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Subject: Nuklear Winter '68 - Overview for new wargamers rss

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Joe Moles
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Nuklear Winter ‘68


Intro

First let me preface this by stating this is my first game review, so constructive criticism is appreciated. This review is intended for those new to traditional wargaming, especially Hex and Counter games. Nuklear Winter ‘68 was my first successful go at a hex and counter game, but also my first go at solo wargaming. I will give an overview of the components, game play, general pros and cons, and recommendation for follow up games for those getting into the wargaming hobby.


Game Overview

Nuklear Winter ‘68, published by Lock 'n Load Publishing, LLC. and designed by Petre Tutunea , is a Hex-and-Counter wargame set in an alternate history 1968 Germany.

The general background begins during World War 2 after a successful assassination of Hitler. The Nazis have reallocated resources to accelerate the production of a nuclear bomb. In response the Allied forces targeted Germany with a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Following the attack and the end of the war, Germany, now a radioactive wasteland was walled off to prevent contamination of neighboring European countries.

In 1968 it is discovered that not only did the Nazis survived the strike in underground bunkers, there is also a population that has been surviving in the wasteland. The Allies now are looking to prevent the Nazis from re-emerging as a world power but must also deal with the newly discover cult known as the Black Hand.


GamePlay

Mechanics
Nuklear Winter ‘68 is a tactical level Hex-and-Counter wargame. Each counter represents a platoon size force with each platoon belonging to a formation. Depending on the scenario, each player may have multiple formations.

Turn
Initiative and turn order are determined via chit pull. Basically one or more counters for each formation are placed in a cup or some other opaque container, which are drawn to determine which formation will activate. After all units in formation activate, a new chit is pulled. The turn ends when there are only two chits left in the cup.

From a solo perspective the chit pull allows for a bit of randomization that helps break up the game play and add a level of fog of war without the need for any hidden information.

Random event counter also get added to the cup based on the scenario. When these get pulled, 2d6 are rolled on a random event table. These events can cause good, boost in moral, or bad, random surprise attacks, things to happen. Again I find these really add flavor and theme to the game.

Combat
Combat is fairly simple, each unit has one or two attack ratings and one defense rating. There is an attack value for high explosive, used against infantry units and an attack value for armor piercing, used against mechanized units. Each attack rating also has a range value.

The basic combat resolution is Attack Rating (AP) + modifiers + 2d6 minus the defender’s Defense Rating (DP)

For every point above zero, the defender takes one step loss. The three steps are Shaken, Shaken and Reduced, and Destroyed. Shaken is potentially temporary, as a unit has a chance to rally at the start of each activation. Reduced is a permanent loss, and I think everyone can figure out Destroyed.

Combat modifiers are given for things such as range, moving fire, support, leader, etc. These are all explained quite clearly in the rules.

There are other combat related items also including aircraft, mines, and artillery with various forms of artillery shells. One of my favorite being the biological that can cause units to mutate.

Scenarios
There are fifteen scenarios in the game, three of which are three player scenarios. The scenarios follow the timeline of the conflict between the three factions over the course of about three months.

Each scenario has a couple paragraphs of background briefing, an order of battle, setup, objectives and any special rules. There is also the option to follow an ongoing campaign by linking the various scenarios together based on faction and outcome of each battle.

One of the great selling points of this game is the “fluff”. There are a two pages of background and the briefings for each scenario that really add to the narrative quality of this game.


Components
Overall, I was happy with the components. The color choices and graphic design really tie into the theme of this game. Some may find things can be a bit hard to read as the text is black on a drab brown background, but I personally did not mind. The box includes the counters, board, rule book and 3d6.

Board
The board is a mounted folding board with a gloss finish. The color scheme matches the rest of the components. There is a turn track on one side and on the other is at random event table and terrain chart. Most of the terrain is easily distinguishable. The only exception that I found was the sand hexes, but there are only five on the board, so this is not a problem.

Counters
The counters are very well done. The numbers are large and clear and the stock is plenty thick with a semi-gloss finish. The counters use images of the actual unit as opposed to Nato symbols. The graphics fill the entire face of the counter, which may be an issue if you are a counter clipper.

Rulebook
The rule book is clearly laid out and follows a logical flow. There are clear examples and diagrams for the various concepts throughout. The rules themselves are not overly technical, but still written in manner that makes them usable for reference and quick lookup. The overall rulebook is thirty nine pages, with about thirteen pages actually dedicated to rules. The rest is background and scenarios.


Pros/Cons

So here are my over thoughts of good, bad and otherwise of the game as a whole

Pros
Theme, this game is dripping with it. One of the things I found that I really enjoy about wargames is the story arc and the background. This game is bursting with story and theme, from the art to the game play, the designer did a great job pulling it all together. The gameplay itself is fast, things actually blow up and you can potentially get a couple of scenarios played in a night. Combat is streamlined, I like the one roll to handle the entire combat resolution. From a solo standpoint the chit pull mechanic, simple combat, and theme really make this a winner. My first playthrough I was quickly engaged and really got into the story as it unfolded.

Cons
Some people will not like the color palette, while I think it fits the theme some may find it hard to read or too drab. Some of the scenarios, especially the initial couple intro scenarios are not balanced, plus random events can cause unexpected swings. Again this is a point of personal taste, for me it make a great story but others might find it frustrating. The only other thing that I found lacking was not all the terrain data is listed on the terrain chart on the board, specifically info around line of sight and hiding. But again this is a minor quibble, and it is clearly marked in the rulebook.


Recommendations

So for anyone that has played this game and is looking for follow on recommendations I would point them to Lock’n Load’s World at War and Nations at War series. Both of these system use a lot of similar mechanics, including the chit pull activation. They are a bit heavier on the rules than Nuklear Winter ‘68, but not so much so as to provide a significant learning curve. Also Lock’n Load has an expansion scheduled for early 2013 called Heart of Darkness that continues the Nuklear Winter ‘68 storyline and adds new units.
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Oliver Paul
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So how is this for someone who enjoys CDGs and CC:E? Not exactly a newbie wargamer, but not a grognard either.
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Jason Young
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Excellent review! You understand that huge blocks of text are ignored, you broke it out wonderfully.

I've played the game 5 or 6 times and you hit all the key points, especially the imbalance of the early scenarios and the solo play.

Great job, I hope you do more!
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Jason Young
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murksofus wrote:
So how is this for someone who enjoys CDGs and CC:E? Not exactly a newbie wargamer, but not a grognard either.
I'd say it's great for that type of wargamer as long as you're into the theme. It can be a little chaotic and swingy at times which might bother some grogs, but as a middle-weight wargamer and sci-fi fan myself I can say it's wonderful.
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Oliver Paul
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rockinghorsedreams wrote:
murksofus wrote:
So how is this for someone who enjoys CDGs and CC:E? Not exactly a newbie wargamer, but not a grognard either.
I'd say it's great for that type of wargamer as long as you're into the theme. It can be a little chaotic and swingy at times which might bother some grogs, but as a middle-weight wargamer and sci-fi fan myself I can say it's wonderful.


That's something I've always wondered about "serious" wargames. Isn't using a d6 on combat mean that it's always "chaotic and swingy"?
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Erik Racer
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murksofus wrote:
So how is this for someone who enjoys CDGs and CC:E? Not exactly a newbie wargamer, but not a grognard either.

OK, my ignorance is coming through. What do CDG & CC:E stand for? All Google got me was Charles De Gaul airport and CCE Air France. Though I suppose there's probably some sort of time management game in those.

Also, great review. I just recently purchased a copy but still haven't managed to get it to the table yet. This is making me wonder if I should forgo the game in progress in favor of this one.
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Oliver Paul
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eracer68 wrote:
murksofus wrote:
So how is this for someone who enjoys CDGs and CC:E? Not exactly a newbie wargamer, but not a grognard either.

OK, my ignorance is coming through. What do CDG & CC:E stand for? All Google got me was Charles De Gaul airport and CCE Air France. Though I suppose there's probably some sort of time management game in those.

Also, great review. I just recently purchased a copy but still haven't managed to get it to the table yet. This is making me wonder if I should forgo the game in progress in favor of this one.


CDG stands for Card-Driven Game. Most famous of which is Twilight Struggle, but also encompasses 1960: The Making of the President, Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?, Washington's War, Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, and many others. It usually implies a game concerning opposing factions where each player has a hand of cards. Cards with both numerical values and events, and the player gets to choose which one he uses.

CC:E stands for Combat Commander: Europe, a great squad-level WW2 game also using cards, but in a slightly different way.
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Jason Young
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eracer68 wrote:
Also, great review. I just recently purchased a copy but still haven't managed to get it to the table yet. This is making me wonder if I should forgo the game in progress in favor of this one.
Maybe not forgo, but it should be next. Post if you need any help!
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rockinghorsedreams wrote:
eracer68 wrote:
Also, great review. I just recently purchased a copy but still haven't managed to get it to the table yet. This is making me wonder if I should forgo the game in progress in favor of this one.
Maybe not forgo, but it should be next. Post if you need any help!

Thanks. But I also have a copy of Andean Abyss sitting next to it waiting to be played. Its going to be a tough decision.
 
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murksofus wrote:
eracer68 wrote:
murksofus wrote:
So how is this for someone who enjoys CDGs and CC:E? Not exactly a newbie wargamer, but not a grognard either.

OK, my ignorance is coming through. What do CDG & CC:E stand for? All Google got me was Charles De Gaul airport and CCE Air France. Though I suppose there's probably some sort of time management game in those.

Also, great review. I just recently purchased a copy but still haven't managed to get it to the table yet. This is making me wonder if I should forgo the game in progress in favor of this one.


CDG stands for Card-Driven Game. Most famous of which is Twilight Struggle, but also encompasses 1960: The Making of the President, Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?, Washington's War, Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, and many others. It usually implies a game concerning opposing factions where each player has a hand of cards. Cards with both numerical values and events, and the player gets to choose which one he uses.

CC:E stands for Combat Commander: Europe, a great squad-level WW2 game also using cards, but in a slightly different way.

Thanks for the info. Embarrassed I didn't know the acronym CDG. blush I've actually looked at a few of those. However, being most of my gaming is solitaire, I'd probably be more inclined to go with Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?.
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Joe Moles
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rockinghorsedreams wrote:
murksofus wrote:
So how is this for someone who enjoys CDGs and CC:E? Not exactly a newbie wargamer, but not a grognard either.
I'd say it's great for that type of wargamer as long as you're into the theme. It can be a little chaotic and swingy at times which might bother some grogs, but as a middle-weight wargamer and sci-fi fan myself I can say it's wonderful.


Yep totally agree, if you can handle any of the major CDGs the rules,the rules for this are not problem. I personally have found I like this type of game better, as I feel I'm focusing on tactics instead hand management. Also I have not played any of the CC series, but from what I know of them, this is probably no more chaotic. And there are tankscool
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eracer68 wrote:

Also, great review. I just recently purchased a copy but still haven't managed to get it to the table yet. This is making me wonder if I should forgo the game in progress in favor of this one.


If your interest, I'd be happy to play through a scenario via Vassal either live or PBEM.
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eracer68 wrote:
rockinghorsedreams wrote:
eracer68 wrote:
Also, great review. I just recently purchased a copy but still haven't managed to get it to the table yet. This is making me wonder if I should forgo the game in progress in favor of this one.
Maybe not forgo, but it should be next. Post if you need any help!

Thanks. But I also have a copy of Andean Abyss sitting next to it waiting to be played. Its going to be a tough decision.


Andean abyss is a great solitaire game too and IMHO, easier to grasp than labyrinth. So many good options in the queue!

Would love to give nuklear winter 68 a go! I have always been intrigued with the lock n'load game series but never got one yet from them. Love the theme of this game!
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Andrew C
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Excellent first review!

I like the way you broke the text into bite-sized chunks. The only thing I'd recommend for the next one is to insert a few pictures of components and gameplay.

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FlyingMonkey127 wrote:
eracer68 wrote:

Also, great review. I just recently purchased a copy but still haven't managed to get it to the table yet. This is making me wonder if I should forgo the game in progress in favor of this one.


If your interest, I'd be happy to play through a scenario via Vassal either live or PBEM.

Once I get through the rules and a solitaire mission or two I might just take you up on your Vassal offer.
 
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Albert Brasington
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I've got a question about the game, what is AM?
In the first scenario 1 X Puma/ 2AM's.
Please advise or tell me where I can find the asnwer.
Thank you.
 
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Ryan
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AM equals Activation Marker.

Those are the markers you draw out of a cup to determine which formation gets to activate and also when the current turn ends.
 
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