Next War: India-Pakistan Game Review
Next War: India-Pakistan Game Review. Publisher: GMT Games Designer: Mitchell Land System Design: Gene Billingsley Price $85.00
Passed Inspection: Multi-levels of rules make it suitable for all levels of gamers, beautiful components, linked campaigns, great replayability, complete index and glossary.
Failed Basic: Some rules confusion, very chart heavy, a little too expensive
“The ink was hardly dry on the documents following the partition of British India in 1947 before war broke out between India and Pakistan. Since the partition, four major wars and numerous smaller conflicts have been waged over much of the same ground. In 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999 India and Pakistan fought in the mountains of Kashmir and on the plains of the Punjab region to the south. Today, both sides are armed with thousands of armored vehicles, hundreds of advanced aircraft, and dozens of nuclear weapons. With tensions high and both sides heavily armed, another conflict may be just a matter of time.” So states the introduction to GMT’s newest release in their Next War series of near future war simulations. This time, GMT has approached the nightmare scenario of a war between nuclear armed India and Pakistan. Next War: India-Pakistan is a stand alone game. You do not need to own the other games in the series in order to play it.
In the last few years Armchair General has reviewed GMT’s other Next War simulations – Next War: Korea – http://armchairgeneral.com/next-war-korea-boardgame-review.htm
and Next War: Taiwan – http://armchairgeneral.com/next-war-taiwan-boardgame-review.htm and found them both to be very good simulations. Next War: India-Pakistan is no exception.
As with its brethren, Next War: India-Pakistan provides different levels of playability which will appeal to gamers of all levels of skill from the novice to the advanced player.
The basic turn sequence is as follows: roll for weather, check supply, initiative phase (which also covers air points and naval points), move and fire, elite units reaction, exploitation movement, reorganization, reinforcement/replacement phase and the victory determination phase. The advanced game adds more detailed air strikes and air combat as well as air interdiction, naval invasions and ship rules and much more detailed land combat and political rules. Each turn is equal to 3 to 5 days and each hex is roughly 7.5 miles.
While the game focuses on a near future war between India and Pakistan, other factions are involved in the scenarios which include China, America and Russia. The units range from the battalion level all the way up to divisions and armies.
Each ground unit is rated for stacking value, attack and defense values, efficiency, movement rating as well as data indicating its starting hex and unit designation. Airplanes are rated for their all weather and stealth abilities, air-to-air, long range, stand-off and strike capabilities, operational range and pilot skill. Helicopters are rated for the unit type, combat support and range.
Sea units are rated for their transport capability, combat support, range and airmobile transport capacity.
HQ units, fortifications and supply units round out the counter count.
There are many nicely mounted charts and tables to keep track off and this huge number can be a little over whelming at times.
The 22” x 34” map is not mounted and shows a large portion of India and Pakistan focusing primarily on the Kashmir and Lahore areas.
The pace of the combat operations is heavily influenced by the mountainous terrain and the chokepoints caused by rivers. Bridges may be destroyed in order to help slow the enemy’s advance.
I won’t go in to many of the rule details as the Next War system has already been extensively covered in the two other reviews but some rules have been added which increases the realism of the Next War series. The most striking rule additions include the destruction of bridges and political ramifications of the conflict including UN resolutions and refugees. Of course, since both sides in the conflict have nuclear weapons, if the bomb is dropped, this will directly influence the reactions of India and Pakistan’s allies and could cause a significant loss of support by the other international powers.
While the rules are logically laid out and illustrated with plenty of examples and a useful index and list of abbreviations, some of the rules are a little obtuse resulting in much page flipping and re-reading of rules sections until they make sense. One such rule is for the clearing of urban areas of entrenched defenders or terrorism units The rules for clearing urban areas caused some confusion during my play through of the game. Namely, the rules state that a unit which defeated another unit or units in an urban area must then end its movement in the urban area to begin clearing operations. But, the rules don’t seem to indicate whether that prevents other allied units from moving through the “uncleared” hex. In my play throughs, I said that other units couldn’t move through until the urban area was successfully cleared or they could face an attack by guerrillas.
I think the Next War rules, in general, need a little bit more work to make them more user friendly. But, I will say that there are plenty of examples and designer’s comments to help put them all in to perspective. In addition, GMT provides wonderful on-line support including questions and answers and designer’s notes plus rules updates.
Even with its high price, Next War: India-Pakistan is a good game with plenty of replay value and a great addition to the Next War line-up. Hopefully, the nightmare scenario of a nuclear or full scale conventional war between India and Pakistan will stay firmly in the realm of game simulations.
Armchair General Rating: 90 %
Solitaire Rating: 4 (from 0 to 5)
About the AuthorA college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!