NUCLEAR WAR*-- the Play-By-Mail Game

(c)1986 Flying Buffalo Inc.

This is the official play-by-mail version of the Nuclear War and Nuclear Escalation card games designed by Doug Malewicki and produced by Flying Buffalo Inc. It is assumed that you have a copy of both games (the combined edition) and are familiar with the rules and with the cards of those games. Play-by-mail (PBM) is quite simple. Its almost like playing the card game, only instead of blowing up someone you know across the table, you get to blow up faceless strangers from all over the world, just like real world leaders!

All moves are simultaneous; all are processed at the same time by the computer. The computer will do your move for you; you just name your targets and arrange your cards. Each turn you have a list of the cards you hold, the order they are in, the card you just drew for this turn, and a description of what happened in the world last turn. There will be a deadline or "due date". If you wish to give any orders, you must have them in to Flying Buffalo by the evening (6PM) of this due date. If your orders have not been received by the time the game is run, the computer will play the top card from your list, move all the other cards up one, and put your newly drawn card at the bottom of your list. If you have fired a missile, it will be fired at the target previously named. If you have not previously named the target for that missile, it will be fired at the first country on your "hit list". If you do not have a valid "hit list", then the missile is wasted.

Each turn you will receive a copy of the "Nuclear Times", a short newsletter which will give you a list of all the countries in the game, what actions they took, and what happened to them. (Note that each country in the game has a 3-letter code to identify it on the newsletter and on your turn). The "Nuclear Times" will also contain "Press releases" from the players. Each player may submit one or more short press releases to be printed in the NT. These may be "signed" (with the player's real name or his country name) or anonymous. We reserve the right to edit press releases for length, spelling, or inappropriate language. We also reserve the right to be totally arbitrary about what is printed in the "NT" if necessary. Have fun with the "NT"; this is a big part of the game.

Each turn you will also receive an individual printout with private data for your country: your population and the ten cards in your hand (the normal nine, plus the one dealt to you at the beginning of the turn). The cards section is in seven parts.

  1. The Space Platform (if you have successfully launched one), with an indication of the number of warheads it carries.
  2. The Missile played (if you played one on a previous turn and it has not yet been used or discarded), with an indication of its capacity (in megatons).
  3. Your two "down" cards, labeled (X) and (Y). If this is the first turn of the game, or a final retaliation turn, this part is combined with the next part so that all ten of your cards can be re-arranged freely. This part should only contain Propaganda, Missile, Warhead, Space Platform, and Killer Satellite cards, because any other card in these positions is a discard.
  4. The other eight cards in your hand, labeled (A) through (H). Cards in this section may be moved around among themselves for your convenience. The most important is the (A) card, since (unless you are "missing the turn") this card will be pushed forward to the (Y) position, as the (Y) card is pushed forward to the (X) position and the (X) card is played. The other cards should be lined up in the sequence you wish to play them. If you fail to send instructions in the future, this is the order in which they will be played.
  5. The Killer Satellite card, if you have launched one on a previous turn, and have not used it yet.
  6. The Secret card, if one was dealt to you this turn.
  7. Your "hit list": three alternate targets numbered 1 to 3.
SERIAL NUMBERS: Cards in parts 3, 4, 5, & 6 have a number in parentheses. This number is used to specify in your orders which card you are talking about.

TARGETS: Some cards can have targets specified. This is the country who will be hit (when the time comes). The target may be listed as [---], which means no one. The (X) card in your hand should have a target specified if it is a warhead, or it will be wasted. (Unless you have a "hit list"-- see below). Secret cards that are played on other players have targets, too. If you have one of these, and do not give a target, you lose one million people due to "indecision" on the part of your leader, and the card stays to be played next turn. If you specify a target for a card, but before the card is played that country has been wiped out, the target is cleared (changed back to [---].)

YOUR HIT LIST: Because your intended target may be wiped out before you can play your card, you may have a "hit list" of up to three alternate targets. Whenever a propaganda or warhead card is in position (X) and has no target, or a Secret card that requires a target has none given, we will use the first live country on your "hit list". We will NOT use the hit list to give targets to warheads on Space Platforms (except during final retaliation), or to Spies or Saboteurs.

SEQUENCE OF PLAY: In the pbm version, the players all play at the same time, rather than playing in sequence. There are 8 phases to a turn after we have entered your orders into the computer:

  1. We sort the cards in the players' hands according to their orders.
  2. Secret cards are played. Players wiped out by secrets do not play in the rest of this turn.
  3. Other cards are played. If you are not "missing the turn" (explained below), the card in the (X) position is played, and the first targeted missile on your Space Platform (if any) is dropped. Spies & Saboteurs go on their missions, even if you are missing the turn.
  4. Propaganda results are applied. Note that if a player is wiped out by propaganda, he still gets to play his other cards, but warheads intended to be dropped on him will be dropped on someone from the attacker's hit list instead.
  5. Saboteurs sabotage, unless stopped by Spies.
  6. Warheads are detonated, and Space Platforms and Killer Satellites are launched.
  7. Cards are pushed forward in the hand, so that the (Y) card goes to the (X) slot, the (A) card goes to the (Y) slot, etc. (except warheads on the Space Platform, which are pushed down toward the bottom of the hand.)
  8. If no one was wiped out by Secrets or warheads, new cards are dealt into the empty spaces in your hand.
MISSING THE TURN: There are some Secret cards that cause the player drawing them to miss the next turn, and some that cause the player they are played on to miss the turn. "Missing the turn" means only that the (X) card is not turned over and played, and no warhead will be dropped from the Space Platform. You may still play Secret cards, change your "Hit List", re-arrange your cards, and send out Spies, Saboteurs, and previously launched Killer Satellites. The term does NOT refer to failing to get orders to us before we run the turn. If we do not hear from you, we will simply play your (X) card, move your other cards forward, and deal you a new card.

SUBMITTING ORDERS: Every order consists of the serial number of a card, followed by some orders for the card. There are four types of orders:

  1. Sort -- a letter "A" through "H" (or, if allowed, "X" or "Y"), indicating which position in your hand the card is to move to.
  2. Country -- the 3-letter code of a country. For a played propaganda or warhead, this is the country to be attacked. For a Spy, this is the country to spy on (list the (X) and (Y) cards). For a Saboteur, this is a country to sabotage: if that country is launching a missile with a warhead, or a Cruise missile, a Space Platform, or a Killer Satellite, the launch will be aborted; if not, the Saboteur remains in your hand. For a warhead on a Space Platform, this is the country to drop it on. For a Killer Satellite (that has already been launched on a previous turn), this is the country whose Space Platform is to be shot down; if the country has none, the card remains in your hand. For a Hit List slot, specifies alternate target for Propaganda, Warheads, and Secrets.
  3. Country with a minus sign in front -- used only with the Saboteur. It means to defend the country by sabotaging a missile and warhead fired at it.
  4. Number -- used only with anti-missiles to specify the smallest warhead to shoot down. If zero, it means the anti-missile will NOT shoot down anything.
  5. NUL -- used to cancel an order given on a previous turn (such as a target).
  6. SPY -- used on a Spy to make it counterspy: all spies sent to your country (and saboteurs as well) will be aborted. If none were sent, the card remains in your hand.
  7. SAB -- used on a Spy to make it stop all Saboteurs sent to your country; if none are sent, the card remains in your hand.
  8. KST -- used on a Saboteur to make it sabotage the launch of a Killer Satellite launched by any other player; if none is launched, the card remains in your hand.
  9. SPT -- used on a Saboteur to make it sabotage the launch of a Space Platform launched by any other player; if none, it remains in your hand. Also used on a warhead to mark it for use on the Space Planform. (When you launch a Space Platform card, all warheads marked SPT go on the platform. If you forgot to mark any, the Space Platform has no warheads and is wasted.

SAMPLE-- suppose your hand as dealt to you looks like this:

<X> (4) 50 MEGATONS [---]

<Y> (5) PROPAGANDA 10 [---]

<A> (6) SPY [---]

<B> (7) TITAN (Capacity:20)

<C> (8) 50 MEGATONS [---]

<D> (9) PROPAGANDA 5 [---]

<E> (10) 20 MEGATONS [---]


<G> (12) B-70 BOMBER (Capacity 50x)

<H> (13) ANTI-MISSILE "P" (10)


HIT (1) [---]

HIT (2) [---]

HIT (3) [---]

You might give the following orders:

1,NWT     (Put Northwestterritories first on your Hit List)

2,ANT     (Put Antartica second on your Hit List)

3,SLO     (Put Slobbovia third on your Hit List)

5,X,ARI     (Set Propaganda 10 as your first card played, and aim it at Arizona)

9,Y     (Set Propaganda 5 as your 2nd card, but no target specified yet)

12,A     (Next comes the B-70 Bomber)

8,B     (Then 50 megatons, no target yet)

6,NWT     (Send the Spy to Northwestterritories immediately)

11,20     (Tell the Sprint to ignore warheads smaller than 20 megatons)

Some notes on How Things Work:

SPACE PLATFORM: If you don't "miss the turn", we will drop the first warhead marked "ON SPT" that has a live target. Since you don't have to drop warheads, we don't use the hit list.

ANTIMISSILES: Each anti-missile you have, beginning with the first one in your hand, shoots down the largest warhead fired at you that it can (though never one smaller than the minimum you have specified). In case of a tie, it picks one at random. For maximum efficiency, you should keep your anti-missiles in increasing order of stopping power.

FAILED SPACE PLATFORM LAUNCH or SPACE PLATFORM SHOT DOWN: If a SPT launch fails, or after being launched it is shot down by a Killer Satellite, all the warheads marked "for SPT" are lost, and you will be dealt replacement cards.

KILLER SATELLITE: The KST must be launched behind a Titan or Atlas missile before it is useable. Then it can shoot down a Space Platform on a later turn. If used, the SPT is destroyed before it can drop a warhead that turn.

SUPER SERUM and CIVIL DEFENSE: These cards play themselves when the need arises. All you have to do is refrain from letting them be moved forward to the (X) and (Y) positions.

If you decide not to finish the game, PLEASE let us know. Just tell us the game number, and that you are dropping out. We will probably leave your "country" in the game, to continue firing missiles at your designated "hit list", but we will cease charging you the turn fee and mailing you the results. When you join a pbm game, you are accepting an obligation to either play it to the end, or officially drop out when you decide not to play anymore. Do not assume that because you no longer have money in your game account, and are no longer sending in turns, we will "know" that you want to drop out.

In order to start in a new NUCLEAR WAR pbm game, just send us the $5 setup fee, and name the country that you would like to be. (You can be any country, state, province, county, city, town, or place, real or imaginary. ) Please give a second choice. We reserve the right to add identifiers like "#2" or "II" if multiple people choose the same name. The game costs $2.50 per turn to play. If your country is wiped out, you will get a copy of the results of your final retaliation. If you wish to continue to receive the NUCLEAR TIMES and continue submitting press releases for the NUCLEAR TIMES after your country has been destroyed, tell us and we will continue sending it to you (and charging you $2.50 per turn.) Due dates will be approximately every two weeks.

SPECIAL ADDITIONS FOR THE VIRTUAL CONVENTION:The above are the rules for the Play-by-Mail version. The EMail Tournament will have daily turns and no Nuclear Times, and the entry fee pays for the whole game so there are no turn fees. Turns will be due by 9AM each day, and we will attempt to have them processed and the results posted on the internet by about noon. Thus you can do your turns any time during the afternoon, evening, or early morning. Those whose email access is at work will be able to do their turns by staying late after work, or coming in early. If you have to be away from email for a day or a few days, we will accept standing orders, emergency orders and standby orders. We strongly recommend use of the "hit list" and keeping all your cards in the order you would prefer them used if you miss several turns in a row. We WILL accept turns by fax or by phone should your email become unavailable.

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