Nuklear Winter 68
Published by Lock ‘n Load Games
Designed by Petre Tutunea
I want to state right from the beginning, just in case you don’t know, that Nuklear Winter 68 is an alternate history game. I would not consider this a game of the Sci Fi genre as you will see when we take a brief look at the alternate historical background to the game. The games designer does an excellent job providing the background history, setting up the games premise. I will attempt to summarize his pages in just a few paragraphs.
The Game Premise
In 1944 Hitler is assassinated and Himmler takes over as the Fuhrer. Under Himmler, Atomic Bomb research is advanced and put on an accelerated pace. In 1946 with the Eastern Front stabilized, Himmler moves forces to the West and pushes back the Allies in France. US President Truman makes the decision to use the Atomic Bomb and force Germany into submission. In early 46 the first Atomic Bomb Is exploded over Frankfurt killing 60,000 inhabitants.
Himmler and the OKW staff descend into the vault and set Operation Clausewitz in motion. Himmler also orders other handpicked elite units to disengage and go to their underground bunkers. This was an escalation by the German High Command as they fitted V2’s with nuclear warheads and launched them at London and Paris. In response, the US sends waves of B-29’s and drops bombs over Berlin, Hamburg, Munchen, and Dusseldorf.
In 1947 the allies decide to build a wall with automated defenses around the Zone. Nuclear winter is starting to affect the climate with cold weather and reduced sunlight all over the world. In 1948 the wall is completed and no one can escape from the Zone. In 1952 there is a major attack to escape out of the Zone. The guards take heavy causalities as they are attacked with grenades and machineguns. In the morning, when a search is made, no enemy bodies are found at any of the assaulted outposts.
In 1955 low level recon flights over the zone reveal that human settlements are seen near all the major German cities. There are large numbers of people, many more than what was estimated by the analysts. The flight also sees dramatic landscape changes and reports of strange creatures roaming the countryside. In 1960 environmentalists estimate that the nuclear winter is nearing its end. Temperatures are beginning to rise and the dust and ash clouds covering the earth are beginning to dissipate.
Then in 1968, an aging Himmler gives the order to emerge from the vaults. The Fuhrer is determined to rebuild the Holy Roman Empire with Wewelsburg castle as the center of the new world. However, the Wehrmacht is about to face new enemies that they didn’t know about known as the Black Hand. These are the elusive abhorrent masters or the wasteland. Also, they will face the combined might of the allies in NATO.
This is the premise for Nuklear Winter 68. As you can plainly see, this is not a science fiction type game as there are no futuristic weapons, space ships or aliens, but a reality of an alternate history of what could have been in another timeline.
The first thing you notice looking at the physical components of the game is that they are dark. Keeping with the theme of the game which is a world devastated and overcast with nuclear clouds the map and manual are brownish in color. While this makes the game look dramatic and easily recognizable, carrying this theme to the rules manual has made them difficult to read for me. There were a number of sections that I had to reread because I couldn’t see the print very well. It very well could be me, with my eyesight, but that is my only knock on this otherwise excellent game.
The components for Nuclear Winter 68 are up to Lock ‘n Loads high standards of game publishing. Included in the box are;
- A Rulebook
- 15 Scenarios that are linkable to form a Campaign
- 352 Counters
- Mounted Map
Nuclear Winter 68 is a tactical platoon level game set in an alternate universe where the Nazi regime survived World War II. The unit counters represent platoon sized units. Each hex is approximately 150 meters from side to side and every turn can be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Combat units represent 35 to 50 men and an armored platoon represents 3 to 5 vehicles. Special units, such as air units, represent V-2’s, SS-Scud’s or other air assets.
There are two types of main units in Nuklear Winter 68. You have soft units which are unarmored units such as regular or elite infantry, and hard targets which are armored fighting vehicles such as tanks, APC’s, Self-Propelled Artillery or Self-Propelled anti-air. Breaking down the units further we have;
- US Rangers
- Guard Tanks
- Motor Rifle
- Panzer Lehr
- SS Units
- Rancor Tank
- Pest APC
Course of Play
During the course of a turn, players alternate the drawing of Activation Markers, Event Markers or End of Turn Marker from a cup. If a units activation marker is drawn, that formation will activate. This means that the units in that formation will be able to perform some administrative functions with their Commanding Officers and the units will be able to more and fire. As with a number of other Lock ‘n Load games, it doesn’t matter which player draws the Activation Markers as a unit of either side will be activated if that units activation counter is chosen.
The Special Events add some interesting variations that can spoil either the NATO or Drittes Reich’s strategy. Events can call for Black Hand or Zealot to attack units or be placed in unexpected hexes. There are a total of 11 different events that can be rolled on 2d6 when called for by picking the Event Marker. As you can imagine, picking Events almost every turn can make for a very interesting games with a lot of Black Hand and Zealot units all over the map.
There are no Combat Result Tables in Nuklear Winter 68. Combat is based on your units ability to damage their opponent. Each unit has a range at which they can fire, an offensive firepower and a defensive value that all contribute to the combat situation. Let’s look at an example combat situation to look at how this combat system is applied.
The Panzer Lehr 2/130 Activation Marker was pulled from the cup. The German player decides to attack with his Jagdtiger. The target unit will be the NATO 1st Ranger M60A1. The first check that the German
player performs is to see if the NATO unit is within Range and LOS (Line of Sight) of the Jagdtiger. Looking at the range for a Jagdtiger using AP (Armor Piercing) shells, we see that it is a maximum of 7 hexes. The 1st Ranger Unit is well within the range and since there is clear terrain between the units, there is no problem with the LOS.
Next we need to determine the total AV (Attack Value) of our Jagdtiger. The AV is found by rolling 2d6, adding the Jagdtiger’s FP (Firepower) and finally adding any bonus’ that the unit may have. Working through our example we roll 2d6 with a result of a 6 and a 2 for a total of 8. To this, we add the Jagdtigers FP which is 10. There is no bonus so the total AV for this attack is 18.
Now we have to find the DV (Defense Value) of the 1st Ranger M60A1 target unit. This is a combination of the target units’ armor plus any bonus that could apply. In our case, the DV of our target unit is 17 because there are no bonus values applied.
Finally, we take the total AV which is 18 and subtract the total DV which is 17 with the resultant number being the number of hits that the target unit incurs. In this instance, the 1st Ranger M60A1 will take a step reduction and the unit will be flipped over to its reduced side.
If the 1st Ranger unit was already activated and we progress to the next turn, it is entirely possible for the Panzer Lehr 2/130 to be activated again before the 1st Ranger could respond to the attack. If this should occur, the Panzer Lehr has an opportunity to eliminate the 1st Ranger Tank with no return fire. As you can see, strategy and tactics must be thought out in advance to make sure you are not over exposing your units. Players must time their movement and attacks to take advantage of their opponents every mistake.
There are a number of other subtle items included in this game that makes it a fun, enjoyable alternate history simulation. The 15 Scenarios included with the game provide the gamers a thorough look at the games subtleties. Another interesting item is that the games designer has provided a way to combine the 15 individual Scenarios into a full Campaign. There are many games (even the World at War series from Lock ‘n Load) that deal with Word War III, but there are not that many alternate history games. The introduction of Random Events into the game keeps both players (Nazi and NATO) on their toes at all times. Nuklear Winter 68 is an excellent game on “what if” that has easy to learn game mechanics but challenges players to employ sound strategy and tactics to win. If you want a different type of historical game, look at an Alternate History Game and I am sure you will enjoy it.