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 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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Step 1: DIY Bases


Print off the bases you will be making and glue the page of bases to your foam core using white glue as pictured. NOTE!: It is a good idea to trim the excess paper BEFORE gluing the bases page to the foam core.

Cut out the bases using either a box cutter or xacto knife. It is important to cut precisely! Take your time and make sure of each cut before committing.


Sometimes the foam core will bind the knife, when this happens remove the knife blade and replace with a fresh blade.

You may have to score the back side of the foam core to make a clean cut. Gently bend the foam core and score along the fold you’ve made with the bend.




DIY Bases Step by Step

If you paint miniatures than you know the heart ache of then having to buy, borrow, steal bases so those lovely paint jobs you spent so much time on aren’t ruined by frequent handling. This is a problem I have faced too many times to remember so here is my simple solution….MAKE YOUR OWN!  Its easy, cheap and fun.

Today Step One: What you need


  1. Box Cutter or cheap hobby knife with breakable blades
  2. Exacto Knife NOTE: Have fresh blade replacements
  3. Dish washing gloves: Make sure they fit, and you can grip small items easily with them on.
  4. Sponge Any cheap dollar (Pound, Mark, Yen etc. etc) sponge will do
  5. Acrylic Paint in a dark or earth tone green.  I like Anita’s Leaf Green it’s cheap about $3.00 USD in the 236ml (8 oz) bottles
  6. Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement or any acrylic medium that can be sprayed. Note: a spray bottle is a must though not shown.  I use the Woodland Scenic bottle which is designed for the cement.
  7. Woodland Scenics Turf Blend: Earth Blend T1350
  8. Foam Core board:  I recommend you go big ticket and buy the stuff at an art supply store not at the dollar store. The paper backing will peel off over time from the cheap foam core.  Still its a deal the sheets are large and make plenty of bases.
  9. Print off the bases from you computer. NOTE I have a PDF download of bases available right here on the site. Just download and away you go.

Plan ahead what bases you are making as you can see below size is no impediment!


Stay tuned for Step Two!

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

Combat Command Simple or Subtle?

Unit BreakdownThere has been some debate here at the newspaper about just what category Combat Command will fall into: Simple Rules, Hard Rules. Why World War 2 and where in World War 2? Playing time and equipment needed to play.

There is a lot going on here: Armor, Infantry, Artillery, Airpower, SPA, etc. and etc. At the same time I’m trying to capture the personality of the armies involved. Not to mention the job for which each weapon type was meant. Not an easy task.

Lets take these question one at a time and clear up some underbrush.

Simple rules are my goal: about three pages no more. Combat Command is meant to be played in an hour or less and the commands are ad-hoc battle groups thrown together to fulfill a specific mission. This ‘style’ or situation of fighting was prevalent throughout WW2.  While TO&E tables make a nice guideline they were never followed. Further only a few hours under fire altered a command (almost always for the worse in terms of men and equipment) permanently.

Fast: Real war is a process of excessive boredom punctuated by moments of extreme terror. During these times of terror, decisions are made for good or ill.  Combat Command by being a fast playing game; about 15 to 45 minutes per game; tries to approach the pressure put on commanders to make a quick decision and get it right, or pay a terrible price for getting it wrong: a bunch of dead people.

A wealth of equipment types: No one ever has everything they need and improvised tactics and decisions were the order of the day.  Combat Command allows players to ‘build’ their force before play, neither player knowing what the other will bring to the table. In this simple way the ‘fog of war’ is simulated.

Why World War 2? Well, why not? Okay, okay not much of an answer. So, here we go: I like World War 2 history and I’m pretty good at it. No war saw so many varied battlefields and so many varied combatants. It was the first war fought in three dimensions across the entire globe. And no war ever saw such a wealth of equipment, development of new equipment, or scale of production of that equipment.

Why a platoon/company scale? This is where the fighting took place. German tactical doctrine held that large scale victories were won by an accumulation of tactical victories. The decisions and lack of intelligence to make those decisions with at the platoon and company level is fascinating and makes for great gaming.

Equipment?: One six sided die per player and a coffee mug.  With these I hope to create great gaming.

Maps:  Each Combat Command will come with more than one map. This allows players to vary their experience, and provide hours and hours of great gaming. Each full color map is 8 1/2 by 14 for easy and cheap printing.

Where?: Either Combat Command Africa which is set in Tunisia during the Torch landings and allied operations or Combat Command Russia during the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union will be offered first.

I hope this article gives you insight and desire for Combat Command. Don’t forget to send me your thoughts, I love hearing from you and will post your thoughts and comments here in the newspaper.

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