miércoles, 14 de septiembre de 2022

Next War Series

 Today I bring you an introduction to GMT's Next War series. In this article I do not want to focus on the games but on the system itself. We will see analysis of all the games in the future.


The Next War series presents us with a series of hypothetical conflicts that could erupt at any moment. Although they use the same system, each one offers you something very different. Once you learn how to play one of them you will be able to play the whole series with ease. They all share the same rulebook (in the newer editions it will be updated) and a specific rulebook. The series can be played in two ways: standard and advanced

Standard

The first thing to say is that these games are not for beginners, keep that in mind. These rules would be the easiest way to play them and it is recommended that if it is your first time in the series you start with one of the standard scenarios. This mode will show us how ground combat works, a very important part of the game. The air forces are shown very abstractly. The rest of the options that we will see in advanced are not here. It would be a very cut version of the game, but we will see that the initiative system is the heart of the game.

Advanced

This is where the real game comes in, when you buy one of these games it is to end up playing it with the advanced rules. We will see that all the phases are cogs in a mechanism and that they work perfectly. Let's go through all the phases so you can see what you're up against.

1. Weather Phase
2. Initiative Phase
3. Electronic Detection Phase
4. First Special Operations Phase (Initiative only)
5. Air/Naval Phase
6. Second Special Operations Phase
7. First Strike Phase
8. First Supply Phase
9. Initiative Movement and Combat Phase (Initiative only)
10. Second Strike Phase (Initiative only)
11. Second Supply Phase (Initiative only)
12. Basic Movement and Combat Phase
13. Isolation/Surrender Phase
14. Reorganization Phase
15. Reinforcement and Replacement Phase
16. Victory Determination Phase
17. Game Records Phase

-Weather Phase

A die will be rolled and the time of the turn will be seen, there are three types: clear, overcast and storm. The worse the weather, the less air capacity (becoming zero) you will have and your units will move less. There are sides that will prefer clear weather and others that will want stormy weather, as they will be able to conduct operations without the opponent having air support. Air support in this game is very important.

-Initiative Phase

As I said, the heart of the game. The player who has the initiative is determined by the victory points achieved by both sides, this will depend on each scenario. Victory points are earned by conquering certain hexes and eliminating units. If you manage to reach the minimum and have more than your rival, you will be the player with the initiative. In the event that no one arrives, it will be a "contested" turn. The player with the most victory points after a "contested" turn (ignoring the minimum) will be the player with the initiative.

-Electronic Detection Phase

This allows you to locate enemy headquarters. Although you physically see them on the map, you do not have them located and you will not be able to attack them unless you detect them. Weather will affect the ability to locate them.

-Special Operations Forces Phases

Players will use their special forces units to carry out missions behind enemy lines. The missions that they can execute are: assaults, reconnaissance, mark objectives and interdiction. With assault they can damage headquarters, supply depots, supply units, facilities of all kinds, radars, SAMs and tactical weapons. Reconnaissance will be used to spot units, barracks, and supply depots behind enemy lines. Units will also be able to mark targets to make them easier to hit. Lastly, the interdiction will make the road void into a hex.

-Air/Naval Phase

Perhaps the most difficult phase of the game, but once you get used to it, it will go smoothly.


I have put an image to make it easier to explain this to you. The first thing to see is that air bases can be damaged and that influences the number of aircraft that we can deploy. If we look at the box for India we see that it is divided into: Ready, flown and aborted. Units that are ready can be placed in the air superiority box. Whoever has the advantage in AWAC will be the first to choose battle with both players taking turns until all combats are assigned. Then all the combats will be executed, after this it will be determined who has air superiority. There are four different levels: contested, advantage, superiority and supremacy. This will determine the level of aerial reconnaissance (you will only be able to attack what you can see) and adjust your AWAC. The final part of this phase is dedicated to the maritime section.

-Strike Phase

The bombardment phase with aircraft, missiles and artillery. You can try to destroy ground units, facilities, air bases, headquarters, tactical weapons, and even interdict hexes. Missile attacks are quick and easy, you select the target, roll on a table and see if you've hit or not. Then came the air strikes. If they manage to get past enemy air defenses they are likely to cause damage. They may be accompanied by electronic warfare aircraft.

-Supply Phase

In this phase it is determined if there are units out of supply and the out of supply markers are placed. There are 4 types of supply sources: mobile units, urban hexes, beachheads, and supply depots.

-Movement and Combat

Here we have to differentiate between initiative and basic phases. In initiative games, the player with that initiative will gain an additional movement and combat phase. The player without the initiative will have an extra phase where he can move his elite units. Being a modern game, units will be able to move by land, air transport, parachute drops, landings and sea transport. In the terrestrial movement several types are seen: foot, light infantry, motorized and mechanized. Each type of hex will affect movement and combat ability in one way or another. There is no stacking limit, but the more units you have in a hex, the more disadvantage they have and the easier it is to hit them.

In combat is where all the action of the game rests. Fights are resolved one at a time. Probabilities are calculated, columns are determined (artillery support will be able to move columns left or right), air support and helicopters are assigned (enemy air defense will try to stop them), modifiers are determined, and a die is rolled. A lead unit must be chosen, as its efficiency ratio will affect combat, but it will be the first unit when assigning casualties.

-Isolation/Surrender

Units that cannot trace a path to an HQ or supply source are considered isolated. You must make a check of its efficiency, if it fails it is eliminated and cannot be rebuilt.

-Reorganization

This is the administrative phase of the game. Supply points can also be spent to repair facilities and air defense. In this phase, the installation, city and urban hexes will also be cleaned.

-Reinforcement/Replacement

During this phase we will rebuild our forces and receive reinforcements. Destroyed HQs and sometimes helicopters can also be rebuilt. Replacement points will disappear quickly, we'll get a trickle of them every turn, but we'll never have enough to rebuild everything.

This covers one game turn. I have summarized each phase as much as possible. For me, it is the best modern warfare system on the market. Let's see some points that I want to highlight.

When you play you must think with operations, set yourself some goals and try to reach them at all costs. You must think very well the movements and assign bodies corresponding to the scenarios. If you send your forces without a strategy, you are going to take a lot of casualties. Another point to note is the wear, this is modern warfare and it shows. You're going to lose air squads easily and before you know it all your units will have suffered casualties. When planning any operation, the issue of supplies must be taken into account. Although you have the opportunity to make a deep penetration, you always have to watch your supply lines.

I like how the aerial section of the game is represented. Even if you have air superiority, you must reckon with the enemy's air defenses. You should always assess if it is worth attacking or giving air support, since you can enter a spiral of casualties and the destruction of planes and helicopters will give victory points to the opponent.

Well, this is where this little introduction to the Next War series ends. It is one of my favorite series of games and I can assure you that it is not as fierce as it is painted. The turn sequence is one of the best I've come across and it's only 38 pages of rules.

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