Fortress America is not the only member of the Invasion USA game club. There are other games and they’re all pure wargames in the traditional sense. No corners cut in the game design. No over-simplification of the rules. No plastic, miniature figurines passed off as game pieces. The games I’ll talk about today are chock full of thick rule books, tables, and cardboard counters. We’re back in the deep end of the pool, folks. The strategy board games are back in the wading area.
This doesn’t mean I’ll throw a blanket endorsement down on the games below. The purpose here is more to present the titles and give a little summary about each one rather than offer pure criticisms, and compliments. There is going to be a little of each, but it will be doled out in moderation. So, without further delay, let’s take a look at some other Invasion USA games.
Invasion: America- Death Throes of the Superpower
James Dunnigan was no slouch. When he designed a wargame, you could rest assured it was going to be a complex beast with hundreds of moving parts. Yet gamers could also be assured the game would be playable. Invasion:America is both of these things, but whether or not the game is an enjoyable experience will depend solely on the players. Invasion is a wargame about a hypothetical invasion of North America by three hostile power blocs. Sound familiar? Yes, it would seem that Invasion provided the makers of Fortress America with a great deal of inspiration.
Unlike the Milton Bradley product, Invasion is a wargame through and through. In fact, it’s a monster wargame in many respects. Two 22×35 inch maps cover the playing area, essentially all of North and Central Americas from the Panama Canal north to the Bering Straits. It is an operational level wargame with corps and divisions making up the primary formations found on game pieces. The land combat rules are straightforward, but naval and air rules are quite complex. Along with the operational level size come operational level problems for the player to contend with. Logistics, air superiority, rail movement, and terrain restrictions, to name a few. Canadians will be pleased to find that their country is involved in the defense of North America in this game, not simply pushed to the side and disregarded as they were in Fortress.
The backstory for Invasion is flimsy. I found this to be something of a disappointment. From the rules, and game box summary the player learns that the invasion was launched after a failed US pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. Interesting premise that only makes me want to know more. But I’m naturally the curious type and realize not everyone is like that.
Invasion is a good enough game, and if you find yourself being drawn to Invasion USA type games, it’s definitely worth trying out.
Jacksonville: The Beaches of Doom
This game title came out around the same time as Invasion: America. For those of you old enough to remember the late 1970s, the post-Vietnam national malaise was in full effect. So, it comes as no surprise that game designers were taking advantage of it. Beaches is another operational level wargame published in Jagdpanther/Battlefield magazine. The setting is the southeastern United States in 1997, and the game covers a hypothetical Soviet invasion of the region. Backstory was flimsy with this game too, but the invasion apparently comes 15 years after a major war in Europe. I’m assuming that war did not go so well for NATO and the US.
Beaches is an operational level game with surprisingly involved rules, and set up for a magazine-based game. In fact, the rules were perhaps too involved with 15-step sequences of play, and air refueling. The game could’ve been a little more abstract and it would not have suffered. The map, counters, and such are fairly decent for the mid to late 1970s. Nothing like present day games of course, but good enough.
I’ve had the game for over ten years and only played it twice. The replay value is questionable, but if you’re in the mood to hypothesize what a Soviet invasion of Florida could’ve looked like, Beaches is a game for you.
World at War: America Conquered
I was not a big fan of the first World at War series. I get that the series was set on platoon level action on the battlefields of a hypothetical Third World War in 1985. The games were fun to play, don’t get me wrong. But I couldn’t hurdle the premise that by the later titles of the series, the Soviets were on the outskirts of Paris, and then following a limited nuclear exchange the Cubans, Nicaraguans, and what was left of the Soviets were invading the US. The sequence of events essentially meant that every battle fought in WaW: Eisenbach Gap through WaW: Paris is Burning was all for nothing because the Soviets ended up conquering West Germany! Kind of like being told you’ll have six at bats in Game 7 of the World Series but your team is going to lose no matter how well you do.
WaW: America Conquered is an unholy mating of Twilight 2000, the Wingman novel series, and the movie Red Dawn. It’s a smorgasbord of different weapons, units, and capabilities with the players engaging in platoon-level combat on maps apparently designed to simulate the terrain in Texas and Louisiana. The setting is the Southern US following a nuclear exchange that has devastated the US. Now, the Cubans, and other South and Central American nations are invading the nation. The US player has to hold them off and buy time for American troops based in Europe to return. The Cuban/Nicaraguan player’s objective is to keep winning the scenarios and continue to advance.
To be honest, the storyline has little to do with the actual gameplay or vice versa. The scenario descriptions offer some insight to what’s happening away from your limited battle area, but they don’t have an effect on gameplay one way or another.
As an Invasion USA-themed game, America Conquered disappoints. But as a casual wargame this title is fun and will provide a lot of replay value.
Okay, that’s about it for wargames for a while. Back to the war on Friday.
6 Replies to “Gaming World War III: The War Comes Home Part II”
I wouldn’t mind seeing (or making!) a wargame/scenario of the most plausible (which isn’t saying much) intervention-unconventional warfare teams and maybe aircraft deploying into South Florida and maybe Alaska.
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That would be a great game/scenario. Think CMO is up to it?
To be honest, I’d never heard of the Jacksonville game – thought now I have a scenario with Soviet Naval units in Florida in my head 🙂
Agree with you re. the Word at War series – the narrative just seemed to go to hell in the latter publications, and left me feeling, as you, ‘what the heck was all that blood spilt at Eisenbach for??’
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Thanks, Duc. 🙂
Seriously, I just don’t get it. Once World at War came to America Conquered, I gave up. A lot of hours spent fighting what turned out to be a losing war.
Anyone invading Texas might as well commit suicide…
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Honestly. They won’t be going home alive.