The imminent countdown looms over. 
First announced on 22nd of September 2020 by Max Barry , The 5th Nuclear Apocalypse (N-Day5) was the fifth edition of the Nuclear Apocalypse, a series of special events that originated as the theme for NationStates' April Fools' Day event in 2017: the 5th Nuclear Apocalypse ran for 24 hours, from 08:00 CEST on 27 September 2020 to 08:00 CEST on 28 September 2020. More information about the past events and scores can be found on NSIndex .
This year’s N-Day sees the return of factions consisting of several large regions, as well as the often one-player factions consisting of their vast number of puppet nations. The event also sees the rise and fall of factions such as The Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as well as the fall and rise of factions such as the Potato Alliance.
A comprehensive guide and what you need to know – terms, factions, rules, etc, can be found in this dispatch:
N-Day is an opportunity for nations to come together and exchange nuclear weapons in a fiery Armageddon of mutually assured destruction.
Once N-Day begins, join a Faction. Nations outside a Faction can't attack or be attacked. You can join a Faction when you're ready and leave when you're not (to stay safe).
Watch your nation automatically generate Production at a rate of 1 every 2 minutes. Use it to build Nukes and Shield.
Launch Nukes at other nations and use Shield to shoot down Nukes that are launched at you.
The simplest way to play N-Day is to join whichever Faction seems most fun and start targeting Nukes at its enemies while shooting down anything incoming. Your Faction page's icon bar shows everything you need to know, including who's targeting anyone in your Faction, and who your fellow Faction members are targeting.
Attacking: Step by Step
On your Production screen, spend some of your Production to build Nukes. These go into your Stockpile.
On another nation's Nuke page, click/tap the TARGET button and select the number of Nukes to use.
Once Targeted, it takes 10 minutes for your Nukes to reach a READY state. Note that your Targeted page is public: All nations can see who is targeting whom.
When your Targeted Nukes are ready, click/tap LAUNCH.
Your Nukes are now categorized as Launches for you and Incoming for your target. Launched Nukes take 3-5 minutes to reach their target. When they do, they earn Strikes for you and inflict Radiation on the target, which reduces their rate of Production. This also earns Score for your Faction and reduces the enemy Faction's Score.
Defending: Step by Step
On the Production screen, spend Production to build Shield.
Find Launched Nukes to destroy. Your top priority is any Incoming Nukes launched at you. Secondarily, you may wish to target Incoming Nukes on anyone in your Faction (see your Faction's Incoming page), and also keep an eye on Targeted Nukes that may threaten you or your Faction in the near future.
Click/tap DESTROY to deploy 1 Shield per Nuke.
Strategically, it may be wise to avoid attacks on nations or Factions until you are confident of obliterating them, since this eliminates the possibility of counter-attack. Smaller-scale attacks, which damage but don't destroy an enemy, can lead to an escalating series of grudge-related nuclear exchanges.
On the other hand, targeting an enemy can be an effective warning. And it takes Nukes 10 minutes to be ready to launch, so you can't leave it too late.
Each Nuke that reaches a target causes Radiation damage, which reduces the target's rate of Production generation and counts as a Strike for the attacker.
A Faction's Score is Strikes minus Radiation.
N-Day lasts for 24 hours, after which point, an Arms Control Agreement means that no Nukes can be launched. (In-flight nukes can still land, however.)
The "winner" is the Faction with the highest score; if, that is, nuclear war can be said to have a winner. Which we say it can. It's the Faction with the highest score.
Once N-Day begins, Factions can be founded by a Regional Officer of any region. Any and all Regional Officers of that region can update the Faction's official text to issue instructions to Faction members.
Factions can be made open to all members, or restricted to the region's members only.
You can leave your Faction, which is a good way to stay safe if you're signing off for the night. However, you can only do this if you're not engaged with the enemy! That means:
You must not have any nukes targeted or launched at another nation; and
No nukes can be targeted or incoming on you.
Note that in practice, this can make it challenging to leave a Faction, since you may be frequently targeted.
While outside a Faction, you cannot be targeted, and do not generate any Production.
Before joining, it's worth making sure a Faction isn't currently under mass bombardment.
Nations are randomly assigned a specialty.
Military Specialists build Nukes faster: They receive 50% more Nukes when converting Production.
Strategic Specialists build Shield faster: They receive 50% more Shield when converting Production.
Economic Specialists can accumulate more Production: Their cap is 200% higher.
Intel Specialists (new!) can finalize targets faster. They have no Production advantages.
Nations generate Production automatically at a rate of 1 Production per 2 minutes.
Production can be spent on Nukes or Shield.
If not spent, Production accumulates up to a maximum of 50 for Military and Strategic Specialists and 200 for Economic Specialists.
Nukes are purchased with Production, kept in stockpile until ready, then targeted and launched at an enemy nation.
Launched Nukes take 3-5 minutes to reach their target. While in-flight, they can be shot down by any nation using Shield. If they're not, each Nuke generates 1% of Radiation in the target and earns 1 Strike for the attacker.
Shield can be used to knock out Launched Nukes. You can shoot down any in-flight Nukes regardless of who they are aimed at.
Locate in-flight Nukes under Launches or Incoming, and use the DESTROY button to eliminate them at a rate of 1 Shield per Nuke.
It is possible to waste Shield if multiple nations deploy Shield simultaneously to knock out the same Nukes.
Target a nation by viewing their Nuke page and clicking/tapping TARGET. You may then select how many Nukes to target from your Stockpile.
It takes a short time for a Targeted Nuke to reach a READY state, after which it may be launched. This is normally 10 minutes, but Intel Specialists are faster, finalizing targets in only 3 minutes.
If not launched after 1 hour, Targeted Nukes automatically return to your Stockpile.
Radiation is generated in a nation when it is struck by a Nuke.
Radiation proportionately reduces a nation's Production generation rate. For example, 20% Radiation reduces Production generation by 20%.
When a nation is 100% Radiated, it is destroyed and no longer able to launch any Nukes nor use any Shield.
Radiation is irreversible.
You can leave a Faction when irradiated, but this does not affect your Faction's score.
A Faction's score measures strikes and radiation that occurred while those nations were a member. It is unaffected by nations joining or leaving the Faction.
Used to buy Nukes and Shield. Automatically generated by all non-destroyed nations in a Faction.
Unholy instrument of death and destruction.
A Nuke that has been purchased with Production and is sitting idle, awaiting a target.
A Nuke that has been targeted at a nation. A targeted Nuke takes 10 minutes to achieve a READY state, after which it may be launched.
A Nuke that has been launched at a nation and is currently chewing up 3-5 minutes of in-flight time.
A unit of defensive technology. Possibly involves lasers or satellites or something.
A record of how many Nukes have successfully landed on targets.
A record of how many Nukes have struck the nation. Reduces Production generation.
A group of nations sharing a common interest in survival and/or bloodlust.
Strikes minus Radiation.
The Augustin Alliance are back for the 5th Nuclear Apocalypse, and with them bringing members not just from Augustin Alliance, but from Anteria and Karma, (their close allies in peace), along with other regions such as Union of Allied States, Hartfelden, The Great Experiment, The United Ascendancy, Krasnaya, Scotia, Hive, URA, The Global Democratic Union, and Southern Africa. 
The Potato Alliance  also brings with them several member regions, most of them the major regions across the realm of NationStates – Spiritus, Forest, The South Pacific, The North Pacific, The Rejected Realms, 10000 Islands, Europe, Equilism, The Leftist Assembly, The Union of Democratic States, International Democratic Union, Yggdrasil, Autropolis, Oatland, Sonindia, The Hole to Hide In, New West Indies, Warzone Asia, Warzone Sandbox, India, European Union, Union of Democrats, Democratic Socialist Assembly, 00000 A World Power, The Communist Bloc, Big Farma.  Ultimately, this means that last year’s factions – Canopy and UPPERCUTS, have effectively merged for this year. The Potato Alliance, as it was formerly called, then became An Alliance of Potatoes on founding a faction on N-Day, since the names “The Potato Alliances” and “Potato Alliance” (and perhaps other names with “Potato” inside) were snatched by Horsemen.
The Fuster Cluck Coalition makes a return as well, founded by Northern Ocean and consisting of a group of nations and around 30 unique players mainly from Forum 7. Destructive Government Economic System, Synne Industries, and Valentine Z’s presence of having a large number of puppets have proved to be a favour. Fuster Cluck has NAPs with An Alliance of Potatoes, Army of Freedom, Augustin Alliance, while there is an informal NAP with Ba Sing Se.
Ba Sing Se is also another one of the formidably large faction, consisting of regions Osiris, Lazarus, The Black Hawks, Lone Wolves United, Refugia, Social Technocratic Union, Caer Sidi, Europeia, and Thalassia. They are allied with Augustin Alliance.
CRAB – Crustaceans Repelling Atomic Bombardment, is a faction  (with their own region  made solely for this purpose) is another prominent major faction consisting of regions The West Pacific, The Pacific, Balder, and United Kingdom. For the course of the game, they have a Non-Aggression Pact with Augustin Alliance, as well as a Mutual Defense Pact with An Alliance of Potatoes.
There are also several other noteworthy and/or reported factions, noting that this list below is non-exhaustive:
Dangerous Stationery  – An one-man faction that saw its own successes and defeats. The main nation/player behind the faction, Pencil Sharpeners, did not participate for N-Day 3 and N-Day 4 respectively, making a comeback after N-Day 5. Their detailed account of the war can be seen here .
Kings Nuclear Guard  – Hailing from the region Bluecrown Keep. Aligned with The Vincence Empire, First World Order, The Wooloo Pact. They aim to destroy Wardopolis, as quoted by one of their members. Inevitable destroyed by RAILGUN.
Note that while the events are ranked in chronological order to the best efforts, given the fluidity and concurrent nature of the game.
The Downfall and Constant Barrage towards The Potato Alliance
Horsemen of the Apocalypse has set its sights on An Alliance of Potatoes this time, constantly barraging the member nations of the faction with nuclear bombs at a consistent rate.  The NAP factions, such as Fuster Cluck and The Augustin Alliance, have defended and shielded them as best as they could (with Fuster Cluck defending from 10:03 to 11:43 CEST). However, the Horseman have proven themselves to be a great threat, as on 11:37 CEST, the announcement was made for the members of An Alliance of Potatoes to evacuate the faction and infiltrate Horsemen itself as a last attempt to ensure that the latter’s progress was impeded, according to the announcements on the Discord server, “Evacuate the Alliance! Join Horsemen, build up nukes, leave Horsemen for another faction or make your own if you can, fire the nukes at Horsemen, then move back to Horsemen! Repeat ad infinitum.”
The Good Fight, the Fall, and Rise of A.T.O.M.I.C.
A.T.O.M.I.C.   is a faction consisting of several regions: 21st Century Rome, Force, Iwakusphere, The Labyrinth, Loranium, Lorania, Southfield, Phoenix Partners, Thaecia, The Democratic Republic, The East Pacific, The Free Nations Region, The Kingdom of Great Britain, Wintercrest, and Wintreath. As contributed by Heaveria, the chronological order: ATOMIC annihilated Layem, while Horsemen annihilated Potato. This was followed by many diplomatic talks (with Augustin Alliance, Fuster Cluck, and Ba Sing Se) to form an alliance. ATOMIC then became the first faction to join Potato in a strong offensive against Horsemen, fighting Horsemen for 5 hours. Soon after that, Fuster Cluck Coalition joined ATOMIC, but it took quite a while until Augustin Alliance and Ba Sing Se joined the fight. For a short but formidable moment of time, ATOMIC started to get the upperhand and inflict radiation upon the relevant targets. However, becoming Horseman’s second targets, ATOMIC got overwhelmed and as a final last-minute effort, ATOMIC merged into Augustin Alliance.
However, due to The East Pacific’s disillusion with Augustin Alliance as a faction, ATOMIC, on a last-ditch effort to farm up the scores, decided to hit a few targets and factions of their own, namely card farmer factions like yNaught  and 0000000000000000000   – consisting of puppets from Noahs Second Country and Evrigenis. It was of note that based on the history of strikes and radiation accumulated, yNaught already was accumulating radiation from other factions, particularly of interest being the one with Noah’s faction itself, which was an attempt to gain a few points for themselves (i.e. by attacking each other’s puppet factions), followed by using another faction of puppets to join Noah’s Faction. ATOMIC's leadership saw Evrigenis and Noah's game after the split with Augustin Alliance and as a result, they too went for targeting and striking yNaught for a score boost.
The Offensives on The Horsemen of the Apocalypse
With reference to the posts in this forum thread , Horsemen has faced several offensives that were geared towards weakening them. The rest of the factions, from both the experience and the sheer numbers, were aware that they were fighting a losing fight if they are going in alone, or that they are planning on completely obliterating the Horsemen. There came the multiple plans for this, as a result.
As of 4:03 PM CEST, Augustin Alliance conducted a large offensive on the Horsemen of The Apocalypse. AA, at that moment, has no radiation and is in second place. The Horsemen, in turn, were almost overwhelmed by the coordinated efforts of AA, so they couldn't defend completely. Nevertheless, due to the sheer size and resources available to them at their disposal, the Horsemen still held a strong lead, and with other large factions such as ATOMIC and An Alliance of Potatoes either merging with other factions or hiding out in bigger factions for safety, the Horsemen are in a strong position.
On 5:25 PM CEST, HoTA returned the favour by completely overwhelming Augustin Alliance with over 50,000 nukes, which were sent within a few minutes. AA, on the other hand, simply did not have the manpower or speed to defend and as a result fell from second to fourth at the time. The Horsemen was more or less unstoppable for that very moment.
On 6:10 PM CEST, Augustin Alliance, An Alliance of Potatoes, and Ba Bing Se launched a counterattack at Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which has brought their lead down to within a reachable distance for the other factions to catch up.
On 6:58 PM CEST, as stated by Zeta Reka and Hugeltaldom in the same thread, a wave of launches were sent out against Ba Sing Se, who had a wall of 100,000+ shields at hand. The Horsemen would be using a few of their 55,000 to 60,000 shields against the 20,000 incoming missiles, effectively ensuring that little to no radiation will harm them.
Eventually, the series of attacks from the aforementioned factions, on top of Fuster Cluck and a few others, have put Horsemen down from reigning at the top position to the bottom (396th) of the leaderboard in terms of score at a -160,438 at the time of this writing (9:33 PM CEST).
CRAB’s Retaliation and Attacks
Another noteworthy and not the very least mention would be the members of CRAB – Crustaceans Repelling Atomic Bombardment as it was aforementioned in the Initial Factions page. They too were instrumental in bringing down Horsemen with them, but not before they finished obliterating Nuclear World Order approximately around 1:20 PM CEST (27th of September) . Their sights were then set on the Horsemen, but also on top of obliterating other factions such as The Sliding Legion. CRAB by the end of the event finished strong with a score of 107,970 - 108,070 strikes, with just 100 radiation all concentrated on Xoriet . The abundance of shields, once again, has helped them in their favour just like with many other factions.
The Potato Alliance’s Comeback
The Potato Alliance (or An Potato Alliance) made one of the most incredible and positively drastic comebacks in the history of N-Day – after almost completely losing (to the point of racking a -65,000 score), they were able to work together with other large factions (ATOMIC, NSLeft, Fuster Cluck Coalition, and CRAB being and were currently in second as of the time of this writing (77,976 score at 9:40 PM CEST), despite the large amount of radiation that they have gotten themselves into.
Of note is that around 7:30 PM CEST, The Salaxalans stated that their Discord server (Potato Command) suffered a blackout for five minutes; a few number of other servers (not necessarily NS-based) have also faced downtimes. Despite the difficulties, the members have managed to get around and pushed back their faction back to the leaderboard.
Fuster Cluck Coalition – The F7 Army
Lead by The Chuck, with orders from officers such as Bloodshade, Uvoan, Port Ember, The Albali Republic, along with many others, the 30-player strong faction consisting mainly of Forum 7 users have stood their ground for this particular N-Day with absolutely zero radiation across the entire faction. The strategies of Fuster Cluck includes but not limited to: Ensuring that at least a few users and players are awake at any point in time of the game, stockpiling shields regardless of specialities for the first hour or two of the game, and in particular, making sure that they do not pick a battle that they cannot win. Additionally, thanks to the (almost) air-tight movement system of appointing officers to open and close the faction, the number of rogue nations from the faction were nearly next to none.
One of the first targets that Fuster Cluck went for was Serena’s Legion , consisting and made by the region The Grand Dominion, though it consists the likes of other nations from other regions such as Greatdux  from OmniOne . Around 10 AM CEST, Fuster targeted and started an all-out barrage against the faction, with the latter suffering massive damage to the point of no recovery. Serena’s Legion was a special mention, given that with the number of strikes and shields that they first have, on top of the number of nations, their situation was more or less in-line with what happened to The Potato Alliance – they started up rather well, got destroyed by Fuster Clucks, rose up again, only to be destroyed by other factions .
On 10 PM CEST, in synchronisation with the other NAP factions and alliances, Fuster Cluck sent thousands of launches (and strikes) on Horsemen, severely weakening the latter to the point of them moving from the very comfortable first position to last. Around the same time, Mars Command  started targeting one of Fuster’s members – South Reinkalistan, having around 643 targets at them at its peak. This quickly came to a halt in favour for Fuster, as this particular move attracted the ire of The Army of Freedom , and to a smaller extent, by The Potato Alliance, since both of these factions have a NAP with Fuster. The threat from Mars Command was neutralised in a matter of moments.
As the time goes on, Fuster, while keeping the friendly term with most large factions, have successfully targeted and struck out factions such as The Shadow Cult, Mars Command, E-Team, and Unlikely Alliance. By the end of N-Day, i.e. whereby the nations were asked to “Learn To Love Again”, Fuster Cluck survived with 0 Radiation, and in the words of Valentine Z, “Thank goodness the 2 Rads didn’t get us this time,” in reference to the neglect in N-Day 4 that saw the faction being struck by 2 missiles and rendering the “0 Rad Finish” null and void .
The Rise of the Card Farmers
While it’s no stranger to NationStates that Card Farmers (players with nations for the sole purpose of answering issues and collecting trading cards) have participated in the past N-Day or two before, they have came into full effect this time with their own factions. More about the puppet factions (on top of other news), can be found here. .
One particular epitome of such a faction is Second Best Test, by Big Farma. It has seen a large success of its own, and according to Max Barry’s own Top 10 Factions with Highest Scores Per Nation , Second Best Test  has netted the highest score of 1,167.8 (29,194 score across 25 nations), with the second best being Gholgoth  with 133.8 (4,817 score across 36 nations).
Another such example of card farmers joining in the forces of the larger factions is Evrigenis, whereby their full account can be read here . If Second Best Test is an example of card farmers creating their own factions from the start, Evrigenis is an example of joining the existing large factions, jumping from one to another, then joining the card farmer factions. It was not to say that their decisions were wrong and rather, it was an interesting insight on the various activity and paths that the players have taken. For Evrigenis, it was a general play of them having puppets spread across the large factions such as Augustin Alliance, ATOMIC, and Alliance of Potatoes. Eventually, they too joined Noahs Second Country’s faction, ultimately a two-man faction consisting of hundreds of puppets at their peak.
However, it is of note that throughout the game, the nations, if they have no radiation, are able to freely travel around the factions in any order or any number of times that they desire. In other words, the number of nations have changed constantly throughout the game, and the final results do not reflect the actual size of the factions, whatever they might be, and thus the Scores per Nation being an inaccurate matrix. For instance, one of the strategies  especially for the single-player factions involve having all of their nations and puppets during their active hours (i.e. when the player is involved in nuking and shielding), and when the shielding is more or less enough, or if their puppet nations are not targeted AND they have no radiation on them, their nations then either leave or join another faction. This ensures that the scores do not decrease due to radiation (i.e. the score is reflected by Strikes subtracted by Radiation). Alnobian Nuclear Defense Alliance  is one particular example of this strategy whereby there was only one nation left by the end of the game, despite the strikes coming from other nations that used to be in the faction.
In terms of global statistics , 475 factions have been created overall, with 38,693 nations joining a faction at any point in time. 4,359,585 nukes were targeted, 3,715,752 nukes were launched, with 1,800,098 of these nukes being shot down. 1,916,864 strikes occurred with 1,536,382 radiation, implying that cases of nukes overshooting (striking on the nation despite it being 100% irradiated) are all not uncommon.
Top 10 and Bottom 10 Factions by Score
Top and last page of the factions sorted by score can be seen below  :
Top 10 Factions by number of nukes
The top 10 most stockpiled factions are as follows . Of note is that out of the 475 factions, only 79 of them has at least 1 nuke, thus the rest of the factions have 0 nukes by the end of the game.
Top 10 Factions by number of shields
The top 10 most shielded factions are as follows :
Top 10 Factions by number of strikes
The top 10 factions with the most number of strikes are as follows :
Top 10 Factions by amount of radiation
The top 10 factions that are most irradiated are as follows :
N-Day coincides with Yom Kippur
It is well-known that N-Day for NationStates is meant to coincide with the actual United Nations’ International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. However, for the first few hours before the official reply, there were debates and concerns on the threads  about the fact that the times for N-Day are clashing and conflicting with Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, whereby Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a day-long fast and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. It was later clarified by [Violet] in the same thread  that it was a honest mistake and keeping this forward in mind, alternative arrangements and changes to the commencement of N-Day will be made for the future.
Excessive Puppet Usage
Just like the previous years, there is absolutely no limit on the number of nations that a player can use for this event, i.e. the event is not on “single nation per player” like WA, or a few other games. This has been talked about in threads such as here – while it’s a misconception that it is scripted and botted, such actions, such as using multiple nations through various methods and controlling them manually, is more or less has been legal, and this has caused ire in a great percentage of users, ranging from how smaller factions have been curbstomped by the larger ones. There were suggestions as to how to get around this, such as only allowing WA nations to participate (though this would exclude players that do not join WA out of their personal choices), along with allowing perhaps 5-10 nations per player.
Rogue Nations and Ejection Suggestion
Every faction, for every N-Day, without fail, were plagued by the existence of Rogue Nations, i.e. nations belonging to players that disobey orders or causes chaos within the faction itself. Some of their behaviour includes but not limited to: Shooting down nukes that are launched by the faction-mates, and targeting (and launching) at nations in factions that has a NAP with them (for example, Augustin Alliance nation shooting at a Potato Alliance nation). This behaviour, while more or less harmless to larger factions with extensive shield networks, can still be detrimental and hurts relations between factions since shields have to be used, and if not careful, radiation can damage a flawless zero-radiation run. This suggestion, first started by Fauxia for this year , has received an overwhelming support from the community, though there was no official statement from the NationStates staff on the thread.
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