Saturday, 14 August 2010

Cold War: 1983 ......A Tabletop Review

Cold War: 1983
Modern Skirmish Wargames Rules


by Matthew Hartley, Michael Baumann & Steve Blease

From: Wessex Games
Price £5

 24 pages, A5 booklet, including:
  • TO&Es for US Mech Infantry, BAOR Mech Infantry and Soviet Motor Rifle platoons circa 1983.
  • Stats for 20 different types of small arms
  • Stats for 18 vehicle mounted weapons
  • Stats for 33 vehicles from civilian sedans to pickups, jeeps and Challenger MBT.

Modern 1-to-1 skirmish rules primarily designed for section and platoon level combat during the Cold War.

8-40  individual miniatures and 1-3 vehicles/AFVs per side.

This is NOT an armour vs armour game. Vehicles and AFVs play a supporting role so the rules subsequently reflect this.

 None really, all move distances and ranges are in cm's.

The rules are notionally designed for 28mm figures but can easily be used for any miniature scale.

1-4 hours realtime depending on number of sections in play and complexity of scenario.

Normal 6 sided dice (the more the merrier)
A tape measure
Markers/dice for denoting current 'Bottle' rating, 'suppression' etc

All figures in the game start with a predetermined 'Bottle' rating which reflects the sum of their training, skill, experience and motivation.

Bottle can be set for a whole platoon or varied between sections/squads or even individual miniatures to reflect the differences between individual characters and give the game more depth.

The Bottle rating ebbs and flows throughout the game and can be adversely effected by combat results.

Skills are optional, but again be assigned to individual miniatures to create characters and provide a greater level of sophistication in your scenarios. 


The focus of Cold War: 1983 is on the motivations and training of the individual soldier and the 'friction' that occurs in combat. This is reflected in the 'Bottle' rating. The whole game is slick and plays fast once you understand Bottle and the Critical Success/Failure system. In fact it allows you to easily expand the game to suit yourself and any scenario you can come up with by creating your own ad hoc Critical Success/Failure table.

Basically, the degree of success or failure of any combat action is determined by a dice roll against a figure's Bottle rating. I've been playing this system for many years and love it. The other aspects of these rules I particularly like is how fire combat is classified as Single Shot, Controlled Burst, Burst, Machine-gun Burst etc each with their own Critical Success/Failure table; and how terrain is classified by 'Clutter' value.

No set of rules survives first contact untouched in this household. I've expanded the Leadership section and changed the movement from pre-defined distances, to a Crit Success/Failure system I originally used with Crossfire. The player nominates the figure/figures to move, then rolls against the Bottle of the individual or the lowest Bottle within a group of miniatures.  In brief:

  • Critical Success - they make it to destination unscaved.
  • Success - they make it only if they are not caught in the enemy's LOS. Enemy gets opportunity for reactive fire, before moving unit can complete the move.
  • Failure - they don't budge. Perhaps some rounds richoched off the brickwork above them before they moved.
  • Critical Failure - only move the score on the dice and move/initiative ceases (might leave them caught in the open)
The simplicity in design provides infinite possibility for innovation through tweaking the Critical Success/Failure tables or even adding your own to enhance the core game system to meet scenario needs or your own personal gaming requirements. 

To sum up, what you have with Cold War:1983 is a dynamic, fluid game with enough granularity to satisfy the modern enthusiast. The rules are easy to read, very much pick up and play. Recommended, especially for the casual Modern skirmish gamer.


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