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NATO, Nukes & Nazis 2: The War in France & Russia» Forums » General

Subject: A comparison to the original game rss

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Chris Hansen
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<Warning! Long post ahead…if you want just a very brief summary, skip to the end.>

There has been a bit of confusion among some gamers on whether the new game Nato, Nukes, & Nazis 2 (NNN2) by Ty Bomba and recently released by One Small Step games is a reprint or update of the game Nato, Nukes, & Nazis (NNN) by Joe Miranda and released in 1990 by XTR. Despite having the same name, NNN2 was not intended to be a reprint of the original but rather a remake or perhaps better said as Ty Bomba’s take on the original game and setting. This post then is an attempt to highlight the differences between the two games to help inform people who are interested in purchasing the new title and want to know a little something about the differences. Note that this is not a review of the game, only an overview of the two game’s systems.

Setting – As far as the setting goes, the two games are identical with the exception that NNN is set in 1992 while NNN2 is set in 1989. This seems to have been made to parallel the crisis that leads to war in the NNN2 history with the crisis that led to the fall of the Soviet Union in our actual history.

Theater – While both games cover the same hypothetical situation of a war between a preserved modern version of Nazi Germany versus NATO in Europe, NNN only covered the fighting in Western Europe with some abstract rules and an off-board holding box to cover the concurrent war in Eastern Europe. The big change with NNN2 is now you have a second map in which to actually fight out the Eastern Front conflict between the Nazis and their Warsaw Pact allies (now a part of a Nazi alliance) and Russia (now a part of NATO). In addition, NNN2 gives you the option of either fighting a one map war, either West or East, or the full conflict on two maps. Note the East and West maps do not actually directly connect to each other; there is an approximately 300 mile gap between the two maps.

Ground Scale – The ground scale of the two games is identical at 20 miles (32.5 km) per hex.

Time Scale – Time has changed from one week turns in NNN to half-week turns in NNN2. In addition, an NNN scenario is only 8 turns long thus covering one month of warfare, while NNN scenarios ranged from 12 to 26 turns long covering from 3 to 6 months of time.

Unit scale – This is pretty much the same between the two games, that is divisional (corps for the Russians in NNN2). Both games have smaller sized formations, but whereas NNN had several units sprinkled among all the nationalities featured in the game, NNN2 only has ten such smaller units all of which belong to the Nazi side.

Scenarios – NNN came with 4 scenarios, with more variants being added later. NNN2 has 2 scenarios out of the box; either a 1-map or a 2-map game. An interesting mechanic for the 1-map game is that before play the Nazi player must divide his starting German units between the East and West map. Once that is done then he randomly determines which map will be used and the German units allocated to the other map are now considered out of play.

The game play of the two games has changed in several significant ways, so I’ll summarize those below.

Zones of Control – This is one area where the two games have not changed. In both games ground units do not exert a Zone of Control (ZOC) into adjacent hexes. NNN2 does have airpower markers which do have a zone of effect that surrounds the six adjacent hexes.

Airpower – This is a big change. In NNN you had several air units representing fighters, bombers, and the like, and you sent them on direct air missions either for ground support or for the purposes of gaining air superiority. In NNN2, airpower has now been greatly abstracted and simplified with both players just rolling dice for each of the two maps, comparing totals with the high roller getting the difference between the totals as air power markers that can be placed on the map. These markers then affect both combat and movement in the hex they are placed in and the six surrounding hexes. Note that this set of rolls is done for each map, East and West, thus it is possible for NATO to have superiority on one map and the Nazis on another.

Ground Mechanics – This is another area where there are marked differences between the two games. NNN uses the classic IGO-UGO system where one side gets to do all of their movement and combat followed by the other side. NNN2 is quite different. First, players will either randomly decide who goes first in a given game turn via a die roll, or they bid victory points for the chance to go first. Win or lose in this bidding, the victory points bid are lost. Then NNN2 uses a system of alternating activations, where an activation can be used for one of the following actions: movement of one or more units that start stacked together, resolving a combat using a group of attacking units adjacent to an enemy occupied hex, or dropping a nuke. Note that there is no moving and then attacking; it’s either one or the other. Another feature of the system is that once a unit takes an action of any kind the unit is flipped over and considered disrupted which has the effect of lowering the defense factor of the unit to 2 instead of its printed defense factor and also prohibiting the unit from further actions during this game turn. Units are undisrupted at the end of the game turn during a final administrative phase. This disruption of units that take actions and the ability of the other player to then immediately follow up with an action of their own is the central feature of NNN2 and requires the players conduct their combat operations rather differently than in NNN, or other games of this kind for that matter.

Supply and Reinforcement – NNN had specific supply rules where units need to have a line of supply in order to fight at full effectiveness. Also there was a very specific time table for reinforcements and replacements were handled by spending replacement points to reconstitute units. NNN2 has no supply rules. Because the game only covers 1 month of conflict the units are considered to carry enough supply for combat needs without tracing specific supply routes. This is another significant change that will affect how you conduct operations. Also, since each of the sides entire order of battle is already considered to be deployed on the map(s), there are no reinforcements, however all eliminated units can possibly be replaced and re-enter play on a later turn as determined by die roll.

Nukes – In NNN, you were given a set number of nukes that you could use in a scenario. Also, while there was a political victory point cost for first use and some subsequent effects incurred by their use, there were no other greater effects beyond their effect on the hex and units they were used against. In NNN2, you have essentially an unlimited number of nukes available, and it order to use one you simply use one of your activations and choose a hex to attack. While there is a victory point cost for first use in NNN2, you also must roll two dice after you resolve the effects of each nuke; on a roll of a two a strategic nuclear exchange occurs and the game immediately ends with the loser being the player who made the nuclear attack. In addition if any nuclear attacks were made during a game turn, a further two dice roll is made at the end of the turn with a roll of 12 resulting in a nuclear winter being caused by the fallout and again ending the game with the loser being considered the player who fired the last nuke. So yes, you can use nukes all you like, but you run the risk of prematurely ending the game and losing. Ty also adds an additional optional idea to represent the stakes involved with using nuclear weapons. He proposes that each player put up something of value forward as a type of ante, he suggests $100 dollars by each player for most people. Then if the game is lost due to the player being responsible for either a strategic exchange or the onset of a nuclear winter, his stake is forfeit to the other player.

Special Actions – Both games feature the ability to conduct airborne and airmobile operations, but NNN2 does not cover special ops or underground warfare, let alone things like Nazi death rays. The only special unit in NNN2 is the German super-heavy panzer units which give the Nazis a favorable column shift in combat. Also, while NNN had Fog of War rules for hidden units and the use of Electronic Intelligence to uncover said units, these concepts are not used in NNN2 where all information is accessible to both players.

Political and Random Events – Unlike NNN where political events could have a significant effect on the play of a given scenario, NNN2 does not use such random events.

Victory – In NNN, you received political points for either capturing cities with one side losing points and the other side gaining points, by eliminating enemy units, or by nuclear attacks. In NNN2 you receive victory points in the same way except you do not receive points for eliminating enemy units. Both games have rules for automatic victory, but otherwise the player with the higher victory point total wins.

Summary – While NNN2 does not feature the chrome and some of the detail of NNN, it is certainly easier to learn weighing in at roughly 10 pages of rules as compared to around 23 pages for NNN. In the end NNN2 is a faster playing, more streamlined version of NNN with the added feature of also now including operations on the Eastern front by adding the Russians and a second map for the east. It also breaks from the IGO-UGO mold of wargaming with its activation system that in turn present the players with a new type of gaming environment that will require a different approach to play than some people are used to in order to succeed. Ty Bomba has stated that NNN2 is not meant to replace NNN, but rather to compliment it. Indeed, he hopes to someday be able to revisit the original game and give it an actual direct reprint. Finally, do note that there is another game in the works right now to compliment NNN2 called Nippon, Nukes & Nationalists which will cover the war in East Asia that is happening concurrently with the events in NNN2, and there will be rules to combine the two games.
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Dave Lamb
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Nice, succinct review. Now we just need some AAR's to go along with the game.
 
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Tony M
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"...it is certainly easier to learn weighing in at roughly 10 pages of rules as compared to around 23 pages for NNN."

Wow. This is certainly good news. I tried to play the original only a couple times--it was just waaaaay to complex for me. And that was when it was originally published, when I had much more time and mental energy than I do today.

Thank you for your review. I hope the game does well.
 
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Dave Lamb
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"Another feature of the system is that once a unit takes an action of any kind the unit is flipped over and considered disrupted which has the effect of lowering the defense factor of the unit to 2 instead of its printed defense factor and also prohibiting the unit from further actions during this game turn."

I'm curious as to the rationale behind the considerable drop in the defense factor strength? It seems an odd mechanic and is quite beneficial to defenders. Whether you move your stack up to the defenders hex or you've just attacked it. The defender gets incredible opportunities to destroy you after you've become disrupted.

I don't recall another game that shares that game mechanic (other than Ty's new game, Putin Strikes).
 
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Chris Hansen
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I think the premise behind this disruption from moving and from attacking is Ty's BADASS (Big And Dumb Armies Simulation System) idea. Just one look at the US order of battle tells you that this US Army is quite a different beast from it's real world counterpart. It appears to be an Army filled out with National Guard units and reservists and probably works more like the volunteer army of WWII rather than the tighter and leaner professional US Army of our world.

The one thing I do wonder about though is the lack of a sizable French military in this version of history. I would think it would be more like the West German Army of our world when they were the Cold War's front line. I can't imagine even with the huge US commitment to Europe that they would be very comfortable with those huge Nazi armies sitting across the border and not want a sizable military of their own to try and prevent another occupation of their country.
 
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Dave Lamb
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Yes, I too was concerned with the small, almost insignificant European armies in NNN2. As Ty answered in the CSW game folder:

>In regard to my analysis of this alt. hist. timeline, given the way WW2 ended in it, postwar America would've been a much different place than the one we've lived in these past decades.

>First, the US of the NNN universe is far more to the right than is our America, and it's much more determined in it's determination to right the wrongs of 1944-45.

>Second, the Western Europeans are, at the same time, much more psychologically ass-kicked than they are even in our world today. WW2 for them didn't end on any promise of a better future, only one of having to prepare for the final and inevitable showdown war with the Germans. My best guess is many of them would've migrated to the US and the "White Dominions."

>Third, postwar Western Europe in the NNN universe totally lacked the economic driver that ours got from the West German economic revival.

>All that comes together, in my view, to create a world in which the US is much more prone to spend much more of its money on its own army rather than financing the military recovery of its more pessimistic allies.

So, if there was no Marshall Plan (as in NNN universe), then I could see the OB's that exist.

I say that this verion of the NNN universe is even darker than the Miranda universe.
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The lowered defense strength after a unit activates is used in all of the Storm Over Arnhem-type games (SOA, Breakout: Normandy, Thunder at Cassino).

I like the mechanic as it entices the other player to attack - which is the point of the whole exercise!
 
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Dave Lamb
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I understand that, but I disagree strongly with making the defensive (disrupted) strength of divisions only 2 combat factors. It should be a minimum of 3. Having played it a few times now, it is far too easy to destroy a depleted stack conventionally with a large adjacent stack. It makes it difficult to make any attacks when one has to fear counterattacks that are likely to annihilate or cause heavy losses.

One must use different tactics in this system unlike older, more conventional wargames. For me, the jury is still out. I'm curious as to what others opinions might be for using this system.
 
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Chris Hansen
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The system, from what I've seen, seems to entice concentration of force especially when on the offensive, a stack of 6 at least has a defense of 12 plus the possibility of an odds shift for the Nazi's if stacked with a super heavy panzer. It also suggests the need for air superiority when on the offensive so you can advance under a friendly air power umbrella. This is how I have seen successful offensive operations conducted in this game, particularly in the West.

As for the system itself, the jury has been out a bit ever since the original game depicting modern warfare with no ZoC's. This one expands that further by stating that offensive operations, movement, or even just waiting around eventually causes a unit to become badly disorganized.

This game definitely takes wargamers out of their comfort zone.

As for their being a detailed military explanation for why this idea of a disrupted value of 2, I don't think there really is one. For example, I believe you asked on ConSimWorld why the German paratroopers had such a high defense value of 8, and the answer was their stellar performance in WWII on the defense. But if that's the case, then why is it when they move a bit down the road they suddenly have the same defense as conscripted 2nd line recruits? Indeed, it implies that the men of NNN2's Nazi paratroopers were just as well trained and equipped as their WWII counterparts, and in that war they most certainly knew how to advance to a new position in a manner that would allow them to quickly deploy on the defense if attacked.

So in short, I believe all this is design for effect rather than for strict military capabilities. This effect seems to be that these armies are powerful, but extremely brittle. And it forces one to simply forget about what we know or think we know of current military capabilities of today, or in this case of 1990, and say well this is just what the armies are like in this alternate reality of Ty Bomba's making, though his design of Putin Strikes also seems to indicate that it's also how he feels armies will operate in our reality as well.

It does seem to be the case that a whole lotta eggs need to be broken to make an omelette in the case of offensive operations, but both sides are in the same position as far as that goes. And yes, that dead pile can start to get rather large.
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