Lone Gunman

Lone GunmanLone Gunman


While campaigning in Dallas, Texas, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. Two commissions, the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, differed over whether or not Oswald acted alone. In any case, the circumstances of the President’s death threw the country into a panic and created ample opportunity for conspiracy theories ranging from the Mafia, the Cuban government, the KGB and America’s own CIA. It also marked the beginning of a string of high profile political assassinations in the United States that would include Dr. Martin Luther King and John Kennedy’s brother (and Democratic Presidential candidate) Robert Kennedy. These untimely deaths shook American confidence and added to the malaise of the Vietnam era.

Time: Mid War
Side: USSR
Ops: 1
Removed after event: Yes


I usually try to keep this in the deck, especially if I’m not doing well as the USSR.  But it does make for a decent headline, especially if you draw this on Turn 7 or later and there’s no way it would end up in the US hand anyway.

It’s always lovely when the US is forced to headline this event, especially since you can either use the 1 Op for influence or realignments, and then coup with a bigger card on AR1, or just coup with it in the headline to avoid NORAD.


Lone Gunman is in general the most painful DEFCON degrader in the game.  You can’t space it, like with We Will Bury You.  You can’t match it up with Containment, which should usually get triggered in the Early War.  It’s worse than its counterpart CIA Created because you’ll always have influence to target with it, and you can’t play it on AR1.

So unless you headline it, you’ll almost never get a chance to get rid of this DEFCON suicide card.  The general DEFCON article discusses in greater detail how to deal with cards like these, so I will just make a few particular notes:

One unusual way to escape Lone Gunman, if you can’t hold a card to next turn, is to Quagmire yourself on the second-to-last turn holding just Lone Gunman.  As you can’t discard Lone Gunman, you just skip your Action Round and get to hold it to next turn.  Obviously not ideal, but still preferable to DEFCON suicide.

I generally hold Lone Gunman turn to turn until I find some way to get rid of it.  The alternative is just to bite the bullet and headline it, but the problem, of course, is that Lone Gunman causes maximum hurt in the headline phase and can still lose you the game if the USSR headlines a DEFCON degrader.  (Usually the USSR doesn’t, though, since they intend to coup, but NORAD changes this dynamic somewhat.)

However, if you are forced to lose a card, via Blockade, Aldrich Ames Remix, or Terrorism, holding Lone Gunman basically loses you the game if you can’t raise DEFCON or play the China Card.  So if you are threatened by any of those and lack the China Card, you are basically forced to headline Lone Gunman rather than risk the loss.

Finally, never give up just because you realize you are stuck with Lone Gunman!  There is always the chance that the last USSR play will be Ask Not …

This entry was posted in Mid War, USSR Events and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Lone Gunman

  1. The card list page says that US reveal their hand for the whole turn, but that’s not how the text of the card reads… Unless there was an errata?

  2. Chris says:

    Fixed meaning…? I’m actually confused by this point too. CIA specifies that the USSR player reveal his hand for the turn; Lone Gunman makes no such explicit statement. Must the US player show his hand for the complete turn?

  3. badlyshavedmonkey says:

    I’m new to the game and still confused by a lot of the analysis.

    Why is this a DEFCON suicide card when it doesn’t directly mention DEFCON?


  4. Jack Storm says:

    I have this interesting combination, and here is my plan for playing them as the US. In my hand I have Nuclear Test Ban, We Will Bury You, UN Intervention, Lone Gunman.
    I will play NTB first to increase defcon to 4, then I will play WWBY, then pair UN Intervention with Lone Gunman.
    I can’t play UN Intervention with WWBY, because I would then have to play Lone Gunman (won’t have a hold card at the end of this turn).
    Spacing WWBY is the same as playing NTB for the event (ie. not using a 4point card for Ops)

    • theory says:

      True, but spacing WWBY may give you something on the Space Race, and doesn’t risk your opponent dropping DEFCON by two levels (e.g., using Duck & Cover for a coup or playing How I Learned …).

  5. Charon says:

    Quibble: You can never be forced to discard due to Blockade; the option of emptying West Germany always exists

  6. Pingback: Twilight Struggle: The Cold War Revisited – TabletopArt

  7. aitch88 says:

    No mention of Junta here, or on the DEFCON page? As US I just headlined Lone Gunman (having waited for him to cancel NORAD and then carefully gone through the list of possible DEFCON degraders) only for him to headline Junta, double coup me and win a game that I thought I’d sewn up.

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