1964 – 1975
It is hard to put a precise date on when US involvement in Vietnam ceased to be support for an anti-communist counter-insurgency and became instead an inextricable quagmire. However, Congressional passage of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution seems like as good a point as any. With hindsight, it is clear that the United States confused the very nature of the conflict that they were fighting. Vietnam was fundamentally a war of national liberation—a struggle that had begun centuries before against Chinese dominance, then French, then Japanese and finally the United States. While the American government may have never realized that they had fallen into the role of “foreign oppressor,” that fact did not diminish Vietnamese resistance. Like most colonial wars, it came down to a calculus of cost. US interests were simply not worth the costs in national morale, military manpower and economic resources that Vietnam was consuming. But humbling a superpower is a long process, and so it was in Vietnam.
Time: Mid War
Removed after event: Yes
Quagmire has three main uses. The first, and most direct, is that it cancels NORAD. (It doesn’t actually prevent NORAD, so NORAD can still theoretically be triggered after Quagmire.) If relevant, this is usually enough of a benefit for me to play it for the event.
The second is to hope that the US rolls really poorly and gets stuck in the Quagmire for an extended period of time. If they fail their rolls, you get to conduct back-to-back Actions, one of the Holy Grails of Twilight Struggle. The benefit of consecutive Actions is almost always immense: it can let you flip a battleground, get into an otherwise inaccessible region, set up a vital realignment, score a region undeservedly advantageously by temporarily breaking control, or a whole host of other possibilities.
Of course, the odds are against you. If you play Quagmire and they successfully discard and roll, then nothing has really been accomplished, except you gave up a nice USSR event and probably so did they.
The real point of this second use is when you can tilt the odds towards you with Red Scare/Purge. Timed correctly, you can deprive your opponent of many Action Rounds in a row, and as a bonus, strand them with low Ops cards that they must hold in hand for next round. For example, if you headline Red Scare/Purge, and then spring Quagmire halfway through the turn, they might have no 3+ Ops events left. In that case, not only can they not discard to Quagmire and be forced to skip a whole bunch of Actions (allowing you carte blanche to take over the world), those low Ops cards stay in their hand through next turn as well. (If you are really lucky or sadistic, you can use SALT Negotiations or the luck of the reshuffle to grab another copy of Red Scare/Purge to do it all over again next turn …)
The third main use is to time Quagmire so as to force the US to skip a crucial round. For example, you can play it as an AR7 play, to deny the US their own AR7 play. Or you can headline it, causing the US to miss their AR1 and allowing you a back-to-back AR1 and AR2. It is especially nice on Turn 10, because missing out on the Turn 10 AR7 play will usually come as a nasty surprise to the US.
Accordingly, I usually trigger Quagmire as USSR. The main exception is if the US is under Containment for some reason, or if NORAD isn’t out and I desperately need the Ops. But I will often hold it for a turn or two and hope to draw it with Red Scare/Purge, because that combo can be game-warpingly powerful.
I almost always space Quagmire. Note the crucial difference between Quagmiring yourself and being Quagmired: when the USSR Quagmires you, you usually just get out on the first discard, and nothing of value was lost. But when you Quagmire yourself, you guarantee the USSR at least one set of back-to-back Actions, and possibly more. (Note also that when you Quagmire yourself, the USSR gets to know in advance when you will be emerging from the Quagmire.) There are simply too many things a strong USSR can do to you with a set of back-to-back Actions to risk self-Quagmiring, and cancelling NORAD only adds further fuel to the fire.
There are exceptions however. Sometimes you have too many problematic USSR events in hand and the Quagmire discard is the only way to escape. Rare is the hand, though, that genuinely calls for a self-Quagmire. A better instance is when your last two cards are Lone Gunman and Quagmire and you can’t hold a card; here, Quagmiring yourself is the only way to avoid DEFCON suicide, because by skipping your Action Round with nothing to discard, you are “holding” Lone Gunman to next turn.