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  Nato The Cold War Goes Hot The Designer Signature Edition by Compass Games  "NATO, nukes, and Nazi's" are what sells wargame...

Nato: The Cold War Goes Hot Designer Signature Edition by Compass Games Nato: The Cold War Goes Hot Designer Signature Edition by Compass Games

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1983






 Nato The Cold War Goes Hot


The Designer Signature Edition


by


Compass Games








 "NATO, nukes, and Nazi's" are what sells wargames. This concise aphorism from the late 70s or early 80s has been attributed to a number of wargame designers. The original game was released in 1983 by Victory Games. By the amount of press and pieces in the magazines of the time, I would think that every wargamer at the time had a copy. I know I had one, in those halcyon days before I was seduced by computer wargames. Well, it has now been recreated in a new wonderfully looking edition by Compass Games.


 Compass Games has been releasing some of the biggest games from the years of the last great board wargaming era. They are letting the original designers add or remove things from the games that they have been thinking about for the last forty-plus years. So, the gamer gets to have a fully revamped classic game that has also had all of the kinks, if there were any, worked out. This version has been printed with a lavishness that was not available at its first release.


 The Cold War going hot was a very big topic in both reality and the wargaming community in the 1980s. Tensions had risen between the East and the West, and there were countless books and articles written about the strength of both sides. 




  This is the blurb about the game from Compass Games. I like to include them to show the gaming company's thoughts on the game. Then I can compare my thoughts on the game to theirs. 


"NATO, Designer Signature Edition marks the return of a true wargaming classic by Bruce Maxwell. NATO simulates a potential NATO/Warsaw Pact conflict in Central Europe during the Cold War years of the 1980’s. First published in 1983, this game was Victory Games best-selling title, purchased by over 75,000 gamers worldwide. This new edition is based on an exhaustive two-year study by the Designer of the records that have come to light since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The game combines highly accurate information on the forces the Warsaw Pact actually had with now de-classified reports from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency regarding what satellite surveillance and HUMINT revealed about their actual plans. The map has also been extensively updated with new satellite geography. Finally, the game system has been reworked to better reflect the fluid, fast paced and deadly nature of modern warfare, while retaining the original intention of simple and intuitive play. Here is the ultimate Cold War game, remastered, and playable in a single sitting.

NATO is a division/brigade level simulation of a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. The game map depicts the area from Denmark to the Swiss Alps, and from France to Poland.  The time frame covers the first 14 days of war, after which one side or the other has usually run out of an army. The game offers four different Scenarios, covering 1) a surprise attack from a standing start, 2) an attempt by the WP to quietly prepare without tipping NATO off beforehand, 3) an extended buildup of forces by both sides before war breaks out, and 4) an introductory scenario covering the invasion of Denmark.

 Scenario can be played with an Order of Battle from 1983, when NATO was still relatively weak, or with an Order of Battle from 1988, when NATO had rearmed and reorganized and was at the peak of its strength. The difference is impressive.

The game features infantry, armor, airborne and airmobile troops, marines, with easy mechanics to leverage combined arms operations. It also has extensive options for employing air power, chemical weapons and, for the truly desperate player, a last resort to nuclear weapons. The combat system is built around the concept that the best defense is a good offense, and features artillery, tactical and operational air strikes, reserves, counterattacks and deep exploitation, allowing for a rich set of tactical nuances in play. This is not a game where the WP attacks and NATO defends. Both players have to attack relentlessly if they want to defeat their opponent.

This Designer Signature edition of the classic Bruce Maxwell game has been upgraded with new units, new scenarios, new terrain, new tables and new player aid cards. Additional enhancements introduced in this edition include:

Super-sized components feature 9/16” counters and two game maps with larger hexes

Game map information has been updated and includes all-new map artwork

New units have been added, unit information has been updated and all units produced with new artwork

Existing scenarios have been updated and two new scenarios added

Orders of Battle are provided for all Scenarios both 1983 and 1988, allowing players to see the impact of the Reagan Era rearmament programs

The game system has been redesigned and the new rules include extensive illustrations, examples of play and Designer’s Notes to aid clarity

Each rules section now begins with a summary, allowing experienced players to skip many rules sections that embody classic game mechanics they already know

Rules details and restriction have been summarized graphically in Player Aids for faster reference and easier play

Enhanced ergonomics are provided for Scenario set up and Reinforcement charts

A new set of Designer’s Notes contain a wealth of historical information on what the West discovered after the Warsaw Pact collapsed and most of its members joined NATO."


The two maps together in all their glory


Components:

One Rules Booklet

One Play Booklet with Scenarios & Designer’s Notes

Two 22″ x 34″ Maps

Four Counter Sheets (9/16″ size playing pieces)

One WP Player Charts & Tables Card

One NATO Player Charts & Tables Card

One WP Sequence of Play Card

One NATO Sequence of Play Card

One Warsaw Pact Strategic Surprise Reinforcement Schedule Card

One Warsaw Pact Extended Buildup Reinforcement Schedule Card

One NATO Strategic Surprise Reinforcement Schedule Card

One NATO Extended Buildup Reinforcement Schedule Card

Two 6-Sided Dice

One Game Box and Lid


The Strategic Surprise Scenario setup 1983

 So, the first thing we will look at is the components. The above picture of the two maps do not do them justice. They are done in a wonderful color scheme that is both easy on the eye, and simple to discern what each hex's terrain is. It was kind of odd to me to see a map that shows East Germany. For more than half my life Germany has been united. The hexes are large which is great for both old eyes and hands. The maps are covered in a myriad of tables and charts that help speed up game play immensely. These are also large sized and easy to read. To sum up the maps, thank you and excellent work Compass Games. The counters are large as well at 9/16". The color schemes on the counters make it easy to see what country they belong to, without making it hard to read their information. That is set out in large bold printing, this is once again entirely appreciated. There are eleven! Players Aids in all, and they are all two-sided. These are in full color and made of hard stock. There are three Reinforcement Schedule Aids for the different scenarios. These are followed by six Players Aids with tables and charts. Next comes two oversized (these are double sized compared to the other) Players Aids that have on one side the Terrain Chart, and on the other the Sequence of Play. You will not need a magnifying glass to read any of these. The Rules Booklet is eighty-seven pages long. The Booklet has to be so long to deal with all of the different aspects of modern war. It is in full color and the pages are made of thicker laminated paper. The rules are set out in a very simple to follow format. They are not just a jumble of rules and exceptions to those rules. The Booklet has many examples of play in it. It even comes with a glossary of terms used militarily and in wargames. That is a very nice touch. The Playbook is fifty-five pages long. Included is an eight page Designer's Notes that go over both the game and the history of the period it is portraying. At the end of the Playbook is an eighteen page OOB, Order of Battle, for both sides in the conflict. The first twenty-five pages of the Playbook are for the setup for the different scenarios. The Playbook is printed exactly like the Rules Booklet. It is set out in the same easy to follow manner as the Rules Booklet. 




 This is the breakdown of the game:

Complexity: 7 out of 10

Solitaire Suitability: 7 out of 10 (no hidden units)

Time Scale: 24 hours per turn

Map Scale: 15 miles per hex

Unit Scale: regiments, brigades, and divisions, abstract air and naval forces

Players: one to four, best with two

Playing Time: 3-8 hours depending upon scenario 


All the Components laid out


  There you have what comes in the box. I am happy to report that Compass Games has hit one out of the park as far as the components of the game. 


 So, the game gives you the ability to play either the Warsaw Pact or NATO during this titanic class. One thing though, both sides were betting on a short, very short, war. The turn record track has only fourteen days in it. You read that right - fourteen! This might come as a shock to gamers who are used to the seemingly fast World War II pace, or the glacial pace of World War I and before. The designer makes his case on the fact of the almost total lethality of modern war. We are not talking nukes, but the lethality of regular munitions against each other. The dead pile of counters will show you the truth in this assumption. The Rhine River was only eighty-seven miles from the East German border. That would be less than six hexes at fifteen miles per hex. NATO had the thought that it had its back up against a wall, and it was quite correct in its assessment. 




 There are a few things about the original game that the designer, Bruce Maxwell, did not like. One of these was the tactical nuclear part of the game. Remember though, he has had almost forty years to work on the game. They spent another two years on the game before allowing Compass Games to reissue it. 


 NATO is one of those gems where a player has to take a long, long time to learn how to 'game' the rules and game. That is if you actually can do it. Each game plays out entirely differently than the next one. Each side is presented with so many choices. These are some of the weapons/strategies each can use:


Helicopters

Transport Movement/Interception

Air/Sea Ferry

Rail Movement

Supply/Resupply

Offensive/Defensive Strikes (Defensive Strikes are only used by NATO)

Chemical Warfare (The WP must initiate it)

Air Power/Air Strikes

Nuclear Strikes




 As far as victory goes: The WP Player can win an Automatic Victory by having a Maneuver Unit (Not Airmobile, Airborne, or Marine Unit) in supply, west of the Rhine River and south of the Waal River. A NATO Automatic Victory can occur if they have been able to control two WP cities. The NATO Player can also get an Automatic Victory if he can relieve West Berlin or force Czechoslovakia to surrender. To relieve West Berlin the NATO Player must have a Maneuver Unit in Berlin with a Line of Supply to it. Each player must roll for the chance of causing 'Armageddon' when using nuclear weapons, with one caveat. The player who causes Armageddon loses automatically. Different levels of winning and losing are mostly defined by capturing and holding enemy cities. One very interesting rule is the 'Armistice' one. I do not think I remember a game having an actual rule for an armistice. Usually it is just something off the cuff by either player realizing he has lost. This game actually allows some structured give and take between each player.



Soviet Air Assets to the attack


 The scenarios are:


BALTAP Scenario (WP invasion of Denmark) This meant to be an introductory scenario.

Strategic Surprise Scenario 

Extended Buildup Scenario

War of Nerves Scenario (This is where the WP player secretly tries to build up his forces before attacking)

 There are OOBs and setup information for both the years 1983 and 1988. The year 1983 represents the low tide for US armaments. Where the year 1988 represents all of the buildup of the US Armed Forces under Reagan.


 As I mentioned, I had bought the original game years ago. You have to understand that I had almost zero wargaming interest in a WP vs NATO game, except for maybe a 1945 or 1946 outbreak of World War III. So, for me to pick it up is definitely a salute to a game that so many other gamers were raving about. I really liked the original game. This iteration with all of its bells and whistles I cannot speak highly about. From the first-rate components to the obvious care, and dare I say love, that the designer and his team put into this new version is very apparent. Thank you very much Compass Games for sending this excellent game to review. I can recommend it to anyone who is interested in the era, or is just looking for a great wargaming experience. Below are the links to NATO and to Compass Games. Do yourself a favor and take a look at what else is in their stable.


Robert


NATO: The Cold War Goes Hot Designer Signature Series:

NATO, Designer Signature Edition – Compass Games

Compass Games:

Compass Games – New Directions In Gaming


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