A couple of weeks back I made an observation on Twitter that 30 years from now wargame companies will likely still be churning out new games based on a NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict in Europe set in the 1980s. At present, we are a shade past 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. New titles continue to appear regularly. This speaks volumes about the popularity of the genre, as well as its ability to attract new generations of gamers.
In the last three years we have seen some powerful newcomers to the NATO-WP genre. 1985: Under An Iron Sky is on the fast track to becoming a classic title that all subsequent operational level games in the genre will be compared to. 1985 is a monster of a game that simulates a NATO-WP conflict in Central Europe on a level of detail never before seen. I finally received a copy of the game but have not had the opportunity to play a full game yet. From the 2-4 turn battle scenarios played occasionally in recent months, I’ve become a solid fan of a game turn’s combat phases. Once I finish an entire game I will post a full review of 1985.
Red Storm: The Air War Over Central Germany, 1987 is the other memorable game. This one is an operational level air war game that gives the player control of either the NATO or Warsaw Pact air forces on the eve of a conflict set in Central Europe in 1987. Naturally, I was drawn immediately to Red Storm and have spent hours upon hours putting the game through its paces. I love its complexity and realism, but have found some areas in the game where changes could be made, along with a handful that I simply had to deal with. For example, air battles move at the speed of heat and this is an aspect impossible to replicate in a tabletop game. In that respect, I think Red Storm would’ve been a bona fide gamechanger had it been released on PC. Probably could’ve even challenged Command Modern Operations (CMO) in some respects. Yet still, Red Storm is a champ of a game.
Suffice to say, gamers continue to waste little time in gobbling up NATO-WP games as soon as they hit the shelves. This trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down, which is impressive given the amount of new tabletop and PC wargames released every year. The good news here is that the future for the NATO-WP genre of wargames is bright. Since 2019 there have been a number of quality titles released by game companies. COVID-19 and extended periods of lock down around the world have played a role in reducing the amount of attention these games received.
Luckily, life is returning to normal now and there are some interesting games nearing the end of their development lives right now. Some are improved remakes of genre classics such as NATO:The Next War in Europe, The Third World War and Twilight 2000 😊. In Part II I will take a look at some of these upcoming releases to compare them and their promised enhancements to the original releases.
I might even include a brief novel update because there has been daily activity on that front. After weeks of quiet, that front has suddenly kicked into overdrive.