The regional penchant to turn to strong men or military juntas to resolve questions of instability made South America ripe for leftist reaction throughout the Cold War. Rising nationalism and the world-wide wave of anti-imperialist sentiment also characterized the relationship with the United States and the nations of South America. The Soviets sought to exploit any openings offered, and established close relations with nations like Argentina. The greatest potential realignment in the region was squashed by an allegedly CIA-instigated coup of Chile’s Salvador Allende.
Time: Mid War
South America offers the potential for some of the most lopsided scoring in the game. With only 4 battlegrounds, closely-linked, it is the easiest region to gain Control over. In particular, a great many USSR Mid War victories can be attributed to a De-Stalinization into South America that locks up the four battlegrounds early.
Even if you don’t gain control, the difference between a 2-2 battleground deadlock and a 3-1 Domination is 5VP. This is equal to a typical Europe Domination, and further suggests that along with Africa, South America is one of the key regions of the board.
The eventual trend of the continent is to tilt towards the United States. The USSR must rely on either De-Stalinization, coups, or neutral events in the Mid War, while the US has a plethora of events (including OAS Founded, one of the most irritating 1 Ops events in the game). Accordingly, it is important for a USSR that did manage to De-Stalinize into South America to lock up the region securely, so as to defend against an eventual US onslaught.
South America is also rife with potential for realignments, as it is the only region where every battleground can be subject to an easy realignment. Common scenarios include Chile/Uruguay realigning Argentina, Colombia/Brazil realigning Venezuela, Venezuela/Uruguay realigning Brazil, and Peru/Argentina realigning Chile.
The USSR has the easier job of getting into South America, but if and only if he draws De-Stalinization. If he does, then South America control should be easy; otherwise, the USSR’s only hope is to attack the US with coups and events.
The US has only one Early War option for South America, and that’s the AR7 play into Colombia (AR6 in this case, since this is the Early War). Personally, I’m not a fan of this move. As USSR, I’m totally happy to just coup Colombia and give up a battleground coup; usually, in the Early War, the US is not terribly interested in battleground coups anyway, and certainly not at the cost of letting the USSR into South America with a strong Colombia coup. On the other hand, if the USSR is already in South America thanks to De-Stalinization, then the AR7 play into Colombia is still unlikely to succeed but at least has little downside.
Many Mid War events directly or indirectly target South America. The USSR, however, has very few options, with its only events being:
- A good desperation way to get into South America if De-Stalinization has not come out.
- A nice way of responding to two threats at once, creating two threats at once, or responding to one and creating your own simultaneously.
The US has:
- Puppet Governments
- If played early enough, this serves as a psuedo-De-Stalinization, perfect if South America is still empty.
- Panama Canal Returned
- A straightforward way to get into Venezuela, very useful as an AR7 play or to get into an empty South America
- Nuclear Subs
- Although not as persuasive as in Africa, Nuclear Subs offers the US a rare opportunity at multiple battleground coups.
- OAS Founded
- A total pain for the USSR to deal with, and a good way to get into an empty South America (though make sure DEFCON is at 2, lest you get couped out immediately).
- Alliance for Progress
- The “US OPEC”. Usually, however, it’s not worth very much when it first comes out; better to let it stew and collect more points in the Late War.
- The Voice of America
- Extremely effective at eliminating the USSR from subregions of South America, especially as Venezuela and Brazil are both 2-stability countries.
In practice, the USSR will hope to draw these neutral events:
- Brush War
- ABM Treaty
- The Holy Trinity of Mid War neutral events, with each serving its own purpose: Brush War attacks isolated battlegrounds, without regard for overcontrol; Junta is a flexible card that allows you to either get access to a region, create realignment opportunities, or coup in the headline phase; and ABM Treaty is … well, it’s a 4Ops battleground coup! What more could you ask?
- Latin American Death Squads
- This is usually a non-factor, since it’s mainly useful on non-battlegrounds, and South America does not feature many non-battleground coups.
If the USSR did not draw De-Stalinization, and did not draw the neutral events to contest South America, then coups are their only real chance to contest the continent, and absent extraordinary luck they are probably going to break even at best on the region.
In the Mid War, the region can change hands surprisingly quickly. Realignments are a key aspect to controlling South America: a US player that controls Colombia/Venezuela/Brazil/Uruguay, with no Soviet influence in any of those four countries, will be very difficult to knock out.
In general, Venezuela tends to be the most contested country, for two reasons: it scores on OPEC, and Colombia is somewhat difficult to hold onto long enough to realign Venezuela.
South America is a region where consecutive plays are critical: taking over a battleground often involves two steps, and so it’s a one of the most tense regions on the board, as you and your opponent jockey in attempts to set up a critical realign. This is why Junta and Che are such strong events: Junta lets you prepare for and realign in a single Action Round, and Che allows the USSR to do two things at once, be it respond to a threat or create one of their own.
In the Late War, the USSR gets a little help in the way of events, and the US must rely on their continued Mid War events:
- The Iron Lady
- In theory a US event, but in practice a USSR event. The loss of Socialist Governments hurts a little, but being able to flip Argentina is more than worth it. It should go without saying that the UK effect is worthless.
- Latin American Debt Crisis
- As US, I usually prefer to just let this trigger and not discard. As USSR, it is a good way of pressuring the US by either making them give up a high Ops card or dramatically altering the situation in the region.
I agree that the UK effect looks worthless, but with Special Relationship in play I saw USSR placing influence in U.K. to prevent their effects. Without Iron Lady in the deck, the USSR could consider being stout and go for UK or putting Canada into disorder. So, the effect of The Iron Lady is preventing more than attacking. But again, it has got minimal impact, that’s for sure. Anyway, what’s the best way as the US to act against an early De-Stalinization into the US? I often react immediately by trying to realign them out of one of the two bases (once I succeeded in removing them all, but that was very lucky). However, realigning with a disadvantage can go terribly wrong…
All of the listed US events are either highly situational (Puppet Governments, VoA), do not actually help in South America at all (Alliance for Progress) or compare very unfavorably to Destalinization (OAS) or even Allende (the Panama Canal gives one influence in South America, and not in a stable BG like Chile). Coupled with the ability to conduct battleground coups consistently I don’t see how this region does not tilt towards the Soviets
Because quantity. Puppet works if even one battleground is open. VoA opens them/kicks USSR out. Panama is 1 inf, OAS 2. Subs is probably the best entry point since it lets you make uncontested coups, although it’s used more on Africa than SA. But the point is, as US you have a BUNCH of cards which can help you and all are at least a little useful in almost any situation.
As USSR you have two, and allende is one of the easiest cards to undermine in the game (as US: play it when you have 3 influence in chile/2 in argentina, then realign post-event at +2). Destal is insanely powerful but is a natural space choice, and so the US player can essentially defuse all soviet entry points; the Soviet player not only has too many to deal with, but far more pressing concerns to space such as grain sales, ussuri, etc.
The US cards tend to help the US regardless of who plays it, and they WILL be played.
Destalinasation is crucial for the Soviet player to have it in early war. Assuming that only 3 influencee are spent in SA, you can attack him by denying him spare influence with Truman Doctrine. If the cards are in favour of the Soviet player there is little you can do about it. A stalemate is the best you can achieve in Mid War. Though with cards like Chernobyl, VoA and other cards you can take SA back. On the opposite, it is far easier for the US to keep the Soviet player out of SA or denying him domination.
If the USSR headlines junta, placing 2 influences in Uruguay, and then coup a battleground country to degrade DEFCON to DEFCON 2. USSR could place influence in both Brazil and Argentina. It will make USSR get South America Control easily.