early on so there’s precious little to redistribute that wont cause problems elsewhere. And it provides some coup targets in regions that the US also struggles to access.

    Ps I do like the Chile / India suggestion.

    • Noneed says:

      Not only is it the most important early war card, it is easily, the most important card in the entire game. It is the ninth continent, one of the most important struggles in the early war

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