Pershing II Deployed

Pershing II DeployedPershing II Deployed

1984 – 1985

The Pershing II missile was designed as a direct counter to the Soviet Intermediate Range Missile, the SS-20. The deployment of 108 of these missiles in West Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom proved a major test for NATO’s resolve. Public protests against the deployments were massive. However, despite the strains, the weapons were deployed, providing NATO with a bargaining chip in the proposed Intermediate range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty discussions. These negotiations had been suspended in 1983, and the successful deployment of the Pershing II’s provided impetus for restarting the talks in 1985. Ultimately, the talks would succeed at the Reykjavik summit in Iceland in 1986.

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

As USSR

Like a much weaker Socialist Governments, except with a 1 VP bonus and not cancellable by The Iron Lady.  It is worth playing if the VP matters for Wargames or if the influence loss affects scoring.  A decent headline in the Late War.

As US

If your European countries are overcontrolled (and you have nothing to fear from the event), then it’s often worth losing a VP to have 3 Ops.  But if you’re just going to spend your Action Round repairing the damage done by the event, you may as well send this to space and save the VP.

Posted in Late War, USSR Events | Tagged | 1 Comment

Aldrich Ames Remix

Aldrich Ames RemixAldrich Ames Remix

1985 – 1994

The first known successful penetration of the CIA by the KGB, Aldrich Ames compromised hundreds of CIA operations and provided information that resulted in the execution of 10 US sources. The CIA spent years looking for another explanation for the leaks—in particular the possibility that the KGB had bugged CIA headquarters. Ames’ motivation was not ideological, and he and his wife enjoyed the extravagance that his $2.5 million in bribes provided. Ames first walked into the Soviet embassy in 1985. At that time, he oversaw the analysis of Soviet intelligence operations in Europe.

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

As USSR

A phenomenal headline.  In some ways it is even stronger than the original Aldrich Ames (see below): Aldrich Ames Remix still retains DEFCON win possibilities (it is usually an instant win if the US is holding Lone Gunman), and even if you don’t get to win by DEFCON, you do get to discard the best US event in their hand (ideally a scoring card) and see the US hand for the rest of the turn.  All in all, it makes Aldrich Ames Remix one of the best USSR headlines in the Late War, especially since it’s almost impossible to backfire or be mitigated.

As US

This is typically painless if you play it in your last action round, and in fact is probably a boon as you can use it to discard a strong USSR card (or even a bad scoring card), reminiscent of the USSR Five Year Plan trick.  It is not advisable to play Aldrich Ames Remix before your last action round.

Aldrich Ames Original

The original version of Aldrich Ames, included in pre-Deluxe Editions of the game, is a 4 Ops USSR starred event with the following text:

US player must display his/her hand. USSR player then orders the US player’s cards.  US player must play hand in that order.  US player may not play The China Card for the rest of this turn.

I don’t recommend playing with the original Aldrich Ames, the simplest reason being that it is hugely time-consuming as the USSR will likely spend quite a while planning out their turn to calculate the best possible order of the US cards.  It also cripples the US decision-making for that turn and is a generally unpleasant experience (especially if it ends the game).

Posted in Late War, USSR Events | Tagged | 23 Comments

“An Evil Empire”

An Evil Empire“An Evil Empire”

1983

First used by President Ronald Reagan before the National Association of Evangelicals, conservatives applied the term “evil empire” to the Soviet Union. This change in terminology encapsulated the conservative movement’s rejection of Nixon’s morally ambiguous policy of detente. The speech sparked controversy within the NATO alliance, as many European leaders found the speech unnecessarily provocative. Domestically, the left argued that the United States had no room to criticize Soviet actions during the Cold War, and pointed to CIA involvement in places like Chile. The speech gave further indication that the last phase of the Cold War would be a confrontational one.

Time: Late War
Side: US
Ops: 3
Removed after event: Yes

As USSR

Not much of a concern, since even in the Late War 3 Ops is probably better than 1 VP.  It’s best if played at the end of the turn, but if you can’t manage that it’s not a huge deal.  This event is only irritating in the sense that all of the US +1 VP cards tend to show up right as you’re trying to win by Wargames.

As US

Not a good event, unless you hold a lot of “war” cards and desperately need to cancel Flower Power, or if that 1 VP matters for Wargames / autovictory / The Reformer.

Posted in Late War, US Events | Tagged | Leave a comment

New to Twilight Struggle?

The Twilight Strategy blog will be on break for the holidays.  But if you or someone you know gets a copy of Twilight Struggle as a present, we’ve published some articles to help people getting into Twilight Struggle for the first time:

Happy holidays!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tear Down This Wall

Tear Down This WallTear Down This Wall

1987

In a speech that hearkened back to Kennedy’s address in front of the Berlin wall, Ronald Reagan challenged newly installed Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan, with the Brandenburg gate in the background, declared: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” While provocative, the speech leveled a difficult criticism at the Soviet Union. Successful countries do not have to wall their citizens in. Two short years later, the Berlin Wall would come down.

Time: Late War
Side: US
Ops: 3
Removed after event: Yes

As USSR

The USSR always sends Tear Down This Wall to space.  It is unplayable at DEFCON 2, but even at DEFCON 3 the event is too strong to trigger.

The two best ways to guard against Tear Down This Wall are Warsaw Pact Formed and East Germany overprotection.  This event is another reason to fight for Poland against John Paul II Elected Pope and Solidarity, since control of Poland defends against a realignment of East Germany.  It is also why Czechoslovakia is a common dumping ground for free USSR influence from Comecon or Warsaw Pact.

As US

The defining card of the US Late War Europe onslaught.  Tear Down This Wall all but guarantees the takeover of at least one European battleground and is a key factor behind most US Late War Europe Control victories.

You almost always want to realign, since only Italy among the battlegrounds has a low enough stability to consider couping, and even then it’s not coupable at DEFCON 2.  The most common realignment targets are France and East Germany: France you should have significant positive modifiers on, and East Germany is usually the last USSR battleground in Europe standing between you and Europe Control.

To maximize Tear Down This Wall’s effectiveness, try to hold it to combine with other European events like East European Unrest or Chernobyl.  In addition, try to prepare your realignment with better odds—if you plan to realign East Germany, you’ll want to take over Poland and Czechoslovakia before doing so, lest you just realign away your own influence.

Rules clarification: the “free coup” only signifies that you are permitted to coup in Europe even if DEFCON is lower than 5.  It still degrades DEFCON if you coup a battleground.

Posted in Late War, US Events | Tagged | 1 Comment

Latin American Debt Crisis

Latin American Debt CrisisLatin American Debt Crisis

1982 – 1989

A ripple effect from the rise of Middle Eastern oil, Latin American governments experienced phenomenal growth from the 1950’s into the 1970’s. However, this came to an abrupt halt. Unfortunately, even with impressive economic growth, Latin American countries like Brazil and Ecuador continued to rack up external debt. Given the new found global capital from petrodollars, Latin American governments found willing lenders. External debt in Latin America rose 1,000% from 1970 to 1980. When a global recession sparked by the Iranian oil crisis buffeted world economies, most Latin American governments simply could not keep up. Eventually, these governments would have to commit to significant restructuring of their economies to reduce their debt.

Time: Late War
Side: USSR
Ops: 2
Removed after event: No

As USSR

A bit of a weird event.  It’s not nearly as good as an event that requires the US to discard a card (e.g., Aldrich Ames Remix), because the US will only discard to Latin American Debt Crisis if it doesn’t lead to DEFCON suicide.

LADC tends to get better as more influence is added to countries — for example, it’s clearly a lot better if Brazil is 6/4 rather than 3/1.  But it’s rare to see South American countries with that much influence from both sides.  If they are, then this event can be an easy way to put some pressure on the US if you don’t have many other options.  If they aren’t (i.e., LADC doesn’t pose a threat to the US position), then don’t bother with the event.

As US

You can usually find a time to play this event where it doesn’t have much effect.  (“Oh darn, Chile is now 0/10 instead of 0/5.”)  It’s still annoying even when applied to a USSR-controlled battleground, since it eliminates any possibility of temporarily breaking control, so it’s worth a trip to space, just at very low priority.

Of course, you can also use this to voluntarily discard a bad USSR card.  Ordinarily you don’t want to cut your hand size, but if you’ve already spaced something else this turn and don’t want to hold a card to next turn, this can be a good way to deal with Muslim Revolution, OPEC, etc.

Posted in Late War, USSR Events | Tagged | 1 Comment

Chernobyl

ChernobylChernobyl

1986

The Chernobyl accident was the worst disaster in the history of nuclear power. Radioactive debris spread in a massive cloud that stretched throughout Western Europe, and ultimately reached the eastern seaboard of the United States. 200,000 had to be relocated from badly contaminated regions of Soviet controlled Ukraine and Belarus. It is estimated that as many as 4,000 people may die from the deadly exposure they received that day. Chernobyl displayed the kind of staggering incompetence that came to reflect Soviet bureaucratic decision-making towards the close of the Cold War.

Time: Late War
Side: US
Ops: 3
Removed after event: Yes

As USSR

Not a particularly fearsome event if you draw it, since playing it on the last Action Round is no big deal (though remember to announce that your Operations go before the event!).

Chernobyl is one reason to overprotect your European assets a bit more.  If you only control East Germany and Poland at 0/3, then it costs the US 14 Ops to take them over and win with Europe Control (and this is without considering events like East European Unrest or Tear Down This Wall).  But if you have been diligent in using your free eastern Europe influence from US-triggered plays of Comecon and Warsaw Pact Formed to double- or triple-overprotect East Germany/Poland, then you are effectively immune to a Chernobyl assault on Europe.  (Of course, holding Warsaw Pact is an even better defense against US intrusion into eastern Europe.)

If the US headlines Chernobyl, the response is similar to the response to Nuclear Subs — you try to distract them with threats elsewhere, such that the US is never able to take advantage of the Chernobyl ban.

As US

Chernobyl works best as a headline.  Most players tend to headline it immediately and go gung-ho for Europe, but I think this is in error.  The USSR almost always overprotects East Germany/Poland, meaning you might not have enough Ops to take them over.  So unless those battlegrounds are weakened, or if you have strong Europe events to help you, you’re unlikely to land that knockout blow (especially considering potential USSR events like The Reformer and Warsaw Pact Formed).

I think Chernobyl is most effective when you line it up with any scoring card.  If you can combine it with Asia Scoring and make use of Chernobyl’s prohibition to swing Domination from one side to the other, then Chernobyl is effectively a 8+VP swing for 3 Ops plus whatever board position you lost elsewhere by focusing on Asia.  (Assuming, of course, that the USSR lacks events that affect that region.)  This is much more feasible and less costly than trying to go for instant wins in Europe.

Of course, if you do draw Chernobyl with the right events, then by all means use it for the Europe win.  I usually hold it from turn to turn, trying to line it up with either a European opportunity, good Europe events, or a high-value scoring card.  Just be mindful that while you focus on the Chernobyl-blocked region you don’t lose too much board position elsewhere.  This is especially true for Europe — it’s not uncommon to see people losing while controlling Europe, because they’ve sacrificed so much of the rest of the world that they lose to autovictory before Europe was scored.

Rules clarifications: the prohibition applies only to “the play of Operations points to place influence”.  Coups, realignments, and events like The Reformer are unaffected.

Posted in Late War, US Events | Tagged | 6 Comments

Iran-Contra Scandal

Iran-Contra ScandalIran-Contra Scandal

1985

In an effort to secure the release of US hostages in Lebanon, the Reagan administration undertook secret negotiations with Iran involving “arms for hostages.” This was in violation of the stated US policy of never negotiating with terrorists. Compounding this difficulty was the fact that the proceeds from weapons sales to Iran were used to covertly fund the Contra guerillas in Nicaragua. This was in contravention of stated Administration policy, as well as laws adopted by the Democrat-controlled Congress. Colonel Oliver North and Admiral John Poindexter both were criminally indicted for the scandal, though the Congressional report concluded that President Reagan bore ultimate responsibility for the scandal.

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

As USSR

Along with Che, Iran-Contra Scandal is one of the most underrated events in the game.  The reason it is so powerful (compared to Latin American Death Squads) is that the modifier applies to all US realignment rolls, including their rolls on your realignments.  So it’s not a speculative event: you headline it and then go nuts realigning the US in the Mid War regions.  Suddenly, now that even rolls are favorable, it is a lot easier to find good realignment targets.  No need to hold onto both Colombia and Brazil to realign Venezuela any more; just one of the two will suffice.

As US

Play it on your last Action Round, though you can sometimes get away with playing it merely very late if the USSR doesn’t have time to set up a realignment.

Posted in Late War, USSR Events | Tagged | 11 Comments

Terrorism

TerrorismTerrorism

1949 – ?

While a threat as old as human civilization, the use of terrorism as an instrument to change international policy ebbed and flowed throughout the Cold War. The Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies were known to train terrorist organizations within their borders, including radical elements of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). In many ways, the PLO provided the archetype for a terrorist organization throughout the Cold War. With its anti-Western, anti-Israel ideology, it became a cause celebre for those asserting that the West was on a neo-imperialist crusade in the third world. Palestinian terrorists hijacked planes, attacked the Achille Lauro, and perhaps most infamously murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. There were also western based, communist affiliated terrorists such as the Red Brigades in Italy, and the Red Army in Japan. As the Cold War came to a close, and the Soviet Union faced increasing difficulty with Muslim fundamentalism, its support for terrorism waned.

Time: Mid War
Side: Neutral
Ops: 2
Removed after event: No

A fine little event.  At this stage of the game, 2 Ops is not a big deal compared to the possibility of an instant win (by forcing your opponent to now play a card he had planned to hold to next turn).  It is especially strong if your opponent does not have the China Card.

Of course, you might hit a card you wish your opponent had held onto, but on balance, discarding cards from your opponent’s hand is a good thing.  You could compromise and at least be careful about playing Terrorism when your opponent could have a scoring card favorable to you.

Terrorism works best when you combine it with other hand-reducers like Five Year Plan, Grain Sales to Soviets, or Aldrich Ames Remix.  Losing two cards is much more painful than losing one, since you can no longer hold a card even if you have the China Card, and moreover, you might have to skip your AR7 for lack of cards.  Accordingly, as USSR, this is an outstanding event if Iranian Hostage Crisis has been played, one I almost always trigger.

I tend to play this relatively early in the turn (often on the headline), before my opponent has gone to the Space Race, thus minimizing the chance that I force my opponent to discard a card he was going to hold or Space anyway.  Terrorism can also be good as your last play if you suspect that the other side is up to something (especially against the US on Turn 10).

Holding the China Card and playing SALT Negotiations are both decent counters to Terrorism by restoring your hand size.

Posted in Late War, Neutral Events | Tagged | 7 Comments

Ortega Elected in Nicaragua

Ortega Elected in NicaraguaOrtega Elected in Nicaragua

1985 – 1990

A political dissident since age 16, Daniel Ortega Saavedra spent time in a Managua prison. Upon his release, he fled to Cuba and established relationships which would be vital for the Sandinista movement. When the Sandinistas ousted the Somoza regime, Ortega maneuvered himself into the de facto presidency. Ortega’s close ties to the Castro regime in turn prompted US support for the Contra rebels. Operating out of Northern Nicaragua and drawing support from agricultural interests that had been collectivized, the Contras were to prove a major hurdle to the success of Sandinista governance. Ultimately, economic stagnation would prove the undoing of Ortega’s government.

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

As USSR

An unattractive event, since the influence is removed from a rather unimportant country, and your choices for the coup are the three most stable countries in the region (and you don’t even get Mil Ops for it).  Maybe you can headline it and coup Cuba to drop DEFCON in the headline or protect Cuba from realignments.  And it’s kind of funny to wipe out a lot of US influence from Nicaragua if they over-couped it and had it at 6/0 or something.  But I haven’t ever seen it played for the event by the USSR.

As US

Everyone knows about Lone Gunman, but Ortega is the hipster’s DEFCON suicide card.  If you have any influence in Cuba, then Ortega is unplayable at DEFCON 2.

If you don’t have influence in Cuba, then Ortega is not much of a concern.  The USSR usually gets a coup against 3-stability Costa Rica with a 2 Ops card, Nicaragua gets emptied, and I can just play back into Nicaragua if I really care about it (which I probably don’t).

Posted in Late War, USSR Events | Tagged | 2 Comments