2/15/17 EDIT: Fixed an error with Space Race scoring, finished some incomplete sentences (d’oh!), and added a new section at the bottom.
So this year, I started learning the all-time great board game Twilight Struggle at a competitive level. My friend Withhelde had taught me the game a few years ago, but my interest was really piqued by the discovery of an entire tournament scene in China with a revolutionary approach to the game. The Western Bible for the game, the Twilight Strategy website, advocates a focus on map position with the goal of winning the game in the final scoring. The best Chinese players, on the other hand, are much bigger fans of grabbing short-term points and advancing as far as possible on the space race.
Up to this point, the only English-language writing on the Chinese style is in random forum posts – not very easy to find through conventional searching! Almost all of the useful posts come from Chinese player Kris “Sankt” Wei (heck, the style has been named after him!), so I have decided to collect his scattered thoughts in this single convenient blog post! I figured it could make for a decent encapsulation of the Chinese fundamentals, but the readers will be the judge of that!
I initially thought I would only use forum posts for this, but they don’t explain everything for some of the topics mentioned. To gain a better understanding, I ended up analyzing Sankt’s replays from the YATSL tournaments. If you have the Wargameroom version of Twilight Struggle, you can go HERE (2016) and HERE (2017) to view those (just search for any files with “Wei” in the name).
I’ll format this as follows: Give the specific topic of strategy, paraphrase his post & add context to it when necessary, and link the original. Keep in mind that all of this advice assumes you are playing with +2 starting influence for the US.
Best Turn 1 Headlines as the US
Sankt ranks the following in order as great US headlines to start the game: Marshall Plan > Containment (when it gains you 5+ ops or is needed to protect you from Blockade) > Middle East Scoring = Red Scare/Purge > Captured Nazi Scientist > Containment (when it gains you < 5 ops)
As a point of comparison, here is a similar ranking from one of the very best Western players (Ziemowit) as of August 2016: Middle East Scoring = Red Scare/Purge = Containment (same conditions as Sankt’s high ranking) > Marshall Plan > Containment (3-4 ops) > Defectors > Captured Nazi Scientist
Note that Ziemowit was still used to the USSR couping early and often, which is less common with the Chinese, and was not as familiar with the Chinese opening setup with Marshall Plan. Most players consider Red Scare/Purge less valuable when the opponent won’t coup so often, so that ranking may be different now.
US Opening Setup for Marshall Plan Headline
For a Turn 1 Marshall headline, western players traditionally opened with 3 influence in West Germany, 2 in Italy, and 1 in Greece & Turkey. Chinese players are much more aggressive with France early on, as it’s a “swing state” for Europe domination. Rather than play in fear of Suez Crisis & De Gaulle Leads France, the Chinese will use the following opening to take advantage of the Marshall headline:
3 West Germany, 2 Italy, 2 France. Then place Marshall’s influence in those 3 countries, Greece or Spain (Sankt prefers Spain, not sure about others), Turkey, the UK, & Canada.
This gives you instant domination of Europe, and drastically reduces the USSR’s hopes of breaking it. The UK influence prevents them from breaking control to stop the Special Relationship event (which is now more likely to be at full power), the Canada influence reduces the opportunity cost of activating NORAD, Turkey is potentially useful for Middle East access & defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Greece/Spain is because there’s nothing better left.
Source: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/22017361#22017361, Wargameroom replays
US Opening Setup (Non-Marshall)
With US +2, Western players either went 4 West Germany + 3 Italy + 3 Iran or used the empty West Germany setup (putting that influence into the Mediterranean countries or France). The Chinese most commonly start with 4 West Germany + 4 Italy + 2 Iran, though there are situations when they would still consider 4/3/3. Sankt says he strongly prefers 4/4/2 when the US holds *any* of the following cards:
Nasser, Europe Scoring, Middle East Scoring (if headlined), Suez Crisis, or Arab-Israeli War.
On the other hand, only a couple cards in hand will make him strongly prefer the traditional 4/3/3 opening: Socialist Governments & Red Scare/Purge (if it will be your headline).
There are several reasons for these preferences. 4 in Italy prevents them from headlining Socialist Governments and just taking the country via influence placement. A player like Sankt would still coup there with that headline, but at least the coup won’t be a guaranteed success. And even if Iran is lost, the US can still take South Korea & Thailand to prevent domination in Asia; they can also spread into Egypt & Libya from Israel to survive in the Middle East. Asia is the most expensive region to dominate since there are so many cheap non-battlegrounds that can’t be couped or realigned, so Sankt will often settle for an even score there and focus the rest of his ops elsewhere.
Source: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/22994658#22994658 & https://boardgamegeek.com/article/22017361#22017361 (“Asian op black hole”)
Thoughts on Empty West Germany US Opening
Some Western players, most notably Riku Riekkinen, are fond of leaving West Germany empty in the opening so that Blockade won’t hurt them. Sankt generally hates this, and it takes a very rare hand for him to consider it. This is how bad of a hand he would need to try that:
Blockade, Truman Doctrine, Nasser, Vietnam Revolts, Decolonization, COMECON, Fidel, Romanian Abdication
Even then, he would not leave West Germany completely empty. Instead, he would start with 1 influence there and put the other 3 into France. This is so the USSR can’t control WG in 1 move; you want to play Blockade early and put its 1 op back into WG after the event triggers. You then want to control WG as soon as you can, most likely with COMECON.
Truman is key to making this work – if the Soviets try to start an ops war for WG, they just wasted 3 or 4 ops at the time when ops are most valuable. My understanding is that if this hand didn’t have Truman, Sankt would most likely hold Blockade for the next turn (spacing Decolonization and playing Vietnam on the last round).
Note that this setup requires you not to headline Blockade, which is typically what Western players have done with the empty WG opening; for the above hand, Sankt recommends headlining Romanian Abdication since it’s your lowest-ops card and you don’t care about repairing the damage from it.
Spacing Decolonization on Turn 1 as USA
Western players always tried to hold onto both “De-cards” (Decolonization & De-Stalinization) in order to make them miss the Turn 3 reshuffle, with De-Stalin being the higher priority if forced to choose. Chinese players may still try to do this with De-Stalin, but have adopted the attitude that holding Decol that long isn’t feasible. This is because Blockade will almost certainly reduce your hand size at some point. Thus, spacing Decol on Turn 1 is the best compromise as it frees up your later play.
Triggering De-Stalinization on Turn 1 as USA
De-Stalinization is often considered the strongest event in the game due to its wide-ranging effect and how early it appears, and almost no player would even think about activating it as the US (until late in the game, anyway). Sankt said there is one highly specific scenario where he would do this in the Early War…
Turn 1: US headlines Containment, USSR does *not* headline Red Scare/Fidel/Vietnam Revolts/Romanian Abdication. USSR then coups Italy with East European Unrest and does not get any influence in there. This leaves their EU influence at 3 in the battlegrounds and 1 in Finland.
The US can then play De-Stalin as a 4-op card, and the USSR’s best option will be to remove all influence from Poland in addition to the 1 in Finland. Trigger the event first, and base your response on their play: coup Thailand if they go in there , or shove 3 influence into East Germany if they avoid Thailand. The latter play makes it impossible for them to protect all of their starting battlegrounds, as you will be guaranteed to take one of them with a 4-ops play (made easy via Containment).
This will virtually never happen in a real game, but it’s a nice example of the level at which these players think!
Value of Non-Battlegrounds
One of the most significant differences between traditional western play and the Chinese style lies in non-battleground countries. The traditional style focuses mainly on overall map position, and thus will want to control a lot of non-battlegrounds in order to block access and win the overall country count in regions. Good Chinese players, on the other hand, are loathe to invest influence in non-BGs unless they provide access to BGs or you need one to score domination in a region that turn. The handling of European non-BGs is particularly illuminating here: even with a 3-2 battleground lead, Chinese players don’t like playing into the cheap Mediterranean countries as the USSR. The problem with those is that the UK & Canada make it too easy for the US to keep up in the overall country count and deny domination. Marshall Plan makes this even more true; many players will control Greece & Turkey when playing Marshall as the USSR, but the likelihood of domination is low enough that the influence is better spent elsewhere. The only time the Mediterranean should go red is when the USSR gets a 4-1 battleground lead, as that makes domination far more realistic. Do note that Spain is a bit more useful for the USSR than other European non-BGs as it helps protect France from realignments – still not a high priority, though.
Malaysia and Afghanistan are examples of important early non-BGs due to their BG access. Even then, Sankt will only place 1 influence there since the access is the whole point. Couping 2-stability non-BGs is a highly inefficient use of ops, and you can still place 1 influence in those countries even if the coup is successful.
Speaking of Asia, one interesting lesson from Sankt’s replays is that he can still be pretty aggressive with Southeast Asia. He will take countries like Laos and Indonesia fairly early if it can swing domination. I’ve even seen him control the Philippines on AR1 because he suspected the USSR had Asia Scoring (they controlled Afghanistan on AR1, which gives them domination); they did and still ended up with domination, but Sankt’s 1 op forced them to spend 2 more for it. Southeast Asia Scoring makes these countries a lot more valuable than your typical non-BGs, of course; a country like Indonesia is essentially a 2-point swing for just 1 op, which is a great value.
Costa Rica is another key early non-BG for the US. You just want 1 influence there so you can get back into Panama should you be couped out. At 3 stability, Costa Rica is a terrible coup target, so 1 influence is all you need in there.
1 influence in Jordan can be good for the US later on if they get locked out of Iraq, but it’s lower priority since it only gives access to expensive battlegrounds. Egypt & Libya are much more important early on since they’re cheaper. Lebanon is the better Middle East non-BG for the US to control since it only costs 1 op. Sankt will take Lebanon even at higher DEFCON sometimes, as couping there isn’t a terribly efficient use of ops. And if they do coup, the US can get military ops. Syria is a good non-BG for the Soviets if it’s all they need for domination: essentially 1 op for 2 VP.
Africa & South America are a bit different since those regions are made for realignments. Controlling non-BGs to protect your BGs or threaten enemy BGs is more common there. This is done with Uruguay and Paraguay (maybe even Peru) in South America. In Africa it’s mainly Botswana, with Tunisia being valuable in rare cases (i.e. you have Algeria but with no way back in if realigned). Tunisia can also allow the USSR to reach Algeria without De-cards early on, depending on how busy the US is. Colombia & Cameroon are also potential Early War AR6 plays for the US, but this will be discussed more later. Otherwise, the 1-stability non-BGs are mainly useful when you can take a bunch of them at once to swing domination and/or buff realignments. One of the most shocking things I found in Sankt’s replays is that he takes Sudan fairly often, as I had always thought that country was useless. It seems to be a play to win the country count, with the idea being that it’s not an important enough country to coup when Cameroon & Saharan States exist.
Source: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23002826#23002826 (mentions Euro non-BGs), https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23024860#23024860 (some of the advice here is rebutted later, but some good fundamentals), https://boardgamegeek.com/article/22017361#22017361 (mentions some of the specific non-BGs). Some of the Africa & South America plays are seen in the Wargameroom replays.
The Space Race
This is the most talked-about difference between the two major philosophies. Twilight Strategy recommends only using the space race to dump bad events, and even suggests not going too far on the track (so that you can still space 2-op cards in the Mid War). Chinese players will space early and often, so as to get the victory points and extra abilities. Reaching the first 2 scoring spaces before your opponent is a 6-VP swing, and the 3rd scoring space alone is another 4-VP swing…and that’s not even all the points to be had! Some of these players like to say that “space is the 7th region” due to its scoring potential. Against a traditional player who rarely plays the space race, it’s possible to space 2 cards for multiple turns and get out to a huge lead on the track; in this situation, it’s not uncommon to attain the “discard held card” ability by the Mid War!
The value of the space race (along with the card’s measly 1 op) means that Captured Nazi Scientist should always be played for the event. This can be seen in the above discussion on Turn 1 headlines.
“Discard held card” is by far the most important ability with this rabid spacing style, especially as the USSR. It’s how you make up for not spacing 2-ops cards. Even the Chinese rarely reach the end of the space track, though, since there are so few 4-ops cards worth spacing.
Sankt has mentioned that against another strong player with a similar style, he will play the space race on the first round of the game! Against a more traditional player, on the other hand, he may wait until the middle of the turn.
One word of caution: You don’t want to go into the Mid War with a 2-1 lead on the space track. If your opponent draws One Small Step, they can play the event to jump ahead of you and score those important 2 points!
Also, removing a powerful event from the game with minimal effect is typically better than spacing it. Containment and Nuclear Subs are the archetypal examples here. Something like Vietnam Revolts, on the other hand, is powerful early but very weak afterward…making it an ideal candidate for space. You also want to space enemy “War” cards when possible since they provide military ops and potential VP on top of that. Korean War is the main exception since it’s a one-time event – Sankt will often get the event out of the way if the opponent already has mil ops and an influence lead in South Korea.
Source: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23024860#23024860, https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23002826#23002826 (mentions the early spacing), https://boardgamegeek.com/article/22017361#22017361 (mentions the 2-1 issue and spacing Vietnam), Wargameroom replays (handling of Korean War)
USSR Turn 1 AR1: Italy Coup vs. Iran Coup vs. Influence Placement
NOTE: This section leans heavily on Wargameroom replays, as some of the tactics aren’t mentioned in forum posts.
For quite a while, couping Iran has been considered the standard USSR opening move even with +2 influence for the US. However, Sankt usually prefers Italy since it’s a potential 6-VP swing each time Europe is scored; the ops-to-points ratio isn’t nearly as nice for Iran, since you can be counter-couped and still have to take other battlegrounds to get the most out of it. This is why Socialist Governments is arguably the best Turn 1 headline for the Soviets: it makes the Italy coup far easier.
When wouldn’t Sankt coup Italy, then? Typically, when there’s less than a 2/3 chance of it securing the country for him. If the US starts with no adjacency to Italy and 3 influence there, a 4-ops card (besides Marshall Plan, for reasons outlined below) will give you that 2/3 chance. This is because emptying the country still guarantees you take it before they do (since you should have opened in Austria or Yugoslavia). Though this isn’t mentioned in his posts, his replays on Wargameroom show that he is even willing to use the China card for this if it’s his only 4-ops. This isn’t always the case, as I have seen him coup Italy with a 3-ops card and keep China as well. My suspicion is that the 3-ops coup is a gamble to be made when he has a weak hand, but I’m not entirely sure.
Getting influence into France before the coup drastically reduces the odds of communist success. Now, the USSR needs to instantly take control of Italy for the coup to work out – anything less, and the US only has to spend 3 ops at most to get it back. This usually happens with a Marshall Plan opening as described earlier, and it makes the success rate only 33% with a 4-ops card. A Red Scare/Purge headline has a similar effect though less strong (50/50 odds with a 4-ops, provided you have another 3-ops card). The play described in the next paragraph is the best solution to these headlines, though RS/P forces you to burn a 4-ops card on it. This is a case where I suspect it’s worth using China if you have to.
One interesting note is that if he reduces Italy to 1 US influence via a Socialist Governments headline, Sankt will just take the country via influence placement. Many would worry about the US couping there in response, but that’s a weak play for a couple reasons. Most obviously, the USSR’s starting Italy adjacency means the coup must instantly control the country, and with the influence at 3/1 that’s only a 50% chance with a 4-op card. There’s also the downside risk of losing France as well as Italy with a bad coup, though France becomes more of a luxury for the Soviets in that situation. Finally, if the USSR used a 4-ops card at the start for something like 3 Italy + 1 Israel, you’re going to lose Egypt & Libya if you try to coup Italy right away.
Even if an Italy coup isn’t favorable, Sankt still rarely coups Iran on AR1 from what I’ve seen. He has mentioned that he hates couping Iran period when he doesn’t have De-cards! This is because Thailand and other cheap SE Asian countries are critical for long-term domination, and the USSR needs events for those. Without domination, simply breaking even in Asia provides the best value for your ops, and there are many ways to achieve that without Iran coups.
Sankt will tend to start the game by placing influence if he isn’t attacking Italy. He is fond of using a mere 2-ops card to spread into Afghanistan & Israel. The influence forces the US’s hand on two different fronts, with two battlegrounds at stake in each direction. It also restricts them from couping your Middle East battlegrounds, since you can take Pakistan & India if they drop DEFCON low enough. Sankt has also posted that he may start with a 4-ops play against strong opponents, going into West Germany along with the other countries mentioned. He doesn’t do this against weaker players, as he hopes they’ll throw their ops into places like Jordan instead of France.
Source: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/22017361#22017361 (Italy coup odds mention, importance of US Italy adjacency for the coup, the concept of using BG access to “protect Middle East BGs”, “I don’t think Greece/Turkey exist on USSR board”), https://boardgamegeek.com/article/22146758#22146758 (AR1 W. Germany play), Wargameroom replays
US Influence Spreading in the Early War
A key concept many players miss is that compared to the USSR, the US is far better suited to spread influence throughout the world early on. They begin with the only access to Latin America & Africa, they have Thailand sewn up barring specific events, and they have the inside track on Egypt -> Libya and Pakistan -> India. One area where westerners have learned a lot from Sankt & co. recently is how to best prioritize all of these regions.
The Chinese tend to think in terms of ops-to-expected-VPs ratio when choosing the countries to take, which is why they are so much more aggressive with France and such big fans of battlegrounds in general. As a “swing state” for Europe domination, France is generally worth 6 VPs each time Europe is scored. No other country can match that value on Turn 1, unless Europe Scoring was headlined (usually by the USSR). That said, the Soviets don’t have a great way to threaten France right away unless they successfully coup Italy, so you can wait on it a little if they do something else. Thailand is the next best individual value after France, as it’s cheap to control and only vulnerable to Brush War & an ABM Treaty headline. Getting 1 influence into Malaysia should be an AR1 priority for the US, but you want to wait until DEFCON drops below 4 before you set foot in Thailand.
Continuing this line of thinking, Egypt is high up there since it’s a cheap battleground with access to another cheap battleground. It also blocks the USSR from a route into Algeria, which is big if you can keep the De-cards out of their hands, and it cuts off OPEC points for them. The value of this is also bolstered by Sadat Expels Soviets. Pakistan is similar but a bit lower in priority due to Indo-Pakistani War, no Sadat equivalent, and India being more expensive (& volatile) than Libya.
So many choices, so little time, eh? Handling this involves something Twilight Strategy recommends against: using your highest-ops card at the start, rather than saving it for the end of the turn! The US having so many different target locations is what makes each op count so much here. From reading posts and studying replays, I’ve found that there is no one optimal AR1 move for the US. They need to respond to the USSR’s opening, which creates many possibilities.
Most obviously, if the USSR couped Italy and removed some influence, you need to build it back up to 3 pronto (and want 4 later if Socialist Governments isn’t accounted for). If their coup was successful, you’re actually better off not panicking about France. It doesn’t score that much if you already have 3 battlegrounds, and the USSR has several more important targets for influence. In that scenario, you could just put 1 into France while also going into Malaysia & Egypt. 2 influence in Egypt is ideal because it makes coups tougher and means Nasser won’t completely kick you out of there.
If the USSR didn’t coup, Pakistan suddenly becomes a major priority. This is because at DEFCON 5, you’ll get the last coup there should the Soviets try anything. The odds are in your favor if you control it right away. This is a situation I didn’t get to see in replays, unfortunately, as virtually all of Sankt’s USSR opponents couped on AR1. There is an illuminating forum post I’ve referenced several times here, but that was kind of a special case (Turn 1 Nasser headline). My own hunch would be 2 Pakistan + 2 Egypt or 2 Pakistan + 1 Malaysia + 1 France, but that’s not speaking for anyone else. A good general concept to understand is that you can wait on France if the USSR has no direct access there, but not too long or else you risk them dumping Europe Scoring. If the USSR isn’t in Israel, you can also wait a bit on Egypt (and should take France before Egypt in this case).
Believe it or not, Central America is a decently high priority here as well. 1 op into Costa Rica on an early action round can save you there, as Panama opens up an AR6 play into South America for the US. Sankt often coups Panama over Middle East battlegrounds if the US hasn’t done this! It’s worth considering as early as AR2, or even AR1 if Nasser was headlined.
After that, you obviously want to get Libya ASAP if you’re in Egypt. India can often wait (though 1 op there is good insurance for Indo-Pakistani War). If the Asian country count is close, Sankt tends to go for the really cheap SE Asian countries before India. Lebanon should also be taken somewhere in the middle of Turn 1, generally. South Korea is a tricky bird for the US due to the threat of Korean War. If you don’t have that card in hand to space, it probably doesn’t merit Turn 1 ops unless you have Asia Scoring.
Africa is intriguing, but you usually don’t have the luxury of doing anything there on Turn 1. The Chinese like to start there on Turn 2, which is earlier than the traditional western players did. You can opt for controlling South Africa (otherwise it could be couped!) or crawling north, typically not both. If you go north, the goal is to play into Cameroon on AR6 so you can take Nigeria on the following turn. If that’s not possible, then buffing South Africa is probably better.
Early War forays into South America are also doable via a Colombia AR6 play, but Sankt doesn’t seem to like this. South America is just much more ops-intensive, particularly since you must reach Uruguay at the end of the turn or risk getting cut off from most of the region. It may also have something to do with the fact that Africa is vulnerable to both De-cards, greatly increasing the likelihood of attack.
There are certainly other situational tactics left out here, but I wanted this to be more of an outline of the fundamental priorities I’ve witnessed. And it’s way too long as is!
Source: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/22017361#22017361, Wargameroom replays
Cards That Should Always & Never Be Played for the Event (if not an enemy card)
Sankt mentions 3 cards that should always be played for the event when they aren’t an enemy event: Grain Sales to Soviets, Aldrich Ames Remix, & Captured Nazi Scientist.
Most would be surprised not to see Voice of America on that list, but it’s possible for USSR battlegrounds to be so overprotected that the event wouldn’t hurt as much as the 2 ops. There’s a later post in the referenced thread that gives an example of this.
Sankt also gives 3 cards that should basically never be played for the event when they’re not an enemy card: Formosan Resolution, COMECON, and most surprisingly NORAD.
NORAD tends to be a controversial event, but Sankt strongly believes it’s not worth the major opportunity cost. Not only do you have to add influence to Canada, you’re also giving up the 3 ops of the card itself. There’s also the threat of Quagmire, of course. Even more important in his mind, however, is the fact that NORAD doesn’t activate when DEFCON drops in the headline. The US in particular loves to do that since it defends their battlegrounds, and Junta is one of the best USSR headlines. The USSR may also headline other DEFCON degraders if they have pressing influence needs: We Will Bury You, How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and so on. With all of that said, NORAD is still too strong of an event for the USSR to casually trigger, so in their hands it goes to space.
Many players would expect to see Flower Power, NATO, and US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact on the “never event” list, but Sankt makes interesting arguments for all of these. If deck tracking tells you that a Missile Envy headline is likely, you can headline these if it’s your only way to prevent your opponent from playing 4 ops right away. US/Japan in particular is commonly used for the event by Chinese players, even though you could just place 3 ops into Japan and 1 elsewhere. The idea there is that if you’re playing against a traditional style, you want to make the overall deck as low in ops as possible so they can’t do as much against your space racing and VP-grabbing. Thus, removing US/Japan from the game is a net positive for you.
Source: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24263623#24263623, https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24395713#24395713 (playing US/Japan for event)
Best Cards to Hold to Turn 3 as the USSR
Sankt once ranked hold cards for Turn 3 when playing as USSR. His list is as follows:
Five Year Plan > UN Intervention (if you don’t already have a 4-op US event) > strong 4-op US event (e.g. Marshall Plan with a lot of Western Europe still open, NATO if you’re losing the EU battlegrounds) > Indo-Pakistani War > Duck and Cover (strongest US headline on Turn 3) > Defectors > other US events
Five Year Plan is so strong because of the ability to discard a bad scoring card and still get the 3 ops at the end of a turn, though this no longer works if you need to hold any DEFCON suicide cards. The others should mostly be self-explanatory, though most players don’t fear the NATO event as much as Sankt does. It can shut down the USSR’s only comeback option in Europe, and it makes Special Relationship a problem at a time when the Soviets will likely have too many more important cards to space.
Source: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23314206#23314206 (and later posts in that thread)
Expected VPs from Battlegrounds
This one is a bit different – it comes not from Sankt, but from Chinese TS league champion Aragorn. He has calculated the expected VP value for battlegrounds by region. I still can’t figure out if these numbers are supposed to be per scoring or for the entire game…a lot of these seem too high for the former, but the Europe figure seems way too low for the latter. Anyway, here goes:
Europe: The calculations here are different from the rest of the world since both sides start with 2 battlegrounds. Controlling a 3rd battleground is worth 6-10 VPs. The 4th BG is only worth 2 VPs, which is why elite USSR players won’t immediately go for France if they win Italy. That said, taking 4 BGs does force your opponent to spend extra ops defending their only one since Europe control is worth 4982921093 VP.
Asia: Battlegrounds are worth approximately 5 VPs each. Special mention must be made for Southeast Asia non-BGs, of course. They’re worth slightly over 1 VP each, since they’re also a big part of Asia domination. Come to think of it, shouldn’t Thailand have a higher value than the other BGs?
Middle East: Battlegrounds have similar value to Asia’s but probably a bit less. There are a couple major factors hurting them (risk of coups, the region’s low scoring for domination) but another major factor that helps their value (OPEC).
Latin America: Pretty similar for both regions lumped in here. Their battlegrounds are worth around 5 VP each, but obviously more volatile than in the above regions since realignments are a thing.
Africa: The battlegrounds here are only worth around 4 VP each because they’re by far the most volatile in the game. This is due to realignment opportunities, the majority of battlegrounds being 1 stability, and both sides having very powerful events to attack this region.
Don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last revision of this post. I’m just one guy who’s still relatively new to Twilight Struggle, and I am more than willing to revise this with community input!