I am a first time NWO player. When I was initially invited to play the game, I looked over the rules and hesitated when I saw the rules for nukes. But I decided to give it a try because a large scale Diplomacy game sounded fun. While the large-scale Diplomacy aspects of NWO was fun, ultimately nukes ruined the experience for me.
Here’s why I think NWO nukes break Diplomacy:
First, nukes remove tactical options from the game. When you are a smaller power, it is impossible to defend yourself against a larger power with nukes. You can’t outguess the larger power. You can’t find a tactical move that they missed. All the larger power has to do is nuke your armies and walk right over you.
Second, nukes remove strategic options from the game. In a normal game of Diplomacy, it is possible for smaller nations to gang up on the leader (or leading alliance) and perhaps prevent them from winning. Or stall for time while they convince one of the alliance members to stab the other. That is not the case in NOW. Smaller nations are extremely hesitant about challenging the leader because they could be wiped of the map with a round or two of nukes. The only thing you can hope for is for the large powers to nuke each other into irrelevance. And if they don’t, tough luck, there’s nothing you can do about the large power.
Because of this, there are less diplomatic options available once the nukes start flying, particularly for smaller countries such as Egypt.
I had been expecting China to stab me for two years before it happened. So why did I keep my southern boarder defenseless? Nukes meant if China wanted to attack me, then there was no stopping him so why waste the units there. Why didn’t I attack China before he attacked me since I was expecting it? Nukes meant this hypothetical attack would have gone nowhere and I would have died sooner.
My only course of action in the game was to be a “good little ally” and hope that if/when China decided to stab one of his African allies it would be Kenya instead of me.
Eliminating China from Africa early might have prevented my radioactive death. However, Kenya did not want to attack China in the early game, leaving me with the option of attacking China alone. This never was really an option, as from the beginning Israel was outrageously demanding and erratic, and then later Italy was paranoid and untrustworthy, requiring my attention north and east when it should have been focused south. By the time China started lobbing nukes around, it was all over for Egypt.
I don’t know that there is a “fix” for nukes in NWO, as many players appear to like the variant the way it currently is. If I were to propose a change, it would be to add some sort of limit to the number of nukes that could be used. However, it is not my goal to fix NWO, but rather explain my thoughts on the variant.
I look forward to playing a non-nuclear game of Diplomacy with Redscape sometime in the future.