So welcome to our Beta AAR. Introductions, I am The_Capt...hello. Some old timers may remember me from back in the day but for the newbies (and hopefully there are a lot of you) I am the Simon to Bil's Garfunkel. While Bil is detailed, deliberate and cool all resting on a foundation of real talent; I am erratic, insecure and hot-headed resting on very occasional unpredictable sparks. Between the two of us we try to make wonderful music.
So first the obvious, what is CM Cold War and where did it come from? Well the game is our brainchild, not that it took a serious leap of imagination as people had been talking about a Cold War game for years. Bil and I had been looking for a title to cut our designer-teeth on for years as well, and after a few false starts we approached BFC with the idea about 7-8 years ago, to which Steve sagely looked at two complete amateurs and said "uh, sure...why don't you guys go pull some stuff together and we will do lunch". So we did up all the boring and work-like stuff most of you never see; project documents, historical research, backstories, TO&Es (pouring over things like Senate Arms Committee records and back issues of the US Army magazines), and campaign designs. Once we did all this we came back to Steve like proud children that had just performed surgery on the family cat. Steve's eyes went a little wider and very Bruce Willis-like said, "ok let's give these kids a shot". I am pretty sure we were to remain a weird side project in the basement - that is where the older Beta Testers go in the end - but last year things accelerated and we found ourselves suddenly thrust into the rock and roll lifestyle of computer wargame designers...without the groupies, cocaine or leather pants.
So with a very small team, a tight timeline and another look from Steve that was somewhere between "ya, there is no way these guys are going to make it" and "but if they do...?" (seriously, support from the BFC guys has been outstanding) we started the journey. So when you play the game on release (it is no secret we are on track for Apr, after Easter) you know who to curse when something either does not look quite right or you are getting beat up on a campaign (the Soviet one is particularly brutal). If you love the game, praise the entire team, if you are angry that the Soviet officer holster does not look right, feel free to vent at either Bil or I, mostly Bil.
Onto the AAR. Ok in the proudest tradition of this thing, Bil will wow you all with dazzling intelligence products that would make an ASIC weep. I, on the other hand, prefer a more tactile and coffee-stained approach...I also tend to lose these fights. This map comes from the US campaign, a scenario called Dollbach Heights, but do not worry the scenario is completely different so no spoilers. This whole thing is occurring in the backdrop of a Cold War-gone-hot strategic situation set in summer of 1982, which may seem quaint today but back in '83 we actually came pretty close. The Soviets are basically making a break for the Rhine as fast as possible before reserves can be called up and fly-overs conducted. The US forces are the tripwire forces of V Corp with units like the 11 ACR and 3rd Armd Div (for this AAR we do not assign particular units) as the game centers on the Fulda corridor (between the West German border and Frankfurt). So the strategic game is simple, Soviets have to move fast as possible to get in close to the major urban areas, knock France out and put the UK into close range. The bet back in Moscow is that at this point NATO will fracture as half of them sue for peace...we will see how that works out.
A couple points on force balance and doctrine. So this is 1980, the beginning of a vapid and synthesizer-infested decade (trust me I was there). The US forces are still recovering from the entire Vietnam experience. Goldwater-Nicols has not happened so we are still talking about conventional service competition in the US military, which was unhealthy (still is) and a US Army that was slowly coming out of the old ROADs models and heading towards AirLand Battle. The TO&Es are based on the '77 force structures (you will note US tank platoons have 5 tanks). The "so what?" is that US forces are pretty much at their most vulnerable point in this era. They lack mass and are moving to active defense and maneuver warfare but the equipment has not caught up. It is going to feel weird to some but this is a modern (well semi-modern) title where US forces do not dominate the battlefield. They have to be played carefully to achieve parity. For example the T62 can kill an M60A3 in the front from about 1500m, so the US player must be elegant and clever...like the gentle fox.
The Soviets on the other hand are the bear that eats said gentle fox and then poops him out, barely breaking stride. The Soviets at this point are pretty much near the top of their game. Their equipment is solid, if a little blind, and they have mountains of it. Soviet operational doctrine is actually very good, it uses mass much like it did in WW2, and frankly Genghis would be proud at how well the Soviet can throw MRRs at a problem and simply keep going. The T64 is a beast, probably the best Soviet tank in the game (particularly the B versions), the T80 can throw a punch too. The Soviet use of ATGM is frankly terrifying. First, they literally put those things on just about everything, and the AT 5 feels like the modern day Javelin in that, if it can hit, it will kill. In testing one scenario of the US Campaign, I played sloppy and watched an BMP MRB shred all the US armor in about 5 mins...so there is that.
At a tactical level the Soviet are all about lining up the punch. They were not mindless hordes, they would prepare and shape with recon but when they decided to throw that punch...oh, my. First they would drop the sky on top of you using massed artillery. Then they would advance en masse along multiple axis projecting dilemma everywhere for an opponent. They would then trade shots until your armor is gone and finally they might dismount and clean up any poor infantry you have left. I say 'might' because they would often simply bypass those huddle GIs and just keep going.
So for this AAR, I will try to emulate the soviet approach as much as possible. Stay tuned and see how it turns out.
Future meaning five to seven years after release date, if you're lucky. Looks pretty cool, but will probably pass. CM is an atrocious vehicle for modern warfare, unless you're a fan of knife fights in shoebox size maps. I'll stick to Steel Beasts for everything Cold War and above for the time being.I'm sure those will all be released in the future as "modules", for $$ (of course).
I like the Centurion. I bought a Dinky Toy Centurion from the money my Godmother gave me for my first communion. Dinky Toys were cast-iron models of tanks and other vehicles. Mom was a little embarrassed for some reason. I want to play CM with one in it.I'm sure those will all be released in the future as "modules", for $$ (of course).