I think that I’ve mentioned this before, but I was a little surprised by just how quickly Next War: Poland (NWP) vaulted up the P500 ladder. I had a rough Operational Map and a Strategic Display, and I had made a start on the Game Specific Rules. Based on the performance of the prior games in the Next War Series, GMT put the game on the list while I was still in the middle of working on Silver Bayonet. Now that the latter game is off to the printer, I’ve had some time to focus on NWP, and I thought I’d give a quick update on where we’re at.
First, I’d like to share that Ralph Shelton will be the developer for the game. You may know Ralph’s work from other GMT titles such as Operation Dauntless, Blood & Roses, Infidel, and the soon-to-be-published Arquebus. I met Ralph through the Advance After Combat Guild on Boardgamegeek, and we’ve since become friends. As you may have read in Ralph’s article on Silver Bayonet, he helped with the playtesting and editing there. It seemed like a natural fit to continue our partnership on this game.
As I mentioned earlier, we had roughed out an Operational Map and a Strategic Display. To the left you can see a portion of the Operational Map centered around the “Suwalki Gap”. The majority of the terrain in Poland is fairly well represented in this sample, so players will get a different feel from some of the other games. The map is relatively dense with towns, cities, and Urban hexes. The most noticeable aspect of the map, compared to others in the series, is that there are no Highland, Highland Woods, or Mountain hexes on the map. Indeed, there are very few rough hexes as well with most of the map being Flat or Flat Woods.
Although this is playtest art, players will also note that the style of the counters isn’t changing. One of the biggest changes, from a gameplay standpoint, will be that, in this game, players will be fighting across fairly open terrain with two modern armies chock full of high tech equipment.
Here, you can see you can see a portion of the Strategic Display. Like the Operational Map, this will be a full-size map which contains the Strategic Display as well as several items which, in other games, were either printed directly on the maps or their own play aids such as the Air Superiority Display (including Basing Boxes), Air Superiority Table, Air Defense Tracks, etc. The Strategic Display will be similar to the one in Next War: Taiwan, and it is used to as an area movement map covering the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as the Baltic Sea and other neighboring countries.
Here you can see the Russians trying to take the Tallinn Land Area from the Estonians who have been reinforced by the 1/82 Airborne brigade. As mentioned elsewhere, we’ve chosen to depict the Baltic States as areas on the Strategic Display for a variety of reasons basically boiling down to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania having such a large land mass, at the 7.5 miles per hex scale of the game, relative to the tiny size of their armies. Between the three of them, they muster ten active battalions. So, our primary assumption is that while attempting to eliminate resistance in the Baltics once open warfare commences, the Russians, along with their Belorussian allies, also invade Poland to close off land access to the Baltics through the now all-important “Suwalki Gap”.
The Order of Battle work is ongoing but nearing its final state (pending playtesting). I’m using the Military Balance from the International Institute of Strategic Studies in combination with various publicly accessible sources. Speaking of playtesting, we’re busy getting the VASSAL module ready with the help of the extraordinay Kevin Davidson. Here, you can see the Game Information Display window.
The thing to notice is, as Kevin put it, the incredible number of Special Operations Forces markers. As most of the nations involved in the scenarios have heavily invested in special forces troops of one kind or another, the result is a large number of such markers which should make the SOF Phases interesting.
Ralph and I are busy putting the final touches on the first iteration of the Game Specific Rules in anticipation of having the VASSAL module ready. The last major items to complete are the various scenarios. As of right now, I’m leaning towards three Standard Game scenarios (working titles):
- Suwalki Gap – a short, small scenario on the Operational Map centered on a mixed bag of Polish and US forces attempting to defend the Gap from encroaching Russian and Belorussian forces
- Baltic Invasion – a short scenario on the Strategic Display covering the Russian invasion of the Baltics
- Defense of the Baltics – the Campaign Game using both the Operational Map and Strategic Display
In addition, we’ll likely return to the Advanced Game scenario model seen in Next War: Korea and Next War: Taiwan with Strategic Surprise, Tactical Surprise, and Extended Buildup scenarios. One thing which will more than likely be absent from this game is the International Posture Matrix. While the speed of response may vary, there is no doubt that the various NATO nations will honor their Article 5 commitments to the Balticss and/or Poland. Also, tactical nukes will be in the game, however, so will this rule:
7.8 Lighter Fluid Rule (aka, Would You Like to Play a Game?; aka Game Over, Man, Game Over) Whenever a player places a Nuclear Attack marker, before rolling to resolve it [GSR 7.3.2], that player rolls a die. If the die roll is less than or equal to the number of Nuclear Attack markers currently on the map, the game immediately ends in Global Thermonuclear War. Technically, the player placing the marker loses the game.
As you can see, we’re well on our way to whipping this game into shape. Stay tuned for more updates as we progress!