Realignments are one of the most puzzling aspects of the game to a beginner. They are rarely the most effective use of your Ops, frustratingly DEFCON-restricted, and can never gain you influence in a target country.
In general, realignments only occur at DEFCON 2. In most cases, battleground coups are a more powerful method to alter a region in your favor. But once DEFCON drops to 2, you must search for other ways to attack your opponent’s battlegrounds. Realignments are one such method; they require some setup work, but can pay off handsome dividends.
First, this article will discuss some tactics involving realignment play. Then it will discuss the two kinds of realignments that are most effective: when your opponent can’t play back in, and when you are at a +1 or greater advantage. Finally, it will give some common examples.
Higher realignment bonuses are always better. But controlling cheap non-battlegrounds to boost your realignments often risks your opponent couping you back, gaining him the realignment modifier. It is therefore advantageous when you can control multiple non-battlegrounds at once, play multiple Actions in a row, or use an event like Junta to prevent this tit-for-tat response. Sometimes you don’t need to do this, especially when your opponent is preoccupied.
You can consult Ken Watson’s Realignment Probability Charts to determine just how much of a boost you need. Remember that you can always use a bigger card to make up for a worse realignment bonus.
I usually use a slightly bigger card than I need, because a wasted Action Round is often quite costly, and I might not get another good chance. This means that I try to set up multiple realignment possibilities at once, so that in case of unexpected success I can do something with the rest of my Ops.
Finally, you usually see realignments in 2-stability or higher battlegrounds. 1-stability battlegrounds are often easy to flip with direct influence placement or coups instead.
Types of Realignments
The first kind of realignment, and the best kind, is the realignment that eliminates your opponent’s access to the region. This tends to come up when someone has isolated influence with nothing next to it. When you eliminate all access to the region, you achieve two distinct goals: not only has your opponent lost the battleground, he has also lost any opportunity to put the influence back in. This means you are free, on your next turn, to play in influence and take over the country.
A common example is Fidel. The US can trigger Fidel, and then use the 2 Ops from the card to attempt two realignment rolls against Cuba, rolling at +0. There is a 34.88% chance of success: not great, but the payoff is significant. The USSR has no way of getting back in if their influence is eliminated.
Another example is South Africa. If the USSR controls Angola and then takes Botswana, they can often trap the US in South Africa and realign him out of the region.
The main reason this kind of realignment is so powerful is because your opponent can’t respond to it. There’s no tit-for-tat where you realign him out, and then he places back in, and then you have to realign him out again.
Occasionally, it is to your benefit to go for -1 realignments. This happens when your opponent gets into a region and no one has any influence around it (e.g. Puppet Governments or De-Stalinization). Although the odds are low, the payoff is big, so if you have a big 4 Ops card to spare, it can be a worthwhile use to stop him from locking up the region.
The second kind of realignment is when you have a +1 or greater advantage. Any time you are at +1, you should seriously consider realigning even if the opponent can put their influence back. If you have influence in the country, then you might realign them out and gain control automatically. If you don’t, then you should still be ahead Ops-wise, since you are on average removing one or more influence per Op, and you still maintain your advantage against their restored influence.
This is most common in Latin America, where you have a series of realignment possibilities stretching from Costa Rica-Panama-Colombia, to Colombia-Venezuela-Brazil, to Venezuela-Brazil-Uruguay, to Peru-Chile-Argentina.
Generally speaking, the realignment “hot spots” on the board are:
- A particularly popular target given that:
- The USSR often can’t restore their influence, since Fidel was their only inroad into the region
- The US starts out with uncoupable adjacency
- The nearby non-battlegrounds are cheap
- Cuba is especially valuable as a battleground, given that there are only 3 battlegrounds, and that it is worth double for the USSR
- You will therefore often see coups around Nicaragua and Haiti, popular targets for Puppet Governments.
- A particularly popular target given that:
- South Africa
- See Cuba, with sides switched. Usually this happens when the USSR gets into Angola with De-Stalinization, then takes Botswana and can kick the US out of the region entirely. Other than Colonial Rear Guards, there aren’t any other US events that can get them back into the subregion. This maneuver often means the difference between Africa Domination and Control for the USSR.
- South America as a whole is geographically designed for realignments, and is the region most likely to see realignments.
- This provides a way for you to get back battlegrounds you lost, or steal an extra battleground after you steal the first
- Colombia/Uruguay are two of the most important non-battlegrounds on the board because of these realignments
- Junta is especially powerful in this regard, and Che can help as well
- If whoever controls France doesn’t also control Algeria, this is a good way to attack the second-most-stable African battleground.
- The US can kick the USSR out if they got in with Liberation Theology. Similar to Cuba, though less common.
- Very rare, since DEFCON has to be at 5, but Italy/France/East Germany are all targets for realignments when DEFCON reaches 5. Usually it is the US with a massive advantage in these realignments. The SALT-ABM trick is one way for the US to get in some European realignments and alter the influence in the region. Otherwise your best bet is events, particularly Tear Down This Wall. The USSR can sometimes use a Comecon headline for a Turn 1 AR1 realignment in hopes of a knockout blow in Europe.