Iranian Hostage Crisis

Iranian Hostage Crisis

1979 – 1981

A violent reaction to traditional US support for the repressive regime of the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, 65 Americans were held for 444 days after Islamic revolutionaries stormed the US embassy. The newly installed leader of the Iran’s theocracy, Ayatollah Khomeini, was rabidly anti-American and had urged his followers to take action against Western influences. President Carter undertook two scrubbed rescue missions, one of which resulted in a humiliating accident for the US military and for the Carter Administration. Carter’s failure to secure the release of the hostages prior to the end of the 1980 campaign season is often credited with his sizable electoral defeat. Ultimately, Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980 made Iran more amenable to ending the crisis. Through the use of Algerian intermediaries, negotiations were finally successful. In a final slap to Carter, the hostages were formally relinquished to US custody on January 21, 1981, minutes after Reagan’s inauguration.

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


Clearly this is a quality event if the US still controls Iran, a rarity in the Late War.  The Terrorism effect alone is not worth triggering the event, but is a good bonus on top of flipping Iran to you (which is at least a 2VP swing in final scoring, possibly more).

It’s important to keep in mind because if you are still attacking Middle East battlegrounds in the Late War (or late in the Mid War), it’s probably best to go for Egypt and Iraq as opposed to Libya (Reagan Bombs Libya), Saudi Arabia (AWACS Sales to Saudis), Israel (stability too high), or Iran (Iranian Hostage Crisis).

One of the advantages of controlling Iran is that the US will be more willing to play this event, thus allowing you to trigger a double Terrorism to really cripple a US Late War hand.


It’s almost certainly worth it to send this to space if you control Iran.  Even if it doesn’t affect Domination, it definitely is at least 2 VP for Final Scoring, and at least 4 VP if the Middle East gets scored one more time.

Sometimes even when the USSR controls Iran, you might be tempted to space this.  A double Terrorism discard is quite painful, and turning Iran from 0/2 to 0/4 essentially gives up any hope of ever taking the country back.  But it’s 3 Ops — so if Iran is already overcontrolled, or if you have no interest in it, then I will risk possible subsequent Terrorism.

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

Mid War recap

The analyses for all of the Mid War cards are finished.  Here is a brief summary of the Mid War cards (including Optional Cards, as always):

Mid War Neutral US USSR All cards
Scoring 4 4
1 Ops 1 4 2 7
2 Ops 5 9 4 18
3 Ops 4 5 6 15
4 Ops 1 3 4
Total cards 15 | 11 18 15 48 | 44
Total Ops 27 37 40 104
Average 1.80 | 2.45 2.06 2.67 2.17 | 2.36

The cumulative table for both Early War and Mid War cards:

Early War + Mid War Neutral US USSR All cards
Scoring 7 7
1 Ops 3 6 5 14
2 Ops 7 13 10 30
3 Ops 4 10 12 26
4 Ops 3 3 3 9
Total cards 24 | 17
32 30 86 | 79
Total Ops 41 74 73 188
Average 1.71 | 2.41 2.31 2.43 2.19 | 2.38

The average Mid War hand should have 19.71 Ops.  Subtract headline and hold card, and you normally expect to play about 15-17 Ops per turn.

Posted in Cards, Mid War | 1 Comment

Our Man in Tehran

Our Man in TehranOur Man in Tehran

1941 – 1979

Replacing his deposed father, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was central to first British and then American plans for the Middle East. While Pahlavi undertook the mantle of western reformer, he often chafed under neo-imperialist economic relationships, particularly where oil was concerned. Nevertheless, Iran’s oil wealth spurred Pahlavi into the center of global geopolitics and his association with the United States  was vital for both nation’s positions in the region. However,  whatever outward elements of reform Iran projected, Pahlavi also used a brutal internal police force, the SAVAK, and turned despotic and megalomaniacal in the later years of his reign. This was all the opening required for Iran’s seething revolutionary elements.

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


Our Man in Tehran hovers just at the border of send-to-space and suck-it-up.  If I can spare the Ops, I like to send it to space, but I rarely can, and so I often just end up playing it and hoping the US doesn’t find anything good.

If you’ve already seen the important cards (good scoring cards or good USSR events like Lone Gunman, We Will Bury You, Decolonization, Muslim Revolution, OPEC, etc.) go to the discard, then it’s not a big deal.  It’s also not a big deal in the rare situation where the US controls no Middle East country, or only controls a single one (and you can use the Ops to break control of the country).  And although it is slightly less effective on Turn 6 then at other times, that alone is not enough reason to feel safe about playing it.


A very nice event and one I almost always trigger.  It is worst on Turn 6, but even then it is better than its 2 Ops, especially if you have not yet seen an important card you wish to discard.

Posted in Mid War, US Events | Tagged | 11 Comments



1955 – 1967

Ernesto “Che” Guevara, commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia within popular culture.  Guevara remains both a revered and reviled historical figure, polarized in the collective imagination in a multitude of biographies, memoirs, essays, documentaries, songs, and films. As a result of his perceived martyrdom, poetic invocations for class struggle, and desire to create the consciousness of a “new man” driven by moral rather than material incentives, he has evolved into a quintessential icon of various leftist-inspired movements.

Time: Mid War
Side: USSR
Ops: 3
Removed after event: No


One of the best (and most underrated) USSR events.  Launching two simultaneous coups allows you to set up countries for realignments, defend against US AR7 moves, or threaten multiple countries at once.  Consecutive Action Rounds are one of the holy grails of Twilight Struggle, and Che comes close.

The best use of Che comes when you can make two threats and the US can only respond to one.  Most non-battleground countries are valuable for their connection to a battleground, and sometimes the only response to an attack on a non-battleground is to coup it back.  When you identify two such non-battlegrounds, take advantage of the opportunity to double coup.  Now the US must choose one non-battleground to respond in, and you are free to leverage the other non-battleground against an adjacent battleground (either by direct influence placement or realignment).

Che gets better as the game goes on and more influence is invested into non-battlegrounds.  Most games tend to have a pattern of low investment into non-battlegrounds (out of fear of being couped out), followed by rapid investment into non-battlegrounds (where there is no longer enough “time” / Action Rounds to coup them all back efficiently).  It is in that later stage that Che becomes so powerful.

The fact that Che earns you Mil Ops (unlike Junta) is just icing on the cake.


If you don’t have any targets (or only one target), it’s a relatively safe play, particularly since you can coup back whatever Che coups.  It’s also safe if your non-battlegrounds are 3-stability (i.e., Costa Rica).  But once you get into the stage of owning many non-battlegrounds, as described above, Che is too dangerous to play (it is equivalent to 6 Ops for the USSR!) and better off sent to space.

Posted in Mid War, USSR Events | Tagged | 13 Comments

“One Small Step…”

One Small Step...“One Small Step…”

1961 – 1969

After years of lagging behind Soviet space exploits, the United States put its full intellectual and economic weight behind the “race to the moon”. President Kennedy initiated Project Mercury. Ultimately, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would overcome enormous technological hurdles to place a man on the moon. As Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot upon the moon’s surface, descended from the space craft, he uttered the immortal line “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” In so doing, he confirmed an American come-back victory in the space race between the superpowers.

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

There are a couple of uses for this card.  The most common is to leapfrog onto the 2/0 VP space to claim the 2VPs for yourself; then this event is like a 4VP swing (maybe adjusted for space race luck?) and worth it.  You can also stop an opponent from peeking at your headline, and occasionally be able to jump ahead to the 3/1 VP space (even more useful than the 2/0 space).  In general it is more effective the later it is played, like Captured Nazi Scientist.

It is best played when you are exactly one space behind your opponent, so that you can reap the benefit of the slot you are jumping to.  Occasionally it is worth it to jump to the peek-at-headline space when you are two boxes behind your opponent, but ideally you’d space something first, and then use One Small Step to get the 3/1 VP bonus too.

One Small Step is often also a hidden source of VPs.  Among experienced players that try to keep track of what cards can still award VPs in the Late War, One Small Step is commonly forgotten.

The great danger One Small Step poses (like Captured Nazi Scientist) is that you could leap too far forward and no longer be able to space 2Ops cards.  This is especially a problem for the USSR, who would love to peek at your headline, but perhaps not if she can no longer send Grain Sales to Soviets and The Voice of America to space.

Of course, if you are ahead on the space race, then none of this matters and it’s just 2 Ops.

Incidentally I don’t really understand why this isn’t starred.  Perhaps if you play it for a second time, you are going to Mars.

Posted in Mid War, Neutral Events | Tagged | 8 Comments

Alliance for Progress

Alliance for ProgressAlliance for Progress

1961 – 1973

Initiated by President Kennedy as a counter for growing Cuban influence in Central and South America, the Alliance for Progress was to help integrate the economies of North and Latin America. Emphases for the program included land reform, democratic reform and tax reform. By the late 60’s the United States had become fully embroiled in Vietnam and South Asia, thus aid for Latin America waned. Furthermore, few Latin American countries proved willing to undertake the required reforms. As a result, the Organization of American States disbanded its “permanent” Alliance for Progress Committee in 1973.

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


A lot like the US OPEC, with two very crucial differences: 1) Alliance for Progress is not recurring; 2) Alliance for Progress often starts off scoring very low, but almost always scores quite high by the end of the game.

It is therefore almost always an autoplay if I draw it early in the Mid War and the US doesn’t have many battlegrounds.  But if they already control more than 2, I’ll just send it to space and hope that I draw it again later and can space it again.  (Remember that like all discards, it is better discarded on Turn 7 than Turn 6.)  If unable to space it, you can just use the Ops to break control of at least one of the US battlegrounds first.

One of the best uses of this card is as your AR1 coup.  Trigger the event after your coup, and oh, what’s this, I happened to coup away your only Latin American battleground.  How unfortunate …


The reverse of the USSR analysis holds: if this can’t score you 3 or more VPs, play it for Ops and trigger it in the Late War for more.  Once it gets to 3+ VPs, I tend to prepare to trigger it lest the USSR draw it in the Late War.

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

A time for all of us to focus on our own Special Relationships.  And try not to get involved in those Kitchen Debates!

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments