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  Red Strike Air, Land and Naval Combat in Europe 1989 by Vuca Simulations  When we last picked up Wolfram von Eschenbach's magnum opus,...

Red Strike by Vuca Simulations Part 1 Red Strike by Vuca Simulations Part 1

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

World War III

 Red Strike

Air, Land and Naval Combat in Europe 1989


Vuca Simulations

 When we last picked up Wolfram von Eschenbach's magnum opus, Parzival was wandering through the forest of other wargames looking for the Grail. According to the tale, he stopped at the castle of Vuca Simulations and spoke to the fisherman. Did Parzival find the Grail or was this just another false lead from Klingsor? Read on to see.

 This is from Vuca Simulations about the 'history' of the game:

Red Strike is a war game simulating a hypothetical clash between NATO and Warsaw Pact (WP) armed forces in Summer 1989. It covers operational land, air and sea warfare in Central Europe and the Northern Atlantic, while also keeping an eye on the strategic situation around the world.

Red Strike is a highly interactive game. Its detection and interception mechanisms allow for simultaneous actions and reactions from both sides. Having to constantly monitor the battlefield minimizes player downtime and maximizes their ability to recreate a very fluid “What if“ representation of a Cold War gone hot. The mechanisms can seem complex at first but will soon become second nature.

The rules that make Red Strike so interactive, also make it perfect for team play. Players can divide responsibilities between air, ground and possibly naval forces. The ground forces could be split by army/front or corps.

The crucial naval/air war over the North Atlantic can be played either as a standalone game, or as part of the Campaign Scenarios. As would have happened historically, its impact on the battlefield in Germany can be decisive; the interception and sinking of convoys carrying supplies and reinforcements making the difference between success and failure.

The greatest feature of this game is that it perfectly embodies the theory of the "Depth-Three-dimensional" combat theory of the Soviet Union in the 1980s and the "Air-Land Battle" theory of the US military."

The game in some of its glory

 I had thought that Vuca Simulations 1914 Nach Paris was the pinnacle of wargaming in both playing and artwork. Now along comes Red Strike and I have to eat my words. All you have to do is to check out the box. Like all of Vuca Simulations games it is a work of art all by itself. However, the size and heft of the game put it in another category. It is one of the few wargames where I am stumped as far as where to begin. The game is so big that it is only the second game I have reviewed in eight years that needs a two-part review. 

 This is what comes with the game:

24 Counter Sheets 3/4"!!!

82 Cards in two Decks

2 Operations Maps 46" x  34" Combined

1 Strategic Map 27" x 15"

24 Setup Sheets

2 16 page Player Aid Booklets

10 Air Base Sheets

5 Scenario Sheets (1-32"x 18", 1- 16"x 18", 3- page size)

1 56 page Rulebook

ADN  (pad ) sheet block 16 pages

2x10 sided die

This is a close shot of one of the Airbase Player Aids

 I have to add what is below so that you can see exactly what has gone into the designing of this game. How many games have a bibliography or one that is two pages long! This is straight from the designer Mr. Yes Rettel. If a game has had a longer time in design and incorporated more research, I would like to see it.

"Red Strike is based on the games Gulf Strike and Aegean Strike and uses many of the same mechanics. Mark Herman designed the Strike games as detailed, complex simulations. Red Strike, like its predecessors, is not for the fainthearted.

The game comes with this Rule Book and the Scenario Book. The Rule Book covers the entire game system and the Scenario Book contains everything needed to set up the game

Other games I took as reference to design this game:

G-SOF-G (S&T 220), NATO: The Next War in Europe (VG), 3


Fleet (VG), The Next War (SPI) and

above all the “Next War” series from GMT.

Internet links:


General / Cold War

Bidwell, Shelford—World War 3 A Military Projection Founded on Today’s Facts, Greenwich

House, 1983

Bishop, Chris—Firepower Air Warfare, Orbis Publishing, 1999

Cockburn, Andrew—The Threat, Scherz, 1983

Crawford, Steve—Kriegsschiffe und Flugzeugträger, Gondrom, 2000

Donald, David—Modern Battlefield Warplanes, AIRtime Publishing, 1994

Dunnigan, James F. and Bay, Austin—A Quick and Dirty Guide to War, Quill, 1991

Dunnigan, James F.—How To Make War, revised edition Quill, 1988

Edited by Vojtech Mastny, Sven G. Holtsmark and Andreas Wenger—War Plans and Alliances

in the Cold War—Threat Perceptions in the East and West, Routledge, 2006

Epstein, Joshua M.—Conventional Force Reductions, The Brookings Institution, 1990

Faringdon, Hugh—Strategic Geography—NATO, the Warsaw Pact and the Superpowers, 2


ed, Routledge, 1989

Friedman, Norman—The Fifty Year War, Naval Institute Press, 2000

Gaddis, John Lewis—The Cold War A New History, Penguin Books, 2005

Gunston, Bill and Hewish, Mark and Sweetman, Bill and Wheeler, Barry C and Taylor John

W.R—Air Forces of the World, Salamander Books, 1979

House, Jonathan M.—A Military History of the Cold War 1944-1962, University of Oklahoma

Press, 2012

Isaacs, Jeremy and Downing, Taylor—Cold War, Bantam Press, 1998

Jeschonnek, Friedrich and Riedel, Dieter and Durie, William—Alliierte in Berlin 1945-1994,

Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag, 2007

Krüger, Dieter—Am Abgrund?, Parzellers Buchverlag, 2013

Krüger, Dieter (Hrsg.)—Schlachtfeld Fulda Gap, Parzellers Buchverlag, 2017

La Guerre de demain, Tallandier, 1983

La paix surarmée Pour la Science, 1979-1987 (french edition of Scientific American)

La Stratégie Mondiale Bordas, 1985 (french edition of Atlas of Global Strategy, ed.Gra


ham Speake)

Leonhard, Robert—The Art of Maneuver, Maneuver-warfare Theory and AirLand Battle,

Ballantine Books, 1991

Miller, David and Foss, Christopher F.—Modern Land Combat, Salamander Books, 1987

Price, Alfred—Air Battle—Central Europe, Free Press, 1986

Stöver, Bernd—Der Kalte Krieg, C.H.Beck, 2007

Ware, Pat—Cold War Operations Manual, Haynes Publishing, 2016

Watts, Anthony J.—Jane’s Warship Recognition Guide ,HarperCollins, 2006

Winchester, Jim—Military Aircraft of the Cold War, Grange Books, 2006

World Air Power, Vol.1, Spring 1990, Aerospace Publishing Limited

World Air Power, Vol.2, Summer 1990, Aerospace Publishing Limited

World Air Power, Vol.3, Autumn/Fall 1990, Aerospace Publishing Limited

Zaloga, Steven J.—Duel 18 - M1 Abrams vs. T-72 Ural, Osprey, 2009


Behrendt, Hans-Günter—Flugabwehr in Deutschland, Miles-Verlag, 2021

Bolik, Gerd—NATO-Planungen für die Verteidigung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland im

Kalten Krieg, Miles-Verlag, 2021

Dorn, Wolfram—So heiss war der Kalte Krieg—Fallex 66, Dittrich, 2002

Eshel, David—The U.S. Rapid Deployment Forces, Arco Publishing, 1985

Ganser, Daniele—NATO Geheimarmeen in Europa Orell Füssli, 2008

Gehring, Stephen P.—From the Fulda Gap to Kuweit

Hughes, Wayne P.—Fleet Tactics, theory and practice US Naval Institute Press, 1989

Knobloch, von, Heinz—Bundesluftwaffe intern Motorbuch, 2008

Oestmann, Rainer—Handbuch für Unterführer, Walhalla Fachverlag, 2000

RAIDS n°24, Histoire & Collections, 1987

RAIDS n°31, Histoire & Collections, 1988

RAIDS n°34, Histoire & Collections, 1989

Walter, Uwe—Artilleristen, Aufklärer, Flieger, Infanteristen, Jäger, Logistiker, Pioniere und

Panzermänner, BoD—Books on Demand, 2018

Walter, Uwe—Die Strukturen und Verbände des deutschen Heeres (2. Teil), BoD—Books on

Demand, 2020

Walter, Uwe—Die Strukturen und Verbände des deutschen Heeres (Teil 1), Edition Avra, 2017

Walter, Uwe—Von Wölfen, Leoparden und anderen Raubtieren, BoD—Books on Demand, 2017


Clancy, Tom—Tempête Rouge Livre de Poche, 1986 (french edition of Red Storm Rising)

General Hackett, Sir John—The Third World War Macmillan, 1978

General Hackett, Sir John—The Third World War—The untold story Macmillan, 1982

Peters, Ralph—Red Army Pocket Books, 1989

Nuclear Warfare

Bernstein, Jeremy—Nuclear Weapons—What you need to know, Cambridge University

Press, 2008

Walmer, Max—Strategic Weapons, Prenticehall Press, 1988

Osprey Publications

Combat Aircraft—27 Air War in the Gulf 1991

Combat Aircraft—60 B-1B Lancer units in combat

Elite 10—Warsaw Pact Ground Forces

Elite 12—Inside the Soviet Army Today

Elite 16—NATO Armies today

Elite 26—Tank War—Central Front : NATO vw. Warsaw Pact

Fortress 36—US Strategic and Defensive Missile Systems 1950-2004

Fortress 69—The Berlin Wall and the Intra-German Border 1961-1989

New Vanguard 115—Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 1942-2002

New Vanguard 120—Scud Ballistic Missile and Launch Systems 1955-2005

New Vanguard 125—Huey Cobra Gunships

New Vanguard 134—Red SAM: The SA-2 Guideline Anti-Aircraft Missile

New Vanguard 138—US Nuclear Submarines: The Fast Attack

New Vanguard 152—T-80 Standard Tank

New Vanguard 158—T-62 Main Battle Tank 1965-2005

New Vanguard 2—M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank 1982-92

New Vanguard 85—M60 Main Battle Tank 1960-91

Wargame related

Allen Thomas B. War Games—The Secret World of the Creators, Players, and Policy Makers

Rehearsing World War III Today Naval Institute Press, McGraw Hill, 1987

Dunnigan, James F.—The Complete Wargames Handbook, revised edition, Quill 1992

Perla, Peter P.—The Art of Wargaming Naval Institute Press, 1990

Warsaw Pact

Department of Defense Soviet Military Power, Prospects for Change 1989

Donald, David—Tupolev Bombers, AIRtime Publishing, 2001

Gervasi, Tom—Soviet Military Power—The Annotated and Corrected Version of the Pentagon’s

Guide, Random House, 1987

Gervasi, Tom—The Myth of Soviet Military Supremacy Perennial Library, 1986

Glantz, David M.—Soviet Military Operational Art—In pursuit of Deep Battle Frank Cass, 1991

Gordon, Yefim and Dexter, Keith—Mikoyan MiG-21 Midland, 2008

Gordon, Yefim—Soviet Strategic Aviation in the Cold War, Hikoki Publications, 2009

Hoffman, Hans-Albert & Stoof, Siegfried—Sowjetische Truppen in Deutschland und ihr

Hauptquartier in Wünsdorf 1945—1994, Verlag Dr. Köster, 2017

Kopenhagen, Wilfried—Die NVA Land-, Luft- und Seestreitkräfte Motorbuch, 2006

La puissance militaire soviétique Bordas, 1984 (french edition of The Soviet War Machine

Salamander Books, 1984)

Lautsch, Siegfried - Kriegsschauplatz Deutschland - ZMSBw 2013

MccGwire, Michael—Military Objectives in Soviet Foreign Policy The Brookings Institution, 1987

Normann, Michael—Typenkompass Kampfflugzeuge der NVA 1956-1990, Motorbuch, 2010

Odom, William E.—The Collapse of the Soviet Military Yale University Press, 1998

Polmar, Norman—Guide to the Soviet Navy, 4th

edition Naval Institute Press, 1986

Suvorov—Inside the Soviet Army Macmillan, 1982

Sweetman, Bill—Soviet Military Aircraft Hamlyn, 1981

The Russian General Staff—The Soviet-Afghan War, How a Superpower fought and lost,

University Press of Kansas, 2002"

 This is a really amazing list on so many levels. It really shows the depth and detail that went into this design.

This is the Fulda Gap Scenario Map

 In another part of the booklets Mr. Rettel mentions that he has been working on this design since 2003. This is just one more in the list of superlatives that shows in the design. He is also completely correct in saying that the design is not for the faint-hearted. If you are a neophyte or someone who has just played block wargames, opening this box will come as a shock. This is the simulation side of our esteemed hobby. You might be inclined to look for the rule about pasta in the Rulebook. However, the game does not throw you into the deep end and hope you swim. There are many different sized scenarios that comes in this cornucopia. The naval and air portions of the game are simulations in their own right. The Operational Map has hexes of two different sizes. The smaller hexes are 28 kilometers across and the larger are 280 kilometers across. The game also comes with a Strategic Map. 

 Every land, air, and sea asset available to the NATO and Warsaw Pact Alliances is in the box. One thing about the game, there is a good amount of stacking of counters. I never really remember this being an issue when SPI and Avalon Hill released their monster games. I believe it has a lot to do with the now advanced age of some of our grognards. As far as stacking years ago, it was considered the more the merrier. 

 The price of the game at Vuca Simulations is $178 US dollars. Now before you get your knickers in a bunch, I think you should compare the normal sized games from other publishers and Vuca Simulations. Almost all wargame publishers now have prices for their AAA games right about or just under this price point, and sometimes over. This game should really be considered in the price per pound group of wargames. 

 This is a game that many grognards have been dreaming about. I'd bet after looking at it, many designers wish that it was theirs. Of course, you have to compare the 20-year gestation period of the game in the mix. Many will not like it because of the depth and the stacking and because it does not match the drapes. So be it, different strokes for different folks. If you grognards are lucky enough to have a gaming night where you have a few buddies who like games, this makes playing it that much easier. It would be just like the teams that played Campaign for North Africa. However, this game has all the eye candy and refinements that comes with a game that is almost 50 years newer than CNA. 

 The game comes with these scenarios:

10 Exercise Scenarios to teach you different parts of the system

Battle Scenarios:

 Fulda Gap - The one we know and love

 Berlin Blockade - Another one you have probably played

 North German Plains - The opposite of Monty in WWII

 Bavarian Option  - Southern Germany fighting

 Miami 1989 - North Sea naval scenario

 Valkyrie's Embrace - Invasion of Norway

Campaign Scenarios:

 99 Red Balloons - No preparations for war on either side

 We Didn't Start the Fire - Tensions rise slower given each side the time to call in more troops etc.

 Land of Confusion - Prolonged period of saber rattling before the Warsaw Pact attacks

 Two Tribes - Prolonged period of saber rattling NATO attacks


Part of the clash on the North German Plain

 I am overwhelmed, in a good way, that Vuca Simulations has sent me this monster of a simulation to review. I feel like a snake that now has killed its prey but cannot quite figure out how to swallow it. The detail and thinking, dare I say love, that has gone into the design is truly breathtaking. Please come back to read part two where I actually get to really play this big bad boy.

Robert Peterson

Vuca Simulations:

VUCA simulations - Premium conflict simulations from Europe – VUCASIMS

Red Strike:

Red Strike - 1989 – VUCASIMS

Across the Bug River by Vuca Simulations My Review:

Across the Bug River by Vuca Simulations - A Wargamers Needful Things

Donnerschlag by Vuca Simulations My Review:

Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingrad by Vuca Simulations - A Wargamers Needful Things

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

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

World War III

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. 





  Fatherland: The Long Road Expansion by Flying Pig Games  For some unknown reason whenever I look at the title of this expansion, I am alwa...

Fatherland: The Long Road Expansion by Flying Pig Games Fatherland: The Long Road Expansion by Flying Pig Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

World War III

 Fatherland: The Long Road Expansion


Flying Pig Games

 For some unknown reason whenever I look at the title of this expansion, I am always reminded of the Nazis singing Die Wacht am Rhein in the movie Casablanca. Which, of course, is then followed by the Marseilles being sung by the rest of the patrons in the bar.

 I cannot do a rundown of the history behind the game because luckily it did not happen and hopefully never will. You will however get to test the different NATO and Warsaw Pact armaments from 1985. The biggest addition to the NATO forces in the game are:

10 - Leopard II tanks

10 - Leopard I tanks

10 - Marder (not the World War II variety) The 1985 Marder was equivalent to a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. It possesses a 20mm automatic cannon and also carries Milan anti-tank missiles.

1 - Tornado multirole aircraft

2 - PAH-1 helicopters

10 - Panzergrenadiers

You also get three of the last units of Jagdpanzers to be designed after World War II: the Jagdpanzer Kanone 90mm, plus several other vehicles.

 These are the only rule changes when playing this expansion:

As a member of Nato, West German forces use the American/NATO Action Cards.

Armed Mobs do not count against stacking restrictions.

Armed Mobs will never attack West German units.

The West German player may control Armed Mobs that are generated in a hex containing a West German Combatant.

The West German player may control Armed Mobs after a West German Combatant moves into their hex.

Armed Mobs controlled by the West Germans assume the morale of the best West German unit in the hex.

 So, in this expansion Flying Pig Games have gone for the straight military World War III simulation as far as units. There is no Yog-Sothoth unit, or any other nightmare added to the mix. This does not mean that they do not show up in some of the six new scenarios that this expansion brings to the table (literally).

 Fatherland comes with a new mounted map. It also contains a full counter sheet of those beautiful one-inch counters that came with the main game, The Long Road. So, now you can see how the Bundeswehr would have matched up against both Soviets and Vampires etc.

 This is a great add on for an excellent game. This is a piece from the rules of The Long Road:

"So that is the twist, a wargame with paranormal elements. Make no mistake, I’ve strived to make this an accessible, yet accurate wargame. Included is everything from advanced sights, multi -spectral smoke, artillery-delivered minefields, to electronic counter measuresanti-tank guided missiles, attack helicopters and the man-portable, air defense systems required to bring them down. You’ll command the weapons of the time; Abrams tanks, T-80 tanks, M60A3, T-64B, and Sheridan tanks. Bradleys, M-113s, BMPs, infantry, spetsnaz, and more."

 Now we can add to the mix a lot of West German troops and armaments. What is there not to like? Plus, we will get the grognards arguing about which one is better, the Leopard II or the M1 Abrams. The game system used is Mark H. Walker's Platoon Commander Deluxe. Which if you have not played in some version, I think you should check it out.

 Thank you, Flying Pig Games, for allowing me to review this expansion.


Flying Pig Games:

Flying Pig Games

Fatherland: The Long Road Expansion:

The Long Road | Flying Pig Games

My Review of The Long Road:

Mark H. Walker's The Long Road: World War III ... With a Paranormal Twist by Flying Pig Games - A Wargamers Needful Things

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

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

World War III

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:


Armored Brigade By Matrix/Slitherine       Armored Brigade is out and wargamers around the world are thankful dur...

Armored Brigade by Matrix/Slitherine Armored Brigade by Matrix/Slitherine

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

World War III



 Armored Brigade is out and wargamers around the world are thankful during this season of thanks. It is an adult sized toy chest filled with wargaming goodness for those of us who enjoy gaming a fictional World War III. The forces that you have at your fingertips never really fought each other. A lot of the actual weapons did fight each other, but mostly they were in the hands of different troops. Many of the Middle East conflicts had these same weapons in use. The sheer scope of this game is pretty amazing. I will have quite a few links at the end of the review because this game has had more buzz about it than any game for a good long time.

 The first thing you need to know about the game is that it comes with fifteen scenarios. This game is the ultimate sandbox for wargaming the last years of the 20th century in parts of Europe. The player has a tremendous amount of variables to use in making his various scenarios. From what I have read there will be DLCs with more player ready scenarios and possibly campaigns. The second thing you need to know is that this was a free download game for a long time. What you need to know about this is that this game in its core resembles the free game. In reality the game has come a long way since then. You can see by the list below what is actually included for the player to use in their scenarios. Below that you will see the seven nations that are included with the game.


 This will be my take on the AI. Yes, it may make mistakes that some (remember that word some) human players might not make. However, the idea that is floated about is that all human players will play better than any game's AI is completely wrong. A human player can sometimes be a terrible player of a game, be it chess, wargames, or poker. The only things that a human player does sometimes that an AI almost never does are these:

1. A human player sometimes makes some incredibly foolish, or if you will stupid, moves that take you by surprise. If an AI is not done right it will make stupid moves, but they will be logical stupid moves not illogical.
2. A human player will sometimes game the system by using bad or incomplete rules to win a game by completely non-historical or insane means. What I mean by this is games that allow a regiment of AA to take a city the size of Moscow. 

 The AI in Armored Brigade is done well enough to keep the average wargamer on his toes. It will not (no AI will) be competitive to a gamer who plays one game sixteen hours a day for a month or two. I will say if that is your life, you are not a wargamer, just a person in need of a new hobby or something. Most of us have only limited time to play our wargames. If we are lucky we might get in up to four or five straight hours in a week. I also suspect that many are like myself and play different games pretty much each gaming session we can cram in, meaning that most of us do not play enough of one game to find the AI's pattern in them. Are there games out there with bad AIs, yes. Is this one of them, no. The defense rests.

 So, the salient parts of the game are this. It is single player only (gasp from the audience). On the other hand, I have seen it posted in articles that as low as 10% of all gamers play multiplayer. It comes with only fifteen preset scenarios. I would have liked to see more, and maybe at least one campaign added. I am not a fan of the DLC model that computer games are heading in. I do understand the higher costs companies are dealing with and why the DLC model is probably necessary. However, that does not mean I have to like it.

Farthest Out Zoom

 On the plus side you have a robust AI. The mission generator is one of the best as far as ease and amount of variables a player can use for his scenarios. I do believe by all the buzz that we will be able to choose from a large amount of player made scenarios. Matrix/Slitherine has developed or been involved with a lot of videos to explain most of the game's rules etc. With these, any player who has any questions can get playing in no time, although I did find the game to be intuitive and started playing right away. The scope of the weaponry and troops goes from 1965-1991. With this game you have a very large sandbox for battles in the late 20th century in a lot of Europe. The maps can vary from extremely large to very small to represent any size combat that you want. As a player, you can send orders to different parts of your own force to help with micromanagement. As for the AI on your side please see above. If you are a micromanager, the game allows you to play that way also. It is an RTS, but I wish we would come up with a different moniker. RTS always leaves a bad taste in my mouth and brings visions of Command and Conquer to mind. Maybe we can call these games wargames played in realtime, WPIR instead. Visually the game is a wargame sort of in the mold of the Close Combat series of games. You can zoom in very far, but you will not see tanks done in 3D. You will see very well done top down views of tanks etc. One great addition is that of dummy objectives. This is a neat addition to the game.

Closest Zoom

 My esteemed colleague on the blog would like to see the following added:
 So in wrapping up I am happy to endorse the game to anyone who wants my opinion. The only thing I can really knock the game for is not coming with enough scenarios or a campaign.
Game Trailer:
How to move units:
AB developer interview:

This is a link to the manual:

DDR faction video:
Here is a write up about night time operations: