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The Doomsday Project: Episode 2, The Battle for the Balkans by Compass Games   This is a subject I lived through and until very recently I d...

The Doomsday Project: Episode 2, The Battle for the Balkans by Compass Games The Doomsday Project: Episode 2, The Battle for the Balkans by Compass Games

The Doomsday Project: Episode 2, The Battle for the Balkans by Compass Games

The Doomsday Project: Episode 2, The Battle for the Balkans by Compass Games

The Doomsday Project: Episode 2, The Battle for the Balkans


Compass Games

  This is a subject I lived through and until very recently I did not really explore game wise. Strangely enough, another title that I reviewed for Compass Games gave me the bug to start gaming the era. For those of you that do not know, this series of games takes place in 1985 when the Cold War goes hot. It has a neat and believable historical premise behind the game series. More on this will be below. So, sit back and put the laser disc in and we will watch: Back to the Future, Commando, Pale Rider, and St. Elmo's Fire. Of course, we will also ruminate on where the time has gone. Then we will get down to wargaming business.

 This blurb on the game is from Compass Games:

"Although the World War Three scenario of NATO versus the Warsaw Pact never happened, it happened countless times on the wargaming table. It may not be part of history, but it is part of our hobby’s history. The Doomsday Project is a subseries of the Operational Scale System featuring wars that never happened. There will be games on the Persian Gulf, Central America, The Battle for Northern Europe, Manchuria, the strategic naval war, and of course, a game of total nuclear war. All the games will feature rules that allow you to play some, part or all of the great war that never happened. The first game in the series will feature the fight that could have happened in Germany. Chemical weapons, tactical nuclear attacks and politics will be present – as well as all the forces that were stationed in the region in 1985. Both sides, notably the United States, were reequipping their forces with many new weapons joining the line. The process had started but is not yet completed.

This is the fourth game in the “OSS” system; and the second game in the Doomsday series. This game will cover the battle for the southern front of Europe. The map will stretch from Northern Italy to the Bosporus and all the nations that could have fought in this area will be represented in the game. This series is made to be highly playable and to be completed in far shorter a time that is common for this size game. Low counter density and a concentration on conceptual complexity is the focus of this series. While still mechanically simple, The Doomsday Project will also have all the necessary rules to cover this theater and period. In Episode Two, The Battle for the Balkans game, as you will see in all additional games in The Doomsday Project, will add another facet to the mechanics of the system. Sophisticated political rules will make their appearance. Players will have to content with heads of state and their positives and negatives in play. Rules to retrofit these rules into the Germany game will be provided as well."

Don't they look just beautiful!

 This is what comes with the game, plus some other information:

Complexity: 7 out of 10

Solitaire Suitability: 8 out of 10

Time Scale: 1 day per turn

Unit Scale: Divisional/Brigade/Regiment

Players: 1-2

Scenarios: 5 (+1 massive campaign game with The Battle for Germany)


Four Maps at 22” by 34”

One Map at 11" by 17"

One Map at 8.5” by 11”

Five Countersheets

Eight Player Aids, Charts, and Displays

One Rulebook

One Scenario book

Two 6-sided dice and two 10-sided dice

1 Box and lid

Game Credits

Designer: Adam Starkweather

Graphic Artist: Nadir Elfarra

Counter Sheet #1

 First up I will be talking about the maps. You get six maps in the game, and they are made of paper with a bit of lamination on them. Four of them are the usual 22" x 34" variety. Then you get an 11" x 17" map of Istanbul and the mostly Turkish territory in Europe, and a small bit of Turkey proper. The 8.5" x 11" map is for filling in between two of the larger maps on the Adriatic coast. I like the maps. Their size is 12 kilometers per hex. The colors to me were a good choice. As far as terrain, it is easily distinguishable between the types of terrain. The Rulebook is forty-two pages long and is in full color. They are made of a flatter finish instead of the glossy magazine type we are getting used to seeing. It has double column spacing and the type size is large enough to easily read. The Scenario booklet is twenty-eight pages in length. It is made the same exact way as the Rulebook. First you have the setup and rules for the game's six scenarios and then you get a four-page example of play. There are seven thick card stock Player Aids. Six of them are one-sided and then there is a double-sided terrain chart. One side is the Terrain Effects Chart, and the other side is the Restricted Terrain Table. The six one-sided are:

Nato Player Aid
Warsaw Pact Player Aid
Warsaw Pact Air Display
Nato Air Display
Military Leaders/Political Leaders Charts
General Game Display

 They all have decent sized printing on them, except for a small part on the Military Leaders/Political Leaders page. The counters are very well done with either a silhouette for tanks and APCs, and a top-down view of aircraft. The five countersheets come wrapped in plastic, which is great because they want to fall out of the cardboard sprues. This is just like the counters I have been seeing in other Compass Games products. The political leader counters are small portraits of the leader it represents. The first thing you will notice is there are no numbers on them for movement and attack/defense (I know- heresy). The only numbers on them show the size of the unit. The game rules and die rolls take care of how strong or weak a unit is. There are also a fair number of counters to show unit losses and its state. The components are a mirror image of the first game in the series: The Battle for Germany. If you liked them, and I do, then you can be assured to like these.

Counter Sheet #2

 The game has no need of movement rates on the counters. All units are considered to be motorized except for an actual leg unit. The basic unit movement rate is five. The terrain is much more difficult than in The Battle for Germany maps. The road network is not like what is present in The Battle for Germany. The units can have primary and secondary equipment listed on it. This is usually shown with APCs and tanks, although a unit can be of only one type of armament.

 If you are looking for history and plausibility, then look no further. This game has these and many more besides:

Surface-to-Surface Missiles
Warsaw Pact Guards Units
Marine Units
Air Transport for both supply/attacks
Nuclear Weapons possible use
Fresh/Spent Units
Supply Points Usage
Poor/Penal Units
Leaders (not seen very much in games of this scale)

 Guaranteed that if it was ever in a wargame, it is in this one.

 Below shows some of the sequence of play:

The Strategic Phase
 Check Weather
 Check Communications
 Place Arriving Reinforcements
 Air Allocation Phase
 Resolve All SSM Attacks
 Supply and Infrastructure Phase
 Strategic Air Mission Resolution

Warsaw Pact Activation Phase
NATO Activation Phase

Activation Sequence
 HQ Activation Segment
 Unit Activation Segment
 Cadre Segment
 Initial Movement and Combat Declaration Segment
 Reserve Movement Segment
 Bonus Movement Segment
 Combat Segment
 After Combat Loss Segment
 Check Stacking Segment
 HQ Movement and Refresh Segment
 Night Battles

End Phase
 Eliminate Friendly Units Phase
 Victory Check Phase
 Victory Check Segment
 Politics Phase
 Time Phase

 As you can see, the game has just about everything in it that was ever discussed about a Third World War game. Compass Games has it listed as seven out of ten on the complexity scale. The one great bit about it is that the game has suitability of solitaire ranked as high. I can attest to this. It is actually rather easy to play solitaire because there is so much to do each time you change sides the slate in your mind is wiped clean.

 This is a list of Special Units in the game:

Warsawa Pact Regiments and NATO Battalions
VKK Units
Military Commanders

 A game at this level that also has the player dealing with Military Commanders and Refugees is pretty remarkable. There are six Refugee counters. One is put in the Refugee Box of the NATO Players Aid if one of these occur:

A Combat Chit is placed in a city hex.
Nuclear Attack Marker is placed on the map.
Chemical Attack Marker is placed on the map.

 The NATO Player can spend supply points to remove the Refugee counters. For each two still on the Player Aid Box the NATO infrastructure is reduced by one.

 The Military Commanders can have these five traits:


 Military Commanders can be in use for both land and air units. Military Commanders are only used in a campaign game or a combined game (Battle for Germany).

 Yes, to learn the game you have to put your thinking cap on. This is not a series where you can just sit down and read a manual for ten minutes and be ready to play. The game comes with five scenarios to play. The first Austria Stands Alone would be the smallest and best to learn the game on. There is a sixth scenario and that is if the player has the first game in the series, Battle for Germany, and has enough room to play with all the maps from each game. The designer, Adam Starkweather, has also done some YouTube videos on how to play and learn the game. 

 Unlike a lot of other games, combat uses the most time and gray matter. The first thing is that there are four types of combat. These are:

Meeting Engagement : 1 MP if Cross Country or 1/2 in Road Column.
Hasty Attack: 2 MPs if Cross Country or 1 MP if in Road Column.
Prepared Attack: 3 MPs if Cross Country or 2 MPs if in Road Column.
Deliberate Attack: All MPs(may not be in Road Column).

 You actually have to spend movement points to place a combat chit on a hex. The combat chits also show which die to use (either the D6 or D10). Then the attacker can decide on whether to add Artillery Support, Air-to-Ground Support, or Helicopters. The Combat Chips have to be drawn. Some of them have a Random Event possibility on them. The Combat Chit also has an A, B, or C on it to tell you which of the three Random Event Tables to use. There is so much more to just talk about with combat let alone the rest of the game. The game also shows the lethality of the almost modern battlefield. While you do not have to worry about drones you will still have to husband your forces to take your objectives. All of your well-thought-out plans will fall into the waste bin when presented with what Clausewitz called 'friction'. This game differs from The Battle of Germany in having a full-fledged political segment in its rules. 

 Victory is also a bit different than other games. This is from the Rulebook:

"8.2.1: If a player has 21 points and gains victory points, those points are deducted from the enemy total. If a player has fewer victory points and what they might lose in victory points through play, the remaining victory points that cannot be lost are instead added to their opponent's total."

 "Players may "pay" victory points to do several game actions. They may do this even if they have 0 points but by adding the victory points to his opponent's total."

 So, you may 'bet' upon you getting more victory points by using them earlier to try to get a larger victory.

 I really like the system. So much in fact that I had to purchase a copy of The Doomsday Project: Episode 1 The Battle for Germany, just to have the complete game series, at least of the published games. The next in the series, Episode 3, will be taking place in northern Europe. I think I will also have to purchase the other two games in the OSS (Operational Scale Series) series Vietnam: A Rumor of War, and A Test of Faith: The Arab-Israeli War of 1973. Both of those games were also designed by Adam Starkweather. Thank you, Compass Games, for allowing me to review this great game. I can recommend it to anyone who is a true grognard and likes to get into meatier games. 

 Compass Games next Expo will be here:

Compass Games Expo Fall 2023 will be held November 9-13, 2023 at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Meriden, CT.

 They also had a Spring Expo this year so hopefully that continues to happen.