Defend the ROK: Allied Strategy Considerations in Next War: Korea

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Dan Stueber is a long time Next War Series fan as well as a playtester. He has previously authored an article on a modifed Tactical Surprise scenario for Next War: Korea as well as After Action Reports for both the Tactical Surprise and Extended Buildup scenarios (links are to the first session reports). Here he has provided players with an overview of the strategic considerations for the Allied player in order to defend the ROK. Enjoy!

Next War: Korea postulates an invasion of South Korea by North Korea sometime during our current time frame. It is a great modern war game to play due to the numerous options in the game and the way it portrays modern combat. This article will discuss what I feel are good strategies to defend the South from the North’s aggression. General strategies will be discussed as opposed to discussing specific strategies of individual scenarios. Three points will be covered: the terrain, the air units, and the land units. All images were taken from the Next War: Korea Vassal module.

Next War Series Design Notes

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This article started as an attempt at some design notes for Next War: Taiwan (NWT), but it quickly also became somewhat of an essay on my general take on game design with the bits of how it affected the Next War games woven in. It’s long and a little rambling at times. Hopefully, you get your money’s worth…

Next War: Korea – Scenario – Modified Tactical Surprise

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Dan Stueber has been a long time proofreader, playtester, and supporter of the Next War series. He has completed and posted several solitaire game session reports on Boardgamegeek including one for the scenario he’s designed for Next War: Korea which is presented for your use below. Hope you enjoy! – Mitch

This scenario postulates a slow buildup of DPRK forces through the use of war games, training, and other deception means. Assume the North Koreans, with the PRC assisting, conduct massive training and war games over a six to eight week period. Each time the training is completed a few units don’t make it back to their home areas. A tank battalion or two has some “maintenance problems” and has to stay in their forward deployed areas. An infantry division disappears into some tunnel complexes. A forward deployed artillery unit does not fire off all of its live ammunition. A local emergency requires an infantry division (or three) to help out the population. Now, the Allies are not blind to what is going on, so over the eight weeks or so that this is occurring they constantly call up their troops and ready their aircraft and then nothing happens. This occurs so many times over the eight (or maybe longer) weeks that some politicians and military leaders begin to think the North Koreans are just blustering as usual. Soon some Allied units become complacent to what is happening across the border. When the balloon does finally go up the ROK troops are caught somewhat by surprise, thus they are slow off the mark in deploying. The good news is the ROK replacement system is up and running and their air force is ready to go. The bad news is any forward troops are going get hurt by the tunnels and infiltration, and they will probably be destroyed. The PRC is assumed to want to solve the South Korean problem before taking care of Taiwan. To do so they commit a large portion of their air force, with most of their new hi-tech units, in this battle. The forward PRC air units that were taking part in the “training exercises” are used to help maintain air superiority over Korea until additional air units can be shifted into the theater. The Chinese mobilize several Group Armies and all of their marine and airborne troops for commitment to the battlefield. At Daegu Airbase the Captain of the Watch is stunned when the airbase is hit by several SCUD missiles. He hits the warning klaxon just as the door is kicked open by a North Korean Special Operations commando…

Next War: Korea Scenario – Regime Change

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  16.2.7 Regime Change Scenario

Rather than facing a foe which is disintegrating in front of them as in the Collapse! Scenario, this scenario depicts a situation in which the U.S. and ROK have decided that enough is enough, and the regime in North Korea needs to be changed. To that end, they’ve decided to build-up and invade. The Commonwealth has opted out, but, with world tensions high, both China and Russia may step in to even the odds…

This scenario is intended for two players and uses only the North map. Use the new Series rules released with Next War: Taiwan and available via the Support Site. (This scenario is also available at that site as a PDF.)

Next War Series: Reality Show

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NWKorea(2)Cover(RBM)Those of you who have taken Next War: Korea (NWK) for a spin have probably noticed by now that the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and Air Force (KPAF) are fairly formidable in the game (the latter for only a little while, of course). One of the underlying assumptions of the game is that somehow, either through relaxation or negligence on the part of the international community and its enforcement of sanctions combined with the willingness of the PRC to surreptitiously defy those sanctions, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has managed to overcome several of its economic and military challenges in terms of food, spare parts, new equipment, etc. It’s not a completely unreasonable assumption if you consider that a tip regarding possible drug shipments was the only reason a recent load of weapons and spare parts bound for North Korea was found and seized by the Panamanians1. That indicates that there are active elements of a strategy to circumvent the sanctions. Stopping one shipment should make one wonder how many others got through.

The fact is, though, while the KPA and KPAF are dangerous looking forces on paper, the reality lies somewhere below the capability as depicted in Next War: Korea. Although there is no denying that the KPA is a large, relatively well-armed force composed for the most part of troops who have been brought up within the philosophy of Juche (basically, extreme self-reliance), that force is also largely underfed and under-trained. However, as Stalin is reputed to have stated, “quantity has a quality all its own.”

That sentiment can also be applied to the KPAF, which maintains a large inventory of aircraft ranging from relatively capable aircraft such as the MiG-29 to Korean War vintage MiG-15s. Although numbers can matter in terms of controlling a particular patch of sky, as is represented in the Air Superiority calculation within the game, it only applies if you can actually get the planes in the air. Within the game, the KPAF is generously assumed to have parts, pilots, and fuel for the vast majority of its airframes to fly. The Pilot Skill modifiers portray fairly well the fact that KPAF pilots only fly around 25 training hours per year (more for the MiG-29 pilots)2, but the reality is that it is highly unlikely the North could sortie many of their older airframes at all in a combat situation. In 2014 alone, they’ve had three MiG-19s crash after take-off or during training3.

Next War Series: Behind the Curtains of the International Posture Matrix

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imageIt’s no secret that the Next War Series incorporates variations of mechanics from other distinguished games. One of those games is Mark Herman’s Flashpoint: Golan (FpG). I contacted Mark during the design and development of Next War: Korea regarding using a version of  FpG’s International Posture Matrix, and he graciously agreed. There are differences, naturally, in the execution, and the Matrix is evolving even further in Next War: Taiwan. The intent, however, remains the same: it provides a method for players to randomly determine the effects of international influence in the primary operational area. Of course, players are always free to experiment with simply assigning Intervention Levels to explore various “what if” scenarios of their own devising.

Use of the Matrix requires a player, usually the attacked side, to roll a die to determine the sentiment of three “factions” of a particular nation: the Administration (i.e., executive and/or legislative branches), the Military, and the Popular Vote (i.e., the willingness of the people). Each faction can end up in one of the three Postures: Passive, Moderate, or Aggressive. Each Posture has an assigned value (-1, 0, +1 respectively), and the player simply adds each faction’s Posture value to generate a Posture Sum. This Posture Sum is then compared to a table to determine the overall National Posture: Passive, Moderate, or Aggressive. This National Posture is, finally, cross-referenced against the particular scenario and generates an Intervention Level. While it sounds complicated, it probably took more time for you to read how to do it then it takes to do it.

ipmThe secret sauce, if you will, is in determining which nations would or can intervene and at what levels would they intervene given enough provocation as represented by the various scenarios. The general underlying assumption is that the longer a particular nation has had to consider the issue at hand, the more likely they are to intervene at higher levels.

On the Design Table: Mitchell Land

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Welcome to our first Inside GMT Guest blog! Designer Mitchell Land is going to discuss the Next War Series. This is a series that I have some personal ties to, design-wise, and I’m really thankful to Mitch and his team of developers and testers for continuing and expanding the series. Enjoy! – Gene

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I’m flattered that Gene has granted me the opportunity to pen this guest post on the Inside GMT Blog and pleased to share with y’all some of the inside workings of the design and development going on with the Next War MitchSeries. Thanks, Gene!

In the next few paragraphs, I’d like to discuss the history of the series, some of the inner workings of Next War: Taiwan (NWT), make some comments on our proofing process, talk a little about Next War: India-Pakistan, and wrap up with some thoughts on future directions.

Right off the bat I think it’s important to share the history of the Next War series. Next War: Korea (NWK) is based on Gene’s design, Crisis: Korea 1995 (CK:95), which GMT Games released in 1992. In late 1998/early 1999 Gene started talking about upgrading the game and providing updated Orders of Battle, a new map, and rules revisions. That sort of languished for a few years moving in fits and starts as Gene found time to work on it with periodic updates. In early 2009, I pulled CK:95 off the shelf and played it a few times. I quickly fell in love with the overall system, and, once I really started to pay attention to the Consimworld folder, I grew excited about the pending update. So much so that I started sending Gene all sorts of suggestions about what I thought needed fixing or updating. He must’ve gotten tired of reading it all because, at some point, he just emailed me back and said, more or less, “why don’t you do it.” And that, as they say, was that. My work on the system began mid-to-late 2009 and came to fruition when it was finally released in 2012, twenty years after the original.

While we were waiting for NWK to be published, talk naturally turned to “what’s next.” My preference led me to the idea of creating a “ring” of games with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the pivot point. That is, the next few games in the series would concentrate on potential conflicts between the PRC and its neighbors. The two primary contenders were Taiwan, due to its unusual situation vis á vis the PRC, and an intervention game with India and Pakistan as the primary players. This created the opportunity to potentially provide a massive ubergame which combined all of the individual games into one large scenario. Next War: Taiwan (NWT) and Next War: India-Pakistan (NWIP) will fulfill the partial realization of that idea. NWT is at the head of the queue primarily because the map was already well along and the Orders of Battle had already been created. It was just a matter of writing the Game Specific Rules. That, it quickly became apparent, was an understatement.

Due to the obvious form which any conflict between the PRC and the Republic of China (ROC) would take, I realized that the current state of the highly abstracted naval sub-game in the Next War series simply wasn’t going to cut it. The “Anti-Shipping Strike Rules” existed in a protean form for players to try out with NWK, but that wasn’t going to be enough. Over several iterations, the necessity for providing an expanded naval map became obvious.

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This led to changes in Sea Control and Contested Sea Movement and the addition of naval mines which, in turn, meant that aerial mining missions needed to be provided for as a new Air Strike Mission. The vast majority of my time has been spent working over the newly updated naval aspects including the interaction between various other sub-systems such as the air system and theater weapons (cruise missiles). The overall naval system is still abstracted in that submarines and ASW capabilities are handled via tracks and there still aren’t any individual ship counters, but the appropriate nuances exist to reflect each side’s concerns surrounding the main event: the invasion of Taiwan.