“We have invisible aircraft, submarines, colossal tanks and cannon, unbelievably powerful rockets, and a bomb with a working that will astonish the whole world.... All my words are the purest truth. That you will see. We still have things that need to be finished, and when they are finished, they will turn the tide.” -- Adolf Hitler, March 1945, addressing 9th Army officers
“The wonder weapons are the hope...The well-known mass destruction bombs are nearly ready. In only a few days, with the utmost meticulous intelligence, Hitler will probably execute this fearful blow....It appears, that there are three bombs - and each has an astonishing operation. The construction of each unit is fearfully complex and of a lengthy time of completion.” -- Benito Mussolini, Political Testament, April 1945
In the end, the vain hopes expressed above were all lies and delusions of course. But their genesis started in late 1941 with senior officials across Germany becoming increasingly aware that Operation Barbarossa would fail somewhere short of Moscow. Many worriedly began looking for an “out.” Some, like Ernst Udet, head of Luftwaffe Development, and Walter Borbet, a leading industrialist, shot themselves over the shock of the failure. Others, like General Fromm, in charge of the Army Weapons Office, turned their attention to an extraordinary proposal by Germany’s leading physicists to unlock the secrets of the atom and provide limitless power, and a possible war winning explosive device, the atomic bomb.
Building the Bomb is a card game for 2 to 5 players. Each player represents a faction inside German government, military or industrial circles, seeking to engage one of the Reich's prestigious research institutes to start work on a nuclear program.
Acting through the Director of each center, players will need to size matters up, recruit other scientists, acquire scarce resources, (plus spy on their rivals, this is the Third Reich remember) and certainly go all out if they hope to develop atomic weapons...
...Or some players may instead focus on mastering and commercializing the secrets of the atom, hoarding knowledge and resources for the “glorious post-war economy” they imagine is sure to come.
Progress is slow at first - the Russians are far away and enormity of the effort seems clear early on. And there are always other weapons more desperately needed now.
As the pace of the war quickens, players may see more official support being thrown their way, or engage in fruitless bickering among themselves over the best theories and resources required to succeed. Their finest scientists may even be drafted to serve as simple soldiers at the front!
Fast and quick playing, Building the Bomb shows just how easy it was to be bewitched by the idea, and how hard it really was to mount an effective nuclear program under the increasing rain of Allied bombs and the Soviet menace looming to the east.
Building the Bomb and issue #50 of ATO:
Cards - 108 colorful playing cards
Counters - 40 die-cut pieces
Rules length - 10 pages
Charts and tables - 1 page
Complexity - Low
Solitaire suitability - Low
Playing time - Up to 1 to 2 hours
Design - Steven Cunliffe
Development - Lembit Tohver
Graphic Design - Mark Mahaffey