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Tabletop Game: Nuclear War

If you're looking for a serious entry on nuclear holocaust, try World War III.

Top Secret: SuperGerm, the result of a blunder in your enemy's germ warfare experiments, destroys 25 million of his own people.

Nuclear War is a card game designed by Douglas Malewicki and published by Flying Buffalo Games. It is a satire of an end-of-the-world scenario fought mostly with nuclear weapons. Each player is in charge of a country, and the objective is to eliminate the populace of all other countries (players). While an opponent's population may be reduced with non-violent means (such as broadcasting propaganda that drives migration to other countries), the fastest and most frequent method is to launch nuclear warheads and vaporize millions. Other cards provide anti-missile defenses and specialized weapons systems like orbital platforms and unstoppable cruise missiles. Several expansions have been released, many of which can be played separately or with the original game, and highlights the worries of the end-of-the-world scenarios — including actual, theoretical and feared weapons — at the time of their releases.

Nuclear War is often described as a "beer and pretzels" game, perfect for players who want a game that's quick to get into and refuse to take themselves (or the subject matter) seriously. Most Nuclear War games end up with everyone destroyed, and lots of laughing over who produced the biggest fireball along the way. The original game has been inducted into the Origins Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame, and was named one of The Millennium's Best Card Games by Pyramid magazine.

Though the game is largely obscure today, Flying Buffalo continues to support it. Their Nuclear War page can be found here.


This game provides examples of:

  • A Million Is a Statistic: "Got change for 10 million people?"
  • Apocalypse How: Most games end with a Class 3a, extinction of all mankind in a worldwide nuclear disaster, but the rules allow a Class 4, extinction of most life on earth, or, if the results are wrong right, a Class X-2, SOLAR SYSTEM DESTROYING CHAIN REACTION!
  • Atomic Hate: The game is full of this, in every platform possible.
  • Black Comedy
  • Cold War: The game was released during and satirizes the Cold War, as do most of its expansions. Weapons of Mass Destruction, naturally, satirizes the War on Terror.
  • Death from Above
  • Depopulation Bomb: In addition to the titular nuclear weapons, other methods of destroying your opponent's populace include engineered diseases and death-inducing speeches.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom
    Note: If the 100-Megaton bomb destroys a nuclear stockpile, a super chain reaction starts that destroys all countries, the Earth itself, and the entire solar system. EVERYBODY LOSES.
    • Later games make this possible if the 200-Megaton bomb's yield is doubled, as well.
  • Gallows Humor
  • Kill 'em All: Most of the time.
  • The Plague: The "SuperGerm" card eliminates 25 million people when played; "SuperVirus" goes around the board, taking out each player's population on their turn. A later expansion introduces "Son of SuperGerm".
  • Satire
  • Taking You with Me: the aptly named "If I Can't Win, Everyone Dies" optional rule, under which a just-eliminated player who had a 100 megaton warhead but no launcher for it can detonate it in hopes of triggering an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
    • More formally, Final Retaliation. Nuked off the face of the earth with nothing but missiles and warheads? No reason to not send them to your new favorites...
  • The World Is Always Doomed: Well, not always. Just two-thirds of the time, according to the company's statistics.

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alternative title(s): Nuclear War
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