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Mutually Assured Destruction

Mutually Assured Destruction was a one-shot card game designed by Alexander Muscat and myself back when we were both students. The game is a bit of a mix between Werewolf and Battleship.

To play, each player is split into one of 3 teams. Each team has a handful of missile bases at undisclosed locations, each with a single available missile to destroy another base. The game ends when one team destroys their enemies bases; or everyone is destroyed.

The tricky thing for the players is that they don’t know the location of all of their bases. There are 2 sets of “intel” cards, with each card indicating if a city on the map has a missile base or not.

Before the game starts, each team is dealt a set of their own bases, with the rest of their deck comprised of a random assortment of empty and enemy locations. Each player is then given a folder with a portion of their team’s cards.

The game then begins, with one final revelation.

Among each team, there are spies.

From this point on the rules of interaction and organization between players are basically left up to them and their own paranoia. At any time, a player can launch one of their team’s missiles. This gives away the location of the base, and starts a timer; giving the players one minute to react before the missile destroys it’s intended target. This opens up the game to the possibility of a catastrophic chain reaction where all bases are destroyed, meaning that players need to work carefully and strategically to avoid annihilating their own team.

At least, that’s the theory of it. In practice, when we played it one team became so dysfunctional that they managed to blow up one of their own bases.

That was pretty great.

If you’d like to know more about the game you can read about it over on Alex’s site, or have a look at Todd Mason’s review of the game in Wargame Developments‘ September 2013 edition (No. 264) of their journal, The Nugget.


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