Soviets Shoot Down KAL-007

Soviets Shoot Down KAL-007Soviets Shoot Down KAL-007

1983

Flying from New York City, to Seoul, South Korea, the doomed Korean Airlines Flight 007 strayed into Soviet Airspace due to a navigational error involving the plane’s autopilot system. While the Soviets contemporaneously claimed that they did not know that plane was civilian, tape releases after the Cold War indicate that little if any warning was given to the airliner. The Reagan administration rallied global reaction against the Soviets—even playing decoded messages before the UN Security Council. 269 passengers and crew were killed during the attack, including one member of Congress.

Time: Late War
Side: US
Ops: 4
Removed after event: Yes

As USSR

Unplayable at DEFCON 2, obviously, so the USSR typically sends this to space.  Even at DEFCON 3, it’s not such a good idea to give the US 2 VPs in the Late War.  But if you must play it, either because you desperately need Ops or have another DEFCON degrader in hand, the South Korea condition is easily dealt with by first playing some influence into South Korea (and breaking US control) before triggering the event.

As US

An extremely strong headline, Soviets Shoot Down KAL-007 accomplishes several things at once.  It:

  • Reduces DEFCON in headline, denying the USSR an AR1 coup
  • Provides the chance at an instant win by DEFCON suicide if the USSR drops DEFCON in headline
  • Gives 2 VPs
  • Allows you to conduct Operations during the headline phase

Even if you don’t control South Korea, the 2 VPs and DEFCON degradation makes it a decent headline in the Late War.

Soviets Shoot Down KAL-007 also makes both Five Year Plan and Missile Envy slightly more dangerous to play in the Late War at DEFCON 2.

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

Marine Barracks Bombing

Marine Barracks BombingMarine Barracks Bombing

1983

After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the United States and France dispatched troops to form a peace keeping force between the opposing sides. Terrorist attacks on the troop barracks of both nations resulted in terrible losses. 241 US servicemen and 58 French paratroopers were killed in the attacks. It was the worst single day of casualties suffered by the US Marine Corps since Iwo Jima. While US suspicions have focused on Iranian sponsored Hezbollah terrorists, precise responsibility remains unknown.

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

As USSR

You might see this as a headline (sometimes followed by an AR1 Middle East Scoring). But unless it throws the US out of the region entirely, it is otherwise not a particularly good event, since the 2-3 influence is easily replaced.

As US

Generally not much of a problem, since you replace the two influence lost with the two Ops of the card and give up on Lebanon temporarily. It is only really annoying when Middle East Scoring is getting ready to be played, and the loss of Lebanon, even for a single Action Round, becomes meaningful.

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The Reformer

The ReformerThe Reformer

1985 — 1991

Successor to the short-lived premiership of Konstantin Chernenko, Mikhail Gorbachev was the only Soviet leader to be born after the Russian Revolution of 1917. His experience within the Politburo gave him broad exposure to the West which profoundly affected his thinking about the USSR’s future. “Gorby,” as he would be known in the West, inspired a sort of fan following. Margaret Thatcher famously remarked on his coming to power “I like Mr. Gorbachev—we can do business together.” Ultimately, Gorbachev would oversee the dismantling of the Soviet bloc. While his reformist agenda, including Perestroika (economic reform) and Glasnost (political freedom) made him extremely popular in the West, it made him less so in the Soviet Union. Ultimately, Gorbachev would be removed from office as the result of a reactionary military coup in 1991. In the wake of its failure, the Russian Federation would turn to a newly minted hero, Boris Yeltsin.

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

As USSR

An outstanding event.  The standard effect is very strong (like Ussuri River Skirmish), and the enhanced effect is irreparable in a single Action Round.

The Reformer can be used either on offense, defense, or both.  It defends against the US Late War incursion into Eastern Europe, and it can place a significant amount of influence into the Western European battlegrounds.  West Germany is probably too difficult to flip because of its stability, but Italy and France are both vulnerable.  Plus, you can dump extra influence into US non-battlegrounds and break/gain Domination (and in the case of Canada, pause NORAD).

That being said, do not hold this too long waiting for that negative VP score, as otherwise the US might draw and be able to play Glasnost as a -2VP ABM Treaty.

As US

Send Mr. Gorbachev to space, every time.  Improving Glasnost is very bad for you, and adding 4-6 influence with only 3 Ops to counter is problematic as well.

Posted in Late War, USSR Events | Tagged | 3 Comments

North Sea Oil

North Sea OilNorth Sea Oil

1980

While the first oil discoveries in the North Sea occurred in the 1960’s, it would take the Iranian oil crisis to make the exploitation of North Sea oil economically viable. The North Sea contains the majority of Europe’s oil reserves and has become one of the leading non-OPEC producing regions in the world. Shared between the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Norway, the North Sea fields provided a welcome release from the death grip in which OPEC had hitherto held Western Europe.

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

As USSR

I try to save North Sea Oil for the end of the Turn, to reduce the time the US has to prepare for an AR8.  It’s not generally worth sending to space, except on Turn 10, where an AR8 is especially uncomfortable.

The event is a lot less threatening when the US does not have the China Card and you’re able to use Aldrich Ames Remix and/or Terrorism to cut the US hand size.

As US

North Sea Oil probably makes most sense as a headline, but in a pinch you could play it during the turn.  The point is to give up one of your regular Action Rounds (or headline) and 3 Ops in exchange for two consecutive Action Rounds at the end of the turn, which can be used for all kinds of nefarious purposes.  The OPEC block is just a nice bonus.

It is naturally most effective on Turn 10.  It also tends to be better when you have the China Card or SALT Negotiations, both of which would allow you to hold an extra card so you don’t have to play every card in your hand.

In the Late War, I try (if reasonable) to not hold a problematic card and space it earlier in the turn instead.  This allows me to take advantage of a USSR AR7 play of North Sea Oil.  (Reminiscent of the US approach to a possible USSR Containment in the Early War.)

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

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

As USSR

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.

As US

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).

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

Reagan Bombs Libya

Reagan Bombs Libya

1986

After the fall of Nasser, a petro-dollar empowered strongman, Muamar Qaddafi, sought Libya’s day in the sun as leader of the Arab world. To prove his bona-fides Qaddafi became the leading source for state supported terrorism against the west. As Iran provided a new model for antiwestern resistance, Qaddafi took on an increasingly religious piety in his defamations of the West. Following earlier show-downs involving the Gulf of Sidra, the United States took swift retribution for Libya’s apparent involvement in a West German discotheque bombing that killed an American serviceman. Targeting was heavily focused on killing Qaddafi, and his personal residences were targeted. While he escaped death, Qaddafi’s international prestige was much tarnished.

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

As USSR

An uninteresting event.  Usually it’s 2 Ops vs 1 VP, and usually that means the 2 Ops are more helpful (especially as you surely have more pressing US events to space).  Wargames and Final Scoring should factor into this generally straightforward decision.

As US

In some cute instances you can put a little more influence into Libya, boosting it to 2/2 and prompting the USSR to respond to 2/4, pushing this up to 2 VP.  But on the whole it’s not a particularly interesting event: sometimes you’ll want 2 Ops, and sometimes you just want 1 VP (particularly when concerned about Wargames).

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

The Iron Lady

The Iron Lady

1979 – 1990

In many ways presaging the “Reagan revolution” in the United States, Margaret Thatcher led a rejuvenation of the conservative movement in the United Kingdom. An ardent anti-communist, Thatcher received the moniker “Iron Lady” from the Soviet newspaper, “The Red Star.” Thatcher provided the perfect partner for Ronald Reagan, and together, they renewed the “special relationship” that formed the lynchpin of the post-war Atlantic Alliance. Thatcher’s finest moment may have been her vigorous defense of Britain’s colonial outpost in the Falkland Islands. The military junta ruling Argentina launched an invasion of what they referred to as the Malvinas Islands. In a sharp, short military action, the UK expelled the Argentinian forces, and restored some small luster to Britain’s former imperial pretensions. Thatcher reigned through the close of the Cold War, and is Britain’s longest serving prime minister.

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

As USSR

Along with Five Year Plan and Duck and Cover, a great US event for the USSR.  The Iron Lady is more explicitly and unconditionally favorable to the USSR, and a great choice for an AR1 Argentina coup.  Even if you have no intention of attacking Argentina, it’s a good source of initiative by creating a small threat for the US while you do something else with the 3 Ops.  The VP loss is minimal, the UK influence loss is laughable, and the only real consequence is that you can’t play Socialist Governments any more.  Which is unfortunate (since a Socialist Governments headline + AR1 Europe Scoring remains one of the best sources of VP for the USSR), but it’s a speculative cost, and at least you have Pershing II Deployed to substitute in its place.

Rules clarification: you may not trigger The Iron Lady, then play influence adjacent to Argentina if you did not previously have access to those countries.  This is because the influence placement rules restrict you to placing influence in countries adjacent to your existing influence at the beginning of the Action Round.

As US

Better known in our gaming group as “Thatcher the Betrayer”, there is very little point to playing The Iron Lady for the event.  The usual caveats about being at +19 or -19 apply, but even in the Late War, it is very dubious indeed to trade 3 Ops and potential loss of a critical battleground for 1 VP, a speculative Socialist Governments block, and the elimination of USSR UK influence (usually 0).

If the USSR already controls Argentina, then the Socialist Governments block / 1 VP begins to look a little more attractive, but on the whole I don’t think I’ve ever seen the US play this for the event.

Posted in Late War, US Events | Tagged | 13 Comments