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OC HIGH: STUDENT NEWS AND VIEWS : Board, Not Bored : Can a generation raised on electronics find excitement in games without plug-ins? Two groups of teens delve into the watch-your-back mayhem of Nuclear War and Hot Times at Hollywood High to find out.

February 17, 1995|CORY GRIFFIN / SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nuclear War aficionado Corey Griffin is a junior at Troy High School in Fullerton.

Game: Nuclear War

Cost: $16

For: Two to 10 players. Comes in three sets (Nuclear War, Nuclear Escalation, Nuclear Proliferation) that can be played separately or together.

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"I'll launch a Titan with 20 megatons at . . ."--the player pauses as he looks at the population of his opponents--"Bananaland."

The opponent from Bananaland smugly retorts, "Blow it out of the sky," as he plays his anti-missile card.

Well, Bananaland is just one of the countries that survived an attack during the role-playing game Nuclear War. First invented in '60s as a Cold War spoof, Nuclear War still provides entertainment for the teen-agers of America, even after the fall of communism.

Recently I invited eight friends over for a of couple rounds of Nuclear War, to try out the game. And, as always, warheads flew.

Some of my friends, juniors and seniors at Troy High School in Fullerton, had never played Nuclear War before, so they sat out the first round while the five veterans, including myself, tore each other apart. By the end of our first round, the newcomers had picked up the hang of the game and were eager to try out their own countries.

In the game, each player becomes the leader of his own country, randomly assigned at the start. Each country has a special power--one, for example, has the power to send 2 million refugees to any other country. That country then loses its next turn while it tries to assimilate the influx of people.

Each country is given a few randomly dealt population cards. Each card can have between 1 million and 25 million people on it. The object of the game is to destroy the opponents' countries by wiping out their entire populations with nuclear weapons. The more population a country starts out with, the higher its chances of winning the game.

Finally, each player is given nine cards from the Nuclear War deck. Each card has a propaganda item; a warhead of 10, 20, 50 or 100 megatons; a missile, such as a Titan, Saturn or Scud; a plane, such as a B-70 or Stealth, and various secrets and spies.

The game starts in peacetime, when countries can steal an opponent's population by playing propaganda cards. But as soon as the first person launches a nuclear weapon, the war has begun.

Throughout the game, players were either laughing at the silly messages on the secret cards or scowling because they had just been attacked.

We played four rounds in about three hours, forming alliances and getting our revenge from the earlier round, before we decided to call it a night. Everyone, including the new players, was already planning for our next Nuclear War game the following week.

Group Rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 9. You can keep playing for hours and never be bored because Nuclear War is not your typical "bored" game.

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