Gaming World War III: Reboot Candidates

Reboots are in style again these days. Movies, TV shows, music and novels have all been bitten by the reboot bug to varying extents. The reboot craze can be partly attributed to a lack of creativity in the arts, so to speak. We seem to have reached a point where the majority of modern releases look, sound, read, or feel the same. Or maybe I’ve just officially become an old man. 😊 Some reboots have been dizzying failures (2012’s Red Dawn) while others have been successful enough to rejuvenate a franchise, or even an entire genre (2004’s Dawn of the Dead).

Tabletop wargames with World War III themes have not been immune from the reboot trend. In recent years we’ve seen some classic titles updated and released again. As has been the case with other types of reboots, there have been successes and failures. The 2016 release of MBT’s second edition is an example of an outstanding reboot, while Fortress America 2.0 is worthy of being awarded the ‘Worst Tabletop Wargame Reboot of All Time.”  There are a handful of games undergoing reboots at present. Most notable is Twilight:2000, the iconic RPG/wargame that takes place in the aftermath of a hypothetical World War III. Right now, this reboot is making its way towards a Beta release and a lot of folks are excited. Twilight:2000 has always had a loyal following and the reboot looks ready to bring a new generation of gamers into the Twilight universe.

There are some titles I think are ripe for reboot attempts owing to a number of factors. Some theaters and conflict areas have become relevant once again in recent years, for example. Nostalgia can also lead to a popular game from yesteryear coming back into favor. Whatever the reason, I can list at least a dozen different games I consider worthy of being rebooted. However, owing to time and space constraints, I’ll only discuss a few of the World War III-related tabletop games I most want to see undergo a mid-life upgrade.

Sixth Fleet– Some members of the Fleet Series are more relevant in modern times than others. Sixth Fleet is certainly one of them. The Mediterranean is no less important today than it was back in the 1980s. In some respects the region is now more volatile and unpredictable. The civil war in Syria and the involvement there of multiple external actors, the rise of Erdogan in Turkey, Libya’s collapse, a renewed Greco-Turkish rivalry, and last but not least, the discovery of massive natural gas deposits in the Eastern Med. Select your poison carefully.

7th Fleet– Another Fleet Series title, a rebooted 7th Fleet could become a significant title for the next decade or perhaps longer. The Western Pacific is a veritable powder keg now with multiple potential hotspots. China’s rise has been accentuated with a massive naval buildup. The time is coming when Beijing could unleash its extensive military power on the region. America, and her Pacific allies will have a difficult time pushing back the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and putting China in check.

Gulf Strike– This title handled gaming the volatile Persian Gulf region of the 1980s with grace, and power. We could use some of that in a Persian Gulf game system these days. The Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf areas are, much like other hotspots around the world, one misstep away from a major conflict. Iran and its nuclear ambitions, Yemen, US-Iran tensions, terrorism. Like the Mediterranean, select your poison carefully in the Gulf.

City Fight: Modern Combat in the Urban Environment– This game is a detailed tactical simulation of post World War II combat in the urban environment. You know, back when the standard practice of most land forces around the world was to avoid being dragged into a city fight at all costs. Things are different nowadays with insurgents, ISIS, and the fact that geographic location of some cities puts them right in the path of a rival’s armies. I’m looking at you, Seoul. City Fight, if updated to cover modern military forces fighting in present-day urban environments, would draw in a respectable number of gamers and reignite interest in a title which has long been considered a classic.


18 Replies to “Gaming World War III: Reboot Candidates”

  1. Interesting list, I would love to see a reboot of NATO: The Next War in Europe. Given the return of US Army V Corps in Europe it seems like an operational level defense of Poland with the modern, reduced European formations would make for an interesting game.
    As for Twilight 2000, I joined the KS, but have some reservations. The allure of the gameworld for me was always the rich backstories and battle histories for existing formations. The “Road to War” in the alpha release was a confused mess. It is more a contrivance than an organic story.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’d love to see a NATO:Next War reboot too, either set in Poland or an updated, deeper version of a 1980s conflict in Germany. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

      Yeah, I heard the alpha release was a little confused, to say the least. I’m hearing better things about the beta so let’s hope they’re on the right track.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Compass Games release is the 89s version updated. The GMT Games Next War series already has Poland and the forthcoming 2nd edition will have updated order of battle.
        For me T2K was always the setting. How it got there not so important as what it was.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d love something like City Fight with a wide-scope ruleset (ie, even if it doesn’t do any ONE type of fight as well/”accurately” as a specifically tailored conflict, you could do everything from irregular encounters to defending Seoul/Vilnius from heavily-armed attackers to attacking a high-tech city to the North Hollywood Shootout to techno-ninja battles. Ok, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea :p )

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From what I have heard, there is a lot to *not* like in the 4th ed. of Twilight 2000…but I’ll leave it there, I don’t want things to get heated.

    Timeline Games did a pretty good cold-gone-hot game in Close & Destroy. It’s a massive game, in that it is designed for use with CinC miniatures…but it’s a *brigade and higher* level game. I mean, if you go with 1″=10m, you need half a damn gymnasium to fight in, with ATGMs having 5km range and tanks out to 1500m, and artillery 30km! Anyway, after C&D2 (air module) was published, Timeline said they planned to release continual updates to the rules as new vehicles, systems, tactics etc. came out. I guess it wasn’t such a hot seller because they never released another thing for it. I wouldn’t hate to see another release.

    Showing off how old I am, I’d love to see an “OSR” (Old School Renaissance) update of TSR’s TRACTICS. The “Special & Modern” unit was written for then-current AFVs and so on…but the game came out in 1971. The cover of that 3rd module features a lovely pen and ink drawing of an Strv-106, to give you an idea of how far back that one was.

    With a little spit and polish, GDW’s “The Last Battle” (a squad-level wargame meant for use alongside Twilight 2000 v1) could be rebooted nicely.

    I’m friends with Ty Beard, creator of A Fistful of TOWs, I can ask what the future of that series is, if anyone’s interested. Boy, his discussion of the development of that game is very cool. I talked to him about it in one of my livestreams, if anyone wants a link.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Here is the link. I do a regular livestream (now available on Youtube, as well as Facebook) and talk a lot about old RPGs and wargames. I had Ty on because he is a legal authority as well as a game designer, and we discussed the lawsuit between Wizards of the Coast and Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis over WotC’s breach-of-contract of their latest Dragonlance novel trilogy. It was very long, like, 4 hours, but he and I held court on a great many topics (including A Fistful of TOWs).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, Bill! I’m going to check out the video later on when I start to feel a bit better. Caught a 24 hour virus and its making its way through my system now. Ugh

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Blech! Get better, man. I passed your appreciation on to Ty, BTW. 🙂 If you don’t join us on the Dark Side, I’ll gladly relay messages.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey surely Larry Bonds Harpoon both the boardgame and the Computer Game must be in the Premier league of WW3 choices. Particularly Harpoon the Computer game that was first distributed Three-sixty Pacific.

    Liked by 1 person

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