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War on Terror» Forums » Variants

Subject: Major nuke change, and some other minor changes rss

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Arkady English
United Kingdom
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From playing quite a few home, 3 player games, there are some balance issues that we addressed. We use the following changes to the rules

The minor changes:

- Hand size: At the end of the turn, you have to discard down to 7 cards. This stops players massively hording until they can suddenly explode from nothing to winning in a single turn. Players have to take a "use it or lose it" approach to some cards. This is the single most useful change we made.

- War: In the modern day and age every empire has some sort of army, and for an empire to be able to trample another one with no resistance because the have no war cards in hand (see hand size) doesn't make sense. All war cards now act as though the defending player played a war card in defense.
If a war card is now played in defense, the defending player counterattacks. Once their war is resolved, they then go on the offensive and can destroy wherever the attack came from.
In addition, anyone can play a war card in defense - not just the defending player.

- Developments aren't placed until the oil roll (new developments still get oil revenue), and terrorists are added to your training camp at the end of the turn once bought (they do have to be trained, after all). This also stops sudden massive expansion that just isn't possible in reality. (Sure, it also stops massive suprising moves, but it forces more subtle tactics, and more political - which is fun!)

- Development costs: Buying a city straight off for 1 development and 175m is far too cheap. Building from scratch has extra costs, to make the builders build faster. A town from scratch costs 100m instead of 75m, and a city costs 250m instead of 175m.


Whoever gets a nuke first can simply hold the board to ransom, and because of things like "weapon inspector" they then have to use it anyway. Plus there's only two of them in the deck, so people holding nukes are unlikely to get nuked back - the worst that can happen is they can nuke someone with a bunker. If you are really unlucky they could hit you back. Also, we found the bunker to be a little bit too one-shot.

So here are the changes we've made, and they are a little drastic:

1. The nuclear bunker card can be played on any number city during your turn, and by paying 100m per city (cities with a bunker are marked by a city with a village counter). Nuclear bunkers are not removed for any reason - even if the city is later destroyed by conventional war or terrorist activity (this can cause some problems if the city is destroyed - we used a non-player colour to denote bunkers. Another consequence is that you can get villages and towns with bunkers in them).

2. Developments adjacent to a bunker also benefit. Adjacent developments to the bunker are knocked down a level if they are at ground zero, but do not take damage if they are adjacent to ground zero. A development with a bunker will survive any nuclear strike.

3. You may decide whether or not to extend the benefits of a nuclear strike to neighbouring empires. If red has a city with a bunker in it, which is bordered by a green city, and blue nukes the green city - it is up to the red player whether green gets the benefits of the nuclear bunker.

4. As long as you control a development with a bunker, you may place bunkers during your turn for 100m each, but only in cities you control.

5. Bunkers don't count towards your development build, but are destroyed by WMDs.

This mechanic allows you to invest money in safeguarding your empire against nuclear strikes. (It also looks quite complex, but is much simpler with diagrams). This money could equally have been spent on exansion, and it creates a game where players can tactically choose whether to play defensively or aggresively.

As for nukes, the problem of nuclear strikes without retaliation is still there. In reality nobody throws nukes around because we all have them. Here is a mechanic to simulate that more realistically:

1. The nuclear weapon card is now nuclear research. You may only play it if you control a city and you have to pay 150m, and you get a single nuclear warhead onto your nuclear warhead stockpile (use radiation counters to signal these) at the start of your next turn.

2. As long as you own a nuclear warhead, you may buy more for 100m each during your turn. Each warhead you control costs 5m maintainance per turn, payed to the world bank. If you can't afford it, you must give up excess nukes. You can also volunarily disarm a weapon at the start of your turn instead of paying its fee. These weapons are removed from your stockpile.

3. You aren't allowed to buy more than you owned at the start of a turn - if you started a turn with 3, you're only allowed to buy another 3 this turn, etc...

4. You make a nuclear strike by placing a radiation counter from your stockpile on the board at ground zero. You may do this during your turn or in response to a war card being played, and only if you control a city.

These rules can create Cold-War style nuclear build ups followed by either a huge wave of M.A.D., or occasionally by detanté and world peace/conventional warfare.

Anyway - that was a long first post...hope to hear some feedback from other people who tried (perhaps broken) these rules.
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Michael Berg
United States
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I like the ideas! I really like the idea of nuclear development. I would suggest requiring that a player play two nuclear development cards before being allowed to purchase nukes. I'd also up the maintenance fee to 25 mil/turn, as you need at least 50 mil/turn to make a dent in rich nations pockets. (And if you're not rich, you should be using your nukes to make money the old fashioned way - by cheating, stealing, and bribing). I would also put in that any player who has unlocked nuclear weapons can sell the technology for 200m to the world bank.

I would change the upkeep to be that for 25m, you can disarm the nuke instead of paying the 25m upkeep. Disarming nukes isn't easy or cheap.

But wait, are you a cheap skate? Can't upkeep a nuke? Not paying guards is bad - your nuke was misplaced! Spin the spinner! Winner gets it. If it doesn't land on an Empire player, the terrorists get it. If the spinner lands on you, the nuke is 'lost.'

While I like the concept of bunkers, it seems like it would slow down the game (encourages defensive play and end game cold war stall outs). If you wanted to play a techup game, I would put in a progession chart to lessoning the effects of nukes, with each progression costing twice as much as the one before.

Start - Tech 0: Nuke kills everything in target territory and adjacent land territories, leaves radiation marker in selected territory.

50m - Tech 1: Nuke killse everything in target territory, and decreases adjacent land territories two levels. Leaves radiation marker in target territory.

100m - Tech 2: Nuke kills two levels in target territory, and decreases adjacent land territories one level. Leaves radiation marker in target territory.

200m - Tech 3: Nuke kills one level in target territory and decreases adjacent land territories by one level. Leaves radiation marker in target territory.

400m - Tech 4: Defender rolls two dice. On an 8-12, Star Wars defense satellites shoot down targetted nuke, negating its effect. Otherwise effects are as tech level 3.

Note that at tech level 3, launching three nukes will still cause the same effect as one nuke at tech level 0. This keeps nukes playable well into the game. Also note that I just made this up, and its 1:30 AM.
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