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NATO, NUKES & NAZIS

Designer: Joesph A. Miranda
Developers: Ty Bomba, Chris Perello
Publisher: XTR Corporation, 1990

Components

34"x 22" Mapsheet
400 Counters
31 page rulebook
2x aircraft holding box sheets
1x political index/turn record sheet

Backstory

In this alternate-history game, the Tresckow/Schlabrendorff bomb plot was successful, killing Hitler over the Russian steppe. A coalition of competent German generals took command of the army (Guderian, Rommel, Manstein, etc) and proceeded to change German policy in the Ukraine. The collective farms were disbanded and the German army was successful at "winning the hearts and minds" of the populace, which in turn swelled the ranks of the German army. After winning the Battle of Kursk, and causing massive losses to the Red Army, the Germans earned some breathing room and transferred two panzer armies to the western front where their presence was immediately felt. The Allies, stunned by near defeat on the Normandy beaches, were hopelessly mired in the hedgerows and gambled on additional landings at Calais, Bolougne and Dunkirk. These landings were successful, allowing the Allies to drive into France and Belgium. The front line now stretched along the Meuse river across the front. German counterstrokes followed, with Allied defeats in surprise winter offensives in the Ardennes and in the south of France. When the smoke cleared, both sides were exhausted and the German super-weapons were turning the tide. Jets and surface-to-air missiles were devastating Allied bomber formations, and ULTRA was reporting that additional German troops were heading west from the now quiet east front.

President Truman decided to deploy the atomic bomb, wiping out Dusseldorf and Cologne. The German government, now headed by Albert Speer, sued for peace immediately. Soon afterward, the Treaty of Aachen was signed, in which borders were laid out. Greater Germany now encompasses Germany, Holland and Denmark, with the Warsaw Pact countries forming a military alliance to assist Germany. The usual suspects are a part of NATO, with Finland, Sweden and Norway forming the neutral Scandinavian League.

Cold war follows, with Winston Churchill giving his famous "Iron Curtain" speech. NATO and the Greater German Reich face off on the border of France and Belgium, with both sides investing heavily in armored and mechanized formations, their airforces and nuclear weapons. As a worldwide recession brings the German economy to its knees, radical Nazis come to power, don jackboots, and face west........

Review

Yes, this is pretty far-fetched alternate-history. Surprisingly, the backstory, authored by Ty Bomba, does a very good job providing the "historical" justification needed to get Nato, Nukes and Nazis together in the same game. One-fifth of the rulebook is Bomba's rationale for this. The rulebook also features excellent designer notes from Joe Miranda, the designer. Even if one doesn't play the game, it is worth reading for entertainment. The theme is interwoven quite well; there are German "holy" sites that have mythic importance to the Nazi government and bestow advantages/disadvantages. A lot of attention was spent working on the order of battle; NATO is represented, the German Army is an amalgamation of Wehrmacht and Warsaw Pact units, and the SS follows German trends during WWII, namely getting the best gear and most fanatic troops.

Nato, Nukes & Nazis (NNN hereafter) is a standard hex and counter wargame from 1990. The entire package comes in a ziplock bag, and had an MSRP of $20.00 when it was new. The rulebook is well-laid out, with decimal-referenced rules. Thankfully, there is a good table of contents at the front of the book. The map is functional, but not pretty; I think the colors used are fairly garish. The map is thick paper and seems to be lightly coated. There are a number of play-aids included that are essentially white sheets of paper. The tables and charts have to be removed from the center of the rulebook. The counters are high-quality and have colors that allow one to differentiate between nationalities. The counters use standard NATO symbols, with attack/defense/movement stats common in most wargames.

If you have played a modern coldwar game, such as Nato: The Next War in Europe, this one will be familiar. The game was originally designed to be a game of modern warfare, but the designer implies that the end of the cold war made the design obsolete. NNN covers everything that a modern game should, air-mobile and airborne troops, tactical nuclear weapons, airfield suppression and close air-support. There is also a healthy dose of asymetrical warfare with terror attacks on population centers, insurgency operations, propaganda and sabotage. All of this, and no zones of control make for a VERY fluid game. For you wargamers, here is the turn sequence:

I. Nazi player turn
A. Mobilization phase
B. Special actions phase
C. Initial Nazi movement phase
D. NATO air reaction phase
E. Air superiority phase
F. Nazi ground combat phase
G. Nazi exploitation movement phase
(rinse and repeat for NATO, and tack on a Political Phase at the end)

The heart of the game is managing the Political Events Index. This is a one-hundred point scale, with NATO achieving an automatic victory if it falls below one, and the Nazis winning if it reaches 100. After each turn, you take the political index and look at the Political Events Table. You get political points for destroying enemy units and capturing enemy-held cities. Some cities, such as Paris, are worth more. After casting the die, you look at what occurs. Here is an example of a die roll, with the political index sitting at 55:

Russian Offensive - German player must send some units to the east to hold off the Russian hordes.
EMP - electronic warfare and guided missile units may lose special abilities if lots of nukes have gone off.
Eire - German player gets a partisan in Northern Ireland
Swedish peace - Swiss withdraw from the war.

As the index gets higher, the events get progressively worse for NATO. The USA could quit the war, France or the UK surrender, etc. As the index gets lower, the events for the Germans get worse also, but not as bad. It is very important for NATO to keep the index from rising above 76, because that is when major countries start surrendering or going home. When this starts, NATO is doomed.

Gameplay

It feels like a modern game, and seems to model modern warfare fairly well. I am convinced that that things are bit unbalanced in favor of the Germans mainly because they can gain many points on the political index and, with some lucky rolls, force NATO countries to surrender. The designer intended it to be rough on NATO initially and harder than the Germans later on. I think he may have missed the mark on this, and made it too easy for the Germans to make hay and cause a fast downward spiral for NATO. There are three scenarios included in the game: 1) campaign game 2) hypothetical "Sea-Lion" 3) German Civil War (Wehrmacht vs SS)

House Rules

These are house-rules I use to help balance the game. Many of these were suggested by Gary Robinson, a guy who used to have a webpage about NNN, and who obviously played it quite a bit.
1- Sturmpioneers and micro-nukes. They cost 2 to moblize, they die first, combat effect is 2 shifts, not automatically force retreat. (Gary's idea)
2- Either disallow holding box suppression raids or only allow 4 raiders.
3- Ground support is too powerful. Only allow one unit to lend air support to a ground battle, but more can be present to cancel air support. (Gary's idea)
4- Subtract 5-10 points from the starting political index if playing the campaign game.

Conclusion

Wacky, fun, and a real wargame. I suggest picking it up just to read the "historical" notes and designer commentary. If you think wargames should be historical simulations that "plot-hammer" you into pre-determined outcomes, this is definitely not for you. Overall, I think it is an interesting game and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in off-beat wargames. Besides, in what other game can you beat up on the SS with the Israeli Army?




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Mark Christopher
United States
Salem
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In the wonderful game, Bonaparte at Marengo, this is how to get nasty Frenchies out of a village.
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I'm so bummed my cat peed on the copy I had back in '91. I have to remember to look for a used copy.
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Chris Reichl
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Wisconsin
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I bought that at a Game store in Phily in '91 never played it all the way through, but love the counters and the map art as well. Problem was as I moved I lost counters blush. I might reprint some just to "replace the losses"(no pun intended). I like how Nato has some units that the Nazis don't have and vice versa. Sure the history is a bit far fetched, but it does make for an interesting alternate history.

 
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Darrell Hanning
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Had fun with this one, when it came out. You make me want to drag it back out again.
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Steve Bernhardt
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You know you want to.
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Darrell Hanning
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We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
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Quote:
You know you want to.


Yes...but...so...many...games to play. And sometimes I buy them faster and more furiously that I really should. They're like crack, doc - do you see? I just gotta have 'em!
 
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Dave Lamb
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Harper Woods
Michigan
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Cool review of the game. Gary Robinson and many other players of NNN can be found over at consimworld in the boardgame NNN folder. There is regular discussion and variant scenarios for this great game.

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?13@170.r5ZocOLJVMb.379@.ee6...

 
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Steve Bernhardt
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Thanks! I never thought to look there for some reason.
 
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Dave Lamb
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Harper Woods
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Another scenario worthy of mention is the '94 D-Day scenario that came out with Command #8 (inc. variant/replacement counters). No true afficionado of NNN can get by without these. Of almost equal importance is Command #9 & 10, which has the additional Luftwaffe variant counters (and also the controversial Nazi Death Ray counter). Those bonus TAC and HC air units really enhance any playing of NNN.
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Jeffrey Vaca
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*sigh*

I have a copy but no opponents. Too many eurogamers, not enough wargamers.

Gary and I started a game of this way back when but never finished and then he up and moved to Florida.

*heavy sigh*
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Steve Bernhardt
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Solo it! This might be a game that is better solo anyway, since the political index can cause swings that really start a death-spiral.
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