How I Learned to Stop Worrying

How I Learned to Stop WorryingHow I Learned to Stop Worrying


As the reality of nuclear holocaust became accepted by the public, fatalism about its inevitability also took hold. The landmark black comedy, Dr. Strangelove, captured this new mood. However, such attitudes are hardly unique. Similar fatalism about mankind’s ultimate destiny can be found throughout literature of the time and sparked a whole sub-genre of science fiction, the post-nuclear-holocaust dime novel filled with atomic mutants and vague remnants of contemporary civilization. Ironically, the pessimism that is reflected in these works may have aided the possibility of nuclear war by making such an act “thinkable.”

Time: Mid War
Side: Neutral
Ops: 2
Removed after event: Yes

A straightforward way to manipulate DEFCON, so it works in all the situations you’d expect: DEFCON-suicide cards, situations where your opponent can’t coup due to Quagmire/Bear Trap or Cuban Missile Crisis, etc.

Like other DEFCON degraders, it’s also useful as a headline trap, since if your opponent’s headline degrades DEFCON and is subsequent to yours, you instantly win.  (One advantage HILTSW holds over headlining other DEFCON degraders is that it can’t backfire if your opponent also tries to lower DEFCON in the headline.)

The Mil Ops is what really sets this card apart: it means you can headline it to prevent battleground coups, but also earn your Mil Ops VPs at the end of the turn.  In addition, it gives the US a little trick on the last Action Round: use How I Learned to Stop Worrying to set DEFCON to 5, meaning instead of losing 2 VP to Mil Ops requirements, you can force the USSR to lose up to 3 VP to Mil Ops.

So, like most Mid War cards, this one tilts slightly to the US, who often needs both DEFCON at 2 and Mil Ops more than the USSR does.  But the USSR can get good value out of it as a DEFCON raiser: if they headline the card, they might be able to raise DEFCON to 4 or 5 and be able to coup Asia / realign Europe on AR1.

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17 Responses to How I Learned to Stop Worrying

  1. Derry Crymble says:

    Its possible for the USA to get 5 VP our of this card, if Defcon was degraded with another card and the USSR did not get any MIL ops.

  2. pietshaq says:

    I once used this card in a combo that succeeded quite nice 🙂

    I was USA. I played it in AR6, raised DEFCON to 5. My opponent couped somewhere in Asia (he did not have any valuable European targets anyway), lowering DEFCON to 4 on his AR7. Then I Bear-Trapped him on my AR7. The tour was over, DEFCON raised to 5, which was my idee fixe. Fortunately for me he drew no DEFCON degraders to headline so his headline did not do any harm for me, and I headlined Red Scare/Purge to make it more difficult for him to get out of Bear 🙂

    Anyway, this made me sure to be able not only to coup in Europe, but also to control situation due to the Bear Trap. Since my opponent did not get out of trap in AR1, i realigned some Europe, waiting with the coup for the next round 🙂

    A possibility of such combo is rare but when I got the chance I was proud that I found the opportunity. In fact, seeing Bear Trap, HILTSW and Red Scare/Purge in my hand I’ve already planned to end tour this way if nothing happens 🙂

    • ddddddd says:

      Nice use – thanks for sharing! I’d never thought of that before.

      In our games, this card always seems to be needed for Ops, which is a shame as the action can be quite powerful.

  3. Dan says:

    Great tip on using this to make your opponent lose all those points on mil ops by setting DEFCON to 5. I finally was able to use this to win a game the last time around. I was US and had taken a dominating lead in the mid war (largely due to S. America control and dominating Asia, which fortunately was scored 3 times). Created a crisis for the USSR on the previous AR7, so he had to use AR1 to play influence and save a Europe from domination. I got the only battleground coup, and I applied so much pressure that h e never had time to do a non-battleground coup, which would have gotten the mil ops but accomplished nothing else. On my AR7 I use this card to set DEFCON to 5 and I gain 5 points for the auto win. First time I was ever able to pull this off.

    But I will always note for next time that if this card is in the deck, I must be extra carefull to get at least some mil ops so as not to lose all 5 points (now that my regular opponent knows this trick).

  4. jerseymilk says:

    Used this in a game in combination with Cuban Missile Crisis to great effect, but maybe I got lucky. As the Soviets I played CMC on AR1 and then undertook no coups and thus acquired no military ops points for the rest of the turn. My opponent figured there was no real need to break the crisis, and we both just placed influence, played cards for events, spaced things, and so on. It sort of felt like a breather. Then on AR7 I played HILTSW, set defcon to 5, scored 5 VP (he had no Ops left to coup me), and then couped Italy on AR1 of the next turn. Devastating. Granted, he’ll be more careful next time, but CMC in combination with HILTSW seems to have some potential, especially if you are the States and Soviets have no influence in Cuba.

    • It certainly a great way to get VP’s but you can’t stop your opponent from couping non battlegrounds or playing war cards so you may not get the full 5, you may get none in fact, especially if he knows HILTSW is in the deck and goes out of his way to get Mil Ops. If the VP’s are that important to you sure but otherwise I would see it as a better use of the cards by playing Cuban Missile Crisis followed quickly by HILSTW and then get 3 battleground coups in key areas, 2 in Asia is especially nice, plus you may still get some VP’s at the end.

  5. tensor says:

    I used Cuban Missile Crisis and How I Learned to Stop Worrying to win a game via Control of Europe.

    It was Turn 4 or 5. I hadn’t seen Europe Scoring for awhile, so I figured he had it. I played Cuban Missile Crisis as the USSR Headline Event, dropping DEFCON to 2, and forbidding him from any coup attempts. On AR1, I learned to stop worrying by yanking DEFCON to 5. I then Re-aligned my way to Control of Europe (with help from De Gaulle). Since he and I were both relatively inexperienced players, he didn’t fully appreciate the danger, even though he did indeed have the European Scoring card. Refusing to end the Cuban Missile Crisis by giving up Influence in West Germany, he watched me Realign him out of there instead. By the time he played European Scoring, I had Control.

    If no one else has yet invented a term for this combination of Cuban Missile Crisis and How I Learned to Stop Worrying, could we call it “DEFCON Lock”?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I was similarly undone, Defcon 5 realignment of Europe, but it was this card, followed by US Nuclear Subs, which meant I couldn’t coup to raise the Defcon level, and the USSR kept re-aligning the whole turn, taking control of Europe and winning the game.

  7. Michael says:

    If it’s not got rid of permanently by the Late War, it can be a hidden trap for the Soviet player: if he plays Star Wars while the US is ahead in the space race and can thus use the event, the US player can snag this card from the discard pile and start a nuclear war on the USSR’s phase. This occurred in at least one game I played; the USSR player had simply forgot the card was in the discard pile.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just played a game as USA where I was up 12VP, played HILTSW on my last AR, set it to defcon 5 for 5 VP, and then played Nuclear Test Ban for the event as my headline, which at defcon 5 was worth 3 VP, and won. My oppoonent also played a score card that would cost me victory points in the headline, but at 4 ops, the soviets can’t do anything about it. This seems to be another one of those “nothing you can do about it” combos, like ABM for SALT.

    In my situation i was lucky my opponent had no military ops and was able to get a total of 8 VP out if it, but at a minimum if you draw both cards, know that you can guarantee yourself at least 3 VP at the next headline with this combo (useful for wargames defense and autovictory at 17+).

  9. ManuelNeuerFan1 says:

    As US, I catched USSR in Headline with this card. I set DEFCON to 2 and boycotted their Olympic Games…

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