World at War: Eisenbach Gap

Fictional games depicting a NATO vs. Warsaw Pact conflict in Western Europe have been a staple in tactical wargaming since the 1970s, beginning with Red Star/White Star in 1972. The theme has been extremely popular, with entire series such as GDW's Assault being built up around such a fictional confrontation. The hypothetical match-up of the world's first class militaries provides much food for thought.  Other genres got into the act as well, with computer games such as M-1 Tank Platoon getting into the action.

Even the end of the Cold War in the 1990s has not dampened enthusiasm for this genre, and counter-factual games simply ignore the fact that such a war never took place. Eisenbach Gap does what the PC game Operation Flashpoint did and simply presumes such a conflict took place in an alternate reality; it's 1985 and tanks are crossing the East German border as they did in Team Yankee.

World at War has been a pleasant, if mild, surprise for Lock 'n Load Publishing. I designed the game because I wanted to play it. Yes, in the back of my mind, I felt that there might be a market for something depicting the war that never happened, but primarily I created the game because it interests me.

In ten years of writing and designing, that's the only thing I've found that works. I've designed and written on spec, and gave those pieces my best shot, but it seems that the games, the writing, that gets my juices flowing end up as the creations that other people also enjoy. I absolutely love playing World at War. I like the combat system, am intrigued by the era, and fascinated by the idea of a series of games that link together to tell a story.1

The game is thus the first in a series of games (the second planned game is Blood and Bridges, a British expansion that will be a stand-alone save for two scenarios).

The Game

The game is a standard hex and counter design, though game mechanics make use of a chit-draw command and control system, with the usual restrictions on the Soviet player to reflect rigid doctrine. In Eisenbach Gap, those restrictions are in the form of reduced chit draws, reflecting lesser initiative.

Map scale is 150 metres per hex, turn scale is from five to fifteen minutes per turn. The game comes with six different scenarios. The counters are extremely dense as far as providing information, in relation to other platoon-level games (or for that matter, any tactical-level board wargame):

10: Range of Armour Piercing Weaponry
4: Armour Piercing Firepower
4: To Hit # for AP

5: Range of High Explosive Weaponry
3: High Explosive Firepower
5: To Hit # for HE

3: Armour Value
5: Save Number

2: Assault Factor
4: To Hit #

Abrams: Unit type 6: Movement Yankee: Formation name

One of the prime concerns of designer Mark Walker was to have units that were functionally different from each other:

...one of my prime considerations was to design a game that provided plenty of room for unit differentiation. I hate generic units as much as I hate generic art.2

The game includes helicopters, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles/APCs, anti-aircraft equipment, anti-equipment, infantry, artillery, and various munitions including smoke and artillery-delivered minefields. The Soviet player may employ chemical weapons.

Notes

  1. World at War Gamer's Guide (Lock 'n Load Publishing, 2007)

  2. Ibid

 


 

World at War: Eisenbach Gap

Developer: Mark H. Walker
Publisher: Lock 'n Load
Date of Release: 2007
Scale: Platoon
Players: 2
Campaign Type: None
Components: ► 17" x 21" mounted map
► 16 page rules booklet
► 2 die-cut sheets of 1/2" counters
   (48 and 88 counters apiece)
► 2 cardstock quick reference sheets
► 4 six-sided dice


All photos from the webmaster's collection

 

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