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Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm

 
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Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/11/2020 10:11:19 AM   
The Land

 

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I really don't know whether I'd have time to complete this, but I've been thinking a fair bit about it so wanted to share the idea! (Partially inspired by looking at a 1985 mod for World at War, though this would be a bit different).

The concept is to have a mid-1980s World War III in Europe scenario, inspired by Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising. That is to say - a conventional-only war, that assumes that the West's superiority in technology and communications means there is a fighting chance of defeating the Warsaw Pact's superior numbers.

This would be a bit of a different game to regular Strategic Command. WW3 would have been a short war, with a high operational tempo. For most of the time people expected the conventional phase of WW3 would last perhaps three days, and the Russians expected to be able to conquer West Germany within seven. Even the 'long' version of the war in Red Storm rising was over in less than 2 months. It's not a war that would conceivably have dragged on for 5 years.

Further, the geography of WW3 is different. In WW2 you had a front that ran from Berlin to Moscow (1,800km), in WW3 it was mainly Berlin to Bonn (600km).

In spite of the shorter timescales and distances it's still vital that WW3 should feel like a war of movement - engagements should be faster and sharper and reconaissance even more important.

So what I have in mind is a scenario with perhaps 3-day turns on a larger-scale map, and units at division level rather than corps/army level. (In any case unit density had decreased between 1945 and 1985).

My first thought was "oh god really changing the map?" then convinced myself it would be really difficult to accomplish the right effect on the existing map. The existing map works fine for 1946 when there are overwhelming Soviet forces but the dynamics of combat are pretty similar to 1945. But not for 1985.

Then I started to think about what kind of map would work. Obviously it needs to be centred on Germany, but it should also encompass Murmansk (so NATO submarines can raid into the Barents Sea), Greenland (for the G-I-UK gap), plentiful space in the Atlantic, and preferably a large part of the Mediterranean (as this was a realistic naval theatre, at least at the start of the war!. I experimented with including Turkey, but in the end decided not to because including the potential Caucasus front would take the whole map too far East.

Of course there is no idea map projection - there is an inherent compromise between having distances and areas looking accurate, and shapes and directions looking accurate. For this scenario, with many long-range weapons systems, I felt prioritising distances and areas was more appropriate. It really does matter which parts of the map are within the range of a Backfire bomber based on the Karelia Peninsula, for instance ;)

After a bit of fiddling on this website: https://observablehq.com/@toja/five-map-projections-for-europe

I came up with the following map - a Lambert Equal Area projection that meets all these criteria. Of course, it will be a huge amount of work to fill in this map in the editor, but it is possible... :)




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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/12/2020 3:09:11 PM   
pzgndr

 

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Several years back I made a mod for Schwerpunkt's Anglo-German War based on GDW's Third World War boardgame. Just the battle for Germany. That's a more manageable scenario unless you're dead set on everything between northern Norway and Turkey. For OOB, I used updated 1989 NATO and Warsaw Pact information. Since I was in mech infantry company command in 1989 with a GDP on the Czech border, I had a personal interest.

It's a very interesting hypothetical conflict. Conventional only as a base, but perhaps also some variants for chemical and/or nuclear strikes. Big consideration has to be supply for Soviet/Warsaw Pact forces, and some way to reduce supply during month #2 and then further restrict supply/reinforcement after the first 8-10 weeks.

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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/23/2020 2:42:26 PM   
The Land

 

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So I've continued to play around with this idea.

I decided it was best not to try to spend two months completing a rescaled map, but to start from the 'minimum viable product'. Can I get land warfare in Germany to feel the way I want it to using the game system? If the answer to that is 'no' then probably there isn't much point continuing with the whole thing.

To this end, I flexed my map-making skills to fill in Germany on the rescaled map.

And this is the result. There are a few points where it's still a bit rough, particularly in the South and East, but feedback and suggestions are welcome.

Next post... does land combat work?





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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/23/2020 7:20:07 PM   
BillRunacre

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: The Land

I decided it was best not to try to spend two months completing a rescaled map, but to start from the 'minimum viable product'. Can I get land warfare in Germany to feel the way I want it to using the game system? If the answer to that is 'no' then probably there isn't much point continuing with the whole thing.



This is definitely the right approach.

In principle the map looks good, but whether this is the right scale or not can only be tested out by adding units and playing some Hotseat turns to see how it feels, to get it working with the rough scale of forces that you've got in mind. Ensuring that it's fun too of course, and I have a strong feeling that it will be!



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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/24/2020 8:28:05 AM   
The Land

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: BillRunacre
Ensuring that it's fun too of course, and I have a strong feeling that it will be!



So do I ;)

Probably worth saying what the intention is for land combat, then I'll come on to a longer post talking about how it works...

Unopposed maneuver should be fast, opposed maneuver should be slow and difficult.

In Gulf War I, US and allied mechanized formations managed to advance something like 30 miles a day on average, and up to 60 miles a day on some occasions. That's not unlike the pace of advance that both sides anticipated in their Cold War planning.

However, this scenario works on the basis that this would have been very difficult to achieve against an opposing force - I don't know who else remembers the line in Red Storm Rising where one of the Russians is complaining that to stop a tank column all NATO needs is to do is put some missiles in a jeep - but it's basically that, the proliferation of ATGMs and helicopters means that any enemy unit is an obstacle.

So the overall effect should be that both sides are perpetually trying to probe to create space for a breakthrough. If there is ever a 40-mile hole in the front, then it will be ruthlessly exploited.

The defense has the advantage, but mobile defense is superior to static defense


In this era, being dug in is only a marginal advantage. There are so many powerful munitions available that a bunker or pillbox will not last long against enemy artillery or air. The main way to survive is for the enemy to not know your position.

The aim here is that the defending player shouldn't benefit from entrenching the whole of their force in the front line. The scenario setup should encourage the front line to be held relatively lightly with strong forces available to counter-attack.

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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/25/2020 3:38:17 PM   
The Land

 

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So, how does it work...?

This is set up with something like the historical first-line OOBs, and a few changes to the game:

* Land units have 8 Action Points. This is equivalent to a ~120mile advance in 3 days - or 40 miles per day.
* Zones of Control cost an additional 2 Action Points to enter, not 1.
* Entrenchment is reduced - particularly in towns, hills and forests where it's capped at 2
* Defence bonuses for terrain is slightly increased in some places e.g. for rivers.
* Tank units have Attack 5 and Defence 4. Mechanised units have Attack 4 and Defence 4. All land units have only one Strike.

I've also given NATO a tech with a 10% morale boost.

The results... sort of work! Here is the first turn of the Soviet advance. The Soviet concentration in the Fulda Gap has got held up by the 11th Armoured Cavalry. Further north, they have destroyed the German 2nd Panzer Division around Brunswick and has a spearhead around the Weser. However the spearhead is very vulnerable....




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< Message edited by The Land -- 5/25/2020 4:13:23 PM >


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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/25/2020 4:22:42 PM   
The Land

 

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Looking at how this works in more detail:

Here is a Soviet Motor Rifle division. Even with 7 Action Points and gaps in the NATO line it can't advance far thanks to the Zones of Control.





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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/25/2020 5:02:38 PM   
The Land

 

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And here is another example! Another Motor Rifle division which can make it most of the way to the Ruhr through a gap in the NATO lines.

However it can't particularly do anything once it gets there as the gap is too narrow. Probably the best bet for the Soviet player is for this division to move NW and cut off Kassel, though it would then end up being counter-encircled...

You'll notice there is a NATO division as far east as Leipzig - it's unlikely that would happen as there should be more Soviet second-line units appearing, which aren't in the setup. (Nor are the French or Dutch armies.)

At least this shows that this setup can swing about massively with units going all over the place. Which is largely right, if too severe at the moment. Adding more rear-area and second-echelon units will probably prevent it, though.




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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/26/2020 9:53:58 AM   
BillRunacre

 

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Looks like it could end up being a very mobile battle! Very interesting work.

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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/26/2020 4:29:53 PM   
pzgndr

 

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As you get deeper into your design, you may find yourself reconsidering the map scale to better accommodate NATO regiments/brigades, while Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact can be divisions. The air war is also likely to be tricky with some stealth fighters (F-117) available by mid-1980s and of course ADA SAMs were brutal. Again, it's an interesting conflict to wargame.

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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/26/2020 4:51:47 PM   
The Land

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: pzgndr

As you get deeper into your design, you may find yourself reconsidering the map scale to better accommodate NATO regiments/brigades, while Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact can be divisions. The air war is also likely to be tricky with some stealth fighters (F-117) available by mid-1980s and of course ADA SAMs were brutal. Again, it's an interesting conflict to wargame.


It would actually work with NATO units being brigade-scale at this map resolution. There's definitely space for them, and there are a number of cases where historical OOBs had brigades several hexes apart. But if every NATO formation was split into brigades they'd end up with a lot of counters.

I might give it a whirl and see what happens!

There is an unsolved issue about how to reflect the fact that a Pact division was numerically weaker than its NATO opposite number - 'brigading' the NATO forces more might help.

Re stealth fighters - I have been mulling this over. There are two routes. One is to take the unused Kamikaze unit slot and use it to create an air unit which other units find very difficult to attack but otherwise performs like a medium bomber. Another is to represent F-117 raids as events. Still thinking (though, I might find the Kamikaze unit slot has hard-coded functionality like vanishing after attacking...)



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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/26/2020 8:50:45 PM   
El_Condoro

 

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Kamikaze units explode and die after an attack. I use them as 'fanatics' in my fantasy campaign.

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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/26/2020 9:53:08 PM   
The Land

 

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So after a moment's testing:

Using a tech won't be a great idea, as the USA would have to have the tech accessible, and the most it could cost would be +100% of the unit's base value.

There is the Airships unit slot. But that has the Strategic Bomber unit type meaning it will prioritise resource attack. Of course that might not be a bad thing. Indeed, you could even see Medium Bombers going in the Airships slot so that they bomb resources where possible, reflecting their interdiction role.... (but if I did that then stealth bombers wouldn't be able to be a separate unit type...)

Hmmmm...

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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 5/30/2020 9:13:01 AM   
The Land

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: The Land


quote:

ORIGINAL: pzgndr

As you get deeper into your design, you may find yourself reconsidering the map scale to better accommodate NATO regiments/brigades, while Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact can be divisions. The air war is also likely to be tricky with some stealth fighters (F-117) available by mid-1980s and of course ADA SAMs were brutal. Again, it's an interesting conflict to wargame.


It would actually work with NATO units being brigade-scale at this map resolution. There's definitely space for them, and there are a number of cases where historical OOBs had brigades several hexes apart. But if every NATO formation was split into brigades they'd end up with a lot of counters.



So my latest version has most of the NATO front-line units split into 2 brigades. This seems to work well - there's more units on the NATO side so it's easier to keep the whole front covered, while NATO still has plenty of division-size counters with good offensive potential...

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RE: Mod Concept: 1985 Red Storm - 6/14/2020 6:41:10 AM   
zwobot

 

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What a coincidence! I started re-reading Red Storm Rising the other day and thought that it could be fun to play it as a game. Like Cold Waters (or the Microprose original) but with the player being the overall commander instead of a sub skipper.

I think organising parts of Nato into brigades instead of divisions is a good idea.

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