In the next week I will be adding a pair of new titles to my World War III tabletop game collection. I hope to give the games an initial play-through by the end of October and write up individual reviews on them in early November. The theme of both titles is similar: a hypothetical NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict in Central Europe in 1980s. While one game covers the entirety of such a conflict in extensive detail, the other handles only the air side of a NATO-Pact clash in West Germany. One game is a monster that will require countless hours just to read the rules, and set up the map, and the other falls somewhere between a beer-and-pretzel game, and a monster. I’ve explored both titles a little in the past, having read up on both considerably, and even sat in on a handful of game turns being played out on Discord and Twitch.
The two titles I’m talking about are, respectively, 1985: Under an Iron Sky and Red Storm : The Air War Over Central Germany, 1987.
Iron Sky is an operational level simulation of a NATO-Pact conflict in Central Europe set in 1985. The scale, and size of this title are enticing. Apparently, it contains every aspect that the game developers promised it would. And then some. The air war is covered in great detail, political events can have an immediate effect on gameplay, and land warfare seems to be modeled very close to how it would’ve turned out in the real world 1985 had a conflict broken out then.
Although Iron Sky is impressive, and has received much love from game reviewers and gamers alike, Red Storm is the title I am more excited about trying out. The reason is simple: I’m an air guy. 😊 Red Storm is an operational level air war title. The player assumes the role of either the Warsaw Pact, or NATO air commander and fights the air war over Central Germany throughout a six week-long World War III. Just like Iron Sky, this title is more of a simulation than a game, which translates to a significant amount of complexity, and detail. From what I have seen there’s a danger of this game turning the player into a micromanager instead of a theater air commander. Now, before I get sandbagged for that comment, let me explain……
I realize a good amount of gamers want as much detail in a game as possible. So for a game like Red Storm, this means they want to plan, and fly sorties, monitor them in great detail, and basically fight the war as an O-5. In reality that is not what COMAAFCE’s job would’ve been. There were squadron and wing staff responsible for selecting targets, planning missions and such. The overall air commander needs to be focused almost fully on the big picture, in real life and in a game like this.
Now, to be fair I don’t know for certain what direction Red Storm will take when I sit down to play it. I’m simply going off my instincts and past experiences with other air games. I have a lot of questions, and will be super-critical when it comes to Red Storm. But when I review it, I’ll also be fair. Praise will be given where deserved, and constrictive criticism doled out when some component of the game leaves me scratching my head and mumbling to myself, “WTF?”
Anyhow, I’m excited about trying both titles out and will report back on them probably around Election Day. For now, expect one more review or ORBAT post later this week and then we’ll dive into D+14. –Mike