Title: Nuclear War 50th Anniversary Edition
Developer: Douglas Malewicki
Publisher:Flying Buffalo Games
Genre: Nuclear Armageddon
Platform: Sturdy and resistant to flipping by angry players
Rating: 12 and up
Release Date: Out Now
From the End of World War 2 to the fall of the Berlin Wall the population of the United States lived under the very real threat of nuclear annihilation. Popular fiction was driven by this threat. School children participated in regular exercises designed to make the location and identification of bodies easier.
If you look back in history you can see numerous close calls where it was only the humanity, intelligence, and courage of lone individuals that saved us from mutually assured destruction.
What makes it even more frightening was not the close calls, but that our leadership was not the people pulling us back from the brink of Armageddon.
In 1965 Aerospace Engineer Doug Malewicki created Nuclear War. A fast paced card game designed to be a satirical look at the policy of destroying everything before the other side can get it that occasionally hits a little to close to home.
Flying Buffalo Games has issued the 50th Anniversary Edition in a snazzy glow-in-the-dark box.
I started playing the original plus expansions in 1990, just after the Berlin Wall came down and we all breathed a little easier knowing that the Doomsday Clock gained four minutes.
The 50th Anniversary Edition forgoes the expansions, adds a few cards not in the original, and quickens play by the elimination of Spies, but is otherwise the same.
It’s well produced, with everything having a high gloss finish on sturdy paper board. It feels much more solid and looks like it will last longer under repeated play than previous editions.
Each player represents a country and plays out their hands of cards planning two turns ahead and hoping to out maneuver the other players.
The game opens with Propaganda Cards (allowing you to steal population from your opponents), Missile test fires (delivery systems without warheads), and test detonations (warheads without delivery systems).
That lasts until one of the players says fuck it and drops the bomb. Then it is an all out race to destroy the enemy before they destroy you. Once and enemy is eliminated they get a final retaliation where they send their entire stockpile out, hoping to deny everyone victory as they meat their demise in a blast of gamma radiation.
As fun as Nuclear War is and has been, this is a $20 game in a $40 box. The MSRP is too high, even with the increased quality of the cards and parts. This is especially true because the all important spinner (used each time a bomb is dropped) is a cheap McDonald’s quality toy that is both ill fitting and a pain to use. They should have included the dice that came with the expansions either instead of or with the spinner. That would have made the price on this a little easier to swallow. Settlers of Catan and Ticket To Ride both clock in at the same price as NucWar and when it comes to physical value, there is no competition.
But NucWar plays faster (about a half hour for a 4 player game), can take 8 players, and easily fits in a messenger bag or laptop case with room to spare for your tablet. It’s not a bad choice for a beer and pretzels game night or a quick, casual game to break up the seriousness of a regular table top session.