2021 Holiday Tournament: Round 2 Operational Outside Europe, Naval Operational

Operational Outside Europe

#1 Gulf Strike vs #3 Korea 1995

The mark of a classic wargame is the title’s ability to accurately simulate the changing realities in a particular theater’s era of conflict. Gulf Strike exemplifies this, having offered not only a game but a simulation tool that served gamers well through the volatile period of 1980-1991 in the Persian Gulf. Korea 1995 falls short in this area although it is hardly the fault of the title. The Korean Peninsula has shifted dramatically over the past 25 years. The prospect of a massive North Korean invasion of the ROK has all but disappeared. The nuclear shell game and string of crises that replaced it cannot be accurately simulated by Korea:1995, or its successor Next War: Korea.

Winner: Gulf Strike

#5 Central America vs #7 Warplan: Dropshot II/III

Central America entered this matchup with a significant handicap: Gamer indifference. To be blunt, the geopolitical cauldron that was Central America in the 1980s has all but faded from the memories of all but the most dedicated gamers and amateur political strategists. It certainly doesn’t help that Central America’s opponent in this round, Warplan: Dropshot II/III is respectable simulation of nuclear war at different points from the 1950s through the end of the Cold War in 1991. A boxed version of global thermonuclear war will always beat a game centered on Contras versus Sandinistas and mining Nicaraguan harbors.

Winner: Warplan: Dropshot II/III

Naval Operational

#1 Harpoon vs #3 Sixth Fleet

Stiff competition in this round for Harpoon, which had its primary weakness exposed by Sixth Fleet. That weakness being that while Harpoon accurately simulates naval warfare in the ship vs ship and task force vs outside threat categories, it does not provide a model for air and naval warfare in a specific operational theater. Sixth Fleet does and its playability shines through in this round. New gamers can get their feet wet with Sixth Fleet and enjoy a comfortable introduction to wargaming. That’s not the case with Harpoon…..the table top version at least. I know I’m gonna catch hell for this, but Harpoon’s time in this tournament has come to an end.

Winner: Sixth Fleet

#2 2nd Fleet vs #5 Blue Water Navy: The War At Sea

Old vs New in this bracket. 2nd Fleet is a simulation of the next Battle of the North Atlantic set in the late 1980s. This game was released in 1986 and does not portray Soviet warships, aircraft, submarines and weapons as accurately as do more contemporary titles. Understandable too, seeing as the amount of public information available in the 1980s was quite limited compared to modern times. The dearth of information nowadays benefits newer games like Blue Water Navy, removing the speculation that was a major part of almost every NATO-WP wargame produced from the mid-70s through 1991. Another added benefit is that Blue Water Navy simulates a hypothetical naval clash anywhere from the North Cape to the Suez Canal. It’s like 2nd, Sixth and 3rd Fleets all rolled up into one game. 2nd Fleet is a favorite of mine and it breaks my heart to do it, but Blue Water Navy advances.

Winner: Blue Water Navy: The War At Sea

10 Replies to “2021 Holiday Tournament: Round 2 Operational Outside Europe, Naval Operational”

  1. I should point out that North Korea’s conventional forces HAVE noticeably improved since their 90s-famine era nadir, (for examples, see the excellent On The Path of Songun by the Oryx blog staff), even if one gets the feeling a lot of their “new” equipment is relabeled Chinese and Russian stuff. Not that the military balance has really changed that much, but it makes low-level stuff a lot more viable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I loved the Fleet series and really regret selling them. Of course, they’re pretty expensive nowadays but I might just re-acquire my two favourites …. 2nd and 5th.

    As for nuclear war, I always wanted to get Nuclear War, Nuclear Escalation and Nuclear Proliferation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are good games. Honestly, I love the entire series. I can sit back and play them for a week straight without a single regret.

      Those are a great bunch of games. Escalation was my favorite. Only played them a bit here and there though


    1. It did, and that was a lot of fun 🙂 I just wish the game setting would’ve been less generic. Put me in the middle of the Atlantic or in the Med. Not just ‘generic blue sea hex #44849’ 🙂


  3. Isn’t Compass planning on doing a revamp of the Fleet series similar to that of TWW? I remember seeing that somewhere but there isn’t anything on their site.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I’ve heard too but I haven’t seen any news about it recently. It seems Compass has really bitten off a huge chunk of wargame projects


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