23 commentsRead On
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.
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.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATION
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.
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.
11 commentsRead On
This year, the Cardboard Wars in Tempe, Arizona will begin on June 25th and run through July 1st, 2012
Last year, as long-time visitors to "Map and Counters" may remember, a lack of advance planning and unexpected health problems conspired to keep me from actively participating in the many exciting events that were offered By Kranz and company at the 2011 Consimworld Expo. Thus, instead of a week of non-stop wargaming, designer seminars, play test sessions, and other hobby-related activities, I ended up having to settle for a couple of hours — spread over three different days — spent mainly quietly observing others (the lucky sods) having a great time. Needless-to-say, this experience left me both disappointed and frustrated, and I vowed that, come next year, I would not allow my CSW Expo 2012 convention plans to be derailed as those for 2011 had been.
It’s hard to believe, but winter is limping to an end and it will soon be that time of year again. What time of year, you ask? Why, CSW Expo time, of course. On June 25th, the first convention arrivals will kick-off the early festivities at what will be — in my view, at least — one of the most enjoyable and unique wargaming events of the coming year: Consimworld Expo 2012. This year’s convention is the direct descendant of MonsterGame.Con which, thanks mainly to the vision and hard work of John Kranz, first opened its doors in 2001. And after more than a decade of event additions and enhancements, this once-a-year gathering has become a truly must-attend event with some of the best and most affable players from all over the country, along with some of the leading figures in simulation design, all coming together for this week-long celebration of the wargaming hobby. The CSW Expo is still hosted by John Kranz and company; and convention attendees, as they have in years past, will again meet in the heart of the Old West at the luxurious Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, in Tempe, Arizona.
The CSW Expo only comes around once a year; so, if you can possibly find a way to get to Tempe during the last week of June, I strongly recommend that you do so. Of course, I may be a little biased since the convention site is only a thirty-minute drive from my house. Nonetheless, if you enjoy both congenial company and lots of gaming, I'm pretty much convinced that you won’t be able to avoid having a great time.
To find out more about CSW Expo 2012/MonsterGame.Con XII, or to register online for this year’s convention, visit the website: http://expo.consimworld.com/
2 commentsRead On
If it's not one thing, it's another. No sooner did I make the announcement on "Map and Counters" that I would shortly have a couple of new posts finished and ready to publish than my blog site "host", for reasons about which I am still unclear, took it upon itself to lock me out of the editing function of the "Blogger" dashboard. This meant that, not only could I not edit any of my existing posts, but I also could not access any of the unpublished essays that were currently stored on the dashboard in "draft" form. Needless-to-say, I was a tiny bit nonplussed by this unexpected and unwelcome hitch in my publishing schedule.
Waterloo Reinforcement Chart Play Aid PDF FileWaterloo Reinforcement Chart Play Aid PDF
8 commentsRead On
Excuses, Excuses ...
At the same time, however, I have also been exceedingly busy with a couple of other hobby-related projects. Thus, just to be clear, this latest pause in the flow of freshly-minted material to "Map and Counters" is not the result — as it has sometimes been in the past — of either computer or health problems at this end. Instead, it is a direct consequence of my resumption, starting in December, of a fairly demanding schedule of competitive PBeM gaming. This play-oriented "sabbatical" away from the daily grind of blogging has, I must confess, been immensely enjoyable; but it has also meant that my written output has suffered noticeably (if temporarily) as a direct result. On the other hand, if one chooses to make the baldly self-serving argument (and I do) that for an individual — in this case, me — to write intelligently about gaming and game-related topics then it not only makes sense, but it is essential for that person to stay actively engaged in the hobby. Moreover, there is another, more immediate reason for my renewed interest in competitive gaming, one that is independent of the requirements of my blog; and that is this: I have decided to attend each and every day of this year's Consimworld Expo (June 25th to July 1st) in Tempe, Arizona, and also the World Boardgaming Championships Convention (including the PreCon, July 27th to August 5th) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and not to put too fine a point on it, since I am going to incur the not inconsiderable expense of attending these two events, it is my strong preference that I not be humbled at the gaming table when I do. That being said, I believe that having chosen to make the well-nigh back-to-back treks to Tempe and then to Lancaster, it only makes sense that I get some serious gaming practice under my belt with a few of my favorite titles before the "start dates" for these two conventions actually roll around. In any case, that is my excuse for neglecting my blog; and, thin as it is, I'm sticking to it.
In the WorksExcuses for my long silence aside, I should note that, despite the heavy demands on my time that my recent return to tournament (versus purely recreational) gaming has imposed, I have, nonetheless, not been completely idle when it comes to developing fresh material for my blog. To that end, what follows is a short — and I hope reassuring — catalog of some of the topics that should, sooner or later, find their way onto the pages of "Map and Counters".
Game ProfilesCurrently, I am working on a review of SPI's THE NEXT WAR (1978), and have plans — in spite of the extra work that detailed descriptions of multi-title "quadri-games" tend to entail — to also post profiles on BLUE & GRAY (1975), MODERN BATTLES II (1977), and Four Battles of ARMY GROUP SOUTH (1979). In addition, I am toying with the idea of finally doing a piece on one of my favorite, if under-appreciated, GDW titles: NARVIK (1974). And, although I have already featured a couple of Kevin Zucker's game designs in previous articles in "Map and Counters", I plan to look back at a number of this talented and prolific designer's other (early) Napoleonic games during the coming year. It is even possible that — at some point in the not too distant future — I might, at long last, profile a few of the almost forgotten (and largely unloved) Rand games that, for one reason or another, I have hitherto ignored.
Game Analysis and 'Think Pieces'Along with the usual compliment of game profiles, reprintable player aids, suggested "rules changes", convention announcements, and occasional bits of hobby news, I also intend — in the months ahead — to finally get around to posting a few new essays devoted to game analysis. First on this list will probably be SPI's NATO (1973), followed, at a decent interval, by my long-delayed second installment on Avalon Hill's "classic" game (and a personal favorite of mine),WATERLOO (1962). In the months to come, this list will gradually be expanded to include analytical discussions of additional titles — some simple, some more complex — from a variety of past and present publishers. Moreover, along with articles on game strategies and tactics, I also plan to publish a pair of pieces — both of which are already in the works — on the effective (and economical) use of D6-based low-odds attacks in STALINGRAD (1963); and on some little-known, but useful tactical approaches that can be used by the German "underdog" to improve Axis prospects for victory in this half-century old Avalon Hill treatment of the Russo-German War, 1941-45.
After Action Reports (AARs) and Series ReplaysGraphic move-by-move reproductions of real-world games is a category of post that, with only a few exceptions, I have tended to avoid up until now. The problem — at least for someone with my negligible computer skills — has been that most of my attempts to display individual game moves, when transferred from the computer monitor to the blog page, seem to always lose something in translation. Thus, my "bare bones" publishing requirement — that the illustrations for my blog posts be clear, easily understandable, and interesting to the eye — has, despite my best efforts, previously gone pretty much unmet when it comes to these types of articles. Recently, however, a possible solution to this "quality control" problem may finally have presented itself: enter the free and widely-available medium of the "online" gaming platform. VASSAL, Cyberboard, Aide de Camp (and ADC2) have all been around for awhile, and each of these three "online" game engines has its own group of (sometimes passionate) supporters; for my purposes, however, I have decided (for reasons that I will not go into now) to launch my first test of this new — for me, at least — technique for illustrating AARs on my blog using the ZunTzu game platform. Moreover, as it turns out, I just happen to have the perfect game with which to conduct this experiment: my own recently completed first round match in the 50th Anniversary STALINGRAD PBeM Tournament. And while this first test case may not present my readers with a lot of "nail-biting" suspense, it does (at only six and a half game turns) have the virtue of being comparatively short. It has two additional benefits, as well: first, the move-by-move screenshots are already finished and safely stored in their own file folder; and second, I am presently about half way through the writing of this piece, which means that, unless something unexpected comes up during the next few days, it should be completed and ready to publish within a week or so.
Odds and EndsOf course, along with everything else, I also expect to finish work on a number of other blog-related projects besides those noted above. In answer to the requests of a couple of my readers, for example, I will soon be adding a link (for download purposes) to the subject of my review of an early amateur game variant — designed by Patrick Nix and Fred Schacter — for SPI's LEIPZIG (1972), called "LEIPZIG REVISED", which (although it seems hard to believe now) I originally described in "Map and Counters" several years ago. Shortly thereafter, I plan on posting — as a small first step in my plan to celebrate this classic Napoleonic game's 50th birthday — a WATERLOO Prussian/Anglo-Allied Order of Appearance and reinforcement Track which, interestingly enough, did not appear as a magazine insert in "The General" until well over a decade after the game's initial 1962 publication. Finally, for those of my visitors who enjoy reading well-written military histories, at least two book reviews will probably find their way onto the pages of "Map and Counters" in the weeks to come: one is Orlando Figes' engrossing, although somewhat unorthodox work, "The Crimean War"; the other is Adrian Goldsworthy's richly-detailed, if occasionally ponderous biography of Caius Julius Caesar, "Caesar: Life of a Colossus".
Final ThoughtsBased on the blog-related projects that I have outlined above, it should be obvious that neither the tenor nor the substance of "Map and Counters" is going to change very much during the coming year. Obviously, there will be modest adjustments to the blog's content here and there, if for no other reason than that some editorial flexibility is necessary just to keep pace with changes in and to the hobby. Nonetheless, for the most part, the same basic types of articles that have appeared in past years will continue to occupy places of importance when it comes to future posts. One thing, however, will set 2012 apart from previous years when it comes to "Map and Counters": it will be the first year in which I will attempt to "live blog" while I am personally attending (and actively participating) in the day-to-day goings on of a week-long hobby event. How this "live-blogging" plan of mine will work out, once I am actually in the midst of the bustle and excitement of a multi-day wargaming convention, I have no idea. But this is a new approach to my self-appointed role as a wargame blogger that I at least want to try; and it is something that, for better or for worse, will definitely make a difference in the content of this summer's, versus previous summer's, posts on "Map and Counters".
Helpful Wargame Blogs and Links
1812 1815 1815 THE WATERLOO CAMPAIGN 1870 1914 1939-45 1940 1942 1944 3W A HOUSE DIVIDED A Study in Command A Time for Trumpets Aachen Acre ACROSS SUEZ ADVANCED THIRD REICH advice AFRIKA KORPS After Action Reports AFTER THE HOLOCAUST AGINCOURT ALESIA Allied Allies ALMA alternate strategy American American Anniversary American Army American Civil War American Revolutionary War analysis anniversary ANZIO Arab Israeli War ARABIAN NIGHTMARE The Kuwait War ARMADA Armistice Day Army of Northern Virginia articles ATLANTIC WALL atlas ATTACK IN THE ARDENNES AUSTERLITZ Australia Austria Avalanche Axis AXIS and ALLIES: EUROPE BALACLAVA Barbarossa basic resource points BASTOGNE BATTLE FOR GERMANY BATTLE FOR MIDWAY BATTLE OF BRITAIN Battle of Nations BATTLE OF THE BULGE 91 battlegroup Birthday board economic game board political game board simulation board simulations board war game Boardgame Players Association boardsimulations Boer War bomb disposal book BORODINO BPA BREAKOUT and PURSUIT BREAKOUT: NORMANDY British BULGE '65 Burma CAESAR CAESAR'S LEGIONS Cambrai Carnage and Culture CASE WHITE CASSINO CAULDRON Central Powers CG Charles S Roberts CHINESE FARM Christmas Churchill's Generals CIVILIZATION classics COAG Coalition COBRA Cold War combat results Command Game Series comment components Computer problems confederate ConsimWorld Continental Congress convention counters Crimea D-Day DAGC Danny S. Parker DARK DECEMBER Darwin air raid David Chandler Decision Games Declaration of Independence description DESERT STORM UPDATE design DG Don Greenwood DRESDEN DRIVE ON STALINGRAD DUNE EAST FRONT Eastern Front eBay auctions Eisenborn Ridge Eisenhower EL ALAMEIN EMPIRES AT WAR EMPIRES IN ARMS Entente ERIC GOLDERG'S KURSK errata Europa European Excel EYLAU Fall Gelb fantasy Father's Day Festung Europa Finland Finnish FIRE IN THE EAST FIREFIGHT Flag Day FORTRESS AMERICA FORTRESS EUROPA founder FRANCE 1940 Frank Chadwick FREDERICK THE GREAT French FULDA GAP game analysis game design game system GDW General Ger German GETTYSBURG '64 GETTYSBURG '77 GLOBAL WAR GMT GOLAN Great Siege GRENADIER grognards Guadalcanal guest post GULF STRIKE Gulf War HANNIBAL HBO history holidays hypothetical Independence Day INDIAN OCEAN ADVENTURE INKERMAN interpretation Into the Storm INVASION SICILY inventor Iraqi Italy Japanese Jean Lartéguy JENA JENA-AUERSTADT John Churchill John Keegan July 4th June 14th kampfgruppen Karl-Heinz Frieser KHARKOV KOREA Korean War KORSUN POCKET KURSK LA GRANDE ARMEE LEE MOVES NORTH LEE vs. MEADE LEE'S LIEUTENANTS LEIPZIG LEIPZIG REVISED Lille links LOST BATTLES Lost Command magazine MAHARAJA Malta MANASSAS Mans' Best Friend Manstein Plan map Map and Counters MARENGO Marine Corps Birthday Marlborough as Military Commander MBC Memorial Day MIDWAY MISSLE BOAT MODERN BATTLES monster game MonsterGame.Con Moscow Mother's Day movie MUKDEN MUSKET and PIKE NAPOLEON AT LEIPZIG NAPOLEON AT WATERLOO NAPOLEON'S LAST CAMPAIGNS Napoleonic NAPOLEONS ART OF WAR NATO naval Near Eastern New Year Normandy Normandy Landings North Africa North Vietnam notebook OBJECTIVE MOSCOW OMAHA BEACH Operation Bagration Operation Cobra OPERATION CRUSADER OPERATION TYPHOON optional rules OSG Overlord Pacific Theater PANZER ARMEE AFRIKA PANZER BATTLES PANZER LEADER PANZERBLITZ PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN PANZERKRIEG PBeM PBM Pearl Harbor Personal Notes Personal Notes. WWII play aide play balance production Prussia PWG quadrigame railroad repair rules Rand Game Associates reader comments Recent Break in Blogging RED SUN RISING remembrance review RGA RICHTHFEN'S WAR RIFLE AND SABER ROAD TO THE RHINE Robert Cressman Roman rules Russian RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR S and T SAMURAI SARATOGA: 1777 Saxony science fiction SEA LION SEELOWE September 11th 2001 Series 120 set-up Sevastopol Seven Years War Sicily siege SIEGE OF CONSTANTINOPLE SINAI SOLDIER KING SOLDIERS SOLOMONS CAMPAIGN SOUTH AFRICA South Vietnam Soviet SPI spreadsheet SQUAD LEADER ST #49 Stalingrad Strategy and Tactics tactical TAHGC TANNENBERG TCHERNAYA RIVER template TGI Thanksgiving THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION THE ARDENNES OFFENSIVE THE ART OF SIEGE THE BATTLE FOR MOSCOW THE BATTLE OF LOBOSITZ THE BATTLE OF MOSCOW THE BATTLE OF NATIONS THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE The Blitzkrieg Legend The Centurions THE CIVIL WAR THE CRIMEAN WAR The Face of Battle The Fall of France THE FALL OF TOBRUK THE FAST CARRIERS THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR THE GREAT WAR IN THE EAST THE GUNS OF AUGUST THE MARNE The Mask of Command THE MOSCOW CAMPAIGN THE NEXT WAR The Pacific The Praetorians THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR THE WAR IN EUROPE MODULE1: THE FIRST WORLD WAR The War in the West THE WILDERNESS CAMPAIGN THE WINTER WAR THEIR FINEST HOUR THIRD REICH TO THE GREEN FIELDS BEYOND TOBRUK Toland Torgau tournament Tradition TSR turn record chart TURNING POINT TURNING POINT STALINGRAD TYPHOON Tyre union US Constitution USMC USN variant Velikiye Luki VERACRUZ Veterans Day VG Victor Davis Hanson Victory Games Vietnam VON MANSTEIN WACHT AM RHEIN WAGRAM WAR AND PEACE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES war game War in Europe War in the East WAR IN THE EAST 1ST EDITION WAR IN THE EAST 2ND EDITION WAR IN THE WEST War of the Spanish Succession Wargame Conventions wargaming Wargaming Events and Tournaments Warsaw Pact WATERLOO WBC WBC Convention WBC Tournament Results WBTS WELLINGTON'S VICTORY Western Front WHITE DEATH WOODEN SHIPS IRON MEN WORLD WAR 1 WORLD WAR II WORLD WAR II: European Theater of Operations WURZBURG WWI WWII YEAR OF THE RAT Yom Kippur Zitadelle ZunTsu