I have received so many emails since the release of NATO! asking me the who what and where’s of NATO! I thought I’d do an article to answer some of those emails. I must confess it’s taken time for me to sort through the emails and think through the answers, sorry for the wait. I have selected a few questions that I think give a pretty good over view of the game and it’s genesis. So, without further ado here we go…
Who inspired the idea for a ‘Third World War’ game set in the 1980’s?
I suppose Sir John Hackett. I ran across his book The Third World War at a garage sale and bought the book for a dime. At the time I was working on a series of modern era wargames that are played on a board. After reading the book I realized that the idea of NATO vs Warsaw Pact, while dated was a really interesting tactical problem.
What resources did you use for weapons, organization, tactical doctrine etc?
I started with David Isby’s great set of books Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army and Weapons and Tactics of NATO. I moved on to A Hard Look at Hard Power by the US Defense Department, next The Soviet War Machine and NATO Militaries by Salamander Books the articles and chapters from a dozen other sources.
At this point I must thank the Arapahoe Library District here in Denver, they went out of their way to find and supply one dusty tome after another for me without complaint or money. I’ve become infamous with them. I call up and say ‘Hi this is Raven’ and the nice library lady says ‘Let me get into the World Catalog system for you first…’ then we begin the search!
What was the hardest part of the design?
It was hard to think back to those days of unlimited tension as two nuclear armed giants squared off against each other with the largest most sophisticated militaries ever created, all to battle over a piece of land the size of Connecticut. Somehow I had to convey the sense of the massive armies and tiny goals that, in the end, was the heart of the conflict.
Why not Poland, and the rest of Eastern Europe as the battlefield?
I think the odds of a NATO offensive were limited to counter attacks. There were plans by NATO to strike first in a series of spoiling attacks just before the Soviet behemoth rolled over the border. This ‘Forward Defense’ plan was hotly debated, but no plans where made for NATO to be the aggressor.
Was balance between the various weapons difficult to design:
Yes! The war in West Germany would have been an infantry war. I know that is not a popular view but it is true. There is no doubt that fleets of tanks and other AFV’s would have struggled and lead the spearhead of every offensive, but by 1980 the infantry carried anti-tank weapon had changed the relationship between infantry and armor. Infantry at that point had proven they could effectively ‘tank hunt’. Artillery concentrations would have been huge, and the variety of tank killing ammunition available was staggering. Also making its way onto the modern battlefield was the attack chopper packed with anti-tank guided or directed weapons all designed to kill armor. As you can see the tank had a BIG target painted on it’s collective back.
The design of the counters seems odd:
The design grew directly out of the board and the need to convey the information simply. Infantry cover areas by staggering out a line covering positions while taking advantage of their small size and flexibility. Armor can’t help being big and rigid so I tilted the counter the other way to convey a very large machine covering very little battle space.
Why the multi-die combat system?
Speed of play and simplicity were upper most in my mind. There have been a few WWIII games over the years; and except for Red Storm Rising by TSR; all seem to use charts. So the routine in these games is:
- move stop,
- check to see if you can fire stop,
- read the rules if needed before the attack is made stop,
- roll the die or dice stop,
- read a chart stop,
- apply effects stop
I wanted a smooth game where movement and combat interact immediately, and mistakes can be truly fatal, hence the multi-die system.
I am truly surprised at the response to my first offering on Raven’s Games. I expected a few semi-interested folks to wander by as I built up the visibility of the website. I got an explosion. This is due in large part to The Wargames Website running my articles and supporting my site. For that I am truly grateful. To everyone thank you and I hope for a long and rich relationship with all of you.