[[caption-width-right:340:[[Film/WarGames How about a nice game of chess?]]]]

[[AC: This page is about a work. If you're looking for the trope, that's DefconFive.]]

''[-"It's Global Thermonuclear War, and nobody wins. But maybe - just maybe - you can lose the least."-]''

A unique RealTimeStrategy from Introversion Software, the makers of ''{{Uplink}}'', ''{{VideoGame/Darwinia}}'', and ''Multiwinia''. You play a [[NonEntityGeneral general]] in control of your chosen side's [[AtomicHate nuclear arsenal]], and your goal is to exterminate the enemy's civilian populace while preserving your own. In order to win, you must strike against your enemy's population centers while at the same time crippling their ability to retaliate. Easier said than done since launching a strike reveals the locations of that strategic asset to everyone in the game. The game is inspired by the 1983 cult classic ''Film/WarGames'' and designed to simulate the paranoia and anxiety of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar.

There are 3 scoring modes in DEFCON:
* Default: Score two points for every civilian kill, lose one point for every civilian loss.
* Genocide: Score one point for every civilian kill.
* Survivor: Score points for every civilian you keep alive. The score counter starts at 100 and decreases for every percentage point your own population falls.

There are also multiple game modes:
* Diplomacy: Everyone begins with a perfect score and starts in an [[OneWorldOrder alliance]]. One point is lost for every civilian death.
* Office Mode: A bit of a joke by the developers. This will run the normal game without sound in a separate window in real time for six hours. Also has a handy escape function to minimize it "if the boss appears".
* Speed DEFCON: Matches run at full speed and last no longer than 15 minutes
* Big World: Every player has twice as many units and nukes but each unit has half the size, speed, and range. This is meant to be a long and drawn out campaign style.
* Tournament: The regular game rules are enforced except that mutiple rounds are played with the territories randomly assigned to each.
* Custom: Make whatever game type you want.

When playing the game, the DEFCON level [[DefconFive increases]] as the game progresses. The level determines what actions can be taken in the game.
* Defcon "FADE OUT" 5: Can place units.
* Defcon "DOUBLE TAKE" 4: Radar coverage reveals the FogOfWar.
* Defcon "ROUND HOUSE" 3: Can no longer place units; conventional warfare commences.
* Defcon "FAST PACE" 2: No change from Defcon 3 (game manual states that fighting intensifies).
* Defcon "COCKED PISTOL" 1: Conflict goes nuclear. [[DownerEnding The end.]]

!!''DEFCON'' contains examples of:
* AxCrazy: It's not a stretch to say that the player character is this.
* AllNationsAreSuperpowers: North America, Russia, even a single Europe make sense. A united nuclear-armed Africa, less so.
* AllThereInTheManual: There is a manual available for download off the Introversion website which teaches you the basics of the game. However there are some parts where you might not be sure if it was written by a [[CrazyPrepared paranoid]] or a CloudCuckoolander.
** It's a reference to the ''Protect and Survive'' pamphlets that were planned to be handed out in the UK (along with the TV and radio broadcasts) around the height of the UsefulNotes/{{Cold War}}.
* AnachronismStew: The former Soviet Republics are separate from Russia (and the European ones are a part of a UnitedEurope), but St. Petersburg is named Leningrad in game and East and West Germany are separated by borders (although both are part of said United Europe).
* TheBigBoard: The entire game takes place on a strategic layout screen.
* BombersOnTheScreen
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: There is no I in team, as in ''I'' win.
* CosmeticallyDifferentSides: Everyone starts with the same assets and the same population count. Population centers are spread out differently between the continents though.
** It's not entirely cosmetic, however, in that some continents are easier to defend than others due to city placement. Europe, for example, has all of its' population centers placed in a relatively tight group, so it's easy to cover them strongly with antimissile defenses. South America, on the other hand, is much more spread out, though sacrificing the smaller cities is a viable tactic.
** Everyone hates Europe, except Russia, because most nukes fired at and from anywhere arc over Europe, allowing European air defences to shoot them all down. Also because so many arc over Europe there is the chance that European air defenses are shooting at missiles not aimed at them allowing the ones that ARE aimed at them to hit.
* CripplingOverspecialization: [[DualModeUnit Stances]] offer a bit of utility but overall, the units breakdown into either direct combat or support roles.
* CriticalExistenceFailure: Subverted with silos and air bases. Getting hit by a nuke reduces their arsenal.
* CurbStompBattle: Grouping up for a 5v1 with alliances ensures the solo player left behind is in for a very bad time…
* CutAndPasteEnvironments: On a larger scale in terms of setting and development, anyway. The map the game takes place on is exactly the same one from the connection menu of ''{{VideoGame/Uplink}}''.
* DefconFive: Done correctly.
* DualModeUnit: Units can be toggled between different modes to fit certain roles. For example, a silo can switch between anti-air mode (where it provides your only defense) and [=ICBM=] launch mode. There is a timed delay before a switch takes effect, and the time needed to switch back to anti air as warheads bear down on you can seem very long indeed.
* EasyLogistics: Your nuclear stock pile is limited, and your planes have fuel. But that's about it.
* EnemyMine: You can form alliances, just make sure to keep an eye on your "friends".
* FogOfWar: Radar units and planes reveal the fog of war.
** Forming an alliance also reveals everything your allies sees - including their assets (and ''vice versa'').
* GeoEffects: Certain territorial 1v1 contests can be geographically imbalanced, such as Russia vs. Asia. Russian territory includes a small section of sea off the coast of Japan, allowing players to post entire fleets of nuke carrying subs right next to several major population centres. By comparison, naval vessels from Asia must sail around Africa and through the Atlantic to get within SRBM range of Russian cities.
* {{Homage}}: DEFCON takes inspiration from ''Film/WarGames''. A number of {{shout out}}s are included in the main menu.
* KillAllHumans: The goal of the game.
* MacrossMissileMassacre: [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill The more missiles you fire]], the more that can be expected to get through an enemies defences and hit their target.
* AMillionIsAStatistic: A missile hit on a city is labelled (say) "Manchester hit, 1.2m dead", but the civilian population is just a means of keeping score.
* NonEntityGeneral: You, the player.
* OneWorldOrder: The diplomacy game mode begins like this. And slowly breaks down as nations [[CherryTapping chip away]] at each others' population centers to reduce their scores.
* PainfullySlowProjectile: Justified in that missiles are slow in relation to the size of the earth, and the parabolic arc they follow is how they'd actually fly to their target[[labelnote:*]]although missiles launched against targets in the same hemisphere should really use great-circle routes over the pole, and the game makes no consideration for the ''actual'' curvature of the globe, as southern hemisphere launched missiles still arc as if they were launched from the northern hemisphere, and yes, that is a gameplay consideration[[/labelnote]]. However, it's still obnoxious watching your missiles get shot down as they slowly inch toward their targets.
* PowerGlows: Radiation from nuclear strikes is depicted by a SicklyGreenGlow (the colour can be changed.)
* PyrrhicVictory: "Winning" a game amounts to this, no matter how well you manage to ride out the nuclear holocaust. Unless you're playing as Europe and manage to take out the enemy subs before they can launch their payloads, then it becomes a one-sided affair.
* RiskStyleMap: The world is divided into [[CanadaEh North]] [[EagleLand America]], [[SouthOfTheBorder South]] [[LatinLand America]], [[UnitedEurope Europe]], [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Russia]], [[DarkestAfrica Africa]], [[ArabianNightsDays and]] [[EastIndies As]][[FarEast ia]]. [[LandDownunder Australia]] is non playable because [[TabletopGame/{{Risk}} that would be OP]], and no one seems to ever launch at Australia in almost all nuclear war media.
* ScoringPoints: Scoring kills against enemy population centers earns points. Whoever has the most points at the end of the time limit wins.
* SensorSuspense: You only ever see icons moving on a map; you never get to witness the effects of your orders firsthand. The only hint of what might be really happening is the occasional sound of a woman crying.
* ShoutOut: The menu has a terminal readout that displays random information, from a staff roll, the effects of radiation exposure and symptoms, to listing "Civilian [[Film/DoctorStrangelove Targets in Megadeaths]]", and [[Film/WarGames asking if you'd rather play a nice game of chess instead]].
** Aditionally, many of the stranger seeming excerpts from the game manual come directly from the 'Protect and Survive' information handed out in the UK during the Cold War.
* SoundtrackDissonance: There are soft, slow piano chords and OneWomanWail, with occasional sighs or sobbing to accompany the [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt end of humanity]].
* TacticalRockPaperScissors: Fighters beats bombers, bombers beat battleship, battleship beats fighters. Parallel to that-- battleship beats carrier, carrier beats sub, sub beats battleship.
* TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt : And you're the one orchestrating it all !
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverKill: '''SAN FRANCISCO: 10 IN FLIGHT'''.
** The Steam version of the game has the achievement "Have you had enough?", which involves nuking a city whose population has been already reduced to 0.
* UnfriendlyFire: You can manually target your allies assets and population and avoid any retaliation from anti aircraft fire. Just make sure to leave the alliance before the nukes fall or you'll lose points instead.
** Steam has an achievement for this.
* VideoGameCrueltyPotential: [[AMillionIsAStatistic Civilians are little more than points to be scored in a game of war.]]
** If you [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds had a bad day]], there's nothing to relieve stress quite like [[OmnicidalManiac obliterating humanity]] [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt and reducing the Earth to a lifeless ball of irradiated rock]], LaughingMad all the while.
** The UsefulNotes/{{Steam}} release was updated during the 2011 holiday sale to include SantaClaus travelling around the world delivering presents. You could destroy him with a well-aimed and well-timed nuke. Doing so earns you the "Merry Christmas" achievement, "and thereby end Christmas for everyone, for ever more".
* VillainProtagonist: The whole point of the game is based around being a GeneralRipper and ensuring them commies/capitalists/whatevers '''die in nuclear fire.'''
* WarIsHell: As the game's tagline implies: Nobody can win nuclear war, you can only lose the least.
* WeHaveReserves: Since fighters respawn (at airfields, at least) and everything else doesn't, sending in waves of fighters to draw AA fire from bombers or missiles is one way to try and ensure they make it through, albeit limited by the fighters' short range.
* YouBastard: Suffice to say, between the somber music, the unnerving sound effects, and the grim news reports, this game is ''not'' trying to make global thermonuclear war fun.
* YouNukeEm: You are given the entire nuclear arsenal of a continent, and your goal is to [[KillAllHumans nuke everyone else off the face of the earth]].