Star Wars

Star WarsStar Wars

1983 – ?

More properly known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, President Reagan announced this radical departure from the Cold War doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” in a live television speech to the American public. The initial concept for the “space shield” was developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory by Dr. Peter Hagelstein. Notionally, it would create a series of space based satellites powered by nuclear reactors that would create an impenetrable field to block Soviet ICBM’s. While scientifically sound on paper, the concept was never successfully engineered. Later iterations involved “smart pebbles” and missile based interceptors. SDI is frequently credited as one of the factors that convinced Gorbachev that the Soviet Union could not keep up the Cold War.

Time: Late War
Side: US
Ops: 2
Removed after event: Yes


The USSR doesn’t usually want to advance too far ahead on the Space Race track, but this is the best reason why it might want to keep ahead of the US.  If activated, then by definition, this is close to the worst possible US event for the USSR because it gives the US the choice of any event in the discard.  Even putting aside the DEFCON suicide cards, the possibilities are too many to list.  I have never seen a discard pile safe enough to play Star Wars as the USSR.

You can try to space something else first, so that the US is not ahead of you in the space race, allowing you to play Star Wars safely.  But if you fail, then you can’t send Star Wars to space, so it’s a big risk to take.

It goes without saying that if you are ahead on the Space Race, you should play this for Ops as soon as you can before the US overtakes you.


An astonishingly strong event, adaptable to just about any board situation.  If I’m holding it, then I keep it until I have a particularly strong event in the discard that I want to trigger.  Sometimes this means another event in my hand — being able to play East European Unrest or The Voice of America twice can be game-ending.

If the prerequisite isn’t met, however, I usually give up on the card quickly.  It is rare to overtake an opponent on the Space Race once they are more than a single box away (One Small Step being the main exception).

This entry was posted in Late War, US Events and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Star Wars

  1. Anonymous says:

    Couple questions about this card. If as thr US you headline it, can you use it to grab the Societ’s headline card (for example red scare/purge)? If so, can you only do so if their event has a higher ops value and is therefore triggered first?

    Also – more of a red scare/purge question I guess – if you headline RSP, can you then star wars to play it again and give the soviets -2 to all cards for the turn?

  2. Anonymous says:

    RSP/Star Wars for RSP/SALT/RSP/Bear Trap would be pretty hilarious, if impractical. If I had the cards to do it, I might, since it takes out 3 Soviet ARs, and his action rounds are at -1,-2,-2, and -3 ops.

  3. BamBix says:

    In theory, soviets could use this as HL in turn 7. If the USA has a 1 op headline or scoring card, star wars resolves without consequence, as the discard pile is empty! It’s still a risky gamble: if US plays a 2 op or higher, it occurs twice, which can be devastating. Still, if you know the opponents HL via space race, you could pull it off (but it’s unlikely that USA is ahead then).

    Similar if start of turn 7 US headlines a scoring card or removable event and USSR headlines a useful repeatable USSR event. As I read the card, if USSR then plays Star Wars in AR1, US is forced to repeat your event, since there is no other card in the pile.

    Am I interpreting the rules correctly? Either way, such occasions would be rare.

    • BamBix says:

      Ah, in my enthousiasm about finding loopholes I had forgotten about the ‘late war’ part. Still, it could be possible after a late war reshuffle 🙂

      • Alsadius says:

        You will occasionally see a turn 10 reshuffle in games where starred events get played aggressively, and events like Our Man in Tehran and Ask Not… churn a lot of cards. So you can do it on a turn like that successfully.

        (It’s also theoretically possible to delay the turn 7 reshuffle to turn 9, or to have the turn 10 reshuffle on turn 9 instead, but both of them require extremely unlikely combinations of events. Turn 10 for a third reshuffle of the deck is the only one that occurs often enough that you’ll ever see it.)

  4. Stephen says:

    i suppose it could also be a good strategy to discard how I learned to stop worrying, if your soviet may trigger. Pick it up, set the defcon to 1, insta-win, right?

  5. Ektorakos says:

    I don’t see in the guide above that SW may be played to revive War Games and end the game to The US player immediately

  6. Ektorakos says:

    to US player’s favor I meant

  7. I think the reason he hasn’t mentioned using Star warsto grab Wargames or How I learned to stop worrying to win the game is because the list of possible incredibly strong combinations and instant win cards is too long. If you mention Wargames then you’re obliged to include We Will Bury You, Duck and cover, CIA, Grain Sales, Soviets shoot down KAL-007… etc. which would all make you win by DEFCON suicide. As written in the article itself…

    “Even putting aside the DEFCON suicide cards, the possibilities are too many to list”

    • Anonymous says:

      Yesterday, I won a game as US by fishing Wargames from the discard pile. USSR should not let US advance too for in Space Race, or simply do not play Wargames as Operations.
      (The best use of Wargames for USSR is to space it if US is more than 6 VPs ahead)

  8. Anonymous says:

    What if there are nothing but Soviet events and scoring cards in the discard pile (unlikely, but not impossible; for example, it’s AR7, US headlines a starred event or scoring card, then a few Soviet cards got played in AR1 and AR2, then the USSR plays this in AR3)? If the Soviets play this card, is the USA required to select and trigger a USSR event?

  9. lambolt says:

    why doesnt the USSR normally want to be ahead on the Space Race, my wife is obsessed with mopping up the big VP slots on the space race when she plays and uses them to good effect.

  10. Felix says:

    Hey, I think it was asked before but not answered.
    What happens if there are only USSR events in the discard pile and the USSR plays Star Wars? Does the US player has to trigger an USSR event or can he just choose to choose none?

  11. spuddddddd says:

    OK, so I’m fairly sure I’m missing something here, but does the US player *have* to select and play a card from the discard pile?

    For example, if in Turn 7, Defcon is at 3, and USSR headlines We Will Bury You and US headlines Star Wars (and is ahead on the space race) then is the US player forced to play wwby from the discard pile? (thereby losing the game through defcon suicide) or is he allowed to opt not to choose/play any card.

    It’s a fringe example, which would never happen in reality (why would US headline Star Wars when there’s nothing in the discard?!) but still – any clarification welcomed!

  12. Patrick says:

    So if the event gets triggered and the USSR is ahead on the Space Race, the card is still removed from play right? Even though the event text suggests that the card is not played when the US is not ahead on the Space Race.

    • Krusti says:

      This question is addressed in game rules, section 5.2:

      “EXAMPLE 4: The USSR player plays ‘Star Wars’, but the US
      player is ahead on the Space Race track. The result is no effect
      and the ‘Star Wars’ card is returned to the discard pile.”

      At the beginning you would think that the event resolves with no effect (the rules say “if a card play triggers an opponent’s Event, but the event results
      in no effect, the Event is still considered played, and would
      still be removed if it has an asterisk”), but actually it’s this other rule that applies:

      “If a card play triggers an opponent’s Event, but that Event
      cannot occur because a prerequisite card has not been played,
      or a condition expressed in the Event has not been met, the
      Event does not occur. In this instance, cards with an asterisk
      Event (marked *) are returned to the discard pile, not removed
      from the game.”

      The key is this wording “or a condition expressed in the Event has not been met”.

  13. CLF_ZimbatheLion says:

    Soviets played it, and I was forced to pick Iranian Hostage Crisis*, without a chance to decline.

    This card should be able to pick from all discards, or it should be able to be declined by US, or it should have a red or red/blue star. It either malfunctions, having almost no cards to pick from, or it is a very evil card for the US. I almost never want to play it as headline as it usually has nothing to pick from.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be playing Star Wars very, very wrong to think it’s a red card. The reason why Stanislav Petrov and Wargames can’t be selected is because those Events can’t be played (Stanislav Petrov requires DEFCON 2, as does Wargames). It is annoying that technically you’re forced to select a potentially negative event (the card does not say may) but that can only happen immediately after a reshuffle. If you know your opponent has Star Wars, you should get a good US or neutral event into the discard so you can copy it. Usually the reshuffle happens on T7 and then you have your pick of Events anyways.

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