I don’t usually stray into current affairs quite so much as this, these sort of situations are too raw to even think about designing games about them. However the press coverage seems to be quite off base to me, seeing this as a repeat of Iraq/Afghanistan where it appears to me to be closer to the break up of Yugoslavia, or perhaps the Rwanda genocide. Also much of my experience in trying to understand conflict can be brought to bear on this situation.
Invasion of the West was a Cold War turned hot alternative history game that I ran at the March meeting of Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group (CLWG).Â
Having cast around for someone to do a plan for Invasion of the West Mukul volunteered, even though he wasnâ€™t able to turn up on Saturday. Mukulâ€™s plan is at the end of this report along with the umpire briefings, but in essence it was for a pre-emptive chemical strike on 1 British Corps near Hanover followed by a mad dash for Antwerp.
On the day Andy Reeve, John Rutherford, Dave Boundy, Terry Martin and Brian Cameron turned up. Andy and John played the Soviets/Warsaw Pact forces with Dave Boundy as their LU. Terry controlled the NATO forces with Brian joining in when he arrived.
The players werenâ€™t entirely happy with the chemical strike but did it anyway. The results were disappointing as the combat capacity of the NATO forces wasnâ€™t degraded terribly as had been hoped, although the civilian casualties were horrendous. (As a game fudge I deemed that the chemical strike would take a step loss when it hit and also inflict a step loss on any units remaining in the area. Fighting in an afflicted zone would be twice as deadly and all combat factors would be reduced to one). The main game effect of the chemicals was to stiffen the resolve of the German territorial forces to fight.
The Warsaw Pact advance hit the slightly softened NATO forces and punched their way past them with a few casualties. NATO correctly guessed the main axis of Warsaw Pact attack and concentrated their air effort, reserves and logs support on the thrust. In a bloody second day the Warsaw Pact air were swept from the sky. At the same time the West German Northern Corps counter-attacked and inflicted a serious stop to the follow-on forces. The forward Soviet thrust bypassed Hanover and almost reached the Ruhr before being annihilated by a British counter-attack heavily supported by aircraft and LSPs. The West Germans died with the Soviet follow-on force in a bitter slogging match.
Down south all was quiet, relatively speaking. The Czechs having been given no orders decided not to play. NATO forces dug in and fortified their positions waiting to see what happened. In the meantime the all the reserve formations were diverted north. The arrival of the Reforger air-deployed division tipped the balance. Although arguably the lack of activity in the South allowed the LSPs that might have been used there to be used in the North. As my mechanism translates LSP use directly into combat step losses this was disastrous as the forces involved very quickly lost all their offensive combat power.
I was reasonably happy with how the mechanisms worked, although I still have one or two reservations. Given that this was the second outing for the game this doesnâ€™t surprise me. The main thing that I got from it was a few ideas on scenario generation. In the post-game discussion it was reckoned that there was some mileage in a political game set in the final throes of the Soviet Union which would provide the background for a game like this.
A Short Victorious War â€“ Forthcoming Game
Given that everyone there seemed keen on this I intend to try and run an invitation game at the June meeting of CLWG, possibly in John Rutherfordâ€™s house. The game will need 15-20 people, which means that I need to go further than CLWG for players. The main teams will be NATO, Warsaw Pact and a few other key states to represent the UN Security Council in a time of crisis. Iâ€™ll also need a few umpires as well.
Each team will have 4-5 members which means I need around 15 players, 3 Liaison Umpires, a military umpire and myself as Game Control.
The background to the game is that the Soviet Union has realised that its collapse is imminent unless it can do something to relieve its economic position. The choices open are either reform, which has a risk of getting out of hand, foreign aid or a relief from the pressures of the Cold War and the level of funding that the Arms Race requires.
NATO This will have representatives from Britain, USA, a European state and one of the peripheral members. Their role will be to try and resolve the tension by bringing the Cold War to an end and negotiating market reforms with the Soviet Union and other WP countries.
Warsaw Pact This will have a Soviet Union, East German, Polish & Czech players. They will be looking for ways to relief the economic pressures that they are under.
UN members To bring some sense to things I want to have a few unaligned states to represent the UN and the peaceful influence that it may have on the events. This is likely to have 5 players.
Umpires Each of the three teams will have an LU umpire to advise and also to relay orders to map control. The game will also use the telephone system for communications between teams (although letters and face to face will also be allowed).
This means I need a total of 17 people to play the game. If you are interested, or know anyone who is then please let me know as soon as possible.