After we completed our interview with Ty Bomba covering 1938: What If? for CounterFact Magazine, he volunteered to do another interview on an upcoming alternate history big box mini-monster release from Compass Games called Case Geld: The Axis Invasion of North America, 1945-1946. One note prior to getting into the interview, the game has literally just been turned into Compass Games for their review and approval so the graphics that we have at this point are only from playtesting and are hand drawn. I use them only so you can get an idea for the scope of the map and a look at some of the counters. I don’t even have a title graphic to use so I used this image provided by Ty called “The Man in the High Castle” that seems to fit the game appropriately.
Grant: Ty, thanks for doing yet another interview with us. What is Case Geld: The Axis Invasion of North America, 1945-1946 about?
Ty: This has to be the most infamous – yet never published – title in all of our hobby’s history. Here’s the original new-game-proposal that ran in Strategy & Tactics no. 46 back in 1978.
Case Geld. By the Spring of 1946, Nazi A-9/A-10 ICBM’s had devastated much of New York City, but the concentrated bombardment had totally failed to cow the Americans and their Commonwealth allies in Ottawa. While the Type XXI and XXIII U-boats had long since succeeded in sweeping most of the US Merchant Marine and much of the USN from the seas, the American superiority on the ocean surface and in the air off the coast of the US (as well as the ever-optimistic Fuehrer’s hope of another bloodless victory comparable to the one he had achieved with England in late 1940, following the easy victory over France) had stayed the deliverance of the final blow. However, in the wake of the dastardly destruction of Hamburg by an atomic bomb, delivered by a lucky B-29 which had somehow dodged the German jet fighter air defenses, the time for compromise was over. Supported by a horde of the new long-range bombers based in Portugal and Brittany, as well as a Task Force of Japanese Aircraft carriers, the Nazi Armada sailed westward to settle the account…”
The first thing you will notice is that there is no reference made to any systemic or mechanical features to be used in the game – it’s all just (melo)dramatic narrative. Despite the fact it scored highest of all the proposals in that issue, the ‘powers that be’ at old-SPI then declined to go ahead with the project. Here was their explanation as to why they took that decision (as penned by staffer Brad Hessel and printed in the magazine).
“When all the results were in, it turned out that more people intended to purchase “Case Geld” than any other game title proposed in that Issue. Nevertheless, after some two weeks of animated give and take, we decided in early March not to do a game on the hypothetical subject of an Axis Invasion of America following German and Japanese victories in Europe and Asia, despite the evident ‘demand’ for it.
“The discussions that led to this decision touched upon several issues, but the basic debate was over the question of whether the game proposal, as printed, constituted an appeal to the sort of immoral ‘Nazi-admiration’ that has occasionally surfaced in our hobby, and if so, if that orientation in the game proposal made it impossible to design the game in such a manner that would not also pander to ‘Nazi-admiration.’
“The phenomenon of ‘Nazi-admiration’ in our hobby has always seemed to me to be one of the minor ironies of human existence. Presumably, people who are oriented toward historical simulations would be more than usually ‘aware,’ historically speaking. (Surveys report that the average high school graduate cannot accurately list the Allied and the Axis countries in World War II.) That an admiration for the technical performance of the German military machine could somehow eclipse the overwhelming historical realities of Nazi-administered mass hate and genocide in someone’s mind is a wonder to me and a dark monument to human irrationality and willful ignorance. Yet as outrageous Opponents Wanted ads in Generals past and the persistence of Nazi-memorabilia at third-class wargaming conventions attest, we do walk in the shadows of such monuments.
“The argument over Case Geld was obviously not over whether it was acceptable to publish a game that pandered to ‘Nazi-admiration.’ Nor was the argument over whether some subjects that, although based (as are all games) on exposing feasible historical alternatives, are ‘too hot to handle.’ No one here defiles the legitimacy of serious historical inquiry, regardless of subject. Rather, the argument was whether the publication of Case Geld in particular would, by its very nature, pander to ‘Nazi-admiration.’
“Or to put it another way, how is it possible to legitimately consider the subject of a Nazi invasion of the United States in a hypothetical historical sense? By ‘legitimately,’ I mean within the context of a game which presents the subject as a serious historical alternative and not as a sensationalized fantasy. The disagreement here was the issue of whether or not Case Geld was, if you will, “legitimate.” Those who did recognize such legitimacy envisaged a game along the line of Seelowe, with the addition of a detailed historical analysis of the (hypothetical) events leading up to the Axis Invasion Those who thought the proposal was not legitimate pointed out the sensationalized wording of the proposal itself and suggested that an alternative game expand the context to incorporate directly the set of historical circumstances that (would have/could have) brought that invasion within the realm of the possible. Since those objecting absolutely refused to countenance the publication of the game, the practical resolution of the discussion was a decision not to publish the game.
“We have also decided that, from now on, everyone here will screen all feedback proposals prior to their publication in MOVES or S&T, and the acceptability of proposals must be agreed to. This is the first time it has been felt necessary to override the outcome of the Feedback. By using the new screening process, we hope to avoid doing so again.”
If ever there was a ‘tempest in a teapot’ in regard to our hobby, that had to be it. I don’t recall ever reading the term “Nazi admiration” in any other context, and all due to a handful of miscreants who, in the decade prior, had run opponents wanted ads in The Avalon Hill General in which they took the monikers of this or that SS Panzer Division as their club’s name, or some fool showed up at a convention wearing a Nazi-themed t-shirt or Wehrmacht uniform item.
The old-SPI people even followed up all that with a subsequent survey in Moves magazine, in which they basically asked how many neo-Nazis you knew among your gamer friends, etc. I could go on, but my point is: almost half a century has passed since that proposal first appeared, and we can now say with great certainty that, however and whenever the neo-Nazis intend to make their move to seize power, it likely won’t be by leveraging any “Nazi admiration” lurking within the wargame hobby.
Grant: I now understand the genesis of the name Case Geld. Thank you for the window into the past, as I wasn’t aware of those occurrences and I am sure there will be those among the readers who don’t as well. I don’t speak German so what does the name mean?
Ty: It’s German for “Operation Money” and, as you read above, it comes straight from the old-SPI proposal blurb. I don’t believe any explanation was ever forthcoming from them as to why or how they picked it. My guess is, it was to reflect the anti-Wall-Street bias of the Nazis or to point up the only reason to go ahead with such a project would be to cynically reap the monetary rewards from all those neo-Nazis who’d buy a copy. It has resonated within the hobby ever since as THE great aborted project of the old-SPI era.
Grant: What major assumptions are envisioned with how the war played out in 1944-1945 to allow for this invasion to come about?
Ty: Below is the alternative history timeline I worked out in order to be able to get massive Japanese and German fleets off the coasts of North America by the late spring of 1945. My basic analysis is the Germans effectively lost WW2 during the half year or so after the success of their 1940 Ardennes offensive. They wasted that time, essentially floundering around in the strategic sense and accomplishing nothing of strategic importance.
On 24 May, 1940, Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering, Nazi Germany’s second-in-command, had been angered almost to tears when Hitler turned down his request to let the Luftwaffe finish off the British Expeditionary Force along the northeast French coast. “Don’t worry,” the dictator had assured him, “I’m certain there will be plenty of further opportunities for your airmen to prove their worth to the Reich in the near-future.” Hitler then sent the panzers racing forward to seize as quickly as possible, the last Channel port still in Allied hands – Dunkirk. With that, the fate of some 300,000 British soldiers – almost all of the trained manpower available to the UK at the time – was sealed.
On 17 June, when the government of the collapsing French republic asked for an armistice, Hitler called together his generals for a discussion as to the next steps to be taken toward winning the war. During that talk it was emphasized the events of early that spring had demonstrated neither the Luftwaffe nor the Kriegsmarine, operating alone or in combination, were in a position to wage a decisive campaign against the British Isles. Therefore, the new grand-strategic emphasis was to be on a swift and major redeployment of German military force southward, toward Iberia and the Mediterranean.
In that theater, operating in conjunction with the Italians and – after pressuring the Portuguese, Spanish and Vichy French to sign onto the Tripartite Pact and come actively into the war – progress was rapidly made. By the end of 1940, all the following had taken place.
In Spain, Gibraltar was first neutralized as a British base via artillery bombardment and then taken by direct assault. The small but geo-strategically important island of Malta was captured by airborne assault. Luftwaffe aircraft were used to screen the valuable French Mediterranean Fleet, newly part of the Axis armed forces, from attack by the British. (Hitler’s recent prophecy in regard to the Luftwaffe proving its value was already coming true.)
In North Africa, an Italo-German motorized-mechanized force broke across the Egyptian border and advanced to capture Alexandria and Suez. Another Italo-German force advanced out of Albania to overrun Greece. With that, Turkey signed onto the Axis Pact, as did Yugoslavia (after purging all pro-Soviet elements from its government and military). Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria then also followed suit.
In Iraq, an anti-British coup, supported by the Germans and Vichy French operating from Syria, broke the last British position in that theater.
In the Atlantic, German naval and air forces moved into the Azores and Canary Islands, setting up a network of fortified bases.
Stalin watched all those developments with increasing apprehension. The wargames he’d overseen in the Kremlin early in 1941 had convinced him of the futility of a pre-emptive attack into Eastern Europe. At the same time, though, the overtures he was getting from London in regard to forming an anti-German alliance seemed to him to be just so much British desperation. The Soviet dictator grew increasingly despondent.
When the Wehrmacht attacked across the Soviet border on 22 June, 1941, on a front stretching from Finland to the Turkish border on the Caucasus, Stalin sullenly watched the course of events from the Kremlin for a few days and then secluded himself in his dacha outside Moscow. On 1 July, when the members of the Central Committee drove there – for what purpose we can never be sure, either to depose him or beg him to return to directing the war – Stalin concluded it was to be the first option. Rather than face arrest and possible torture, he put a pistol barrel in his mouth and committed suicide as soon as Beria, at the head of the group, entered the dacha.
With that, Soviet resistance fell apart from the top down. The Central Committee immediately sent word to the Germans they sought a Brest-Litovsk style settlement. Then Marshal Georgi Zhukov led a coup, overthrowing the Communists and setting up a military junta, as the head of which he then signed the same type of treaty as had been requested by the Communists.
The western boundary of rump-Russia was drawn along the Archangel-Astrakhan line, and beyond it the new state was required to be strategically compliant with the Axis. The Russians allowed the Germans and Japanese full strategic communication via the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the Arctic coast’s Northeast Passage, and a string of airbases.
After the successful Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor, followed the same day by an amphibious landing to secure Oahu as a base, the Axis, over the next two-and-a-half years, began a series of campaigns aimed at closing in around North America.
With the fall of Singapore early in 1942, Churchill and his cabinet were forced to resign, and a Vichy-type settlement was set in place with London. The British were spared German occupation, and the captive manpower of the BEF was returned to them, but their empire was finished. Churchill himself left Whitehall and went directly to fleet headquarters. From there he, along with a few stalwarts, organized a breakout of some of the army and fleet to Canada.
By the late spring of 1945, the Germans from the east and the Japanese from the west were ready to invade North America. They were hurried, though, because, on the one hand, they’d learned the US was near to producing some decisive new weapon under the codename “Manhattan Project.”
On the other hand, the strains of global war were showing: it hadn’t been easy to push back the Americans to North America. The Axis manpower pool was at its end, and the industrial economy was overheating toward collapse. Numerous occupied areas around the world were growing restive, and a turnaround by rump-Russia was also a possibility. As Albert Speer, Hitler’s minister of armaments put it: “We need to win in the next 12 months or we have to make peace!”
By June 1945, the Americans controlled only the North and Central American mainland as well as the islands of the Caribbean. They politically unified it into one country with the passage of the Emergency North American Union Act, with its new capital at what was formerly Tulsa, Oklahoma, but was henceforth to be known as the “NDC.” (New District of Columbia).
The Germans and Japanese, during their joint planning for the invasions, looked at the possibilities of diversionary landings in Alaska, Panama and the Gulf coast. Given the time pressure of the Manhattan project’s looming completion, however, combined with the fact such operations would take up another year of campaigning, they had to reject those more conservative approaches. Instead, it was to be a huge but otherwise straight-ahead pincer operation, with simultaneous landings by the Germans on the Atlantic coast and the Japanese on the Pacific.
Grant: Seems totally plausible to me. Thanks for that amazingly detailed explanation of the basis for the game. I think it is important to understand the why as much as the how. Where are the various invasion forces assumed to try to land?
Ty: The Japanese have the North American west coast, from Vancouver south to Baja, from which to choose. The Germans can come in anywhere along the Atlantic between Miami and the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. There are no Arctic, Gulf of Mexico or Central American entry options because those places are too distant: the Axis planners are aware the Americans are close to getting some kind of massive new weapon (the atomic bomb), and their own economies and societies are at maximum stretch, so they’re loathe to take the extra year necessary to clear out the Caribbean, or fight their way down from Alaska.
Grant: What was your rationale for the OOBs used in the game? What countries are used to fight as Allies with the Americans?
Ty: The Germans and Japanese have their full historic WW2 army-level orders of battle on hand. The same is true at corps-level for the US. I don’t think either side had the economic muscle or manpower available to mobilize beyond that, no matter what the strategic circumstances. Similarly, the various Axis satellite nations aren’t present because their militaries are assumed to be dispersed throughout the Old World garrisoning the Axis conquests there. This is a campaign with an intensity requiring only the “first team” be on the field.
Grant: How did you deal with the scale of North America when it comes to the size and layout of the map?
Ty: Working in the “mini-monster game” format, I had two 34″x22” mapsheets to work with. I took about a day to find that 50 miles (81 km) per hex worked out just right in order to allow me to get on all the “Lower 48” states and still have room for the needed charts and tables.
Grant: What is the difference in the distinction of elite and regular units?
Ty: On the Axis side, the units are mostly four-step (two-counter) armies. Historically, when gauged at this level, the Germans and Japanese would usually organize some elite formation(s) to spearhead the overall operation. On the German side, they get Sixth SS Panzer Army, First Parachute Army, Twentieth Mountain Army and Eleventh SS Army. That last one wasn’t an elite army historically – it was organized for the Stargard counterattack in Poland in 1945 – but it was the only other SS “army” in their historic WWII OB, and I needed an infantry-heavy component to go along with the Sixth’s panzer-heavy make up. The Japanese have the “North America Expeditionary Army,” named in the style of the various groupings they put together historically to spearhead their major operations on the Asian mainland. Each of those armies is a six-step three-unit formation.
On the US side, most of the units are one-step corps deployed with their untried/unknown strength sides showing (until they get into combat the first time). They get as elites the five US Marine Amphibious Corps and the US Army’s 18th Airborne Corps, with each of them having two-steps and known strengths from the get-go
Those additional steps can make a big difference in regard to the combat power such formations can bring to bear in key battles, both offensively and defensively.
Grant: How many players is the design made for? Who controls what countries at each player count?
Ty: I designed it with two-player contests in mind; however, the system is easily fudged for solitaire play, and it can also be played by three or four. In two-player play, a split-sided-command system – like the one that originally appeared in the classic Battle for Germany game – is used. That is, one player commands the invading Japanese on the west coast along with the US forces defending against the Germans on the east coast. The other player commands the east-coast-invading Germans and the west-coast-defending Americans.
That approach works to relieve the monotony often inherent in invasion games in which one player is irrevocably cast as the defender and the other as the attacker. With this approach, both players are constantly involved on both the attack and defense. Referring back to the original brouhaha concerning the larger concept of the game, this approach also eliminates the need for one player to be the “bad guy” while the other is the “good guy.” This way, their hands are equally dirty and equally clean.
Grant: How is setup handled? If two US players, how do they divide their forces? Why did you decide to include this method?
Ty: The overall US force is randomly and blindly divided at the start of play between the Eastern and Western Theaters of Operation (WTO and ETO). The two US theater commanders may then set up their respective forces anywhere they want within their areas of command. There was, of course, no historic example to follow here. So I figured US domestic politics would initially demand both coasts be equally defended, but beyond that no one can say what the strategy might have been. Both players are free to explore them.
Playtesting showed the best place for the Germans to come ashore is the coast of the Carolinas. For the Japanese, it’s southern California. So the question becomes how many corps the ETO commander can divert from the economically significant northeast corridor to reinforce the Carolinas, while the WTO commander is faced with the same dilemma in regard to the greater Los Angeles area.
Grant: What is the Turn Sequence?
Ty: Here’s the turn sequence.
- US Strategic Phase (skip on Turn 1)
- Eastern US Airpower Step
- Western US Airpower Step
- US Mutual Replacement Step
- Eastern US Atomic Bomb Step
- Western US Atomic Bomb Step
- German Player Turn
- German Movement or Combat Phase
- German Combat or Movement Phase
- German Replacement & Reinforcement Phase
- Eastern US Player Turn
- Eastern US Movement or Combat Phase
- Eastern US Combat or Movement Phase
- Japanese Player Turn
- Japanese Movement or Combat Phase
- Japanese Combat or Movement Phase
- Japanese Replacement & Reinforcement Phase
- Western US Player Turn
- Western US Movement or Combat Phase
- Western US Combat or Movement Phase
- Administrative Phase
Grant: Why is it required for each player to declare the order they will carry our movement and attacks? What condition does this force in game play?
Ty: This is a simple way of modeling the fact militaries in the field seldom have the materiel and command-control necessary to accomplish everything their commanders would like when those commanders would like them to do it. So you have to prioritize your planning. On some portion of the front it might be ideal to attack first and then use your movement phase to exploit the holes you’ve just created in the enemy line. In other areas, though, you might need the movement phase just to get into position to attack. On the defense, if you’re retreating, you can use the fight/move sequence to deliver “Parthian (parting) shots” while still moving away from your opponent by the end of your player turn.
You can also use the technique, by giving different phase choices to the opposing sides, as an easy way to model the superiority of one side over the other in regard to command-control and logistics. Here I reckoned everyone to be pretty equal – though for different reasons (home court advantage for the US, vs. vast and victorious combat experience for the Axis) – so they may all choose to move/fight or fight/move or fight/fight (two combat phases with no movement phase). Even further, in regard to those latter two sequence choices, attacks during those turns are defined as “prepared assaults,” and they thereby gain a one-column rightward shift (in aid of the attack effort) on the combat results table. (When you fight/fight, you only get the shift during the first attack phase.)
Grant: How does air power work in the game?
Ty: The historic experience of WWII demonstrated any force attempting a large-scale amphibious invasion must have air superiority, if not outright air supremacy. The trouble with that truth in game terms here, however, comes from the fact the US historically had an immense aircraft industry, and there’s no way the Axis could’ve fully neutralized it within the timeframe in which we’re working. So, contrary to what you might expect, it’s the US that has airpower markers in the game, not the Axis.
The idea is, though the Axis have general air superiority, the US theater commanders are able to call for air power surges within limited areas. So, each turn after the first (the Axis make an all-out effort on the invasion turn) a die is rolled and halved for both US theater commands. They get that many airpower markers (zero to three) to deploy on the map. In and immediately around those hexes, Axis movement and combat is inhibited while US combat is enhanced. Even further, the US 18th Airborne Corps can make airdrops provided it takes off and lands in hexes protected by airpower markers at the time. Similarly, the German paratroop army can’t take off from or drop into any hex covered by US airpower.
Grant: How can the game end early due to Axis socioeconomic collapse? Why is this important to the overall concept of the game?
Ty: The game can go a maximum of 14 turns, each equaling a month during the main campaigning season of the year and two months in winter. The game can end any time after Turn 9 (by escalating die roll results). The Axis field commanders are aware their respective empires have come to the very end of their economic and socio-political tethers, but they don’t know the exact limits to their power. So the uncertain end time makes them keep pushing as hard as possible as fast as possible.
Grant: There is some interesting terrain in the US that wasn’t necessarily encountered in the European Theater of World War II. How do seas, lakes and canyons effect ZoCs?
Ty: The Great Lakes freeze in the winter, becoming temporary clear terrain, while the US Grand Canyon and Mexico’s Copper Canyon totally block movement, combat and zone of control projection all year-round.
Grant: How is supply traced for the US? For the Axis? Why is supply limited by Theater boundaries?
Ty: US units are in auto-supply, in the strategic sense, all the time. They’re fighting in and near their major supply sources, and there’s been time to stockpile. Playtesting quickly showed no supply rule for them was necessary in that regard; it was simply never called into effect. At the operational level, they suffer on the defense if the Axis attack them concentrically (while surrounded).
On the Axis side, they’re tracing back to their original beachhead landing hex and/or to captured ports, but only within their own respective theaters of operation. That restriction effectively puts a limit on ridiculously long supply lines without the need to actually count hexes.
Grant: What are the various victory conditions? What sudden death victory conditions exist?
Ty: If either US theater commander seizes the Axis invasion hex within his theater during Turn 1, he’s pulled of such a masterstroke play stops and he’s declared the winner at that instant. The idea there is to keep the Axis commanders from invading too carelessly. From the other side, the US capital has been moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the exact strategic center of the map (at the boundary between the WTO and ETO). If either Axis commander takes that hex at any time, play stops and he’s declared the winner. The Tulsa hex doesn’t belong to either US theater, but it has its own intrinsic one-step defensive garrison. Otherwise, victory is based on a point count that’s tied to city hex control. Either player can therefore win either in his role as Axis or US commander.
Grant: How are replacements/reinforcements handled differently for each side?
Ty: The Axis players bring in their units via their beachhead and captured port hexes, deliberately picking the units they want to bring ashore within overall transport restrictions.
Every time a US unit is eliminated, it goes back into the US force pool. From there, either US theater commander can randomly and blindly pick it back into play. Each US commander only gets so many picks each turn, based on the number of city hexes in his control at that time. Units picked for the WTO, though, are twice as expensive as those picked for the ETO. We did that to reflect the more dense US East Coast road and rail network and population density. Also, playtesting showed the Japanese, since they’re fighting in the West Coast mountain ranges from the get-go, needed some help in regard to fending of US reinforcements or else they’d never get past the continental divide.
Grant: Why is the upper limit of the CRT set at greater than or equal to 30? How does that effect the way combat is generally initiated?
Ty: I used a combat differential CRT rather than an odds-based one. That approach seems to allow for a more ‘granular’ attack differentiation than does an odds-based CRT when you’ve got a game like this (with relatively fewer units along the front). I went to the initial playtest with two CRTs, one odds-based and the other differential based. The latter worked fine, and the playtesters really liked it simply because you so seldom see that kind of CRT these days.
Grant: What are possible combat results? Why did you decide to only use losses?
Ty: The combat results are expressed solely in terms of steps lost. At 50 miles per hex, combined with the phase sequence choice subsystem, that just seemed like the best way to go. It worked well in playtesting.
Grant: How does advance after combat and momentum attacks work? How can probing attacks be used in concert with momentum attacks to gain advantage?
Ty: Whenever any of your attacks clear a hex of all defenders, you may advance into that hex up to a full stack of your victorious attacking force. If you like, those units you just advanced may immediately attack again (though such “momentum attacks” will always be just one-hex affairs). Similarly, you may attack into hexes that contain enemy zones of control but that are otherwise empty of actual defending units at that time. Both techniques allow for greater operational mobility without having to write a lot of mobile assault or other such ancillary combat rules.
Grant: How do Japanese Banzai attacks work?
Ty: The Japanese don’t really have any ‘glamor’ units – no tank armies, no paratroopers, etc., so they needed some special characteristic all their own that they can use in critical situations. Of course, that couldn’t be anything other than banzai attacks. Here’s the rule in its entirety.
Japanese units, provided they are at full step strength and in supply, may banzai. The effect of a banzai is to double the applicable combat factor of a Japanese unit; however, it also immediately causes a step to be lost from that unit, and that loss doesn’t count toward satisfying the combat result of the battle that’s about to be resolved. The banzai tactic may be used offensively or defensively, as well as in momentum attacks, but it has no application in probing attacks. Within these strictures, there’s no arbitrary limit on the number of banzai units the Japanese player may have per battle and per turn. In any given combat, some units might be designated to banzai while other units participated in the same battle using only regular tactics. The Japanese player may declare a banzai in a battle at any time prior to when the resolution die is actually rolled for it.
Grant: How are A-Bombs and the Manhattan Project used in the design? How many Manhattan Project sites exist?
Ty: Given the ‘historic’ timeline in which we’re working, the Manhattan Project (and its powerful fruit) had to be a centerpiece of the game. There are six critical (and fully historic) research sites on the map, three in each theater of operations. If a theater has three sites under US control, it automatically gets one a-bomb; two sites deliver a bomb on a roll of one through four; one site does so on a roll of one or two. A-bombs can be stockpiled or used as they arrive.
Grant: How do Atomic Attacks work?
Ty: Here’s the Atomic Attack rule in its entirety. You’ll see that, though powerful, these bombs aren’t auto-win ‘death rays.’ These are first-generation, rush-produced weapons; so their dependability isn’t perfect, nor is there a proven doctrine in place for their use. We did have one playtest game, though, in which an otherwise seemingly near-triumphant German commander was denied that victory at the last moment on the basis of a highly successful and timely US Atomic Attack.
Atomic Attacks. During their respective Atomic Bomb Steps (I.D. and I.E. in the turn sequence) the US theater commander whose step it is may make any number of atomic attacks (one per bomb that he has just received and/or accumulated from earlier turns). Any Axis-occupied non-city hex on the map may be attacked. If more than one attack is to be made during a given step, all of them must be announced and their hexes designated before the first one is rolled. The same hex may be targeted by more than one bomb. Roll one die for each bomb and apply all the modifiers listed below
Cumulative Atomic Attack Die Roll Modifiers Table
-2 automatically for all atomic attacks.
-1 if the target hex is not in range of one or more US airpower markers.
-1 if target hex is rough or mountain.
Results. The final number is the number of steps lost by the Axis force in the targeted hex. It’s the Axis player’s choice of which steps to eliminate as given in rule 12.19. If that final result is greater than zero, place a mushroom cloud marker in the hex, where it will remain until that turn’s Phase VI. Axis units in attacked hexes that got results greater than zero are immobilized for that game turn; they may not attack, but they defend normally and still exert ZOC. If a result is zero or less, that attack has failed and generates no effects, though the bomb has still been used up.
Grant: What has been the reaction of players? What element do they find the most interesting?
Ty: We had immense fun during playtesting, and things blew up on Facebook when posted there about this design. The unique features come from the combination of the unusual split-command subsystem as well as the unique geostrategic arrangement of North America as experienced through the filter of mid-20th century all-out mechanized warfare.
Grant: When is the game planned for release?
Ty: Mid-2018 from Compass Games.
Grant: What other games are you currently working on?
Ty: I’m presently working on another alternative history mini-monster for Compass Games, this one titled Stalin’s World War III, Vol. 2: Operation Sandown & The Soviet Offensive in the Mid-East. It’s will be a companion game to volume one, which I’ve already turned in. It covers a hypothesized Soviet offensive in 1953 (assuming Stalin didn’t die at that time as was historically the case) into Western Europe. The two games can be played separately or paired into a “grand campaign” scenario.
Thank you again for a great look at one of your upcoming new release games Ty. I appreciate your great answers and the fact that you give so much thought and effort to these type of alternative history games.
As was mentioned above, the game has recently been turned into Compass Games for their review and approval and no graphics have yet to be produced for the game. All pictures appearing in this interview are draft playtest versions of components and maps. The game is intended to release in mid-2018 so please keep a watch out for the preordering announcement from Compass.