2021 Holiday Tournament Round 1: Central Front Operational

#1 Third World War: Battle for Germany vs #8 The Next War: Modern Conflict in Europe

NATO vs Warsaw Pact in Central Europe in the 1980s captures the imagination like no other hypothetical conflict ever has and probably ever will. Both of these titles were released at times when this conflict appeared quite possible. The Next War modeled a near future war in Central Europe with great detail and complexity, but it came at a cost in playability. TWW: Battle for Germany modeled the same future war minus the vast entanglement, resulting in a title with high playability and enjoyment. In early 2022 Compass Games will be releasing a new edition of Third World War, covering all four installments of the series, which means TWW: Battle for Germany and its sister titles are still alive and well.  

Winner: Third World War: Battle for Germany

#3 1985: Under an Iron Sky vs #6 Red Storm: The Air War Over Central Germany, 1987

Iron Sky is the spiritual successor to the #1 and #8 seeds of Central Front Operational. It was released in 2019 and qualifies as a monster game in just about every category. If you’re looking for a casual game that can be played out in a few hours, this isn’t the game for you. If you’re looking for a detailed, in-depth game with intense rules and such, Iron Sky is your baby. Red Storm models how the air war in a NATO-Pact conflict could’ve played out. As an air guy by profession, I love Red Storm. Not terribly difficult to play, but complex. Could use some streamlining in some components, but I still recommend it highly.

This wasn’t an easy matchup to determine, but at the end of the day, Red Storm came out second best.

Winner: 1985: Under an Iron Sky

#4 Brezhnev’s War vs #5 Iron Curtain: Central Europe, 1945-1989

Two unique and contemporary titles square off here. Brezhnev’s War covers the first month of a hypothetical NATO-Pact war in Germany set in 1980, while Iron Curtain offers snapshots of the same conflict playing out at different points of the Cold War: 1945, 1962, 1975, 1983, and 1989. Scenarios here examine the forces available at these times, as well as the balance between Pact and NATO forces. In that regard, Iron Curtain has the advantage over Brezhnev’s War, which only examines a war in 1980. It does so very well, however the overall product is lacking compared to Iron Curtain.

Winner: Iron Curtain: Central Europe, 1945-1989

#2 NATO: The Next War in Europe vs #7 NATO Air Commander

Another air game vs ground game here. NATO Air Commander is a solitaire game that looks at the air aspect of a NATO-Pact conflict from the big picture point of view. Players make decisions based on theater needs and objectives, creating raids and assigning air units to support the air war, defend the airspace or take the war deep into the heart of the enemy. This game was carefully designed and well thought out. Not overly complicated and quite playable. Unfortunately, Air Commander finds itself up against a classic game in NATO: The Next War in Europe. Compact rules, and simple but useful components and game pieces. My only complaint is with a dated and inaccurate order of battle, but aside from that, NATO: The Next War in Europe is a game that has withstood the test of time and remains on the shelves of many gamers.

Winner: NATO: The Next War in Europe

4 Replies to “2021 Holiday Tournament Round 1: Central Front Operational”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: