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Subject: Nuclear War card-by-card rss

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Seth Owen
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Nuclear War Card-by-card

Created in the middle of the Cold War in the same tradition of black humor that inspired Dr’ Strangelove, the card game Nuclear War is also a classic. It’s been in print continuously for more than 40 years, outlasting the Cold War itself. It’s inspired three full-scale expansions, each in turn mocking the fears of its own era while keeping in tune with the spirit of the original.
This essay will look at each card in the game, explaining its game effect and with tips for play. Like all card games Nuclear War and its kin have a heavy luck element and there’s no guarantee that better card play will lead to victory. Indeed, victory is an elusive concept in a game that involves incinerating millions of “people” and it’s not uncommon for everyone to lose, either in a chain reaction of final retaliations or from the infamous triple-yield 100-megaton nuclear stockpile explosion. This is not a game for players too hung up on winning.
Still, amid all the chaos it is possible to play the cards to advantage and increase the chances that your nation will be the last one standing, lording it over a glowing world.

Nuclear War includes five basic types of cards: Propaganda, Warheads, Carriers, Anti-missiles and Secrets/Top Secrets. Propaganda cards are used to steal population from other players, but don’t work once war starts. War begins when a warhead targets an enemy country. Warheads have to be carried to the target in some kind of carrier, either a missile or a bomber. There are a handful of anti-missile cards that can be used to shoot down a carrier, but usually it gets through. Secrets and Top Secrets are a kind of random event card with various effects.

Propaganda
Propaganda is as old as war and politics. If war is politics by another means, propaganda is the tool used to influence the public’s perception that lies at the heart of politics. In the English language propaganda has acquired negative connotations of falsehood and deception, but the most effective propaganda is the truth. Governments that dip into the pool of deception usually end up with a terminal credibility problem that robs their lies of impact and leaves the truth unavailable to them.
In the game propaganda cards are used to steal population from other players during periods of peace. Propaganda cards are not easy to use effectively. While a player who starts off playing propaganda cards may be, as the rules say, “a cold-war antagonist who hopes to secure victory through propaganda,” that hope is forlorn indeed. Sooner or later – and usually it is sooner – the bombs will start going off and the propaganda cards rendered useless until peace breaks out again. More typically the propaganda cards end up being used as placeholder discards while the war rages. Late in the game there can be opportunities to use propaganda cards to eliminate players weakened in the fighting. The advantage of doing this with a propaganda card is that the eliminated player does not get to use final retaliation.



Title: Propaganda
Text: 5 MILLION Enemy Defect To Your Side
Number in Deck: 12
Game effect: Five million people from an enemy you select are transferred to you.
Political effect: Annoying to the target
Limits: Can only be played until war starts
Player tips: While the second most common single card in the deck, it’s also the least useful. Five million new citizens are unlikely to have a decisive effect on the game, but it’s annoying to the target. If you’re the very first player you may not have any choice but to pick on someone, but generally it’s better to use your 5 million Propaganda cards to recover population stolen from you rather than annoy your neighbors. Once war starts these are useful as placeholders in your card ladder. For example, if you’re stuck with an imbalanced hand with lots of warheads and few carrier systems you may want to play propaganda cards rather than waste warheads in “nuclear tests.”
Historical note: Propaganda played a critical war in the actual Cold War. Radio Free Europe was founded in 1950 and its first broadcast occurred on July 4, 1950. Originally funded by the CIA, Radio Free Europe and its successors were a key part of the political war of ideas waged during the Cold War, providing an alternative to the state-run media of the Communists states.

Title: Propaganda
Text: 10 MILLION Enemy Denounce Their Form Of Government For Yours
Number in Deck: 6
Game effect: Ten million people from an enemy you select are transferred to you.
Political effect: Aggravating to the target
Limits: Can only be played until war starts
Player tips: Losing 10 million people will sting, particularly in games with a larger number of players such as 5 or 6. The larger number of players will provide for more opportunities for propaganda card play before war has a chance to start and the smaller number of population cards can leave some players vulnerable during the opening stage of the game. If all the other players concentrate their efforts it is possible to knock someone out early with propaganda cards in a six-player game, so if it’s your turn, don’t forget to bring the chips and soda. Once war starts these can be worth holding onto for the next peaceful interlude, but not at the expense of effective weapon combos. 10 million might just be enough to knock out someone who’s been pummeled a bit.


Title: Propaganda
Text: 25 MILLION Of The Enemy’s Population Declare Allegiance to Your Country
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: Twenty-five million people from an enemy you select are transferred to you.
Political effect: Damaging to the target
Limits: Can only be played until war starts
Player tips: This is a dangerous card. If played during the initial rounds it can be somewhat of a two-edged sword. Either the target or the card player will probably find themselves receiving unwelcome attention in the form of missiles as soon as war starts, depending on the dynamic of the group. Either the other players will be tempted to pile onto the target because he’s been severely weakened, or maybe they will gang up on the recipient on the theory that he’s probably the leader. Despite the risk, it’s probably not a good idea to refrain from playing the card. Like most card games, keeping a good flow of cards through your hand is important and tying up a spot with a card you may never get to play isn’t a good idea. If you should happen to have this card in your hand during the late game if peace breaks out, however, it can be a devastating play. Losing 25 million can easily knock someone out of the game in the late going – with no chance for a final retaliation. All-in-all one of the most powerful cards in the game.


Warheads
Warheads are the business end of the game. Sooner or later, even if you started off as a cold war strategist, someone will reveal themselves to be “A warmonger who chooses to begin a nuclear holocaust” or “A clod who triggers war accidentally through careless strategy.” Either way, warheads will begin attacking players and population cards will be dropping into the graveyard in great numbers. Winning will require effective delivery of warheads and not a little bit of luck as well.
The first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 has an approximate yield of about 15 kilotons, or the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT, but before long devices that size were considered mere “tactical” weapons and the real city busters measured their yields in the “megatons,” or one million metric tons of TNT.
. In the game, warhead cards are “carried” by various delivery systems, typically missiles. A carrier card is turned face up and revealed in one turn. If a warhead card capable of being carried by that carrier is the next card revealed, this constitutes an attack. An enemy player is named the target and the spinner is spun (or dice rolled) to determine the actual damage. Once the appropriate cards are revealed, an attack must be made. A warhead without a carrier is informally called a “nuclear test” and has no game effect and is discarded.


Title: 10 Megatons
Text: Destroys 2 million
Number in Deck: 19
Game effect: Two million people from an enemy you select are removed from play. Based on the spinner or dice roll this can be reduced to zero or increased to as much as 12 million
Political effect: Annoying to aggravating to the target depending on the final result
Limits: Few, can be carried by any delivery system
Preferred carrier: Polaris missile
Player tips: The most common single card in the deck. About 22% of the time bad luck can mean it has no effect (fallout shelters, dud, explode on launch), it can also end up being pretty damaging if the gamma rays show up, about 12% of the time, causing 12 million in losses. Generally won’t be carried by Titan or Saturn missiles unless there’s no choice. It’s often expended in “tests” in favor of waiting for bigger bombs.
Historical note: While 10 megatons is the smallest warhead in Nuclear War, in actuality it was one of the larger yields actually deployed. Only the larger U.S. ICBMs such as the Titan carried 9-10 MT warheads.



Title: 20 Megatons
Text: Destroys 5 million
Number in Deck: 10
Game effect: Five million people from an enemy you select are removed from play. Based on the spinner or dice roll this can be reduced to zero or increased to as much as 15 million
Political effect: Unless it duds, aggravating or damaging to the target depending on the final result
Limits: Can be carried by any delivery system except the Polaris missile
Preferred carrier: Atlas missile
Player tips: While there are more 10 MT warheads in the deck, some of those will be discarded in tests, whereas this will rarely happen with the 20MT card, so both are just about as likely to be actually used against enemy players. There’s really no shortage of potential carriers, with 9 Atlas missiles, 6 B70 bombers and occasionally a Saturn missile all being reasonable choices.
Historical note: Only the B41 nuclear bomb used in the 1960s had a yield in the 20+ Megaton range, among U.S. weapons.



Title: 50 Megatons
Text: Destroys 10 million
Number in Deck: 4
Game effect: Ten million people from an enemy you select are removed from play. Based on the spinner or dice roll this can be reduced to zero or increased to as much as 30 million
Political effect: Unless it duds, damaging to decisive to the target depending on the final result
Limits: Can only be carried by the B-70 Bomber or Saturn
Preferred carrier: B-70
Player tips: The 50MT warhead does the heavy lifting in Nuclear War. There’s a good chance it will do a decisive amount of damage to the targeted player. It’s scary enough to be revealed as part of your deterrent force, so long as you have a B-70 or Saturn to carry it. It should be saved for the right moment. Don’t make it your first shot, but your last.
Historical note: The largest nuclear weapon blast ever was a 50-megaton (some sources say 57-megaton) test conducted by the Russians in 1961 using a weapon called the “Tsar Bomba.” Too large and heavy to be a practical weapon, the device had damaging effects over hundreds of kilometers. The Soviets had to specially modify a Tu-95 bomber to carry the weapon, including cutting away part of the fuselage in order for it to fit. The Tsar Bomba could take out an entire urban region, which meant it was overkill for all but a couple of places (Greater New York, Ruhr)


Title: 100 Megatons
Text: Destroys 25 million
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: Twenty-five million people from an enemy you select are removed from play. Based on the spinner or dice roll this can be reduced to zero or increased to as much as 50 million. There is a small chance (about 5 percent) that the bomb will “Explode a Nuclear Stockpile.” If it does, “A super chain reaction starts which destroys all countries, the earth itself and the entire solar system. Everybody lost.”
Political effect: Unless it duds, decisive to the target. Potentially a game-ender
Limits: Can only be carried by the Saturn missile
Preferred carrier: Saturn
Player tips: This weapon is almost too powerful to be used, so in some ways it’s less useful than the 50MT. If you have any chance of winning the game, you don’t want to throw it away by using the 100MT and possiubly setting off the nuclear stockpile, so it’s best placed in the deterrent force and saved for final retaliation.
Historical note: The Tsar Bomba was designed as a 100MT weapon, but the yield was reduced by about half for the test by substituting lead for much of the warhead material in order to avoid excessive fallout.


Carriers
Warheads need a “carrier” to reach the target. Most are named after Cold War U.S. missiles, but there is also a manned bomber available. The first atomic bombs were dropped from B-29 bombers in World War II, and for most of the 1950s manned bombers were the primary delivery method for the strategic forces of both the United States and the Soviet Union. Ballistic missile technology also got its first combat use in World War II, however, and both countries worked hard to solve the technical problems of combining nuclear weapons with ballistic missiles and as the 50s came to an end nuclear tipped missiles joined their arsenals.
Manned bombers were more flexible to use than missiles and had the advantage of being able to be recalled. Using alert tactics that kept a certain percentage airborne at all times, backed up by other bombers on scramble alert, they were a reasonably robust retaliatory force. They were much less suitable for a first-strike, however, because the enemy would have considerable warning they were coming. In addition they were vulnerable to defensive measures such as jet interceptors and antiaircraft fire.
On the other hand, there was no defense against 1960s-era ballistic missiles, which could be used, at least theoretically, to launch a surprise attack. Because most were liquid-fueled missiles that had to be fueled just before firing and were not in hardened shelters they were much less useful for retaliation. These technical and tactical limitations played a big role in creating tension and fear between the two sides. An alleged “missile gap” between the USA and the USSR played a big role in the 1960 presidential campaign and the Cuban Missile Crisis was caused in part by Soviet and American attempts to mitigate the technical limitations of their missile forces by basing a portion of them closer to their targets.
In the game the “carrier” card is revealed first. If it’s followed immediately by a suitable warhead card then an attack is made. If it’s any other card, then it’s just a harmless “test launch” and the carrier is discarded. The central hand-management problem in the game is trying to achieve a useful balance of warheads and carriers.



Title: Polaris
Text: Carries 10 Megatons
Number in Deck: 9
Game effect: Delivers a 10 megaton warhead to a targeted player
Political effect: May announce the start of nuclear war, but necessarily signals a weak attack is on the way.
Limits: Can only carry one 10 megaton warhead
Preferred warhead: 10 Megaton
Player tips: Straightforwardly matched up with 10MT warheads. If your hand is imbalanced with carriers, this would be the first choice for “test launches.” After all, a Saturn can carry a 10MT, however inefficiently, if necessary.
Historical note: The Polaris was a solid-fueled, submarine launched ballistic missile. First fielded in 1960, its historical use was to attack “soft” military targets such as airfields and surface-to-air missile sites. Its warhead yield was only about 600KT – nothing close to 10MT – so it wasn’t primarily a city-busting weapon and it didn’t have the accuracy needed to take out hardened targets such as command bunkers or missile silos. There’s no reference to in Nuclear War to its submarine origin except for the red sea visible in the background on the card.




Title: Atlas
Text: Carries One Warhead Up To 20 Megatons
Number in Deck: 9
Game effect: Delivers a 10 megaton or 20 megaton warhead to a targeted player
Political effect: The workhorse missile for the workhorse warhead in the game.
Limits: Can only carry one warhead
Preferred warhead: 20 Megaton
Player tips: Usually saved for use with 20MT warheads, although may sometimes be armed with the 10MT if there is no other choice.
Historical note: The liquid-fueled Atlas was the first successful U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The Atlas was first operational in 1959 and served through 1964, meaning it was contemporary to the first edition of the Nuclear War card game. The actual Atlas ICBM’s carried a 4MT warhead, not a 20MT. The Atlas was also used as the basis for an entire series of space rockets, including the manned Mercury and Gemini programs as well as for launching satellites. Its last launch was in 2004.




Title: B-70 Bomber
Text: Carries Any Combination Of Warheads Up To 50 Megatons
Number in Deck: 6
Game effect: Delivers 10 megaton, 20 megaton or 50 megaton warheads to targeted players until it reaches its capacity of 50MT, runs out of fuel or is shot down
Political effect: Very threatening.
Limits: Can’t carry the 100MT
Preferred warhead: 50 Megaton
Player tips: This is the most flexible weapon system in the game. It can launch up to 5 attacks (using five 10MT warheads) although the 50MT is preferred because it minimizes the chances of running out of fuel before all the warheads are expended. It is suitable for use in the deterrent force, especially if you can show a 50MT warhead as well. Very useful for final retaliation because it can carry multiple warheads and even take revenge on more than one enemy.
Historical note: B-70 bomber was designed as a high-altitude supersonic penetration bomber that could literally run past defending jet interceptors before they would have a chance to get into position to fire. The development of effective high altitude SAMs invalidated the tactic, however, and the bomber was eventually cancelled. The existing subsonic B-52 bomber was better able to use the new tactic of low-level penetration flight profiles. Two prototype B-70s were built and dramatically unveiled in May of 1964, however, which no doubt caught the attention of Nuclear War designer Douglas Malewicki. Tragically one of the two B-70s crashed in 1966 following a mid-air collision.




Title: Saturn
Text: Carries One Warhead Up To 100 Megatons
Number in Deck: 3
Game effect: Delivers a 10, 20, 50 or 100 megaton warhead to a targeted player
Political effect: Mobilizing.
Limits: Can only carry one warhead
Preferred warhead: 50 Megaton
Player tips: Usually carries a 50 megaton warhead. There’s only one 100MT warhead in the deck, and it’s risky to use outside of final retaliation. If you have a Saturn and a 100MT warhead they should be in your deterrent force.
Historical note: The Saturn rocket was not an ICBM, but merely the largest U.S. rocket of the 1960s, first flown in 1961. Most famously Saturn rockets were used to launch Apollo manned space missions, including the moon shots.


Anti-missiles
Effective anti-missiles were wholly theoretical in the 1960s when the Nuclear War card game was designed. In the game they provide a limited ability to thwart attacks. Highly restricted in capability and very limited in number they do not threaten the dominance of the offensive in the game.





Title: Anti-Missile “P”
Text: Intercept Capability: Polaris
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: Cancels the attack of one Polaris missile
Political effect: Annoying.
Limits: Can only stop the Polaris
Preferred target: Polaris
Player tips: Use at the first opportunity. It’s not threatening enough to use as a deterrent or useful enough to take up a slot in your hand for use later.
Historical note: There were no anti-ballistic missiles fielded in the 1960s. The illustration appears to show a Nike missile, which was used to shoot down bombers.




Title: Anti-Missile “A”
Text: Intercept Capability: Atlas, Polaris
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: Cancels the attack of one Polaris or Atlas missile
Political effect: Annoying.
Limits: Can only stop the Atlas or Polaris
Preferred target: Atlas
Player tips: Use at the first opportunity against an Atlas. It’s not threatening enough to use as a deterrent. It is wasteful to use it against a Polaris unless you’re down to a few million population.



Title: Anti-Missile “B”
Text: Intercept Capability: B-70 Bomber, Atlas, Polaris
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: Cancels the attack of one B-70 bomber, Atlas missile or Polaris missile
Political effect: Aggravating.
Limits: Only one in the deck
Preferred target: B-70
Player tips: Save for use against a B-70. May be suitable for the deterrent force, especially if some has revealed a B-70 in flight.
Historical note: While there were no anti-ballistic missiles in the 1960s, there were effective SAMs. The existence of these led to the cancellation of the B-70 bomber, so in effect that card was countered.



Title: Anti-Missile “S”
Text: Intercept Capability: Saturn, B-70 Bomber, Atlas, Polaris
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: Cancels the attack of one Saturn missile, B-70 bomber, Atlas missile or Polaris missile
Political effect: Damaging.
Limits: Only one in the deck
Preferred target: Saturn
Player tips: There’s only one proper place for this card, sitting in your deterrent force.



Secrets/Top Secrets
If warheads and propaganda make up the heart of the Nuclear War card game, Secrets and Top Secrets reveal its soul. When a card sends two million of your “highly moral little old ladies” to another player or 25 million of a player’s people mysteriously vaporize, you are put on clear notice this is not a game meant to be taken too seriously. Without the Secrets and Top Secrets the Nuclear War card game would be a rather grim little affair. These flaky cards provide the black humor that puts the game in context. While making up just a fraction of the deck, these 15 cards make the game what it is and are primarily responsible for it enduring popularity.
Unlike other cards, players have no control over when a Secret or Top Secret is played and little control over what it does. They are basically a form of random event card. The Top Secret Cards tend to have more important game effects, otherwise the two types of cards are the same.



Title: Secret
Text: POPULATION EXPOLOSION! Your country’s population increases by 5 MILLION
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: Add five million people
Political effect: Neutral
Limits: Not subject to player influence
Preferred target: Drawing player
Player tips: Enjoy. It’s as pure a bonus as possible in the game. It doesn’t add so many people that you become a tempting target for the jealous. No downside at all, really.



Title: Secret
Text: 2 MILLION of your highly moral little old ladies rebel against your country’s military policies and disgustedly drive off in their electric cars to the enemy’s country
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: Give 2 million people to an enemy of your choice
Political effect: Everyone’s favorite card to see
Limits: You have to pick someone, even if you don’t want to
Preferred target: Enemy player you may cut a deal with
Player tips: Somebody has to get your 2 million, but it provides a chance for some low-risk table diplomacy. Two million population is unlikely to make or break anyone, so this card’s impact is more likely to be in its mood-setting potential than any direct effect.




Title: Secret
Text: (Three different cards)
2 MILLION of the enemy’s Beatnik Pacifists protest nuclear war and defect to your company
STOCK MARKET SUPER BOOM! 2 MILLION of the enemy’s population immigrate to your country in hopes of reaping the benefits of your system.
PEACE CORPS REDUCES COLD WAR TENSIONS! 2 MILLION of the enemy’s people leave their homeland to join your form of superior government. NOTE: Does not apply once Nuclear War has been started.
Number in Deck: 3
Game effect: Take 2 million people from an enemy of your choice
Political effect: Annoying
Limits: You have to pick someone, even if you don’t want to. One card isn’t usable during nuclear war.
Preferred target: Someone you can afford to annoy
Player tips: Another chance for table diplomacy. 2 million isn’t really a big deal, but it provides an excuse for some wheeling and dealing that may pay dividends.
Historical Notes: The Peace Corps was founded in 1961 and by 1966 about 15,000 volunteers were serving in 44 countries. In 1964-65 the Dow Jones Index was booming, it would get close to 1,000 before retreating. The Dow wouldn’t actually break 1000 until 1972. By 1964 the term “Beatnik” was already being superceded in the popular culture by the term “Hippie” but apparently the game designer didn’t get the memo.



Title: Secret
Text:
YOUR COLD WAR PRESTIGE SOARS DUE TO BEING FIRST ON THE MOON! 5 MILLION of enemy defect to seek aerospace jobs in your country
YOUR ENEMY RAISES TAXES 100% THIS YEAR. 5 MILLION of his people move to your country
Number in Deck: 2
Game effect: Take 5 million people from an enemy of your choice
Political effect: Aggravating
Limits: You have to pick someone, even if you don’t want to.
Preferred target: Someone you can afford to aggravate. 5 million can be a significant number, especially in the later stages of the game.
Player tips: Another chance for table diplomacy, but if there’s a war going on a useful additional hit on your primary target.
Historical Notes: The Race to the Moon was in the forefront of the popular imagination in the mid-1960s. At his State of the Union address on May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy set a goal of reaching the Moon with a manned mission before the decade was out, a goal achieved on July 20, 1969. In 1964 the top tier U.S. income tax rate was cut from 91% to 70%


Title: Secret
Text: (Two different cards)
You have tricked the enemy into an ineffective but time-consuming Summit Talk. His wasted efforts result in the loss of 1 TURN
ENEMY AMBASSADOR GETS DRUNK AT UN PARTY! His country LOSES 1 TURN to restore diplomatic relations. NOTE: Does not apply once Nuclear War has started.
Number in Deck: 2
Game effect: The enemy of your choice loses a turn
Political effect: Damaging
Limits: You have to pick someone, even if you don’t want to. One of the cards doesn’t apply during a nuclear war.
Preferred target: Your most dangerous opponent. Losing a turn can be devastating, especially when the missiles are flying.
Player tips: This can be very damaging, so pick your target carefully. It can provide a crucial edge in an ongoing exchange. The UN party card is much less useful, both because periods of peace can be short so there are fewer chances for using the card and the fact that losing a turn during peacetime is less important.
Historical Notes: Summit talks were a popular diplomatic gambit during the Cold War, particularly in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but were widely viewed as useless. Also descending into uselessness in the 1960s was the United Nations. With its veto power on the Security Council the Soviet Union could ensure that nothing substantive could be done by the UN. The Korean War was an anomaly because it happened to break out during one of the Soviet Union’s periodic boycotts. A more activist UN would have to wait for the end of the Cold War.



Title: Secret
Text: TEST BAN! Your President declares a Test Ban on nuclear weapons (AND FORFEITS ONE TURN).
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: You lose a turn
Political effect: Damaging
Limits: Not subject to player influence
Preferred target: Drawing player. In the basic Nuclear War card game there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Player tips: This is an awful card to draw and there is nothing to be done about it except suck it up and hope that in the next game one of your opponents draws it.
Historical Notes: On Oct. 10, 1963 the United States, Britain and Soviet Union signed a limited test ban treaty banning nuclear test explosions.




Title: Top Secret
Text: (two different cards)
A violent tornado results in a loss of 10 MILLION to your own population!
10 MILLION of your people leave your country (and the game) for a neutral country
Number in Deck: 2
Game effect: You lose 10 million population
Political effect: Damaging
Limits: Not subject to player influence
Preferred target: Drawing player.
Player tips: This is too much to shrug off, so there’s no denying it will hurt.
Historical Notes: On April 11-12, 1965, the Palm Sunday Outbreak spawned at least 48 tornadoes in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio, killing 271 people and doing over $200 million in damage. It was the worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history up until that time.




Title: Top Secret
Text: A disastrous earthquake destroys 10 MILLION of the enemy population!
Number in Deck: 1
Game effect: A player you select loses 10 million population
Political effect: Damaging
Limits: You have to pick someone, even if you don’t want to.
Preferred target: Primary target for the moment.
Player tips: A damaging blow that doesn’t require expending any warheads
Historical Notes: On May 22 the strongest earthquake ever recorded hit Chile, killing up to 6,000 people. It measured 9.5 on the Richter scale! 61 people in Hawaii were killed by a tsunami that was generated by the earthquake.




Title: Top Secret
Text: (Two different cards)
“Super Germ,” the result of a blunder in your enemy’s germ warfare experiments, destroys 25 MILLION of his own people.
25 MILLION of the enemy’s population mysteriously vaporized!
Number in Deck: 2
Game effect: A player you select loses 25 million population
Political effect: Decisive
Limits: You have to pick someone, even if you don’t want to.
Preferred target: Your most dangerous opponent.
Player tips: A devastating blow that doesn’t require expending any warheads. Can easily be a game winner.
Historical Notes: During the 1950s the United States conducted research into the use of tularemia or “rabbit fever” as a possible biological weapon. Presumably the Soviets and other powers also conducted similar research. The “Super Germ” is the iconic symbol of the Nuclear War card game and usually appers in advertisements and promotional items related to the game. The “vaporization” card is perhaps the oddest card in the game. It’s possible it refers to the Rapture, a belief among some Christians that believers will be transported away before the tribulations of the end times. While the belief gained much more popularity in the 1970s there were a couple of books published in the late 1950s promoting the belief.

For an illustrated version of this post and more on Nuclear War and other games check out my blog at http://pawnderings.blogspot.com
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David Me
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Awesome.
 
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Rob McFadden
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Hi Seth,

Thank you for writing and posting this. It is one of the most enjoyable articles I've read here! This was a popular choice for us in my pre-teen years... probably good for getting adolescent aggression out! This really brought me back, and was a great reminder of what made this game so much fun.

Warm regards,
Rob McFadden
 
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