2021 Holiday Tournament Round 1: Operational (Outside Europe)

#1 Gulf Strike vs #8 The China War:Sino-Soviet Conflict in the 1980s

This was a textbook 1 v 8 matchup. The China War is an interesting game and has some innovative features to offer players, but it pales in comparison to its opponent. Gulf Strike is a classic title that accurately simulates potential conflicts and crises in the Persian Gulf region and beyond in some regards. The 2nd Edition and Desert Shield expansion modules allow players to accurately recreate late 80s and early 90s conflicts in the region. Gulf Strike rates high on playability and is not overly complicated. Add to that a very loyal following and you have a powerhouse #1 seed that can win it all.

Winner: Gulf Strike 

#3 Korea:1995 vs #6 Fortress America

This matchup highlights the difficulty a casual title like Fortress America will have when squaring off against a solid wargame. Make no mistake, I am a Fortress fan and have spent countless hours playing the game since 1986. However, I’ll be the first one to admit that Fortress is anything but a serious wargame. Korea:1995, on the other hand, is. It realistically portrays what a second Korean War might’ve looked like had it occurred in the 1990s. The air system is fantastic and the way Korea: 1995 handles terrain adds a rare degree of realism to the land combat. Naval combat leaves much to be desired though. Just ask RockyMountainNavy about that. 😊

Winner: Korea:1995

#4 Central America vs #5 Tactics II

Not sure how fair it was for me to include Tactics II in this tournament. While it does portray operational level warfare, the theater is generic and the forces are mirror images of each other. Still, it is a classic title and an excellent introduction into the realm for new wargamers. Central America portrays the Cold War era conflicts (real and potential) in that specific region of the world. From the Sandinista-Contra conflict to a potential US invasion of Nicaragua, Central America examines how these conflicts could’ve gone. The game system is well regarded for the most part, but does have some glaring weaknesses, especially in air warfare. This clash could’ve went either way but in the end, real world trumped generic fantasy.

Winner: Central America

#2 Aegean Strike vs #7 Warplan Drop Shot II/III

Aegean Strike is a game simulating air, land and sea warfare along NATO’s Southern Flank in the late 1980s and built along the same lines as Gulf Strike. A popular title among diehard gamers, it always ranks high on ‘most realistic/greatest wargame’ lists. Yet Aegean Strike is not a game that attracts new players to the genre. It was a great product in the late 1980s but has not aged well, either in its subject matter or in the game’s systems. Aegean Strike is a has-been title that relies on its past glory. Ripe for an upset without a doubt.  And speaking of upsets, here comes Warplan Drop Shot II/III, a popular, contemporary title simulating a US-Soviet nuclear war at any point from 1962 through the end of the Cold War. Playability was the factor that doomed Aegean. Drop Shot is a complex game, but its also extremely playable with endless variations available. Aegean just doesn’t have that factor going in its favor. A complex game system but with minimal replay value. Same old song, more or less, over and over.

And we have the first major upset of the tournament.

Winner: Warplan Drop Shot II/III

4 Replies to “2021 Holiday Tournament Round 1: Operational (Outside Europe)”

    1. I missed this comment somehow. It was one of the first ground war games I ever played and was damn useful. If you played this game in high school your teenage years were pretty good.

      Liked by 1 person

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