July 18, 2024

#Unboxing Day – No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and Cold War from Compass Games

RockyMountainNavy, 18 February 2021

Back in 2018 I backed a Kickstarter campaign by designer Dan Bullock to bring No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and Cold War to print. Dan canceled the campaign (for all the right reasons) and I was unsure if his work would ever find it’s way to my gaming table. Fortunately, Dan eventually teamed with Compass Games and now No Motherland Without is available.

Although I see that the majority of folks on BoardGameGeek are categorizing No Motherland Without as a wargame, I feel the truth is that Dan’s game is more properly categorized as a strategy game. As the box back itself tells us:

No Motherland Without: North Korea in Crisis and Cold War is a card-driven strategy game for one or two players depicting the clashes between he Kim regime against the west from 1953 to the present day…[it] features a robust solitaire scenario that places emphasis on tough decisions and player agency over dice-dependent outcomes, while ensuring that players deliberate more over their play than discerning actions of an AI opponent.

Each player will have a choice of four or five actions unique to the DPRK or the West in addition to the play of event cards. Historical events are the engine of play, but unlike many other event-driven CDGs, cards played for events impact the game state for varying amounts of time. Legacy events impart new actions to players or lasting effects for the remainder of the game, whereas enduring events are played to a track that allows only three such events in play at one time, making their duration less predictable.

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No Motherland Without – Box back (click images to enlarge)


Opening a Pandora’s Box

No Motherland Without ships in a standard 2″ bookcase box that is full of content. The box has a satin touch finish (nice to handle and makes the game “feel” expensive).

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No Motherland Without – packing


The State of Play

The map for No Motherland Without is 22″x34″ and fully mounted. Hopefully the red dye will hold its color over time and not fade. I also note the map says “Copyright 2019”; just shows you how long it takes for some games to make it through production….

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No Motherland Without – mounted map


Tools of the Trade

No Motherland Without has a 32-page rule book, two single-sided player aid cards,  130 luxurious “euro-style” (i.e rounded corners) counters, 179 cards, and an errata sheet. Oh yeah, two dice too!

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No Motherland Without – complete contents


Texas Hold’em, Juche Style

The cards in No Motherland Without are of two types; white Songun Cards and black Juche Cards. Like many Card-Driven Games (CDG’s), the cards can be played for the Event, as an Activity, or for an Investment (saving AP for later use.

No Motherland Without is presently available from Compass Game.


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