I haven't played a lot of tabletop Cold War era games. I think the only other land combat one I own is Last Battle from GDW which was closely tied to Twilight 2000 but it used all the latest Cold War-era equipment. I do have the Fleet series games from Victory Games and those were great but not at all focused on the landward side of things. There's Twilight Struggle of course but it's not exactly a traditional hex and counter type conflict simulation. There have been various computer and miniature games in this area over the years ( like the old "something 1985" series from SSI) but if we're talking strictly about board wargames this set is a little new for me.
|Yeah, that's the one I had!
There were two main reasons to start digging in to this particular game. First - the scale and the period are both of interest. As mentioned I realized this period was a bit of a gap in my experience and in my collection so I started looking at Cold War-era games. There are a fair number of options but this one chooses a specific year so we know what was definitely available and what might have been rushed into service or available in prototype form. That's a nice touch for an otherwise speculative game.
It's also a platoon-level game which means the counters represent tank and infantry platoons which is the same scale Panzerblitz and Panzer Leader used way back when. This gives it a nice tactical feel that allows for differences between different types of equipment (like an Abrams vs. a Leopard 2 vs. a T-72) without needing to worry about details like facing and front/side/rear/top armor values. I have miniatures and some computer games for extreme detail and there is always MBT (from Avalon Hill and now GMT) if I want that. So this slightly larger view of things still feels close but should not bog down in minutia.
Additionally this is a Lock 'N Load game which means it should be very well supported. I do not have any of their other games but they publish multiple lines of well-regarded games from Nations at War (WW2 platoon-level) to Lock N' Load Tactical - Modern and WW2 lines - for that up-close scale of game. Their games look great, have been around for a few years now, and seem to be pretty widely played.
|There is a fair amount of stuff out for it now.
Finally the rules used in this game are refreshingly different - there is no CRT, for example. The numbers you need are right there on the counter and tell you either how many dice to roll for an attack or what you need to roll on one to succeed with whatever you are doing. Now the counters are a little busy and all of those colors and shapes and superscripts/subscripts mean something so I can see it taking a little while to learn all of the details but I appreciate the drive to put everything you need right out there on the board.
The other interesting rules element is the way it uses cards. It is similar to a card-driven game like C&C Ancients but the deck tells you which specific unit to activate, not what actions you can take - this is a huge difference if you've played any of the C&C games. There are cards for each formation in a scenario plus a few others might be added in like close air support or electronic warfare to represent the almost random appearance of certain assets. Also, you will run through the entire deck until the -second- "end operations" card is drawn which means this phase is over for the turn and the deck will be reshuffled for the next turn. This means that while you may not get to activate all of your units (like you would in a more traditional non-card-driven game) you will likely be able to do more in a turn than in a C&C turn so less of your army will feel like it's sitting there doing nothing.
Finally there is a lot of detail in the game - missiles, reactive armor, helicopters, minefields, and more. It's all handled in a pretty intuitive way once you get the basics of the system so I don't feel like it's missing anything significant. This is a second edition of a prior game line so they had a few years to work out the kinks and it shows.
Almost hilariously there is an associated novel line set in this ... universe(?) ... as well, so if you're missing your Team Yankee or Tom Clancy novels here's an outlet. I mean, RPG's generating books is old hat but this is a hex and counter board wargame ... well, OK ... and yes, I will probably check out the first one at least just to see what it's about.
So I am looking forward to getting my hands dirty with this one - I'll post about it after I have some more actual play experience to share.