If you haven’t heard already, the new wargame NATO Air Commander by Hollandspiele is out. It is a solitaire game that depicts a hypothetical World War 3 between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The focus of the game is on the air component commander who is tasked with planning the air campaign to stop the Soviet onslaught in Germany.
The player is tasked with allocating the air assets to different missions and locations, deciding on where to put his main effort, and a whole lot of compromising. The player will be faced with pretty much the same decisions that air planners have to make when planning how to make the best use of their air assets. How many assets do I dedicate to close air support? How much to offensive counter-air? And what about SEAD?
The designer, Brad Smith, is an avid wargamer and blogger himself. He first caught my attention with his detailed gameplay posts on Gulf Strike, one of my favorite games. I think Brad is aware of the importance of proper planning, as he has stressed so often when writing about Gulf Strike, and I am assuming this will be visible in NATO Air Commander. You can read more of Brad over at Hexsides and Hand Grenades, his blog, and more on his thoughts on NATO Air Commander in this post.
I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking on the interplay of land- and airpower, as well as proper campaign planning. As someone who focuses on landpower and the ground campaign, I think it is still important to get an understanding of the capabilities of naval and air forces in order to understand how they support or can support operations. After all, combined arms, meaning using all available systems, platforms, and units in conjunction, does lead to the sum being greater than the parts!
We will take a closer look at the interplay of land- and airpower in this post series and with the help of NATO Air Commander. The series will be made up of the following posts:
- NATO Air Commander – The Wargame (the post you are reading right now)
- Unboxing NATO Air Commander
- The Role of Air Power in Warfare (a conceptual overview of the role of airpower and a review of the book The Air Campaign by John Warden III, head planner of the air campaign in the First Gulf War)
- Rules Overview of NATO Air Commander
- First Game AAR of NATO Air Commander
In case you don’t want to wait that long, here are some resources that you can check out right now:
- Designing NATO Air Commander by Brad Smith
- Inside the Box by Hollandspiele
- Resolution Cards by Hollandspiele
- Air Missions by Hollandspiele
I am a big fan of using wargames to practice tactics and operational art. Is NATO Air Commander one of those games that can teach valuable and realistic lessons?
We will see!
Disclaimer: Hollandspiele provided me with a copy of NATO Air Commander for reviewing
(Image courtesy of Hollandspiele)