Article by Will Henson

Lets face it; the atomic bomb is downright inconvenient for war gaming. Whoever gets a hold of one tends to win the game and that’s why Axis & Allies (and most of its variants) have left it out … until now.

Historical Board Gaming’s latest release GOING NUCLEAR tackles the tough issue of THE BOMB and how it fits into your game. The expansion takes a different tact than usual: Getting an A-bomb isn’t just about making technology roles. In order to acquire the bomb, players must construct facilities, protect them from enemy bombing, spend money on research, and acquire components for a bomb that are scattered across the globe.


How do you build an atomic bomb? First, you need the best scientific minds in the world and state-of-the-art facilities for them to use. The Research marker represents these. Some players start with Research Markers (Germans, Soviets and USA) while others will have to spend money to acquire one.

Second you need a source of Uranium. As of 1940 there were only four places in the world you could find it: On Colorado front range in the USA; deep in the Belgian Congo in Africa; near Great Slave Lake in the Yukon Territory in Canada; and in Czechoslovakia. So you see that Uranium control favors the Allies yet certainly you can see how concerning it might be if Japan takes over the otherwise valueless Yukon, or Germany marches into the Belgian Congo.

You’ll also need Heavy Water. Heavy water contains a larger-than-normal amount of the hydrogen isotope deuterium. Heavy water acts as a moderating element in sustaining a nuclear reaction as well as a coolant to the reactor. At the start of the war there were only two facilities in the world capable of producing heavy water. These were located in Telemark, Norway and Dnepropetrovsk, Russia. You can also build a heavy water plant if you really need one.

Finally, you need a Nuclear Reactor to enrich the uranium so that it will be usable in an atomic bomb. This is a facility, much like a factory, that needs to be protected (as does your heavy water plant) from enemy bombers.


Players assemble the components of the bomb during the game. Players who own uranium and heavy water begin assembling stockpiles of these important raw materials off board, to be used later in bomb construction.

Now once you get the bomb, what do you do with it? Naturally you are going to want to drop it on someone, and probably place that nuclear blast marker in the zone. I don’t suggest dropping the bomb from any height above the game table (lest you disturb other pieces), although you will probably want to for effect. The bomb can be used to destroy units, remove a single non-factory facility (like a naval base or air base) or do strategic damage to a factory. Using it also leaves radiation that permanently reduces the value of the territory.

Now it would seem that the Allies have the upper hand in bomb production but they don’t in bomb dropping. The Allies can only drop an A-bomb on mainland Germany, Japan or Italy – the Axis nor the USSR find themselves constrained by everyday morals and can bomb whoever displeases them.


The set also contains a B-29 strategic bomber and is available to the US player when he or she has both Long Range Aircraft and Heavy Bomber technologies.

The set also gives players their first peek into Global War -2nd Edition rules due out this Spring. While HBG has not released a lot of details on its newest edition, you can see the rules reference a lot of new concepts to be curious about (new lend-lease systems, a new alliance system, national victory conditions and a new research system – just to name a few). But GOING NUCLEAR has a section for Global War 1st Edition and A&A 1940 players as well. The set can be purchased as a “Base Set” with a small number of units, or as an “Extreme” set with more 3D printed bombs and planes. Extra bombs are also available for purchase. Sets can also be purchased pre-painted US Green, or unpainted for those of you who want to make German, Soviet, Japanese… heck even Italian A-bombs.

What’s exciting about GOING NUCLEAR is it’s the first of many 3D printed sets coming out from Historical Board Gaming, each of which will feature Global War and Axis & Allies compatible rules, along with a few unique 3D printed units. Coming soon are expansions featuring color 3D printed German, Italian and French seaplanes, and transports.

You can get your bombs here: http://www.historicalboardgaming.com/Going-Nuclear-Expansion-Set-B-29-Atom-Bomb-markers_p_1880.html

Axis & Allies is a Trademark of Wizards of the Coast and Avalon Hill. Historical Board Gaming is not affiliated with them in any way.