I am GODZILLA!!! YOU are JAPAN!!!
Nuclear Escalation adds more depth and fun to Doug Malewicki's classic game of fiery extinction. All the mechanics remain the same as the original game--Nuclear War. Got change for 10,000,000 people?
For those unfamiliar with Flying Buffalo's classic, the game consists of a two decks of cards-the Nuclear War Deck (consisting of Megatonnages and Delivery Systems), as well as Special cards ranging from Propaganda Cards to Secret and Top Secret cards such as the Dreaded SuperGerm (which kills 25 million people at a stroke)!
The other deck is the Population Deck, small cards representing millions of civilians, and cleverly illustrated with a picture of a panicked, fleeing populace! When a player has no population remaining, he/she is eliminated (literally). As with the original game, it is quite possible that ALL players may be eliminated: In nuclear conflict, there may be no winners, only losers.
The objective of the game, therefore, is to be the last player with live civilians (though you must have at least one million population to claim victory).
Players attack each other in one of two ways, by nuking or through use of a special card. To nuke, a player must discard from his hand both a megaton card (or combination of megatonnages) and a delivery system card capable of delivering the played megatonnage. Examples of delivery systems range from B-1 Bombers to Titan missles to the dreaded Killer Satellite (capable of dropping a lot of nukes from orbit). Nuclear Escalation also replaces the cheap spinner of the original game with a chart reflecting a roll of 2d6 that relects potential misfunctions. Players may also attack each other with propaganda, which usually results in a theft (defection) of some portion of the target's total population.
The most important addition in Nuclear Escalation is the use of Player Mats, and additional game functions that are reflected there. The most critical of these is defense (the original game offered none). Cards for Anti-Missle missles and Jet Interceptors have been included-they are played in the "Defense" areas of the Player Mat, and may be used to prevent a nuke from reaching its' target. These defenses are expended (discarded) after a successful interception, so must be used sparingly.
More strategic but less useful are the use of the "Deterrent" portions of the Player Mat. Here, players may place particularly potent weapons (a large megatonnage) or special cards that are damaging to opponents (Escalation introduces the horrid SuperVirus, which may be passed from player to player, infecting everybody until someone plays SuperSerum, ending the biological carnage)! Don't mess with me, or I'll drop this 200 megatons on your head!
Nuclear Ecalation falls chronologically between Nuclear War and Nuclear Proliferation, and falls between them quality-wise as well, IMHO. Escalation is more fun than Nuke War by itself, but Proliferation is even more fun. My advice is to play with them all together for a great evening of darkly humorous, wacky fun!
This is a decent review, but you forgot to mention how NE introduces Spy cards to the NW system. Also the use of the glow-in-the-dark d6 that you can roll for additional damage - just don't roll the mushroom cloud.