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Vincent Tam
Hong Kong
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I am so surprised that there is no review for the MNB2, for the game has been published 15 years. It is quite sad, if you are playing MNB, but have never played MNB2, for you are really MISSING the game. IMO, you play MNB just to familiarize with the combat process. The author may find it too difficult to introduce MNB2 to new players, as the game is quite complex, such that he introduced the game as MNB first, and when the players have learned how to combat with a fleet, they can play MNB2 and learn how to run a war. In short, MNB is a tactical game and MNB2 is a strategical game.

MNB2 is essentially a CAMPAIGN game. Even number of players are divided into two sides: NATO and Warsaw Pact (WP). There are a number of war zones, such as North Sea, Indian Ocean, etc, each played by one NATO and one WP player. So 2 players => 1 war zone, 4 players => 2 war zones. In each war zone a number of battles are played, known as campaign game turn (CGT), usually 3-7. In each CGT you first roll for mission. There are many interesting missions such as fighting sea superiority vs sea superiority, military escort vs raid, carrier strike vs engage, invasion vs holding, etc, and each of these represent a military situation. Your goal is not always trying to sink enemy boats. Certainly you score for sinking boats, but sometimes you score more by keeping some of your transport afloat, or by hitting land targets with missiles. After determining the mission players start to prepare the battle by purchasing and arranging their fleet and buying action cards. If there are multiple war zones then you may also exchange ships with your team, according to the missions. Afterwards battles are fought in each war zone.

Battles are fought in battle turns (BT), typically 4 BTs. Players must try to complete their missions in these 4 BTs. In each war zone there is a one to one battle. The battle is more or less the same as in MNB, but much more intense, especially if you have prepared your battle well. After each battle players calculate points according to enemy ships sunk, mission accomplished and ships refited in port. These points you can used to purchase ships / actions cards, or you can bank the points. After the last CGT only the banked points are calculated towards the victory, so at the prior CGT you keep buying ships and later CGT you bank points.

Ships sunk could not be bought again. Each side could have only ships on their side, such that you cannot mix US and soviet ships together any more, as in MNB. The strategy tips in the manual says, 'NATO and WP navies each offer 7advantages and disadvantages. NATO, of course, has its large fleet carriers, battleships and AEGIS cruisers. These high point value specialty ships will, by their very cost, keep a NATO fleet small but efficient. Their loss, however, can be devastating. The Los Angeles class submarine is also excellenr. WP forces have many lower priced ships. Their Slava class cruisers provide good air defence, and some other Soviet cruisers are so large that they are practically battleships! The Kiev class carrier is an excellent all around ship due to its many ratings. Soviet submarines are more numerous, also, and that can be very important, especially later in the game when there are fewer subs left and the need for them is high.' It's fun to build up your own fleet characteristics.

IMO MNB2 introduces a totally new dimension to MNB. It requires carefully planning, battle preparation and coordination with your teammates. In MNB usually you fight for yourself against a few opponents, and what you usually do is you try to stockpile subs and wait for bomber strikes, and otherwise retreat if possible. In MNB2 it's entirely different feeling. You will try your best to throw out every shells, missiles and bombs in limited turns. Subs are likely to be found active rather than passive. Cards like intelligent and surprise become very important now, and bomber strike is all the time the best. MNB2 tends to remove all the randomness in MNB, except the fog of war roll in each BT. I've never seen other mapless game of such grand scale, and I recommend it. So if you find MNB sort of saturday-evening-game, you MUST try this one.

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