Thursday 29 October 2020

What did you do in the Third World War Dad?


2017 story in the Independent, plus ca change

Well children, there wasn't just one WWIII there were loads! I remember the first one well. It was 1962 and I can recall them testing the nuclear raid warning sirens. There was a big one outside the Trebor factory. I can't think there was any point to them as the idea was that you would be dead in four minutes which isn't much time even to finish lunch. We won that one, the Russians lost and the Cubans have been made to stay at home for nearly 60 years.

The next WWIII was in 1965 but it was very secret. They made a documentary about it and, apparently, we pretty much all died. Because it was secret no-one really noticed until 1985 when we all seemed to be OK again.

There was a rumour in 1975 that the Russians had nuked Wurzburg but this was only a game. As were Red Star/White Star, NATO, WWIII, Next War, Fulda Gap, Mech War '77 and Firefight. By the time they got to NATO Divisional Commander most people were shell-shocked and needed a rest. Public Information films didn't provide any comfort!

We then had another two pretend WWIIIs made up by the military to get more funding by frightening the citizens. First, in 1978, Sir John Hackett described the future war that would break out in 1985. Then in 1979 Shelford Bidwell made the case for more cash in World War 3.

In 1983 the NATO big boys played a wargame called Able Archer. Unfortunately, the Russians, being a totalitarian criminal enterprise, didn't have a sense of humour. Luckily, the war was another pretend one but only because two officers, one Russian and one American, took morally sound decisions. Unfortunately, no-one made a documentary about this because nothing went bang!

Well pleased that WWIII was over we had another documentary in 1984 about when they nuked Sheffield which most people thought was a great idea.

The final WWIIIs took place in the 1980s. These seem to be the basis for most current WWIII themed scenarios and games and follow on from the Able Archer turmoil. 

The best of these books are:

First Clash by Kenneth Macksey and written as a training guide fo the Canadian Army, featuring the 4th Canadian Mechanised Brigade Group fighting off a Soviet attack in the summer of 1984.

Team Yankee
was written in 1987 and probably sets the story in a similar time period. An excellent book and good game from GDW.

Red Thrust by Steven Zaloga is interesting because it describes a number of scenarios on the southern part of the Central front which provide a basis for analysing and evaluating Soviet capabilities. Although the war is nationally set in 1993, started by East German disturbances and starting a conflict over Berlin, the descriptions are equally valid for earlier in the 1980s, although the book itself was written n 1989. This shortly before official end of WWIII between 1989 and 1991 depending on your perspective.

Tank War: Central Front, also by Steven Zaloga, was published by Osprey in 1989 and, for my money, is a great place to start on WWIII gaming.

The big problem was that some people decided that having won WWIII there wouldn't be any more history and liberal democracy was the new defacto world governmental model. Frances Fukuyama was possibly ill advised to adopt this position since we have had lots of history since then, mostly not very entertaining. Liberal democracy looks to be an endangered species just now, who's up for a game of Dixie?

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Periscope up, prepare to surface!

Blowing main ballast tanks here to come up for air and recharge batteries! The COVID/Brexit morass just doesn't go away.

Anyway, reason number one for posting just now is the above nice video from Diagonal Move about my Ramadi game. Good enough for any occasion.

Reason number two is that I am old enough and ugly enough to recognise my own faults, including being too quick to reach a judgment. I'm not yet at the point of revisiting Battlegroup NORTHAG, although I certainly will, but just to say that I have just finished reading Red Effect by Harvey Black. A book I had initially cast aside after 30 pages. 

My initial thoughts were that the characters were typical cardboard and the story moved at the pace of something very slow. I have given it a second go and have to say that, by the end, I was very much taken with the his approach and the technical detail.

It reminded me of both Red Thrust by Steven Zaloga and First Clash by Kenneth Macksey. Both of these books are professional military analyses. Ken's book was, of course, produced as training material for the Canadian Army. Both of these books have some cardboard in them but the technical detail is excellent. I'd put Harvey's book in the same league but with it actually being a lot more exciting on the action elements. I'll be asking for the next two volumes in the trilogy for my birthday.

Time to dive, dive, dive! Hopefully will surface again before Christmas.