Diane’s a Pill…Or how I relaxed and learned to love the H-bomb

Okay so making your own games, and NOT having a $60,000.00 web press with employees to build boxes, and more to the point counter trays for you is a real stumbling block. So, when in doubt ask someone if they have any ideas to solve a problem or two. Now, normally I wouldn’t ask my wife much about how to solve gaming problems. You must understand she is not ‘into games’ in the board or role-playing sense.  But here is how she solved one of my big problems…counter trays for all those game counters I use for tiny game.


Use the humble pill case! (or pill organizer to some) And best of all it was a buck at a local dollar store! So in conclusion you need to store counters? Use a pill case. Thanx Luv!!!!

PS This is your first glimpse at Steam & Steel Guadalcanal

Raven Games
Raven Games

I’m Defending–Ahhhhhhhh!!

Panzer Thrust Logo Bar

HQ CounterOkay so the bad news is your defending that precious HQ and the Germans are rolling up just licking their lips. The good news is your the Red Army and your ready…how? Read on:

Panzer Thrust is far more historical than first appears, so use historical defensive techniques. FIRST RULE: ALWAYS HAVE A RESERVE! NEXT: You can’t go far wrong; no matter what your doing; when you have 3 or 4 BP’s of Red Army infantry supporting your gritty defense, more if your opponent is an experienced player. Entrench some but not ALL your infantry and make the Germans come into close combat with you using up their more expensive infantry trying to clear the way. Red Army artillery is your next best friend and 4 to 6 points of tubes will make the battlefield a hideous place to be if your a German tank. Soviet SPA’s are only adequate. Red Army heavy artillery is the real killer so make sure to have at least 1 and more like 2 units and set them at phase lines with defending infantry because the Germans are going to come after them.  Russian armor is used as a quick riposte force able to move into holes and plug them while you await reserve infantry.

Iron CrossHey! What about us?

FIRST RULE: ALWAYS HAVE A RESERVE! NEXT: The Germans are more powerful on an individual unit basis but this is 1942-1943 and the Red Army is catching up. Again infantry is the strong foundation of any defense and with a range of 2 they can exact a terrible toll in Soviet infantry. German infantry because of this range is more mobile so, don’t entrench too much.  Your tanks are much better so use them to kill artillery and tanks, their longer range is a real advantage here. Wrecking the Soviet rear goes a long way to victory. Post an SPA or two on hills overlooking the Russian approach route and start banging away at anything that moves and be willing to move your SPA’s when needed.

Finally, Panzer Thrust is about war at the broken end of the bottle: thrown together forces unsupported from the rear in desperate fighting. Imagination and a good understanding of combined arms in defense will win you more battles.-Enjoy!

Raven Games
Raven Games

The Transport Crunch

Transport Example

“I keep running out of !@##%!^&&*! trucks!”-Kevin Ravnsgames play tester for Warsaw Pact 8.4

There are only so many trucks in any army. How’s that for profound wisdom? And yet it’s an obvious fact that gets ignored not just by wargamers but also by armies. The truth is those shiny new trucks sent in by the thousands as the offensive begins, begin a process of attrition almost immediately:

Trucks break down

Trucks run out of gas

Drivers go back for supplies and decide never to go forward again

Commands not entitled to your trucks pinch them

Foot sore Generals requisition them

And on, and on, and on, and on……..

So after a few days your mechanized advanced is walking. Trucks in this context mean anything that carries replacement parts, food, gas and people.  Thus even M2’s or BMP are little more than armed fancy trucks carrying needed supplies to the battlefront. And all these trucks are subject to loss.

In writing Warsaw Pact! 8.4 I wanted to show this attrition as I felt it was important consideration on the part of a tactical command at company, battalion or regimental level, even divisions and corps must recon on the number of trucks they posses. Thus the unique set of rules in place to make YOU feel the transport crunch!

Raven Games
Raven Games

To Ride or Not to Ride?

” The American Army is so roadbound, the soldiers have almost lost the use of their legs”…General Ridgeway 1950

Twenty three BMP-02 trundled down the canal road on their way to yet another Israeli breakthrough attempt.  The Egyptian soldiers had trained with an intensity and determination which lead them to a peak of professionalism and vigor in attack. They had trained under the watchful eyes of Soviet training personnel, executing the battle drill so well even the Soviets had to admit the Egyptians looked like Soviet soldiers.  As they approached the Israeli position the BMP’s broke into a wedge formation and the infantry opened the firing ports ready to pour a deadly fire on the poor leg bound Israeli infantry. It would be a duck shoot. Suddenly the recoilless 75’s of the Israeli’s opened on the BMP’s melting the aluminum armor and condemning the brave men inside to a slow agonizing death as they melted and suffocated in the fighting compartment. The whole battle took five minutes, not a single ‘BUMP’ survived. It was not suppose to happen this way.

With the death of those Egyptian soldiers, died the Soviet experiment in having soldiers stay inside the vehicle. This outcome ended a debate inside and outside army circles as to how the mechanized infantryman would fight the next war. The Soviets had embraced the idea of the “Infantry Fighting Vehicle” i.e., a vehicle used to protect the infantryman, and making him little more than an intelligent turret which protected the the vehicle when it ran into enemy resistance while blowing through the enemy defensive crust. This philosophy was born out of the experience of World War II, the Germans had certainly used mechanized infantry inside SDKFZ-251.  This halftrack and it’s family pointed the way to cheap serviceable mobile infantry.  The Russians somehow forgot however, that those German soldiers got out of their Hanomog’s and fought on foot taking advantage of all the ground could give them.

The US had also forgotten this lesson.  But the US had a rude, bloody, and ultimately helpful dose of reality at the hands of the Chinese Communist Army in the frozen wastes of North Korea. It took one brilliant and practical American General to understand and absorb that lesson.  General Mathew Ridgeway, while on an inspection tour of the US 8th Army in Korea during its race up to the Yalu River in 1950, noted mechanized columns wind their way up endless mountain tracks with truck loads of infantrymen unwilling and in some cases unable to get out and walk.  This left the high ground; indeed almost all the ground; to an enemy willing to walk to war. When Ridgeway became 8th Army commander the first thing he did was institute a training regime including road marching, setup all round defense, and taking the ridge lines away from the enemy with ‘Ridge Runners’ small, light men that could climb quickly and still be able to fight when they got to the top.

This one man saved the US Army and all of NATO the painful and expensive lesson learned by the Soviets. Trucks get you there…feet keep you there.

Raven Games
Raven Games

Artillery for Every Occasion WWIII

Warsaw Support FEB_2018

Research into a game can lead you down many a path you never planned to study at the time nor had any real interest in.  Artillery of World War III was one such subject for me. Being a military historian artillery naturally interested me, but the complex problems of modern artillery use was fascinating.

As both NATO and Warsaw Pact looked at the modern battlefield they saw a world which precluded the use of tubes lined up hub to hub. This was much harder on the Soviets than the West as the annihilating power of massed artillery had been a cornerstone of their success against the Wehrmacht.  The question was how to put enough HE on target and at the same time not loose your artillery to counter battery, air power, and nukes?  The obvious answer was self propelled artillery pieces, an expensive solution, and one fraught with pit falls. SP units are expensive to use: larger crew per gun, fuel, more spare parts, and tracked support units; unless your willing to risk driving your SP’s on open roadways.  The advantages were limited mostly to the fact the gun could ‘Shoot and Scoot’ that is fire a mission then immediately move.

The British may have been the first to see the issue and take steps, but it was a long gestation for them as one insufficient SP after another was rejected. The need was there the money and the technology was not.  France saw the issue only in terms of the two or possibly three corps they had earmarked for operations with NATO in Germany. Thus France used a combination of US M155 and the AMX Mk F3 155.  The Germans decided to use US mobile artillery and support this with the Luftwaffe flying Alpha Jets and Tornadoes in close support roles.  Belgium felt the problem outside their scope as the country was so small that towed artillery could quickly move around and anyway there weren’t that many places to go.  The real leader was the US who not only began to test fast mobile artillery along with missiles and rocket batteries, but also started looking at aerosol propellants which would allow SP weapon platforms that would allow for longer field operations and less ‘tail’ i.e. support units.  The US also produced the Fairchild A-10, the Bell Super Cobra, and Boeing AH-64 Apache.

That left the Soviets. What would the USSR do with all those towed heavy artillery pieces they had built and stored at considerable cost? Their answer was indicative of the Red Army conservatism. Approaching the problem in two ways:  first the Soviet towed artillery would be increased in the hope to offset loses with numbers, and two, build a large SP force which would be used at the Schwerpunkt of every attack.  Units such as the 2S1 Gvozdika were indicative of the SP design philosophy of the Soviet Army.

One can’t help wondering if the artillery issue was not more a sales opportunity and less a real issue.  Certainly towed artillery batteries made a nice juicy target for tactical nuclear strikes, but then again, so did everything else.  Counter battery fire had been a fact of life for artillery for three hundred years and defenses had been developed.  Air strikes had not been all that effective against artillery during WWI and WWII due to strong Anti-Air defenses and by the 1980-1990’s air defense weapons had only gotten stronger. What would have happened then? NO definitive answer can be given except maybe: Luckily it never happened.

Raven Games
Raven Games



Bibliography of WWIII PART TWO

I’ve had some emails asking for a list of some of the books or sources I used to write the NATO! Games.  I thought I’d sketch out a few of the reference works that I most used and why.

An Illustrated Guide to Tank Busters

Another Bruce  Quarry, Mike Spick book. With the helicopter on the front you think you know what your getting into, but ‘Tank Busters’ is a broad subject included helicopters, fixed wing and much more. I used this book along with the one below to grasp the ‘pop-up’ attack as it applied to NATO! This book is easily found at Thriftbooks and ebay for around 4.95

Modern Fighting Helicopters

Big surprise! Bill Gunston and Mike Spick…again While Modern Fighting Helicopters is an old book and behind the time period of the game the basic tactics and problems of helicopters in ground combat are the same and well discussed.  I used many other sources other than these two books; or authors for that matter; while writing this facet of the game. However these two books in combination really covered the subject completely and well. This book can be found at ebay and thriftbooks for $4.95 or so.

 An Illustrated Guide to Soviet Ground Forces

You cannot find a better quick guide to hardware then these little gems. I have actually gotten rid of other ‘tank’ or ‘airplane’ books in favor of this series.  The illustrated guides are broken down into separate subjects with brilliant photos and the occasional well executed drawing and plenty of detail about each and every weapon they discuss. Roy Bonds edited this compilation book, showing the most up to date Soviet hardware including the BMP, T-62/4/72 etc etc. This book simply incorporates the information from many other titles but does give a wonderful overview of Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces in the 80’s.  You can find this book cheap at thriftbooks.com Priced from $4.00 to $12.00

Well since almost everything here is an illustrated guide something something let’s end with a word of caution. These books are cheap easily found, well written and researched. That having being said be careful if you branch off these to other series or publishers such as Arno or Salamander because their titles are often re-issuing the information found in these little gems.–Raven

Raven Games
Raven Games



Writing About What Didn’t Happen

Warsaw Pact Cover LIGHT

No war that never happened, has been more written about than World War III. So attempting to write a game about it has a flavor of Alice in Wonderland about it. When writing a wargame you tend to rely on ‘what happened’ accounts to try and bring your game mechanics into according with what you have read. This of course is all bollocks! And I am as guilty as anyone of attempting to breath ‘reality’ into a wargame. Unless you and a few of your best but foolish friends go into woods, desert, steppes etc. and shoot at each other with real ammo you’ll never understand the sheer terror of combat. And if you have no concept of what it is like to have people trying to kill you good for you!

So with that having been said how do you go about putting realistic results into your game? First you start with basic premises that you feel are universally true about the subject. My starting premise in NATO and Warsaw Pact was this: NATO was out numbered by Warsaw Pact forces. I did not fall for the old saw about Soviet equipment being comfortingly inferior to western hardware. Time and again the Soviets stunned the west with weapon systems just as capable.

My next premise was it would be the Soviets that would cross the line. There is nothing to prove that NATO would NEVER have started the war, but it seemed unlikely that the European powers would willing start a war that would end in their utter destruction. The Soviets on the other hand were looking to crush the west as quickly as possible and drive the US off the European landmass. I felt that this offensive would have been a stabbing attack into West Germany, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. I doubt that the Soviets ever seriously thought of ‘Marching to Paris’ but ‘Marching to Bonn and Antwerp’ was on the agenda. I believe the drive would have been a no holds barred race for the Rhine. I also feel that such an offensive would have drawn in the Mediterranean powers if for no other reason than to prevent reinforcements using Italian or Greek ports. Remember the Soviets had no real naval power in the Mediterranean and Turkey would have fought the Black Seas Fleet from moving south.

Premise three was the notion that neither NATO nor the Warsaw Pact would have ‘gone nuclear’ right at the start of the conflict. After all, what was the point of winning a burnt out, radioactive cinder? Chemical weapons would have been delivered as part of the opening gambit and that would have been all Soviet. NATO had such agents and their delivery systems. But, NATO also had millions of citizens directly in harm’s way of those agents. The Soviets did not need to shield the population in fact it might collapse the will to fight if later targets heard about the death toll in earlier battles, or crowd the MSRs with frightened panicked people.

My final premise was the fact that these games would be quick, easy to learn, dirty and as high tech free as possible. After all, all the myriad hardware in infinite detail would derail the idea of a tactical level game that could be played by two players in 1 to 2 hours without having to learn such phrases as APDS, FLIR, ALM etc etc ad infinitum. ‘Is the tech there at all?’ I hear you ask, of course! WWIII was going to be the war in which electronics would be the master, so the tech is built into the design of every unit in the game.

In closing I’m very happy with the overwhelming response to NATO, I feel this proves that others feel as I do that World War III is a worthy gaming subject and that ease of play has a vital roll in the design.

Raven Games
Raven Games

Q & A on NATO

Since the award, NATO has brought a raft of emails asking many interesting questions. I thought I’d sort out some of the most common:

Q: Is there any rules for units in cover?

A: The original NATO had none to show the increased use of heat and night scopes. However in Warsaw Pack this deficiency has been rectified. Anti-Tank, Fire Missions, and Infantry roll d8 when defending inside cover.

Q: How do I use an Air Control (BLUE) token?

A: Starting with the initiative player: players announce any Air Control Tokens they will play. This gives the non-initiative player an advantage in air power for that round of play.

Q: When using a unit with two attack dice which do I use for defense?

A: Players can choose the die used for the first attack received by the unit. All subsequent attacks are defended against using the lowest die of the unit for the remainder of that round of play.

NATO news:

Expansion Pack one will be released in the up coming weeks and includes ALM Mines, Attack copters, and strongpoints. Take the battle to a new level!

Warsaw Pact Cover LIGHTWarsaw Pack Release!

News Flash! As U.S. forces battle the Soviet armored forces down south, allied NATO forces are facing both Soviet and Warsaw Pack enemies in the north attempting to push into Belgium and Denmark. The Soviets are stretched thin trying to fight their way through heavier than expected U.S. resistance and must rely on their category 2 allies to pick up the slack! Warsaw Pack the latest installment of NATO will soon be out with British, West German, Polish and Czechoslovakian formations! Now take the battle to the canals and deep forests of northwest Europe. Warsaw Pack is a stand alone game using the award winning NATO game system, get ready to command Chieftains, Leopard II’s,  Marders and more against the T-72s and T-64 of the Warsaw Pack.

SAGCover LIGHT SAG news!

Battlefield:  Southern Army Group (S.A.G.) Would there have been a war in southern Europe? What possible value could be gained in fighting in Turkey, Greece, Italy, and possibly Yugoslavia?  On the Soviet’s part any way to stretch NATO resources was a bonus. Scare military resources fighting in a secondary theater meant these resources could not pulled into Germany. NATO options in the southern theater were greater: if the Soviets had left southern Europe alone NATO could pull manpower from Italy possibly even Greece and Turkey.  If the Soviets fought in the south they would have only weak Warsaw Pact allies in position and would end up having to support these forces with Soviet troops.  Troops that were unavailable therefore for the main theater.


Badr Cover2 LIGHTBadr News!

The Game that started it all will be re-released! I heard you loud and clear ‘Release Badr Again!’. Now battle through Israeli defenses as you cross the Suez in 73! New rules included in this new release. Coming Soon!

“No matter what you’re into. Sometimes, you get the irresistible urge to blow stuff up with tanks!” -Derek Case

Final comments: When I wrote NATO I was trying to fill a personal itch for a 1-Hour tactical game of World War III tank warfare. The games needed to be good looking, fast to play and handle the wide variety of hardware, tactics and combined arms warfare of the modern world easily but with realistic results. NATO and her sister games fill that niche nicely for me.  But I’m not satisfied and sitting on my laurels! Each sister game introduces some other facet of the most complex war that (luckily) was never fought. I wanted A LOT of maps; I bet you do too; and with the new map pack that will be out this year you get A LOT MORE maps!

To all the Badr and NATO gamers out there: thank you for all your votes, dedication to the games, and most of all your ideas and enthusiasm. Like you they are favorites of mine.-Raven

Ravens Games: Free Games and News
Raven’s Games: Free Games and News


New Year New Game?

Well the end of sad old 2017, and with the end of the year it’s a time for reflection, or a time for new beginnings. Me, being me, I can’t really be bothered with the past too much. The games this year were good and the response to many great! I want to tell everyone thank you for your surprising support. I want to give a special shout out to those good folks in Athens! Don’t worry guys S.A.T.O IS COMING OUT!!! NIKE!

Now down to practical matters when is the next release I hear you asking.  In January 2018 my latest madness will be release to you all.

Many have been asking if Hard Lock 18 is really on the way? The answer is as complex as the game is not. The Hell Rats have been gaming for the last few months and working out the bugs. There have been very few ‘bugs’ to tell the truth but those found have been hard to solve…we’re getting there.

Happy New Year and Peace, Love and Happiness to all!

Ravens Games: Free Games and News
Raven’s Games: Free Games and News


UDF in Space!

Blockade Cover

The Chosen had a vision of a perfect universe, peaceful, beautiful and above all theirs! Their savage attacks on United System’s outlaying colonies caught the Navy and Marines completely off guard. Little was know about the enemy even less about their motivations and plans. Purely by luck (or the will of the spirits) the freighter Worden discovered the Chosen main base. Now it was up to the Marines……




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