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Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Discus... - 3/8/2019 1:56:38 PM   
Anthropoid


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Well so far, I both like this game a lot, but also find some of the overall design decisions questionable. From my standpoint, NATO is very difficult to play and "weak" compared to Soviets. I understand there are tactics one can use (basically keep your range, and avoid being spotted by recons) to level the playing field against Soviet Computer Opponent. NATO conventional being outmatched by Soviets makes sense from an historical standpoint. So all of these points so far sum up to: challenging to play as NATO.

Now here comes the "questionable" design decision part: nukes are almost non-existent in the game. A quote from one of the Devs "There are only a couple of scenarios in which nukes are available and you suffer a 5000 VP malus from using them . . ." The VP malus is debatable, as a NATO defense against Soviet invasion prior to 1991 wouldn't have been so much about "Winning" as about "Surviving," but I find the minimal inclusion of nukes in the game at all difficult to reconcile with my own limited knowledge of the doctrine and balance of forces in Europe at this time. Unless I'm wrong, a sizeable Soviet conventional invasion of Western Europe at any point between 1960 and 1991 WOULD HAVE almost assuredly resulted in a nuclear war of at least limited if not full scale extent.

The game is well-done, engaging, and includes many design elements that are innovative and exciting. But IMO, the failure to realistically engage with the prospect of nuclear weapons is a major shortcoming.

I need to play the game more before I form a final opinion. It also deserves to be noted that: the game is highly moddable, so if I cared enough about it, I could "fix" everything that I consider to be "wrong" about the game, and that right there is an enormous strength or selling point of the game.

There was an old scenario for The Operational Art of War III, something like "Tension . . " ah hold on, here it is: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1184480&mpage=1&key=�

"Next War: Tension 1979"

And while the UI/UX in that scenario/game are much worse that FCRS, as well some of the game mechanics are very "old school" in that the player has an unreasonable degree of Command and Control integrity, from a gameplay standpoint, the apparent degree of historical detail and thoroughness, and the honest effort to cope with the hypothetical of a WWIV in Europe in which nuclear weapons are not simply set on the shelf as being "unlikely and too complicated to bother with," I have to say that my memories of playing that one are much more positive than my experiences of playing this one so far.

If the FCRS devs have not played that one, they really should.

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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/9/2019 1:33:13 PM   
Ginetto

 

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Good points. The Soviets are much more numerous and have excellent equipment, especially the T-80 which can shoot a 5 km-range AT missile from its gun barrel. In general NATO should avoid big sweeping movements a la Rommel and instead dig in and conceal themselves in urban areas and woods and wait for the Sovs to come forward. Those 5 km missiles are useless in the middle of trees and buildings and occasions for ambushes plenty.
As for nukes, Allied doctrine changed. In the 50's and early sixties the West had the "tripwire" doctrine. The troops in Europe, both US and Allied, were to be just enough to slow the Soviets down for a few hours to give time for nuclear retaliation. The US in those days fielded the Pentomic Division.It was called Mutually Assured Destruction. The thinking behind this was that neither side could realistically survive and wasn't so stupid as to want suicide. Then came TNW (Theater Nuclear Weapons) which were mini battlefield nukes which made identifying the threshold between conventional war and MAD more difficult. TNWs were supposed to be weapons of last resort, but who can or is entitled to describe when this moment arrives?
To remove ambiguity and danger, NATO came up with the doctrine of flexible response. JFK was president. This meant essentially that NATO conventional assets were to be beefed up to allow us to duke it out with the WP on decent terms. The US at this time introduced the ROAD division, a much more substantial outfit than its tripwire predecessor. The US also introduced REFORGER, which detailed plans to rush reinforcements from CONUS to Western Europe as quickly as possible. Also during this time the US and the USSR negotiated a series of nuclear disarmament treaties essentially aimed at making the possibility of nuclear war progressively less likely: SALT, START and CTBT.
Anyway this is why nuclear weapons aren't so evident in Flashpoint.


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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/9/2019 6:28:34 PM   
StuccoFresco

 

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IF you dig in and choose for close encounters for NATO i don't see you coming out on top. WP units are bigger, and closing in you negate your range advantage. Few WP tanks have Gun-ATGMs, all of them have powerful guns that will absolutely hit you and tear you apart at less than 1500m. Of course if you manage to reach for the objective first and dig in, you are gonna win the encounters, but you risk being overwhelmed. Look at some AAR, you'll see how WP gets slaughtered if it gets caught in the open at mid-to-long range. Rushing in and look for close encounters are WP's strategy; NATO can be effective in it because of course if you ambush the attackers you'll gonna tear them apart, but it's not its optimal solution nor the only one.


I also believe the reason nukes are under-represented is because they will render almost all scenarios moot: nukes drop, attacker mops up survivors. There is no reason to use nukes in a tactical game unless you enlarge the scale of the battles (and then it becomes quite slow). And even then, it's not like you can do something to defend yourselves from nukes in such a game. It would become a boring "superweapon".

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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/9/2019 7:04:55 PM   
MikeJ19


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I like the fact that there are no nukes - like Stucco said - they often overwhelm the game - that is my experience in TOAW. In a short game like this one, their use would not add to the enjoyment.

I have mainly played the NATO side and found that I can usually hold my own. The different command cycles of the two sides are really well done and make this a very enjoyable and challenging game. My first attempt as the Soviets just ended with a loss.

Have a good day

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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/10/2019 3:04:52 AM   
Ginetto

 

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I played the Pied Piper scenario by having the German brigade dig in on the edge of Hammeln. The Soviets came at them and drove into a brick wall. When you are dug in closed terrain all the enemy's more advanced weapons are virtually useless. Anyway the bridge was defended successfully and the Soviets retired with huge losses.

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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/15/2019 5:41:26 PM   
IronMikeGolf

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid

...

Now here comes the "questionable" design decision part: nukes are almost non-existent in the game. A quote from one of the Devs "There are only a couple of scenarios in which nukes are available and you suffer a 5000 VP malus from using them . . ." The VP malus is debatable, as a NATO defense against Soviet invasion prior to 1991 wouldn't have been so much about "Winning" as about "Surviving," but I find the minimal inclusion of nukes in the game at all difficult to reconcile with my own limited knowledge of the doctrine and balance of forces in Europe at this time. Unless I'm wrong, a sizeable Soviet conventional invasion of Western Europe at any point between 1960 and 1991 WOULD HAVE almost assuredly resulted in a nuclear war of at least limited if not full scale extent.

...


Here's a few points to consider:

1. One of the central design goals of this game is to present the player with the situations, dilemmas, and decision points of a Battalion, Brigade, or Regimental commander and staff.
2. In the doctrine of that period, commanders of US brigades were to fight the assault regiments of the 1st echelon WP divisions. Commanders of US divisions fought the 1st echelon WP divisions. US corps commanders fight the 1st echelon WP armies AND disrupt the 2d echelon divisions of 1st echelon WP armies to prevent dogpiling the US divisions.
3. The decisions surrounding the use of nuclear weapons, from release to target selection, reside in echelons above that of which the player assumes the role. The use of nuclear weapons has a large political component. For NATO, use would likely be part of the deep battle. For WP, the majority of nuclear weapons (according to declassified planning documents) would have been used in a preemptive fashion to cause a degradation of NATO capability across the board, as opposed to opening a hole in the FLOT for an Operational Maneuver Group to exploit.




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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/24/2019 12:16:30 PM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid

...

Now here comes the "questionable" design decision part: nukes are almost non-existent in the game. A quote from one of the Devs "There are only a couple of scenarios in which nukes are available and you suffer a 5000 VP malus from using them . . ." The VP malus is debatable, as a NATO defense against Soviet invasion prior to 1991 wouldn't have been so much about "Winning" as about "Surviving," but I find the minimal inclusion of nukes in the game at all difficult to reconcile with my own limited knowledge of the doctrine and balance of forces in Europe at this time. Unless I'm wrong, a sizeable Soviet conventional invasion of Western Europe at any point between 1960 and 1991 WOULD HAVE almost assuredly resulted in a nuclear war of at least limited if not full scale extent.

...


Don't think its just a case of military doctrine but also (a) political will and (b) consequences around the decision to use nuclear weapons.

First some NATO members were more willing to accept this than others. Perhaps not surprising, W German and Dutch politicians were less keen than some others - remember even a few TNW would be going off in their home country and regardless of everything else they would have to live with the consequences.

Second, it would have been a political decision. There is an old British comedy show 'yes minister/prime minister' from the early 1980s and it has a very good rendention of both British nuclear use policy and how this would mesh with political decision making (it was a comedy with teeth and realism). The British PM is reluctantly walked through the concept of salami-slicing to force him to say at what point would Soviet gains trigger a nuclear response. If I recall he ended up accepting the loss of Western Europe (the sketch was based on the real life British training course for senior civil servants & ministers - the common outcome was no decision to use nuclear weapons).

So those immediately affected had reservations, those slightly removed struggle to cross the nuclear threshold.

Next thing is what happens if one is used. It could possibly have triggered polical collapse in W Germany/Netherlands and the PCI using the situation to force Italy back to neutrality.

Of course a Soviet first use changes all that. But as IronMike says above, Soviet doctrine was not as such to use TNW for battlefield gain but as a massive strike designed to wreck NATO's command and control systems. At that stage, battlefield retaliation is pointless, NATO either went for a strategic response or negotiated a ceasefire.

And, no-one knows how all these theories would have played out in reality. But there was a lot of pressure both towards NATO first use (which had lessened by the late 80s due to improvements in NATO forces) and to avoid their usage. In part within Europe politics, in part as it would have been incredibly hard to hold a distinction between tactical and strategic usage.

Worth also tracking the changes in Soviet doctrine. The Kruschev era saw an assumption that any war would see the use of strategic weapons and that within that environment, conventional military action would carry on. Perhaps a reflection of a time when most strategic weapons would have been delivered by plane not missile. Brezhnev era saw the Soviets veer between two doctrines, of seeing nuclear weapons as a tactical tool (by default, in the same way as they always planned to use chemical weapons) and of their being a distinction (the latter came to dominate).


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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/24/2019 3:06:05 PM   
Oberst_Klink

 

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Here's some interesting stuff regarding tactical nukes & doctrine from the archives.

https://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pdffiles/PUB1103.pdf
https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/127021/hb156.pdf
https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a093111.pdf
http://www.npolicy.org/books/Getting_MAD/Ch5_Battilega.pdf

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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/24/2019 9:49:12 PM   
altipueri

 

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My father was Command Secretary BAOR at Rheindahlen 1970-3 and as a spotty teenager all I pretty much remember was the view that, if they wanted to attack, the Russians would do it on a Wednesday afternoon or a Saturday because these were British Army sports days and you could not get authority for anything from anybody. And they would do it in winter if there was more an an inch of snow because the Brits are useless in snow. (Americans are better).

And yes, re "Yes Minister" - he said it was more of a documentary than a comedy.

As for nuclear weapons, their actual use was regarded as completely pointless. It was the threat, the "irrational use of rationality" - we just might. See Thomas Schelling's "The Strategy of Conflict" for more detail (you can get this for free if you search the internet.)

I've only recently got into post WW2 games and I am enjoying Flashpoint Campaigns, and indeed Armored Brigade and CMANO.




quote:

ORIGINAL: loki100


quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid

...

Now here comes the "questionable" design decision part: nukes are almost non-existent in the game. A quote from one of the Devs "There are only a couple of scenarios in which nukes are available and you suffer a 5000 VP malus from using them . . ." The VP malus is debatable, as a NATO defense against Soviet invasion prior to 1991 wouldn't have been so much about "Winning" as about "Surviving," but I find the minimal inclusion of nukes in the game at all difficult to reconcile with my own limited knowledge of the doctrine and balance of forces in Europe at this time. Unless I'm wrong, a sizeable Soviet conventional invasion of Western Europe at any point between 1960 and 1991 WOULD HAVE almost assuredly resulted in a nuclear war of at least limited if not full scale extent.

...


Don't think its just a case of military doctrine but also (a) political will and (b) consequences around the decision to use nuclear weapons.

First some NATO members were more willing to accept this than others. Perhaps not surprising, W German and Dutch politicians were less keen than some others - remember even a few TNW would be going off in their home country and regardless of everything else they would have to live with the consequences.

Second, it would have been a political decision. There is an old British comedy show 'yes minister/prime minister' from the early 1980s and it has a very good rendention of both British nuclear use policy and how this would mesh with political decision making (it was a comedy with teeth and realism). The British PM is reluctantly walked through the concept of salami-slicing to force him to say at what point would Soviet gains trigger a nuclear response. If I recall he ended up accepting the loss of Western Europe (the sketch was based on the real life British training course for senior civil servants & ministers - the common outcome was no decision to use nuclear weapons).

So those immediately affected had reservations, those slightly removed struggle to cross the nuclear threshold.

Next thing is what happens if one is used. It could possibly have triggered polical collapse in W Germany/Netherlands and the PCI using the situation to force Italy back to neutrality.

Of course a Soviet first use changes all that. But as IronMike says above, Soviet doctrine was not as such to use TNW for battlefield gain but as a massive strike designed to wreck NATO's command and control systems. At that stage, battlefield retaliation is pointless, NATO either went for a strategic response or negotiated a ceasefire.

And, no-one knows how all these theories would have played out in reality. But there was a lot of pressure both towards NATO first use (which had lessened by the late 80s due to improvements in NATO forces) and to avoid their usage. In part within Europe politics, in part as it would have been incredibly hard to hold a distinction between tactical and strategic usage.

Worth also tracking the changes in Soviet doctrine. The Kruschev era saw an assumption that any war would see the use of strategic weapons and that within that environment, conventional military action would carry on. Perhaps a reflection of a time when most strategic weapons would have been delivered by plane not missile. Brezhnev era saw the Soviets veer between two doctrines, of seeing nuclear weapons as a tactical tool (by default, in the same way as they always planned to use chemical weapons) and of their being a distinction (the latter came to dominate).



(in reply to loki100)
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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/27/2019 3:43:51 AM   
eggmansdaddy

 

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Umm, you make some interesting points but it's been reported that USAF had tac nukes loaded on alert aircraft in Europe throughout the Cold War and therefore are you certain that deep battle tactical nuke use was not planned for early on in any WP-NATO conflict?

https://www.acc.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/1020423/30-years-past-20th-fw-role-in-victor-alert/

I agree that the political costs would have been excessive and the likelihood that escalation to strategic nukes would have been high. A reminder to the younger set on the forum was that Ronald Reagan threatened deployment of Neutron weapons (BOMBS) to Europe, which would have killed Soviet military personnel within the blast radius (or anyone else in the blast radius) after no longer than 3 days, so the idea was to eliminate the Soviet threat by deploying these neutron weapons which would basically make the whole numerically superior Soviet-WP land component useless. The added bonus was that the bombs would not screw up the military hardware and the neutron levels would dissipate fairly rapidly, so NATO would bury all the dead Soviets and take all the equipment. Just the threat of deploying them got the Soviets to the treaty table in record time.

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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/27/2019 8:18:16 AM   
altipueri

 

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The neutron bomb was/is the ultimate capitalist weapon - it destroys people not property.

Could be very useful as a world population reduction mechanism. :)

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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/28/2019 9:25:51 AM   
LuckyJim1010

 

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Probably apocryphal but when asked by his commander "How far apart are West German towns on average" the Officer replied "About 5 Kilotons Sir"

The best(worse?) thing I remember from my early gaming years was the SPI designers notes on it's game called 'NATO'.

"To simulate Global Thermonuclear War simply apply lighter fluid to the map and set fire to it"


quote:

ORIGINAL: altipueri

The neutron bomb was/is the ultimate capitalist weapon - it destroys people not property.

Could be very useful as a world population reduction mechanism. :)


As long as you didnt mind the world being populated by Tank crews.

I honestly believe that Neutron weapons were not taken up in the long term as they were just too much hard work.

Not enough 'Bang for Buck' and besides "It's much cheaper to just push a button"




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RE: Some Reactions Which Might Provoke Some Edifying Di... - 3/28/2019 11:56:18 AM   
ultradave


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One of the biggest reason is that ONE neutron weapon by itself will cause much less damage than a conventional nuclear weapon because of the lower blast effects (which are mainly part of the design - you don't need as much blast to get the enhanced neutron radiation). But to do real damage and to halt a broad front column of an armored attack, you need A LOT of neutron weapons, since the coverage area is about 1km radius max. That will largely negate the effect of the lesser blast damage when you have to blanket the area with small nuclear weapons.

There is a popular misconception that neutron weapons do not cause physical damage and just zap people. This is far from the truth. The blast damage is much more potent than any conventional weapon, but less than "normal" nuclear weapons. Everything is relative. Imagine what physical damage something 1/10 the size of the bombs we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would still do. Then multiply that by blanketing large areas to hit all of the advancing armored columns and you'll get an idea.

I was a US Army officer during this time, field artillery, secondary specialty-nuclear weapons. None of us at the time believed we'd ever actually use them (any type of tactical nuke). The idea that we would lay waste to a large part of (then) West Germany just did not seem plausible. In addition, no one at the time thought that the use of battlefield level nuclear weapons could be contained without leading to a general nuclear exchange. This reasoning was what lead up to the elimination of almost all of these weapons as destabilizing.

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