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Subject: Nato vs. Warsaw Pact gaming.. rss

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michael connor
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I've collected quite a few Nato vs. Warsaw Pact games over the years with the eventual idea of actually playing them, but as of yet I haven't played a single one, primarily because.. the thing that just kills it for me is knowing that the Soviets were going to saturate Western Europe with nukes fron D+1. The well publicized de-classified 'Warsaw Pact General War Plan' was released a few years ago that detailed the Soviet intention to forgo a conventional option in favor of the nuclear one. All the cool maneuvering over the Fulda Gap and the North German Plain would never have happened , as those areas would have been reduced to radioactive wastelands; so it just seems futile and silly to game something that just never would have happened, much the same as gaming the Romans vs. the Han Empire or the Union vs. the British in 1863.

So, please try to convince me otherwise.


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Dan Buterbaugh
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You are apparently determined not to have fun, so I can't help you.
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Tim Benjamin
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Was the First Strike Warsaw Pact plan the ONLY plan? I would bet that it was not. Governments and the military always want options.
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Brian Sherry
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Funny, I thought it was the US plan to nuke the Fulda Gap to stop the Soviets from advancing westward.
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michael connor
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RaffertyA wrote:
Was the First Strike Warsaw Pact plan the ONLY plan? I would bet that it was not. Governments and the military always want options.

Several scenarios were drafted in 1964, although the final draft of the invasion plan was completed earlier in 1961 under Khrushchev right after the Cuban missile crisis,

"Vojtech Mastny, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., who coordinates the project, said the 1964 document is the first such detailed war plan to come to light. “There’s no doubt that the plan would have been used if the green light was given from above - the political leadership of the communist bloc,” he said." -Telegraph Media Group Limited 2011
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Michael Wintz
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The first NATO-Warsaw Pact game I played back in the day was SPI's "NATO." Without nukes, chances are extremely good that the NATO forces would be overrun. When using the nuclear option, the situation "stabilizes." It is sobering to realize that any battalion-sized unit can become a nuclear target.
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Edmund Hon
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xmfcnrx wrote:
so it just seems futile and silly to game something that just never would have happened, much the same as gaming the Romans vs. the Han Empire

I gather you have never met a De Bellis Antiquitatis/De Bellis Multitudinis player.

Back to your original question - just make up a reason or two for it to NOT go nuclear. As with any what-if / alt-hist gaming, you have to be willing to override one or more real life constraints for the game to happen. The setting in Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising is as good as any.
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Kev.
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Umm ok.. this is my 2nd try at a post under poor internet connection. sO I will net it out.
HAVE FUN>
Create your own history. When was hte last time you believed anything printed by the Russian Gov't. Even back then.
Nato Division Commander - NATO C&C makes a close race against the might of the Russian army.
CItyfight - its squad on squad best man wins.
NATO - NEXT WAR-- too hard Bail.

World at War
Here - go get your self some serious T's killing action like this, and worry about that Nuke later.

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Caleb
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Taskforce 58 wrote:
xmfcnrx wrote:
so it just seems futile and silly to game something that just never would have happened, much the same as gaming the Romans vs. the Han Empire

I gather you have never met a De Bellis Antiquitatis/De Bellis Multitudinis player.

Back to your original question - just make up a reason or two for it to NOT go nuclear. As with any what-if / alt-hist gaming, you have to be willing to override one or more real life constraints for the game to happen. The setting in Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising is as good as any.

In fact, there's actually a game about that. You can have nukes as an option, I think, as well as chem warfare. It's actually a pretty fun game - and probably can be found pretty cheap. Plus, if you're a masochist, you can combine it with this game for even more fun!
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Tim Benjamin
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xmfcnrx wrote:
RaffertyA wrote:
Was the First Strike Warsaw Pact plan the ONLY plan? I would bet that it was not. Governments and the military always want options.

Several scenarios were drafted in 1964, although the final draft of the invasion plan was completed earlier in 1961 under Khrushchev right after the Cuban missile crisis,

"Vojtech Mastny, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., who coordinates the project, said the 1964 document is the first such detailed war plan to come to light. “There’s no doubt that the plan would have been used if the green light was given from above - the political leadership of the communist bloc,” he said." -Telegraph Media Group Limited 2011

The "If" implies that there were other options as it requires a choice being made.
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Doctor X

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cannoneer wrote:
Taskforce 58 wrote:
xmfcnrx wrote:
so it just seems futile and silly to game something that just never would have happened, much the same as gaming the Romans vs. the Han Empire

I gather you have never met a De Bellis Antiquitatis/De Bellis Multitudinis player.

Back to your original question - just make up a reason or two for it to NOT go nuclear. As with any what-if / alt-hist gaming, you have to be willing to override one or more real life constraints for the game to happen. The setting in Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising is as good as any.

In fact, there's actually a game about that. You can have nukes as an option, I think, as well as chem warfare. It's actually a pretty fun game - and probably can be found pretty cheap. Plus, if you're a masochist, you can combine it with this game for even more fun!

In the book and the board game the chemical and nuclear option is off the table due to political reasons, perhaps artificially. The Soviets were concerned that East German reliability would falter if exposed so close to nuclear & chemical battle fields. You can use chemicals in the game but there's a penalty to be paid, though I don't recall the severity of it; don't you lose all the GDR units or something like that?
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Brian Korreck
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Black Knight wrote:
Funny, I thought it was the US plan to nuke the Fulda Gap to stop the Soviets from advancing westward.
This how I understood it. I doubt nukes would have been either side's first option. Irradiating large areas of europe would seem to be a worse option than letting your enemy gain control of those areas. If it were the first option, why did the Soviets have such large numbers of conventional troops deployed close to the border? Why did the US invest in a tank like the Abrams? Or design their navy around protecting transports across the Atlantic? A lot of posturing I think.
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Gerlof Lutter
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I have to agree with the DBM-remark

Now, don't get this wrong but as far as I understand it but isn't every wargame you're playing a 'not for real'-scenario ? I believe wargames are not there to recreate real historical battles but rather as a sort of 'what if'-simulation of what could have happened when you, as player, were the one making the decisions. And since you need an opponent, the other player, it takes the form of a game. Also, most wargames tend to be ballanced in terms of millitary powers, for the sake of gameplay (although I have a Bhasra simulation here that seems to be a bit one sided ) and thats not quite realistic (at least not since military training included a study of the works of Sun Tsu and Machiavelli laugh ).
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Enrico Viglino
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gerlof101 wrote:
I have to agree with the DBM-remark :)

Haven't been following too closely, so I don't know what this applies
to, but some of the rest of this post seems so disturbing, I had to
chirp in.

Quote:
Now, don't get this wrong but as far as I understand it but isn't every wargame you're playing a 'not for real'-scenario ? I believe wargames are not there to recreate real historical battles but rather as a sort of 'what if'-simulation of what could have happened when you, as player, were the one making the decisions.

Yes and no. In some cases, there is a need for limitations on
the scope of decisions available to the player, to help recreate
a situation which highlights the aspects the designer wishes to
expose.


Quote:
And since you need an opponent

Say what?

Quote:
, the other player, it takes the form of a game.

I see things in life where I have an opponent, and there
is no 'game'. And there are many many games I play, with
no opponent. There must be some fallacy here.

Quote:
Also, most wargames tend to be ballanced in terms of millitary powers, for the sake of gameplay

I suspect you're confusing war themed games with actual wargames.
While many wargames are still fairly well balanced, it's often
not a priority. Certainly not compared with historical accuracy.

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M@tthijs
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calandale wrote:
gerlof101 wrote:
I have to agree with the DBM-remark
Haven't been following too closely, so I don't know what this applies to,
A reference to this post above

gerlof101 wrote:
Now, don't get this wrong but as far as I understand it but isn't every wargame you're playing a 'not for real'-scenario ? I believe wargames are not there to recreate real historical battles but rather as a sort of 'what if'-simulation of what could have happened when you, as player, were the one making the decisions.
I had/have the same proble (though I start to be more mild about it) :
I like replaying battles and wars. Be it Target Arnhem: Across 6 Bridges or World in Flames. The outcomes vary wildly from the historical result. But the start is the same: faced with a war, I command the forces and try to reach my objectives.
Since the Russian invasion of Europe never happened, it's less attracting to me to play. YMMV. Same story indeed as the Romans vs. Han empire.

calandale wrote:
I suspect you're confusing war themed games with actual wargames.
While many wargames are still fairly well balanced, it's often
not a priority. Certainly not compared with historical accuracy.
Wargames try to be balanced. Though not through the (historical) forces on the board, but by the way the the game won.
(like: perform better than historical = win, worse = lose, alike=draw) I like wargames with uneven forces. But I don't like unbalanced wargames.

To the OP's first post:
If the Soviets were planning on using nukes from day one, what was the base premisses of the plan: were they attacked by the West, or was the plan based upon a Soviet invasion?
Seems kinda strange to make the whole of Europe one big wasteland and then march your troops in.
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M St
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_Kael_ wrote:

If the Soviets were planning on using nukes from day one, what was the base premisses of the plan: were they attacked by the West, or was the plan based upon a Soviet invasion?
Both. The plan indeed seems to have been almost entirely defensive in nature; they certainly had given up on the notion of spreading the Revolution by invasion at the time it was put together (which is not the same as foregoing a target of opportunity should one present itself, but anyway). They were, however, extremely paranoid and always ready to believe that the West would attack if they showed weakness. Most commentary I've seen on the war plans indicate that they were indeed planned to be a move of last resort, when they assumed attack by the West was imminent.

Now, the execution of that defense was intended to happen by attacking. (Same as in WWII actually - don't let the invaders onto your own ground, stop them before if you can. It just didn't work back then.) So, the whole point of the big wasteland was not strictly speaking conquest. However, it would have enabled the Soviets (assuming that they survived the resulting nuclear exchange) to grab all that real estate and add it to thir glaics.

Quote:
Seems kinda strange to make the whole of Europe one big wasteland and then march your troops in.
It's not the whole of Europe. It's the other side's part of Europe. So first you knock out their capability, and then you grab it to prevent them from rebuilding that capability.
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M St
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hqbwk wrote:
Black Knight wrote:
Funny, I thought it was the US plan to nuke the Fulda Gap to stop the Soviets from advancing westward.
This how I understood it.
It's actually perfectly normal for both sides to have a plan.

Quote:
I doubt nukes would have been either side's first option. Irradiating large areas of europe would seem to be a worse option than letting your enemy gain control of those areas.
I think you'll find that the Soviets thought differently.

Quote:
If it were the first option, why did the Soviets have such large numbers of conventional troops deployed close to the border?
Because if you don't grab those areas after you blasted the troops on them, the other side may rebuild and you'll have to do the whole thing again.

Quote:
Why did the US invest in a tank like the Abrams? Or design their navy around protecting transports across the Atlantic? A lot of posturing I think.
I think both sides were very happy to engage in as much posturing as they thought would be necessary, even as they hoped all this stuff would not be needed. Which actually turned out to be the case.
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M@tthijs
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M St wrote:
hqbwk wrote:
Black Knight wrote:
Funny, I thought it was the US plan to nuke the Fulda Gap to stop the Soviets from advancing westward.
This how I understood it.
It's actually perfectly normal for both sides to have a plan.
Nuke everything to smithereens!!
The genius of the plan shows by the fact that independently the best military tacticians of both the US and the Soviets came up with it!
sauron
Spoiler (click to reveal)
NOT!!

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Darrell Hanning
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Let's do something of a bit of a reset, here.

Five minutes of reading the material you referenced makes it clear that the "plan" was to saturate western Europe with 131 nuclear strikes, should NATO first attack the Warsaw Pact.

That second part of the statement cannot be overemphasized. Every, single wargame I have owned, that focused on NATO vs. Warsaw Pact, was predicated upon the assumption that the Warsaw Pact attacked first - not the other way around. The distinction is huge.

But let's push onwards, towards reality, just to shore up any remaining flakes. Is anybody really and truly stupid enough - on either side - to think they can engage the use of theater nuclear weapons on such a scale as to render the enemy incapable of waging war without - at the very least - a theater response in kind? And is anybody really and truly stupid enough - on either side - to think that, given an exchange of crippling, theater-wide nuclear strikes, one side or the other is not going to escalate?

Do you want to know what the most likely explanation is for that release of "secret war plans"? (Or, in other words, do you really think that plan was given to officials in two of the most resentful satellite countries of the Warsaw Pact with the sincere intent of it not being leaked?) The most likely explanation was that the Soviets wanted the plan leaked to the West (which it most likely was, to U.S. intelligence, forty years before its "amazing exposure" in 2005) as a deterrent against something that would have never happened - a NATO invasion of the Warsaw Pact.

And guess what? NATO supposedly had "secret war plans" to do the same, should the Warsaw Pact attack them!

Is anybody starting to get the picture, now? Both sides say, "we have nukes, so don't attack us!"

How is that any different from the strategic posture of either ideological entity for those forty-five years?

In short, we can continue to play our games of hypothetical, Warsaw Pact invasions of western Europe, because - in all likelihood - neither side was going to engage in theater-wide, crippling nuclear strikes without also being prepared to launch intercontinental nuclear strikes. In other words, it wasn't going to happen.

And, incidentally, anybody remember that little tap-dance the U.S. invented, called "the neutron bomb"? Can anybody, having considered how unlikely it was for the western countries - after launching a theater, nuclear counterstrike against the opponent - to tell their troops to march into a radioactive wasteland sure to kill them in days or weeks? And anybody, on the Soviet side knowing how unlikely that was, reassessing the likelihood of NATO retaliating for a Warsaw attack with theather nuclear strikes to being virtually nil? And western military intelligence, being aware of that possible reassessment, then coming up with a weapon that allows them to maintain the same threat against the enemy, and making subsequent occupation now viable? And how that, in turn, would put things back on an even footing?
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M@tthijs
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You make it sound like they (strategic command on both sides) were rational people.
shake

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Darrell Hanning
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_Kael_ wrote:
You make it sound like they (strategic command on both sides) were rational people.
shake


You make it sound like people you never met were collectively irrational, after having gone through college, getting married, and having children of their own.

I'm afraid your assertion is the more ludicrous.
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Alfred Wallace
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Unrelated, but if you want a more "realistic" (or, if you prefer, less nuke-dominated) NATO vs WP game, take a look at Warplan Dropshot, set in the fifties. Still nukes--but also room for maneuver.
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Martin McCleary
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There were many "plans" in place on both sides. It is not uncommon to have CONPLANS and OPLANS sitting on the shelf. What they (or we) wrote in 1964 is not what they (or we) might have done in later years; capabilities, theories and political reality change over time.

I have read portions from the Parrallel History Project that brought veterans of both sides together post Cold War to compare notes and gather perspectives. Several former Soviet officers made it quite clear that while the "plans" were useful for wargaming & training purposes (like we do) they were considered "pure fantasy" when it came to notions of "paving their way to the Rhine with nukes". The Russians were in fact quite rational and scientific in their approach to war. At the theoretical level they were way beyond us in some respects. The US had forgotten about operational art and didn't rediscover it till the late 70's early 80's.

The US deployed tactical nukes in Europe precisely because there was great concern about our conventional capability to stop a WP attack,particularly during and post Vietnam when the Army was in such poor condition. Systems like the Abrams, Bradley, Apache, Paladin, etc were part of a later larger plan to enable us to field far more capable and lethal units with complementary capabilities along with substantive organizational changes in the early 80's to redress the imbalance and achieve favorable exchange ratios. We didn't build a new tank "just because".

AirLand Battle and "Deep Attack" which came along in the early 80's was designed to delay the ability of the Soviets to bring deeply echeloned forces to bear on our front line units - i.e. to prevent them from obtaining unfavorable force ratios. The Russians understood clearly what we were up to and countered with plans to further accelerate the movement of forces forward along with other changes to their capabilities.

In any discussion of this nature you to have to be careful about the "when" part of the discussion. Both sides went thru many changes over the decades and what may have been true for one period was not true for later periods.

As to the gaming aspect: there is no definitive NATO vs WP game, it will be many decades before many of the unknowns are declassified and capabilities are better understood and placed in perspective. Relax and enjoy what there is as there's no right answer.
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Kev.
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So like I said.
Have fun.
the fact that some 'leaked', double blind, triple bluff document hit your screen means nothing to the conflict simulations you own.
Enjoy.

Great conversation here guys. Thanks for the history and insight tho!
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michael connor
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_Kael_ wrote:
To the OP's first post:
If the Soviets were planning on using nukes from day one, what was the base premisses of the plan: were they attacked by the West, or was the plan based upon a Soviet invasion?
Seems kinda strange to make the whole of Europe one big wasteland and then march your troops in.

Their Marxist-Leninist ideological doctrine presupposed the irreconcilable hostility between themselves and their capitalist adversaries, and that NATO would one day launch an “imperialist” first strike. The Warsaw Pact nuclear fusilade was to have been of a 'preemprive' nature as they thought the West would not take the 'conventional option but would go nuke also. Some interesting material here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1563692/Soviet-plan-f...

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB154/index.htm

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB154/doc81.pdf

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB154/doc83.pdf

 
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