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Game Review

Nuclear War

All Ages
Flying Buffalo, Inc.
Rules © 1965 Douglas Malewicki
Date reviewed: 5/07/2001
game in play

2-6 Players 15+ minutes


Each player is the leader of a country. The nation with the most population rules the world. In the quest for world domination, players use propaganda, missiles and bombers to eliminate their rivals.


Before play begins, population cards are randomly distributed to the players -- the number of cards that each player receis depends upon the number of players in the game -- in a four player game each player gets 8 population cards. Each Population card represents a number of people ranging from 1 million to 25 million. The game ends when only one player (or less) has population remaining.

The owner of the game shuffles the nuclear war cards, deals 9 to each player, and then goes first.

To start, each player, in turn must play any cards marked "Secret" or "Top Secret" and replace these cards with "regular" cards. "Secret" cards tend to cause populations to leave one player for another player's country -- or eliminate amounts of your opponent population.

Next, all players place their starting twocards face down on the play mat. (These cards can't be changed until they are played.) The owner of the game then starts play.

A turn follows these steps:

  1. Draw a card.

  2. Turn up the 1st face down card.

  3. Move the 2nd face down card to the 1st spot.

  4. Place a new 2nd face down card.

  5. If a missile or bomber attacked -- a target opponent is named and the spinner is spun.

  6. If the attack worked, the opponent removes population from the game.

It requires two turns to launch an attack. On the first turn, a "deployment system" is revealed (missile or bomber). This card remains face up until the next turn. On the next turn, if a warhead that is usable by the missile or bomber is revealed -- the attack is launched. A warhead does a specific amount of damage plus the effects of the spinner. For example, a 10 megaton warhead kills 2 million people, and a 100 Megaton warhead kills 25 million people. The spinner can double or triple the amount of damage -- or say that the missile was a dud and nothing happens.

There are some "missile defense" cards in the game, but they are rarely found. There are more cards in the game, like "propaganda" -- but unless you have played the game, describing them here detracts from the main game.

Should your country be destroyed -- you get a chance at "Final Retaliation." Any and all weapons that can be launched at your opponents, launch -- and maybe you can eliminate them, too.

game  mat

the spinner

Winning Conditions:

  • The player who has any population remaining at the end of the game wins.

a missile launch

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up!This game is fun in a very twisted way. Every "secret" card is laced with a VERY sarcastic sense of humor -- Super-Germs and beatnik-grannies are only two of the many oddities you will experience.

At first, some of the Zombies were wary of a game that glorified nuclear war -- but after playing it, they found that it was funny and cynical at the same time. Many of our games ended with no victor -- every country was destroyed. As we played, friendly rivalries became very apparent as two players targeted each other for destruction while forgettig about the other enemies; they were having too much fun blowing each other up to care about any long term strategy.

The rules for this page fit onto one page of regular 8.5 x 11 paper. It's quick to learn, and fun to play over and over. This is NOT a long,drawn-out, strategic war game. It's a shoot-first-and-hope-they-can't-retaliate game. Get this while you can... it's worth it.

Where to buy:

Any local game store.

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