is the first in SSI's episodic When Superpowers Collide
series. Each module in the series examines in detail
a hypothetical conflict between US and Soviet forces.
In Germany 1985 the idea is that Soviet forces
have made their first hostile act against the NATO forces
in West Germany's Southern Central region where American
units constitute the main defensive force.
are two scenarios. The first, Advance to Combat,
involves Russian and US forces of comparable strength
as they race to establish a cohesive front line. Invasion
is the second scenario, which begins with Soviet airborne
divisions landing behind NATO lines. Their mission is
to block key roads and capture towns to prepare for
the main advancing force. In both scenarios, the victory
conditions are the same: the player controlling the
greatest number of towns after a certain number of game
turns is the winner.
feature about SSI games is that they usually contain
just about every play option you could possibly require.
One or two player games are possible, with the computer
playing either side during solitaire play. Different
levels of difficulty may be selected. The terrain features
may be randomized. A hex system (scale: one mile per
hex) is employed for movement. Movement speed of a given
unit is inversely proportional to the number of enemy
units that can see it. Smoke screens may be generated
to cover either attacks or retreats. Air strikes and
air superiority are taken into account and units may
be hidden for limited intelligence at the player's option.
different units is simplicity itself. Pressing F1 puts
the cursor on the nearest unit under your command. The
unit may then be moved up to its full movement point
allocation in any direction (barring the presence of
natural obstacles) by further movement of the cursor.
In the bottom right hand corner of the screen, markers
are set up in a hexagon to show which directions the
vehicle currently under the cursor can move. Also displayed
inside the hexagon is the number of enemy units which
have spotted you, along with the enemy units sighted
have several possible modes. Transport mode makes
a unit easily and quickly movable, but only over road
or clear terrain, and it also increases a unit's vulnerability.
Defense mode means a unit is dug in to offer
the most resistance, and therefore cannot be moved.
Other modes include Support, meaning the unit
will assist any units involved in combat within three
hexes; Normal, a unit's standard deployment mode;
River, allowing units to cross water obstacles;
Attack, enhanced combat mode which also increases
vulnerability to losses; Fire, which allows the
employment of ranged weaponry and Reor, which
allows the unit to refit to regain strength and efficiency.
Changing mode is possible at any time during the movement
phase, but costs movement points to do so.
order phase offers a wide variety of orders which may
be given to a unit ranging from strategic movements
to take advantage of terrain, to delayed combat and
opportunity fire at enemy targets. Artillery orders
open up a whole range of possibility also. NATO forces
have self propelled artillery battalions, whereas the
Soviets have traditional artillery enhanced with Katyusha
rocket launchers. Direct fire, support fire and opportunity
fire are all possible, and the different kinds of round
are also selectable.
power plays a major part in the game. Air strikes may
be called in to attack enemy units on their own, or
to assist a ground unit in its attack. Air superiority
is determined by the computer based on the current scenario
and each side's air activity during previous turns.
is affected by as many factors as possible. This makes
the combat sequences the most realistic I've come across
in a tactical wargame. Yet the whole procedure is handled
extremely quickly and it reveals the care, dedication
and skill of the programmers responsible. The amount
of information available on a given unit is really incredible.
The game designers have packed in just about every conceivable
consideration for a game on this scale. Although the
scenarios are both non-nuclear, provision is made for
the use of nuclear weapons in future scenarios using
the same system.
is difficult to achieve, no matter which side you play.
The logic used by the computer is very complex indeed.
Although both sides are of comparable strength, the
different difficulty levels combined with the options
on limited intelligence and different scenarios make
this an extremely challenging game.
the basic rules have been assimilated, it is comparatively
easy to play rapidly. There is of course, the option
to save a game at any stage as the twenty-three turns
the game can last make playing it to a conclusion a
rather lengthy process. I felt my efforts rewarded simply
by acknowledging that if I lost, at least the game itself
wasn't at fault. It's excellently designed and highly
playable. Advance to Combat is a limited scenario
in that it assumes neither side has any distinct advantage
over the other for simplicity. It does serve as an excellent
vehicle for testing the parameters of the game, however.
Invasion is the scenario you should aim to play,
as achieving a substantial victory here is extremely
difficult. And the scenario itself is more realistic.