As a follow up post to yesterdays notice that I would finally be starting to play The Third World War by Frank Chadwick with my buddy Steve via VASSAL, here is the first handful of turns of a little learning the game play.
Well a handful of hours spent goofing around with this little gem….Make that Big Gem, was well worth it. Make no mistake this is a big game and I suspect it will take a full session each monday to play a full turn…at least most of a turn. I was tempted to go all out with narrative from the get go…but lets wait for the real game and do some of it then. It does fairly scream for a story however!!! – Hackett has nothing on this bad boy.
Part of the setup exercise for Persian Gulf is is that both sides place neutrals on the board within the confines of the setup rules (generally near or in cities etc), this adds a bit of wishful thinking and fear based placement!! Love it. I found myself wonder if I should place a Iraqi Tank Div. near the border or in land and isolated… What if he get control of Iraqi….what if I do?
The biggest challenge setting up I think was managing all the windows on the new VASSAL module [minor gripe – why not use the games actual terrain colors or at least provide a terrain key on the maps. Not very helpful, I’ve pinged the designer I hope he can add one to each map segment.]
In this game the central focus is Iran and the political turmoil there. The Guard, Centrists, Iranian Army and Iranian Communists all are at odds with each other and the Superpowers bring their influence to bear. It is all about the Oil after all.
Each side has a dozen cards. One is played each turn, either face up or face down. If face up you adjust the track you see below for each faction based upon what the card says and then you ‘enable the action’ of the card i.e. Intervene or arm a faction. No card is a panacea, all cards have a cost to you in exchange for a minor benefit.
[NOTE – with an updated OB and fresh cards this would make for some really interesting modern WWIII game play. Of course wishing for the owners of GDW Ip to do anything with this is like believing in Santa.]
If each box on the track has something in one of the boxes or if a side intervenes this creates a ‘crisis’ which triggers a potential revolt in Iran and allows the Readiness/Reaction Forces cards to be played and go towards Alert status, and move in a following turn to the region.
Diplomatic Turn 1 Pre War results above. As you can see the arms provided here and support for Iran start to move everybody away from center to the two poles!
By the end of Turn 2 The Islamic Republic and Syria have joined forces with the Soviets and Israel and the Iranian Army are aligned to the US.
A revolt ensues and Iranian units roll to remain in one camp or the other against their Efficiency Rating.
Rule 3 Iranian Revolts!
This puts us all in Crisis Mode. We can now set or play the Alert Cards to allow Ready Reaction forces to move at some point. As forces choose to be on the Iranian Army side or the Republic contests for the city force weaker units out. The NATO player picks up a handful of solid Divisions rolling under 4 against their proficiency rating.
The Iranian Army holds Tehran but is forced out of most other cities in the West of Iran. In the East weaker units stay with the new Republic.
Now that units are ‘activated’ due to the revolt forces begin to move on the board:
Roll for Weather – Overcast in PG and Western Asia Front. Halving
Iranian have no need for Air Superiority, but elect to use some for Airstrikes.
1st PACT Segment:
Roll # of times = strike rating (Bottom Right # of the counter). Roll of 5 or a 6 causes a disruption. The strike marker stays for the duration, this comes off at the beginning of the next strike phase.
Pact First Impulse – note the crappy units get just one phase, whereas Pact are moving several times.
NATO first impulse
Turn 3 Diplomatic Phase:
Big shifts, and sides begin to evolve!
Note Soviet conundrum with Iraq! Their actions drive the Iraqi’s towards the US. But it may well not matter if they send the Soviets in quickly with this mobilization card. They will have a 3-4 turn head start rampaging thru the weak Middle east militias.
Air Phase, F-4’s attack the Motorized Brigade in Rasht. Inflicting one disruption.
Turn 3 Combat
Land Combat Phase – This second attack knocks out the enemy.
Diplomacy Turn 4
Iranian Second Revolt is activated.
Pact 1st Phase
The mobilization begins and the world braces as the Soviets enter Iranian territory ostensibly to aid the Iranians! Riiight.
Soviets hit the units in the mountain pass inflicting one disruption.
Air Transport from Baku to Bushehr with the 10th GMAD. The 357th Airborne in Afghanistan air transports to Shiraz. With no air we have no choices to impact his efforts.
Turn 4 Soviets crush, crack and destroy Iranians.
The Pact forces impulses roll one after another! Tehran falls. The mech units sweep down on the Iranians.
Air Mobile units move to capture ports and limit options for the NATO/US forces to enter Iran.
Second Phase Pact:
We wrapped up the session here.
What did we learn?
How to use air effective, and I can imagine that this is really going to hurt in the full game.
That combat against ‘real units’ with Mid East militia is a laughable exercise. Worse than that we learned that the sequence of play is going to be devastating in the South. The Pact forces steam roll thru the country and massacre all those that get in their way.
This is mitigated in the larger context by the significant number of other issues the Soviets will have to deal with. They have limited resources and are going to have to choose carefully where to apply force. It was also interesting to note that the Soviets took some ‘losses’ on most attacks, even higher odds. Each disruption drops the effectiveness down, which through inactivity in the following phase can be recovered, but Soviets may never recover the first loss! Nice.
I cant say enough about how interesting and clever the design is. There are some many layers of impact and interaction even in just this little module that I am agog. So far so good.