Cultural Revolution

Cultural RevolutionCultural Revolution

1966 – 1977

While primarily representative of an internal power struggle within the People’s Republic of China, the Cultural Revolution had profound international implications. As Mao Zedong felt increasingly marginalized by moderates within the Chinese Communist party, he lashed out to restore ideological purity and train the next generation of revolutionaries. The resulting turmoil of purges, denunciations, and creation of the Red Guard brought China to the brink of civil war. It also made more pronounced, the rupture between China and the Soviet Union. However, the anarchy and isolationism that reigned made rapprochement between the United States and the PRC impossible. As the Nixon administration took office, the gulf between the two nations appeared wider than ever.

Time: Mid War
Side: USSR
Ops: 3
Removed after event: Yes


Of the three China Card events (Nixon Plays the China Card and Ussuri River Skirmish are the others), this one has the least useful “if you already have the China Card” effect.  1 VP for 3 Ops is pathetic and almost never worth the trade.

However, claiming the China Card face-up is much more lucrative: having the China Card helps protect you from DEFCON suicide and makes it much easier to manage your hand.  I will therefore often play this to claim the China Card if I can spare 3 Ops.  If I already hold the China Card, I usually just use Cultural Revolution for the Ops, but occasionally I’ll play the China Card first, and then take it back with Cultural Revolution.

If for some reason you know that the US is holding Cultural Revolution (say, on Turn 7), it’s nice to play the China Card, giving it to them face-down, and forcing them into a difficult decision (hold Cultural Revolution to next turn, space it, or play it and give back the China Card face-up).


By definition, the China Card is worth at least 2 VPs because whoever holds it at the end of the game gets 1 VP.  So there’s no reason to play this and just hand over the China Card, especially face-up.  If you draw this holding the China Card, you should always play the China Card first, then trigger it for a measly -1 VP.  And if you draw it while the USSR holds the China Card, try to play it as soon as possible, because the only time this card is really annoying is when you have the China Card face-down.

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4 Responses to Cultural Revolution

  1. ddddddd says:

    Good solid article. Thanks, Theory.

    I’d never considered the situation “If for some reason you know that the US is holding Cultural Revolution (say, on Turn 7)…etc”. What a satisfying moment that would be for the USSR. I’m just going to imagine it.


  2. Veikko says:

    How about if the USSR player has the China Card face down? If played as an event, it is just worth of 1VP, but the China card remains face down till the next turn. Quite annoying, huh.

  3. Vitaly says:

    Mao Zendong hated Khrushchev and Brezhnev governments, the Cultural Revolution is anti-revisionist. So, being pedantic, it is mistake to make this card Soviet.

    • Brad says:

      I think it benefits the USSR indirectly, mostly because it hurts the US more. As the text points out, US collaboration with China was basically impossible at this point, so in a zero sum game the USSR benefits indirectly from how much of an impasse Sino-US relations hit during the Cultural Revolution, more so than the impasse the USSR was facing with that country.

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