Regions: Central America

Central America ScoringCentral America Scoring

Central America and the Caribbean were frequently termed America’s “backyard” and “lake.” With the advent of Fidel Castro in the 1959, Americans could no longer take the region for granted. The US reaction to communist influence in the area provoked direct US military intervention in the Dominican Republic (1965) and Grenada (1983). In the closing years of the Cold War, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, became frontline states in the struggle between the superpowers.

Time: Mid War
Battlegrounds: 3
Countries: 10

General Considerations

If I had to pick one region to ignore, I’d probably pick Central America.  Not that it isn’t important, but by definition, one of the regions has to be the least important, and that region is usually Central America.  Domination is a measly 2VP bonus, meaning that Dominations usually score at +3VP for the US, and it’s very difficult to hold onto Domination because almost all the non-battlegrounds are so volatile and low-stability.

On the other hand, the region’s main role in the game is a point source for the USSR.  In general, the USSR is going to benefit a lot more from Central America scoring because Mexico/Cuba essentially score double.  And although the US theoretically has easier access to those battlegrounds, Fidel in practice often sews up Cuba for the USSR, and an early game coup of Panama can leave the Gulf of Mexico feeling very communist indeed.

Central America does offer the potential for one of the easiest Dominations in the game.  As US, a fortified Panama with control of Costa Rica can easily keep the USSR out of the region and allow an easy +4VP.  More commonly, both sides get into the region, and one country will control two battlegrounds, while the other tries to take a lot of non-battlegrounds to stop Domination.

The USSR often ends up with difficulty getting out of Cuba; without a coup or Liberation Theology, they don’t really have a shot at Panama or Mexico from Cuba.  In addition, Cuba and Mexico are extremely vulnerable to US realignment, made all the more volatile by their adjacent 1-stability realignment-modifying non-battlegrounds.

Early War

The USSR has Fidel, which is a pretty easy route into Cuba.  Although theoretically De-Stalinization could place influence here, it is not worth it: Panama is more easily couped, Mexico is easily realigned, and Cuba is likely yours anyway.

The US rarely plays here in the Early War.  Once in a while you might shore up Panama, or add an influence into Costa Rica, but otherwise that’s that.

Mid War

The primary USSR event here is Liberation Theology.  This is like Decolonization for Central America, in a way, and it is often a lifesaver because the USSR has a difficult time moving out of Cuba and into Panama or Mexico without a coup.  Che ostensibly provides some support for the region, but the USSR’s chances are really somewhat defined by their coup success and Liberation Theology.

The US does not really need events for Central America: their Mid War events (OAS Founded, Nuclear Subs, and The Voice of America) are often better used in other regions.  The main exceptions are Panama Canal Returned, though even that is most useful for getting into Venezuela; Puppet Governments, which if it comes out late enough is probably best used to just grab a whole bunch of Central American non-battlegrounds; and Alliance for Progress, the “US OPEC” which just gets better and better as the game goes on.

Likewise, the neutral events are often too valuable to be used in Central America, but Junta, ABM Treaty, and Brush War can all flip a country very easily.  Junta in particular can be used for some brutal realignments by either side.

Latin American Death Squads is theoretically most helpful here, because a Domination fight often ends up turning on who controls more non-battlegrounds, as both sides coup the 1-stability non-battlegrounds back and forth.

Late War

The only events of note here are Yuri and Samantha, which accomplishes much the same thing that Latin American Death Squads did in the Mid War, and Ortega Elected in Nicaragua, which is a pretty lousy event but a DEFCON-suicide card for the US if the US has influence in Cuba.

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3 Responses to Regions: Central America

  1. Zachary Zhang says:

    Great post, mostly agreed. However I do feel there is one other often ignored card that is relevant to this region and should be addressed a little bit here(or maybe in the Fidel Card section) : Cuban Missile Crisis. Soviet’s influence in Cuba not only matters in Central America Scoring but also affects the gameplay of probably a whole turn. A US Cuban Missile Crisis headline where Soviet has no influence in Cuba in some circumstances can be very annoying. For instance, it would allow US to get rid of Lone Gunman and Che easily; it costs the Soviets 2vp if it doesn’t have other military-operation generating cards (5vp if US also has How I learned to Stop Worrying).

  2. Geoff Allbutt says:

    I’m starting to think this region is under-rated. However, the key missing element is to try to establish control, and not domination.

    For the USA, control is worth 8 VPs
    For the USSR, control is worth 10 VPs, which is just as much as South America, and it only takes 3 BGs to achieve it (one less than South America), and you’re normally given Cuba.

    I would submit that the coup’ing in the 1 stability nBG countries, is mostly about positioning for re-alignment, to either protect, or surpress BGs to establish control for yourself, or deny control to the enemy.

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