SPI, THE NEXT WAR (1978)

THE NEXT WAR is a hypothetical simulation of a Warsaw Pact offensive against NATO forces in Europe in the late 1970’s. THE NEXT WAR was designed by James F. Dunnigan and published by Simulations Publications, Incorporated (SPI) in 1978. THE NEXT WAR is packaged in the large soap box format that SPI reserved, during this period, for its "super-sized" monster games.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

"A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."

Winston Churchill in a speech delivered in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946
American cargo plane landing at Templehof
airport during the Berlin Airlift
Almost from the day that the Nazi High Command formally surrendered to the victorious Allies in 1945, a now politically-partitioned Germany took on a dangerous new role as a key flash point for Cold War tensions between the Eastern Bloc, dominated by the Soviet Union, and the Western Allies, under the leadership of the United States. Inevitably, given their conflicting post-war political goals — particularly as they pertained to Eastern Europe and the Balkans — relations between the western democracies and the Soviet Union steadily deteriorated. Finally, on 24 June 1948, the Soviets blockaded Berlin by closing off all rail and road access to the city in an attempt to gain complete control of the divided former German Capital. The United States, Great Britain, and other members of the British Commonwealth responded with the Berlin Airlift. At its peak, the airlift was delivering over 13,000 tons of fuel and food to the beleaguered city every day. Clearly, the cooperation between East and West that had won the Second World War was at an end. However, one positive, if indirect outcome of the Berlin Airlift was the formation, on 4 April 1949, of the North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO). Faced with an embarrassing political and military failure, the Soviets finally ended the blockade on 12 May 1949. However, they did not abandon their designs on achieving control of an economically resurgent West Germany.

Fulda Gap terrain features
Originally, NATO was little more than an administrative organization composed of America and democratic Western European States, but with the outbreak of the Korean War in the early 1950’s, the military component of the organization quickly became the dominant feature of the coalition. The Soviets, confronted with a strong and stable military alliance between Western Europe and the United States, reacted in kind; on 14 May 1955, the eight Communist Countries of the Eastern Bloc formed a military alliance of their own, known — because of the site chosen for the treaty’s formal signing — as the Warsaw Pact. Two great hostile military alliances now faced each other, one on each side of the “Iron Curtain.” Given the ongoing belligerence of the Communist leadership in the Kremlin; their ruthless suppression of the peoples of Eastern Europe, and their aggressive political adventurism in Africa and Latin America, the possibility of a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe became, by the late 1950’s, a key feature of NATO planning as the Cold War continued. The two most likely routes for a Soviet mechanized offensive into West Germany were obvious: the North German Plain, and the Fulda Gap. The British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) was entrusted with covering the North German Plain; while the US Vth Corps was assigned the initial defense of the Fulda Gap. If the Soviets attacked without warning, these British and American formations would have to halt the Warsaw Pact offensive long enough for reinforcements from the other NATO countries to move up to the front. Permanently arrayed against these British and American trip-wire units were mechanized divisions from the Soviet, East German, and Polish Armies. The other Warsaw Pact countries, like the supporting NATO members, would be expected to send their own additional front line and reserve units into the battle area, once hostilities actually began.

Soviet tanks supress the "Prague Spring"
 uprising in Czechoslovakia, 1968
This simple East-West divide, however, was not as uncomplicated as it appeared on its face. In actuality, both military alliances presented daunting political and military challenges to their respective operational planners. In 1966, the French formally withdrew from NATO and, although Paris continued to coordinate military planning with NATO headquarters in Brussels, the other member countries — particularly Britain, West Germany, and the United States — had serious reservations about French intentions if a Soviet attack were to come. In the East, the Russians had problems of their own. Because of the brutal Soviet suppression of popular uprisings in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, Warsaw Pact planners could not be sure of the loyalty of these nations’ military contingents should war break out; particularly if their military operations did not meet with obvious initial success. Thus, if war came again to Europe, both NATO and Soviet planners would have to worry both about the actions of their enemy and the reliability of at least some of their allies.

DESCRIPTION

THE NEXT WAR: Modern Conflict in Europe is a hypothetical (quasi-historical) simulation, at the brigade/division level, of a major military conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact for possession of what was then West Germany, and by extension, for political control of the rest of Western Europe. The scope of the game is enormous. Units from sixteen different countries are present in the counter mix. The game maps cover a battle space that extends from the northern tip of Denmark, through Germany and Austria, to Northern Italy; in addition, they display fourteen different types of militarily significant terrain. The game’s design includes virtually every significant aspect of 1970’s warfare that was known (at least to the general public) at the time of the game's publication. THE NEXT WAR is a land-sea-air simulation, but the rules for the land war, as might be expected, form the core of this complex game design. Many of the rules for the land game are familiar: step reduction, headquarters-based supply, movement modes for combat units, limited intelligence, and unit break-down and build-up, to name only a few.

One unusual design feature of THE NEXT WAR — at least for its time — is that combat is treated as a function of movement, and occurs in a series of engagements during the course of the movement phase, as individual units move into contact with the enemy. In the basic “fast game” versions of the design’s shorter scenarios, air and naval operations can be dispensed with completely. However, despite the game’s emphasis on the ground war, the air and naval campaigns have not been short-changed. The elaborate subroutines for air and naval combat operations are so richly detailed, that they both can almost stand alone as independent games outside of the larger integrated simulation. The Air Game involves allocating hundreds of units to specific airfields and sectors along the front. From these airbases, the air units of the two combatants conduct a variety of different air missions, such as (but not limited to): air supremacy, CAP, air-to air, air-to-ground, air-to-naval, ground support, and air reconnaissance. The Naval Game, on the other hand, focuses only on naval operations in the Baltic Sea and Denmark Straits, and offers, in terms of maneuver tempo and combat, a completely different gaming experience from that of the air or land games.

The game turn sequence, I believe, tells players a great deal about what they should expect from THE NEXT WAR. The basic “land war” turn sequence is quite simple: Warsaw Pact Reinforcement Phase, Replacement Phase, Movement/Combat Phase; NATO Reinforcement Phase, Replacement Phase, Movement/Combat Phase; and Game Turn End Phase. This “fast game” introductory rules system allows players to gain experience with the map features and combat system before moving on to the “advanced” game. The advanced turn sequence, of course, is where all of the design and development time that went into THE NEXT WAR really shows. An "advanced" turn proceeds, as follows: Weather Phase; Joint Nuclear Planning Phase; Air Allocation Phase; Air Combat Phase; Nuclear Strike Stage (multiple phases); Warsaw Pact Land Stage (six phases); NATO Land Stage (six phases); Naval Stage (seven phases); and (game turn) End Phase. It is easy to see, after looking at the “advanced” turn sequence, that THE NEXT WAR is a big game, not only because of size, but also because of the ambitiousness of its design. Jim Dunnigan was clearly trying to push the game design envelope to the limit with this project; whether he succeeded, I leave to others to decide. What is particularly interesting for me, is that only five years separated the 1973 publication of NATO, and only four years, the 1974 publication of WAR IN THE EAST (1st ed.), from that of THE NEXT WAR. Obviously, a lot happened at SPI, and in the rest of the world of conflict simulation design, in those few short intervening years.

THE NEXT WAR offers six short scenarios, and three campaign game scenarios. The six (comparatively) short scenarios are, as follows: the Berlin Scenario (five or fewer game turns); Vienna Scenario (five or fewer game turns); Baltic Scenario (10 or fewer turns); the Fulda Scenario (10 or fewer game turns); North German Plains Scenario (12 game turns); and the Main Front Scenario (12 game turns). Each of the short scenarios focuses on a limited section of the potential NATO-Warsaw Pact front, and uses only the units assigned to that sector of the battle area. You can play any of these short scenarios as a “fast” game using just the basic rules, or as an “advanced” game, using some or all of the optional rules. The three campaign games use all of the map sections and all of the available forces of the two belligerents. The designer — as might be expected — recommends that players become thoroughly familiar with the unusual features of the game system, and with the optional rules they intend to use, before attempting any of these longer, more complex games. The three campaign game scenarios are all thirty turns long, and differ only in the readiness situation at the start of NATO-Warsaw Pact hostilities. The three campaign game scenarios are: the Sudden War Scenario (a surprise attack by Warsaw forces with no prior buildup); Spring Maneuvers Scenario (Warsaw Pact forces on maneuvers suddenly take the offensive for real); and the Tension Scenario (in which both sides mobilize, because of political tensions, in advance of hostilities).

A PERSONAL OBSERVATION

James Dunnigan's THE NEXT WAR — or, as one of my regular opponent's quickly took to calling it, PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN meets TERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD — is an ambitious, even hubristic attempt by the prolific head of SPI to reproduce, in game form, a 1970's era military clash between the Warsaw pact and NATO that, thankfully, never actually occurred. As such, it attempts to include virtually every military component that — it was thought, at the time — would be relevant to air-ground-sea combat operations if the Cold War had suddenly turned "hot". Needless-to-say, with design goals like these, it was probably inevitable that the actual game, whatever its final form, would be somewhat controversial within the gaming community. And this has pretty much been the case ever since the game first appeared way back in 1978.

Among the many monster game players who, after giving Dunnigan's take on continent-wide modern warfare a try, decided that they didn't like his game design, three criticisms tended to recur with surprising consistency: first, they pointed out that the ground combat CRT was both asymmetrical and counter intuitive (it sometimes made sense, for example, to attack at lower rather than at higher odds); second, the rules integrating air-ground operations were cumbersome, while those for naval operations were downright unworkable; and third, whatever its other virtues, the basic architecture of the game — once the fighting actually started in earnest — quickly tended to be swamped by a "tidal wave" of different (and confusing) die-roll modifiers.

Dunnigan's new monster game, however, was not without its defenders. Thus, those players who really liked the game (and I count myself in this category), although quick to acknowledge the validity of some of THE NEXT WAR'S playability problems, responded to the critics by pointing out that the game's "positives" far outweighed its "negatives". Yes, the CRT sometimes seemed counter intuitive, but so what? THE NEXT WAR was not the first SPI game to make use of non-linear combat results, and most certainly would not be the last. And certainly the integration of air-ground-sea operations in the game was, at times, disappointingly complicated if not actually "clunky"; still, with practice, the air-ground subroutines could be made to work together relatively well; and even the naval subroutine (and in this instance, I know whereof I speak) — with a little bit of effort and creativity on the part of the players — could be integrated fairly well into the overall dynamic of the game. The third playability problem — that the large number of die roll "modifiers" required to compute combat outcomes was excessive and needlessly cumbersome — was probably the one criticism that was most difficult to refute. Yet, even in this case, the argument could be made (and often was) that this was more a matter of degree than of substance; and that a similar criticism had earlier been leveled at Richard Berg's TERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD (1976) without markedly affecting the game's appeal to those gamers genuinely interested in a highly-detailed tactical treatment of the "Battle of Gettysburg". So why should the player response to this game be any different?

One interesting idea to emerge — at least in some gaming circles — during the years that followed the initial release of THE NEXT WAR, was for (truly ambitious) players to graft key elements from the rules package of Mark Herman's excellent, if highly derivative, GULF STRIKE (1983, 1988, and 1990) onto the basic platform of the older Dunnigan design. Because of the obvious connection between the two games, I thought at the time that this might well be a workable idea; however, for my own part, such a project seemed then (and still does, three decades later) like it would probably be more trouble than it would actually be worth.

Visually, THE NEXT WAR, when it is laid out and set up for play, is an awesome game to behold. The maps are — thanks to the indefatigable Redmond Simonsen — both chock full of information and yet still attractive to the eye. The game charts and tables are easy-to-use, if a bit utilitarian. And the two thousand plus counters, although back-printed in the typical SPI matte-finish style, are both readable and colorful enough to be interesting. The rule book, at over thirty pages of relatively small print, is admittedly a slog the first couple of times through; nonetheless, it is generally well-organized, and, with a bit of practice, players can usually find a "sought after" rules case comparatively quickly. One particularly nice feature of the game package is the extensive Order of Battle information for both NATO and the Warsaw Pact forces that has been included. In the opinion of at least one of my gaming friends back when the game first appeared, the research incorporated into the OoB work, alone, was worth the price of the game.

Visual appeal and size, of course, will only take a design so far when it comes to its value, both as a game and as a simulation. The graphic presentation, and the sheer scale of the game, however, are not the only elements that — to my mind, at least — make this title a "winner". In addition, the texture and historical richness of the overall game system also make this ground-breaking design a worthwhile title for any player interested in modern (post-World War II) combat operations.

The optional rules included with THE NEXT WAR are so numerous and detailed that it would take an additional page, just to catalog them. Suffice to say that if SPI could glean, from unclassified sources, the characteristics of a new weapons system, operational doctrine, or special combat capability, then those militarily-relevant factors probably found their way into the rules for THE NEXT WAR. It goes without saying that, for many gamers, all this information and the operational detail that it inevitably adds to the design's basic rules architecture means that actually mastering the game system — with its many phases and subroutines — is a bit of a chore. But, I submit that, for those who are genuinely interested in modern military affairs, it is a chore that is well worth undertaking. THE NEXT WAR may not be the perfect simulation of large-scale conventional (and possibly tactical nuclear) European warfare in the late 20th century, but — in my view, at least — it still does a surprisingly good job of "delivering the goods", both as a simulation and as a game. And considering that this SPI monster was first published thirty-four years ago, that is pretty impressive, in and of itself.

Clearly, given the sheer volume of simulation detail that it contains and its complexity, this Dunnigan opus is most definitely not a game for the novice or, for that matter, even for the casual player. However, I can think of no better, more comprehensive simulation of large-scale, 1970’s combat operations in Europe than THE NEXT WAR. For this reason, if for no other, (and it should be noted that it is actually a "blast" to play) I consider it to be a must own for those gamers with a serious interest in recent contemporary history, or for those with an abiding curiosity about what a conflict between the Warsaw Pact and NATO might have looked like, had it actually occurred.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: 2 days per game turn (land game); 4 hours per game turn (naval game)
  • Map Scale: 14 kilometers per hex
  • Unit Size: battalion/regiment/brigade/division, air squadron, individual ships, naval flotillas
  • Unit Types: army/corps headquarters, division base, mechanized infantry, armor, airborne infantry, air mobile infantry, alpine (mountain) infantry, marines, armored cavalry, special forces, assault engineers, field force, artillery, surface-to-surface missile, fixed ADA (SAM), mobile ADA (SAM), electronic warfare, railroad regiment, front supply head, fighter aircraft, bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, transport, attack helicopter, transport helicopter, PT boats, mine layers, minesweepers, submarines, destroyers, guided missile cruisers, naval air, and information markers
  • Number of Players: two (teams highly recommended)
  • Complexity: above average/high
  • Solitaire Suitability: low
  • Average Playing Time: 6-200 + hours (depending on scenario, and assuming experienced players)

Game Components:

  • Three 22” x 34” hexagonal grid Map Sheets (with Turn Record Track, Terrain Key, Die Modification Record, Movement Point Expenditure Track, NATO Airbase Holding Boxes, NATO Task Force Boxes, Port Boxes, Warsaw Pact Airbase Holding Boxes, and Warsaw Pact Task Force Boxes incorporated)
  • One 8½” x 11” hexagonal grid Map Extension (with Naval Turn Record Track incorporated)
  • One 8¼” x 10½” hexagonal grid Map Extension (with Off Map Movement Tracks incorporated)
  • 2400 back-printed ½” cardboard Counters
  • One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet
  • One 8½” x 11” Scenario and Situation Briefing Booklet (with Scenario Instructions, Different National OoB’s, Movement Point Costs Charts, Land Combat Results Tables, Weather Tables, Positive Air-to-Air Combat Results Tables, Zero Air-to-Air Combat Results Tables, Negative Air-to-Air Combat Results Tables, Nuclear Combat Results Tables, Nuclear Contamination Tables, FLAK Combat Results Tables, FLAK Suppression Tables, Naval Movement Costs Charts, Naval Combat Results Tables, Air-to-Ground Combat Results Tables, Sweep Results Tables, Special Forces Vertical Assault Tables, Special Forces Assault Tables, Mine Results Tables, and Air Superiority Level Tables incorporated)
  • One 17” x 22” perforated (for separation) NATO and Warsaw Pact Air Allocation Display
  • One 8½” x 11” Errata Sheet (August 7, 1978)
  • Two small six-sided Dice
  • Two 8¾” x 11½” flat 20 compartment plastic storage Trays with clear plastic covers
  • One SPI 9” x 11¾” x 4” soapbox style cardboard Game Box

25 comments:

  • I always wanted this game as a teenager in the 1980's and could never afford it, when I could afford it I could not find it. I finally snagged a copy off of eBay a couple of years back. Real life concerns (mostly lack of time) between work and family will leave this guy sitting on a book shelf probably until I retire.

  • Gotta use the linear CRT variant. It makes more sense!

    Don Johnson

  • Hi Joe

    Glad to see you back; I've had a hiatus myself recently brought on by health issues, fortunately now largely resolved.

    NW is a game I played a lot into the mid 80s. I found it truly inspiring in its scope, presentation and its demanding nature. Indeed, I'd found no game hitherto where such violence could be meted out to an opponent (or opposing team); truly death from every direction.

    I've harboured the notion of further developing it into something more streamlined, and addressing the issues with the CRT (easily done with a D20 and a bit of common sense). This project has eluded me to date, and indeed in the year 2012 would be truly quixotic.

    Best wishes, Tim A

  • Greetings Regularjoe:

    The good news is that THE NEXT WAR isn't going to spoil if you have to leave it on the shelf for a few years. And when you finally get enough time to really give this game a look, I think that you'll be thoroughly pleased with what you find.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Greetings Don:

    Well, you certainly aren't alone in your view on THE NEXT WAR'S original CRT. For my own part, I have always chaulked it up to Dunnigan's perverse habit of incorporating some element of World War I combat into every design that he has done since 1914!

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Greetings Tim:

    I'm glad, as always, to hear from you and, of course, I'm also glad to learn that you are now feeling better. None of us, it would appear, are getting any younger; and health problems seem to crop up with ever more frequency as time goes by.

    Regarding combat in THE NEXT WAR: yes, a heavily engaged force could literally melt away like snow on a warm spring day, in this game. In fact, there were even times when (in terms of casualties, at least) this game reminded me a bit of SOLDIERS!

    As an odd afterthought, one thing that I found somewhat interesting (albeit, it was long ago) when I compared this game and Dunnigan's earlier attempt at tackling this subject matter, NATO (1973), was that, in NATO, it was the Soviets who benefitted most by escalating to tactical nukes, but in THE NEXT WAR, it was often a much put-upon NATO team who ended up resorting to the nuclear option.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Very interesting. TOAW III actually has some recreations of the big scenarios (I'm planning to run a double-blind one on Myth-Weavers).

    @Joe: The Next War is arguably the more 'realistic' one for the time period - the Soviet force balance was stronger and hadn't had a decade of Vietnam to sap its overall fighting quality.

  • Greetings Silent Hunter:

    The American morale issue that you raise is a valid one. Interestingly, my own experience was that the 'elite' units tended -- not surprisingly -- to be very solid, but that the regular army units (particularly those that had been in Germany a bit too long) tended to have problems, not just with morale, but with overall discipline. On the other hand, my friends in the European end of the "intel" business (I was in the SE Asia branch) ck\laimed, even then, to have seen pretty clear evidence that the combat effectiveness of not only the Warsaw Pact, but of the Red Army itself, was not really up to "snuff" during this period, either. Something, I suppose, that the later Soviet military misadventures, first in Afghanistan and then in Chechnya, tended to bear out.

    Happily, we never had to actually find out; although, if the truth be known, I don't think that the senior leadership on either side of the "fence" had all that much confidence in their 'line' troops during the sixties and seventies.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Hi Joe, I'm a fan of your blog and I'm writing a short article about wargaming blogs for Lock 'n Load's Line of Fire magazine and I was wondering if it's okay to write a little about Map and Counters, please? Could you please e-mail me if you get a chance: enragedbees(at)gmail.com
    Thank you very much.
    -Brad

  • Excellant review as always Joe.

    The Next War was a game I enjoyed when it came out but alas the poor gal hasn't seen the game table in many,many years.

    Funny but back then the rules seemed so complex,I drag the game out from time to time just to look over it again and the rules seem much easier now(or maybe it's just me).

  • Greetings Kim:

    Thanks, as always, for the kind words.

    The point that you raise about rules complexity -- then and now -- struck a chord with me. I encountered the same thing when I went back to review the rules to Dunnigan's 1914 (1968) in preparation for a game profile.

    When the game first came out, I remember that I thought that it was impossibly detailed and overly-complex. When I revisited the game three decades later, however, I was struck by just how "simple" (and unintimidating) the game's rules platform now seemed, particularly when compared to some of our more ambitious contemporary designs. Go figure!

    Best Regards, joe

  • I think the shock and violence of the imagined clash would have tested both sides beyond the limits of their respective line troops; the elite forces would probably have done their job as expected given the vicissitudes of combat.

    I noted above that this game was an ideal arena to display one's skills (and feed one's ego). I was privileged in the early 80s to be invited to lead a team to oppose a WP team comprising middle ranking NATO staff officers (Lt Cols) who were also experienced wargamers. Bizarrely I remain prohibited from giving details of this under existing legislation, but suffice it to say the outcome was alarming for either NATO or the WP. That's giving nothing away, but as an aside, I came away feeling very chipper.

    Best wishes, Tim A

  • Greetings Tim:

    I'm inclined to agree with you overall assessment, particularly as the sheer "lethality" of the modern battlefield -- at least when it comes to conventional forces -- has been demonstrated again and again in the years following the Korean War.

    The biggest question, and the one that, in retrospect, can really never be satisfactorily answered is: would, as NATO planners believed, the West have actually been able to seize and retain absolute air superiority once "the balloon went up"? Technologically, of course, the Western air forces were clearly superior, particularly when it came to "night and bad weather" operations. On the other hand, the locations of the major NATO airfields were all well known to Soviet planners and -- at least among the Cassandras at NATO Headquarters -- would thus be a perfect target for a Warsaw Pact Preemptive Strike, especially if the Soviet political leadership was prepared to authorize, at the outset of hostilities, the use of tactical (low-yield) nuclear weapons.

    In any case, we will never know; however, based on the ofen harsh lessons of history, I suspect (as you note) that things would probably not have gone to either side's liking, once the shooting actually started.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Hi Joe

    The human race definitely dodged a bullet as far as all this is concerned; tacnukes flying around Europe could have lead to only one thing - which would have been escalatory city busting. Escalating to what is a question I hope we never need to answer.

    Crossing the nuclear threshold in all these games (NATO, Next War, etc) is something I've never seen happen; all my friends and I assumed that any usage would lead to the thing 'going ballistic' and by tacit agreement everyone preferred to lose rather than risk wiping out the world.

    Best wishes, Tim

  • Greetings Again Tim:

    Again, I think that we are in complete aggreement on the likely outcome of one or the other side resorting to tactical nukes.

    As an intriguing little postscript to your own gaming experiences with the nuclear option: my own (then college age) group of regular opponents, like your friends, avoided resorting to tactical nukes in NATO for quite a long time. Finally, as an experiment (and because the Warsaw Pact never seemed to be able to actually win), the WP player (in the D+30 Scenario) used the "force-multiplier" effect of tactical nukes starting with the very first game turn; not surprisingly, the increase in NATO casualties that resulted very soon obliged the NATO player to follow suit. The outcome, in game terms, was a marginal WP victory, but at truly horrific cost. Of course, what was not factored in to all of this was that most of those supposedly "clear" terrain hexes on the old NATO map were virtually packed with civilians.

    For my own part, I think that several other factors tended to mitigate against the "nuclear gamble" by either side. First, it is hard to see how the Soviets could have maintained the loyalty of the Poles and East Germans if the Kremlin had unilaterally decided to open the "nuclear Pandora's box" since -- even if a full neclear exchange did not result -- virtually all of the most worthwhile targets for NATO nuclear strikes would have been in Poland and East Germany.

    On NATO's side, I have to believe that senior planners (and the political leadership of the member nations) were also deeply concerned that, because France had its own nuclear capability, that the "certain" ability to restrict the use of nuclear weapons on the part of the West was always going to be in doubt, particularly if Warsaw pact forces pushed deeply enough into West Germany to threaten French territory.

    In the end, as you say: everyone (East and West) managed to dodge a bullet, at least when it came to this aspect of the "Cold War".

    Best Regards, Joe

  • mark sturdivant said...

    I own next war and nato division commander and i have no use for them. if anyone is interested please contact me. i pur chased these games used but well apparently well-cared for in the 80's.

  • Greetings Mark:

    If you would like to sell your games, I suggest that you list them on the appropriate "sales" forum at "Boardgamegeek" or "Consimworld". Either venue should get you the exposure you need to find a new home for these two titles.

    Good Luck and Best Regards, Joe

  • Great review. Way back when, I lived in a small town so I had no FTF opponents. I still had a great time getting out NW.

  • Greetings Steve:

    Thank you for your kind words and for your interest; both are appreciated.

    Yes, this is a great old game that, for those who are interested in this historical period, still has a lot to offer, even now.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • This was Mark Herman's first big game. He was thrown in the deep end on this one when it was already not doing well and saved the day. I can remember that he was working day and night on this one, napping in the library. You can see how this shaped Herman's style for years afterwards.

    Backing up Mark on this one was the late Stephen Donaldson (Robert Martin) who did lots of work on the air rules and did lots of playtesting.

  • Greetings David:

    I have to agree with your assessment of Mark's designs in the years immediately following 'THE NEXT WAR'; in fact, I even remarked -- in one of my game profiles -- on how surprised I was to see Mark credited as the designer of a "small" game, particularly after the several behemoths that he had only recently worked on.

    Thanks again for adding your recollections and

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Hi Joe,

    I was a little startled to see the Fulda Gap terrain map I made for the Wikipedia article of the same name in your report on "Next War", but I'm glad you found the map handy for use in a different setting.

    As for NW, I enjoyed the scale of the map and detailed representation of each side's forces. A few years after the game came out, I went to USAREUR as a soldier with a fairly good idea of how all of NATO was deployed in Germany (thanks to the game, we certainly didn't get formal training on that in the Army) -- knowledge that proved useful once or twice.

    Cheers

    W B Wilson

  • Greetings W B:

    Thank you for your thoughts both on this great old game, and on my profile. And yes, I often find myself plucking useful maps and other relevant imagery from unexpected sources. If nothing else, these sometimes unexpected images help -- I hope, at leat -- to keep things visually interesting for my readers.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • As you maybe know, I'm writing an After Action Report of our last "The Next War" campaign game....Take a look!

    http://warwithoutkia.blogspot.it/

  • Greetings Fabrizio:

    I'll definitely do that!

    Best regards, Joe

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