The Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf (APPG) was probably the most entertaining theater conflict to outline and then subsequently to model. Ongoing conflicts, regional rivalries and the influence and designs of the Superpowers had combined to make their mark in the region by early July, 1987. The first challenge came in determining which of those factors would play the biggest roles when the balloon went up on 9 July, 1987. There were enough potential scenarios to create and play out on paper for months probably, but I only devoted maybe six hours to the process. Still, it was enough time to begin creating the bone structure for how World War III would develop in the APPG in the summer of ’87.
The next step was to search for the right commercial war games to model the theater out. This phase took considerably longer than the first one. Preparation time became a factor as each game required me to create a scenario that mirrored the Troop numbers, unit dispositions, weather and political situation at 0000 hours on D+0 as accurately as possible. Some games allowed a great degree of detail and creative freedom while others were more restrictive. APPG was the first theater I modeled thoroughly and if anything, the experience gave me a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of commercial game titles, both PC and tabletop.
As is normally the case, once I began to flesh out this entry it was apparent this was going to require two parts. So, the remainder of Part I will consist of going through three of the titles I decided not to use for APPG conflict modeling when all was said and done
5th Fleet– The final release in the Victory Games Fleet Series, I often found this one to be the weakest of the bunch. The game was designed to handle modern air and naval combat in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf regions. As is the case with other Fleet Series games, 5th Fleet is not terribly complicated and contains a wide selection of air and naval units belonging to every country in the region. As well as the United States, Soviet Union and a number of NATO allies. But getting the game set up to do what I needed was impossible. Several of the naval and air assets that would be needed for the APPG in 1987 were not available with the game. Making do with the game pieces available was possible, but at the cost of realism. A good game, but simply not compatible for what I wanted to do
The Operational Art of War Volume IV– Get used to seeing this title mentioned in many conflict model entries for the next few months. 😊 For some theaters, TOAW IV was invaluable, such as the Central Front and the Baltics. And then for others, TOAW IV fell short. Custom scenario design is the title’s Achilles. It’s impossible to put together an in-depth medium-sized scenario in a decent amount of time. A number of user-created scenarios based on hypothetical US-Soviet conflicts in the Persian Gulf came close to offering some of what I needed, but again, fell short in some essential areas. So TOAW IV didn’t make the cut for this particular theater.
RDF (Rapid Deployment Force)- Early 80s tabletop game covering platoon level tactical combat in the Persian Gulf during the same time period. A very generic game for the early 80s with stock maps covering ‘typical Middle Eastern terrain’ and a handful of US, Soviet, Iraqi and Iranian units. A good game for a 1-2 hour game session. For conflict modeling, not so much.