Veteran players and fans,
It’s been suggested frequently that we run an NSDM-formatted game in an historical period, like the 1930s build-up to WW II. I’ve always responded that the amount of work involved do design the game would be enormous, and the educational requirements to get the players, and the control staff for that matter, all on the same sheet of paper regarding the status of the world would be insurmountable.
That being said, we’ve decided to run an historical NSDM scenario.
Our historical game is tentatively entitled Cold War NSDM (although I’ve been suggesting “NSDM-That 60s Show,” nobody’s taking me seriously, as usual), and will pick up sometime in the early 1960s. We’re designing nation cells for the US, USSR, and PRC.
We’re going to be running this on Thursday, 30 June at Origins (Columbus) (the rest of Origins will be standard, modern-day NSDM, in four- and eight-hour modes). Hoping that it will be successful, we’ve also committed to running it at GenCon (Indianapolis) on Thursday, 18 August (with a different central scenario).
It really will be a fascinating period to game on a strategic level. The ideological split between the PRC and USSR was not yet irreconcilable. France was still (mostly) committed to NATO. Neither France nor the PRC had nuclear weapons. The nuclear arms race was a major issue, as was open-air atomic testing, and both nations had active chem and bio weapons programs. The US had a small team of advisors in Vietnam, and most US junior enlisted personnel were draftees. Israel was surrounded by heavily armed enemies on all sides. The UK, Australia and Canada all had full-deck aircraft carriers, and the Commonwealth maintained a carrier in Singapore and fighters on strip alert in Hong Kong. The US was behind in the space race, and had not committed to the Moon as an objective. There were no reconnaissance satellites yet: strategic reconnaissance meant flying a U-2 over the Soviets (who were still holding Francis Gary Powers). SAC bombers were on constant combat air patrol, armed with nuclear weapons. NORAD had only existed for a couple of years, and there was significant Canadian political opposition to the nuclear weapons on their SAMs. Japan was only beginning to recover from WW II. Echos of gunfire were only dying down in Hungary, and at the Bay of Pigs. The Soviets had not made a decision to deploy strategic weapons to Cuba. Iran appeared to be on its way to becoming and industrialized, European-like state.
We’re going to make it interesting by scrambling the random number generators. What worked in the 1960s, but was problematic, might not work in the game. What didn’t work, but looked promising, might work in the game. We don’t intend for this to be the players walking through a play, acting out what the leaders did (and avoiding their mistakes), but rather we want them to actually come to grips with the issues, and maybe try different approaches, or try again an approach that didn’t work but sounded right at the time. And don’t anticipate. If you commit your nations’ resources to oil exploration in the Persian Gulf, you might come up empty. It won’t do any good for the Soviets to reinforce Czechoslovakia anticipating an uprising, or the Americans to stop Soviet merchant shipping bound for Cuba looking for missiles that they have no actual indicators of.
I’m putting this out for two reasons.
First, I wanted to drum up enthusiasm. We sometimes have relatively small turnouts on Thursday at these conventions, especially when the convention fails to advertise us. As veterans, you all know that the more people in an NSDM game, the more interesting that game is. I’d hate to put in all of the work we’re going to be doing and have 8 players show up. Not only would our work be in vain, it would also not be a valid test of the mechanics of the game.
So, please put it on your calendar right now, even if there’s only a relatively slim chance that you’ll be able to make it to one or both of these events. Please spread the word around to anyone, particularly to other NSDM veterans who are not on this list. I’d LOVE to hear that several groups of 5-10 are planning on making the trek for these events (please bring along newbies, as always). (If you’re coming with a team, let me know ahead of time and I’ll try to carve out a niche for you. Although you know me, it will be a niche in which you get to stab each other in the back, rather than team up on the rest of your player cell.) We'd be really challenged if 80 players showed up; I'd love to have that challenge.
Second, the amount of work WILL be substantial, and I’d love to get volunteers to help. Primarily this will be writing motivations. Don’t worry, I’m happy to let you write Soviet motivations and then play in the US cell, so writing motivations doesn’t put you out of the game. Of course, you’re welcome to facilitate after writing motivations, and if you want we could even let you control a player cell that you’d written motivations for. In addition to motivations, we’ll be looking for some research into the economics of the period, and the high-level orders of battle for the major powers. So, if you’re interested, get in touch with me.
Hope to see you all this summer.