Formosan Resolution

Formosan ResolutionFormosan Resolution


Reacting to the “loss of China” the United States Congress extended to President Eisenhower open ended authority to defend Taiwan—technically known as the Republic of China on Taiwan—with military force. The resolution came at a time when the United States faced challenges from the People’s Republic in Indochina as well as the Korean peninsula. Effectively, Taiwan sat under the US nuclear umbrella, and the balance of power within the Taiwan Straits would now remain a question of strategic importance to the United States.

Time: Early War
Side: US
Ops: 2
Removed after event: Yes


Generally inconsequential. It is only relevant if the Asia battlegrounds split 3-3, and even then most US players do not bother taking Taiwan early on because of its cost.  I will almost always play it without hesitation in the Early War, especially if the US has the China Card.

Occasionally, in the Mid War, if Taiwan is already taken by the US (i.e., to protect against Korean War) and the battlegrounds are indeed split 3-3, then Formosan Resolution can give the US Domination.  But I find this somewhat rare — much more likely is that the US ends up cancelling it by playing the China Card before Asia is scored.

Note that unlike Shuttle Diplomacy, this does not go away after Asia is scored, only after the US plays the China Card.  It also matters for Final Scoring.


Unless I already have Taiwan for some reason, this is not worth the effort.  It’s just too many Ops in the Early War: Taiwan is a costly country and you’d have to give up the 2 Ops from Formosan Resolution too.

Sometimes this can be helpful in a Mid War deadlock.  But even then, the tedious process of playing Formosan, controlling Taiwan, and then playing Asia Scoring is usually too slow.

That having been said, this is a second reason to take Taiwan, the first being a defense against Korean War.  Usually either of those reasons on their own is not enough to take Taiwan, but together, I will probably invest the 3 Ops.

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20 Responses to Formosan Resolution

  1. Martin Fox says:

    I pretty much agree with your assessment. No matter who gets it, I tend to just treat it as 2 ops. I can’t think of a single game in which it’s actually made a difference; it’s like a really bad Shuttle Diplomacy since it only applies to one region, costs you the ops to spend on Taiwan, and is going to get cancelled very quickly anyway.

    On another note, do you have a method for choosing which cards to post on next? As a reader I’m generally interested to read your thoughts on the cards that are interesting or under- or overrated than the dozen or two cards in TS that are just “whatever.”

    • theory says:

      I am going through the cards in numerical order, which seems to be the most systematic way of going about it.

      • Martin Fox says:

        Fair point. I didn’t even notice. I’ll take this opportunity to say thanks for your insight and hard work on this blog and I look forward to the next update 🙂

  2. Philip Howard says:

    Sometimes when playing the US, if the USSR has allowed the Formosan Resolution to occur and I’m in a position to take Taiwan, I just sit on the China Card. After all, if I do play the China Card then the USSR gets to play it next turn, right? And if sitting on it sometimes reduces my flexibility in playing out my hand, then never having it sometimes reduces his flexibility too. So why not just freeze it out of the game and gain that battleground? (Yes, I know about Cultural Revolution, and sometimes but not always have to give in to it.) If there’s a huge downside to this strategy, my regular opponent hasn’t spotted it…

    • SnowFire says:

      Well. Sure, that’s the hope with Formosan Resolution, that the USSR plays it and you never need to use the China Card yourself. But “your opponent gets the card next turn” is a bit glib; the value of the China Card depends on context. If you have a terrible low ops hand, then China can help a ton, and stop some other crisis from getting you blown out elsewhere. Maybe your opponent will have an average hand next turn, so China won’t be as useful for him as it just was for you.

      If I need a 4 ops to simultaneously fight two fires but my hand doesn’t contain one, I’d have to seriously consider throwing the Taiwanese to their own fate, depending on the battleground split and how soon Asian scoring is expected.

    • Ioan76_TM says:

      Hi Philip !

      A late comment for me on this approach for US in Asia : I used it with good success if was still possible after the first exchange of China Card – meaning that USSR play China Card first time, give it to me, I played it too next turn ( or better – in T3 ) and in that point, after at 2 X 5 OPs played, Asia is quite full of influence so investing needed OPs into an empty Taiwan doesn’t look anymore so costly… 😉

    • BJE says:

      Philip, I strongly agree with you. I believe the American should sit on The China Card if possible, even taking a certain amount of damage in the name of keeping it. At setup, Asia splits 1-1 with the Soviet having a BG and the American sometimes has to play to Asian non-BGs to keep the scoring close. American control of Taiwan can support control of South Korea, and Taiwan as a BG can help prevent scoring disasters in Asia or reduce pressure on the American elsewhere in Asia. The American can set up a Soviet loss in Korean War, play the event, win the roll, and then deploy 2 Influence to South Korea for control. Formosan Resolution serves multiple subtle purposes and an American who maximizes its advantages can significantly benefit from the event, particularly if it is casually dumped in the Early War by the Soviet.

      • SnowFire says:

        American control of Taiwan only supports control of South Korea in two specific circumstances: Korean War has not yet been played, and a rare realign of South Korea (if, say, the US stole North Korea with an AR7 -> China Card play and have Japan / Taiwan, but the Soviets own South Korea, and DEFCON is really high for some reason). It’s normally not a good investment of 3 ops to take Taiwan, compared to other turn-4ish tasks like expanding in Central America or Africa.

        Don’t get me wrong, when the stars align, FR can be potent (making a 3-3 split a US domination, not ever getting in a situation where you desperately need the China Card). Just that since this doesn’t happen frequently, it’s usually not worth “taking damage” if you would want to use the China Card in normal circumstances, but have to give up FR to do it. (Especially since it can be very hard to find the time to invest the 3 ops to actually TAKE Taiwan, since the event is worthless if you don’t do that…)

  3. MagiusPaulus says:

    This one is Off-topic, but don’t know where else to put this: Do you think that GMT will request the Vassal and Warroom variants to be erased so that they can sell their soon-published digital edition, of wil they allow these editions to exist?

  4. benlehman says:

    I feel like this card, while not strong, is less inconsequential than you make it out to be. Asia often splits 3-3 and, when it does, it generally deadlocks. (The most common split for our games is USSR: India, Pakistan, North Korea and US: Thailand, South Korea, Japan). In this case, Formosan is at least 5 points for the US, maybe more, depending on scoring pace.

    That said, I _very_ rarely play it for the event as the US, preferring to roll it into the deck and let the Soviets play it for me. However, when it comes out, if there’s a 3-3 Asia deadlock (which there usually is), I will generally not play the China card and keep Asia stable and at a US domination status quo. I honestly prefer to lose a bit of position in the third world than play a 4-point China and return Asia to a 0 point tie.

  5. Tod says:

    If playing the Chinese Civil War variant, then 12.4 Event Restrictions says
    “Until the Soviet player has placed 3 Influence Points on the Chinese Civil War space … the US player may not play Formosan Resolution as an event. These cards may be played for Operations Points”.
    What approach would each player take if this variant was used?

    • theory says:

      Since few people play Formosan Resolution for the event anyway as US, I don’t think it affects the US at all. As USSR, you may as well play FR before you invest into China, but that is probably a given anyway since most USSR players can’t spare 3 Ops so early in the game.

  6. I think the event must be updated by adding “Add 1 US influence in Taiwan” just to encourage the player to play it for the event.

  7. David Roy says:

    I have a question.

    I have the iOS app for this game, and I was going to play Five Year Plan when this was the only card I had left in my hand.

    DEFCON was level 2.

    I got a DEFCON warning before committing to the move.

    I decided instead to just play Formosan Resolution by itself to avoid that, and there was no problem.

    Why would that have been a DEFCON suicide? I don’t see anything that would have lowered the DEFCON level.

    Or was it just a general warning not based on my specific cards (i.e. playing Five Year Plan *can* cause DEFCON suicide depending on what you have)?

    • theory says:

      Seems like the latter.

      • David Roy says:

        Yeah, that’s what I figured. I should have soldiered on ahead, but I’m not familiar enough with the game to see how obvious that was.

        On another note, thanks for this wonderful site. I spent a few hours here on Saturday looking at all of the articles.

        Really helpful!

  8. Vasek says:

    A question of interpretation.
    The text says that the “card is discarded after US play of the China card”, but the way you describe its mechanics is rather “the event is cancelled after US play of the China card”.

    These are two different things and I would like to ask what leads you to assume the 2nd interpretation. I could well imagine the interpretation in the way that the card is discarded (for instance from the pile) once US plays the China card.

    This would also make more sense in the historical context. Taiwan was always an indisputable US ally throughout the Cold War, regardless of various détentes in US-China relations. Thereby, why should this event loose its effect when US plays the China card? At the same time, I could imagine that establishing the close US-Taiwan tie would be very unlikely, if there were friendly US-Chinese relations from the outset (thereby US playing the China card before Formosan resolution is triggered as event).

    • theory says:

      I agree with you that the card text is ambiguous. However, the asterisk (and “Removed from play if used as an event”) leans me towards the card being a one-time thing.

      The more cynical answer would be, I’m not sure that anyone would ever care whether Formosan Resolution is reshuffled into the deck or not 🙂

      • Vasek says:

        Well, if the discarding applied to the card regardless of its whereabouts (including in opponent’s hand), this would bring quite some new dynamics in the game 🙂
        In any case, many thanks for the fast reaction. The text on the card is indeed too unclear and in such cases its better to stick to the established custom.

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