GLOBAL WAR is a strategic level simulation (army/fleet/air force), based on the WORLD WAR II Game System, of all of World War II, 1939-45. The game was designed by James F. Dunnigan, and published in 1975 by Simulations Publications, Incorporated (SPI).


GLOBAL WAR is a two-player historical simulation of the Second World War, presented on a global scale. The game covers all the major operational theaters, in both Europe and the Pacific, in which the Axis and the Allies fought — on land, at sea, and in the air — to decide the outcome of the greatest war in human history: World War II.

The basic game mechanics of GLOBAL WAR are comparatively straight forward. Interestingly, each player is allowed to plan and execute his own national production of combat units as the game progresses. However, this somewhat cumbersome production subroutine along with the game system’s integration of land/air/sea operations into one comprehensive design necessarily makes for a long, multi-phase turn sequence. Player operations are interwoven and interactive (the Axis and Allied players will both perform game actions during the same stage of a game turn). Each game turn is divided into four operational stages, and nineteen separate phases. For example, the initial Naval Stage of a game turn proceeds as follows: First Axis Movement and Combat Phase; First Allied Movement and Combat Phase; Second Axis Movement and Combat Phase; Second Allied Movement and Combat Phase; Third Axis Movement and Combat Phase; Third Allied Movement Phase. At the conclusion of the Naval Stage, the players next continue to the Air Stage, then to the Land Stage, and finally to the last step in the game turn, the Production Stage. Thus, it is clear that while no individual game operation is particularly complicated — because there are so many of them — the game turns are (unavoidably) both long and challenging.

GLOBAL WAR offers two scenarios: the longer Standard Scenario, which begins on game turn one (Fall 1939) and continues through turn twenty-three (Spring 1946); and the shorter High Water Mark Scenario, which begins on turn twelve (Summer 1942) and also ends at the conclusion of game turn twenty-three.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: 3 months (one quarter of a calendar year) per game turn
  • Map Scale: 300 miles per hex
  • Unit Size: army/fleet/air force
  • Unit Types: infantry, mechanized, self-defense, fortification, surface fleet A, surface fleet B, submarine fleet, anti-submarine warfare, merchant ship, amphibious assault, air defense, long-range bomber, atomic bomb, and information counters
  • Number of Players: two (also appropriate for team play)
  • Complexity: average
  • Solitaire Suitability: average
  • Average Playing Time: 3–9 + hours

Game Components:

  • Two 21” x 22” hexagonal grid Map Sheet (with Game Charts and Combat Results Table incorporated)
  • 1200 ½” cardboard Counters (the “Game Inventory’s” count of 800 pieces is incorrect)
  • One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet
  • Two 12½” x 22” Turn Record/Production Tracks
  • Two 11” x 16½” back-printed Game Charts and Scenario Sheet
  • One small six-sided Die
  • One SPI 12” x 15” x 1” flat 24 compartment plastic Game Box (with clear compartment tray covers) and clear plastic game cover with Title Sheet

Recommended Reading

See my blog post Book Reviews of these titles; both of which are strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background.

THE WEST POINT ATLAS OF AMERICAN WARS (Complete 2-Volume Set); edited by Brigadier General Vincent J. Esposito; Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. (1959); ASIN: B000MTBTEU


  • I owned this and played it (once). Suffice to say that the Russian amphibious assault of Japan in late 1942 took me totally by surprise and I resigned quickly.

    From what I've read since, this was the classic example of SPI's playtesting concept ruining what could have been a good game. They recruited a much larger than usual number of "playtesters" for this unique new design, and lost control of the results. Players were making up "rules" as they played, and failed to report their fixes adequately, if at all. The net result was that SPI thought they had a playable and popular game, when in fact no two playtest groups had been playing the same game at all.

    My copy came with a large sheet of errata, but we still couldn't get the convoy rules to work, among other things. But losing Japan was my own fault. I failed to grasp that, as Japan was fighting in China at start, Japan was already at war, and could build the fortifications, etc. only allowed to a state at war. Thus, the Russians just walked in my back door, while my Germans had driven them back to the Urals. Bit of an eye-opener, that.

  • Greetings Dave:

    GLOBAL WAR was a huge disappointment to me and my friends: first, because we had all very much liked the earlier game on which it was based, WORLD WAR II; second, because we all thought that, after USN, Dunnigan couldn't possibly "whiff" as badly on a strategic game again. Obviously, we were wrong. After hours and hours of trying to make the game work, we finally threw in the towell. Maybe there really is a playable game buried in there somewhere, but we certainly couldn't find it.

    Happily, of course, AXIS & ALLIES came along before much more time had passed, and GLOBAL WAR pretty much slipped into a well-deserved oblivion. That's probably just as well, because even now I could not be tempted to try Dunnigan's design again; on the other hand, I am still almost always up for a new game of AXIS & ALLIES!

    Best Regards, Joe

Post a Comment