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Red Storm The Airwar Over Central Germany, 1987 by GMT Games  The nightmare has become real. Both sides st...

Red Storm: The Airwar Over Central Germany, 1987 by GMT Games Red Storm: The Airwar Over Central Germany, 1987 by GMT Games

Red Storm: The Airwar Over Central Germany, 1987 by GMT Games

Red Storm: The Airwar Over Central Germany, 1987 by GMT Games

Red Storm

The Airwar Over Central Germany, 1987


GMT Games

 The nightmare has become real. Both sides stared at each other, and this time neither side blinked. Germany is now the playing field for this deadly game. The worst thing is this war will make the Thirty Years War look like a Boy Scout Jamboree. You, the player, are in charge of NATO or the Warsaw Pact air assets. Both sides are equipped with state of the art armaments, and also some that are long in the tooth.

 This is the back story to the game:

"March 1987: The hopes raised by Mikhail Gorbachev's reform efforts in the Soviet Union and nuclear disarmament talks with the United States are suddenly crushed when a military coup removes his regime from power.  Hidden behind a disinformation campaign, Warsaw Pact forces prepare for war against the allied nations of NATO.

May 1987: More than 2,000 aircraft in the Warsaw Pact air forces reach a peak of readiness.  They plan to overwhelm the NATO air forces and provide cover for the Soviet armies in East Germany to roll across West Germany to the Rhine in less than a month.  For NATO commanders, the long-feared “Red Storm” in the skies above Germany is finally here..."

 The box is the usual size for games nowadays. However, the weight of the game is more than above average. It does not come with mounted maps; it really couldn't due to space constraints, so that is not the reason for the heft. When opening up the box, you cannot but help hear the Ronco commercial in your head; "wait, there's more". The parts of the games just keep on coming. While this is not indicative of a good game, it is of a complex one. This is a little blurb about the game and its pedigree:

"The second sequel to the Charles S. Roberts Award-winning game Downtown, Red Storm is a standalone game that utilizes the Downtown game system to depict a hypothetical air war in May/June 1987 over the central portion of the NATO-Warsaw Pact front in central Germany.  Like Downtown and Elusive Victory before it, Red Storm is an “operational” level air warfare game where players manage large strike packages and numerous combat air patrols in an effort to strike enemy targets, protect their own ground troops, and secure control of the air above the land battle raging below.  Both sides field highly advanced all-weather aircraft, long-range air-to-air missiles, precision bombs, sophisticated electronic warfare assets, and networks of surface-to-air missiles and radar-guided AAA."

 The components are as follows:

Two 22” x 34” maps
1,260 die cut counters
One Rules Booklet
One Scenario Booklet
One Appendices Booklet
Five Full-Color Player Aid Cards
Three Full-Color Aircraft Data Cards
Two 10-sided dice
NATO and Warsaw Pact log sheets

 We will go over the components separately as far as their form and function. The two maps show the central area of the conflict. They depict from the Rhine to the Southwest of Germany. Their scale is roughly 2.5 nautical miles per hex. The maps are well done (this is GMT Games after all), and the information on them is easy to see without needing any deciphering. They are, of course, a bit spartan looking compared to a game about ground combat. There are three books for the player to use. These are: Rules of Play, Scenario Book, and the Appendices Book. The Rulebook is sixty pages long, but it is set up well and has a five page index in the back of the rules. The Rulebook also has information included to play out two different types of campaigns: Bombing and Recon. The game also comes with 'Limited Solitaire' rules for players to switch from one side to the other while playing. As a bonus, the game comes with 'Full Solitaire' rules that include the use of a 'bot'. The scenario book comes with thirty-six scenarios including the solitaire ones. The Appendices book has a full Order of Battle for both sides. This is also where you will find a eight pages dedicated to play examples. The Designer Notes and especially the 'Tactical Hints' are a very worthwhile read. All three books are in full color, and though stuffed with everything under the sun, they are easy to read. There are three Aircraft Data Charts. One is for USAF Aircraft (flipped side is for UK and FRG aircraft), and one is for the Warsaw Pact aircraft (flipped side is for GDR aircraft). The other is for aircraft from Belgium, Canada, and the Netherlands. With some of these countries you will find some old aircraft still in use, such as the F-104G Starfighter. There are five full color Player Aid Cards, and each of these has four pages. The Flight Log Sheets are double sided, and look to be about twenty-five pages so it is awhile before you will need to copy them. The Sam and AAA Log Sheets also come with a black and white representation of the game map on the back. With all of the above you can see that the player is well supplied with assistance etc. You can also buy cards for the Planes and AAA from Game Crafter. There will be more information on this going forward.

The NATO forces are outnumbered on the ground and in the air. The NATO player does have technology on his side in 1987. Playing as NATO, you are effectively fighting a zombie apocalypse. You keep destroying Warsaw Pact flights, but they keep popping back up as though springing from the ground itself. As the Warsaw Pact player, you have to go for broke, and hope that you can overwhelm NATO by sheer numbers.

Aircraft Data Sheets

 This game is both large and complex. It has a very high complexity rating on BoardGameGeek of 4.43 out of 5.0 (on the box it is listed as an 8) . You not only have to take care of your flights, but tons of other things also. The player is responsible for his side's missile AAA, and other ground AAA assets. You are responsible for your radar, electronics (jamming etc.), and anything that goes with a late 20th century airwar. The player is in charge of choosing targets, flights, and your planes' loadout. Before you get dismayed, the game scenarios hold your hand and walk you through the rules by using a graduated level of complexity in them. Scenario one is discussed below. Scenario two is a large fighter sweep of Warsaw Pact planes to engage and knock out as many NATO fighters as possible. The game also comes with four other dedicated solo scenarios.

 Your first scenario is a solo one to introduce you to raid planning, aircraft movement, SAM acquisition, and air to air combat. The player must plan out a Warsaw pact recon flight path. In this scenario you just have to get the Warsaw Pact flight within one hex of each of the four target hexes at medium or lower altitude the NATO side has four conditions to meet for victory:

"1. Detection [10.1] and Visual Identification [10.4] of the WP Recon flight.
2. Achieve Full SAM Acquisition [15.21] on the WP flight at the end of two Admin Phases.
3. Conduct a successful BVR air-to-air engagement [11.2] of the WP flight. If the engagement occurs, resolve it as if it were normal BVR air-to-air combat, but the NATO player may not fire any shots.
4. Conduct a successful standard air-to-air combat engagement [11.2] of the WP flight. If the engagement occurs, resolve it as if it were a normal air-to-air combat, but neither player may fire any shots. Treat “Abort” Morale Check results as “Disordered” instead. If the NATO side accomplishes these four tasks, NATO wins. Otherwise, the WP side wins."

Counter Sheet One

 If you are a regular reader you will know that I have just entered the world of 2D air games recently. Red Storm takes this to a whole other level. It is not a game where you just have to work out the odds for a deflection shot, or maneuver your planes for a tail shot. The game has many things going on all at the same time. I admit there was a moment where I thought "what have I gotten into" when I opened the box. Luckily the designers had a dolt like me in mind when the developed the rules. As long as you take the time to get the basics down and then go through the scenarios as you are supposed to, you will be fine. The game comes with enough scenarios for any gamer. The only thing I wish was that the game wasn't predicated on nukes being used after six weeks. You can make your own scenarios, but it would have been nice to see the Air Forces duke it out after a few months at war, debilitated pilots, low stock, etc. The scenarios are made up of every conceivable type of air warfare engagement, from ground pounding right up to stopping tactical nuclear attacks. Like other Lee Brimmicombe-Wood (of Wing Leader fame, love those games) designs this one requires you to read the rulebook, and to keep it handy during play. The amount you put into the game will proportionally affect what you get out of it. I say take your time, and enjoy learning this notable game on the Cold war gone hot. Trust me, you will be up and destroying things in no time. I am using the aircraft and AAA cards that were made up by Game Crafter to use with the game. They look much like the aircraft cards in the Wing Leader series. I will provide a link to them. There is also a P500 for a new expansion to Red Storm, called Red Storm: Baltic Approaches. Thank you GMT Games for providing me with this very well done game to review.

This is a link to GMT Games Red Storm:

This is a link to the Game Crafter cards:

Red Storm: Baltic Approaches: