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
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).