The Long Road
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May 22nd, 1985 Early Morning. The day opened with a world-shaking barrage. Tension over Reagan’s assassination had pushed the two sides to the brink of war. The Kremlin incident pushed them over. Now the shells fell, heavy as rain, the air thick with smoke and dust.
In front of Colonel Misha Stepanov rose Hill 55. Although no more than 55 meters in height, the hill was massive, over a kilometer long with a pristine lake covering most of its plateau. The barrage ignored that hill. The barrage was past the hill, and past the lake, because past the lake waited the Yanks. The recon battalion sought their positions yesterday. They discovered some, died trying to discover others. This morning a Mig-23R screamed through the valley beyond. Whatever its cameras shot hadn’t been passed to him. And no doubt, it would have been if it had been worth seeing.
Stepanov was the operations officer for the 10th Combined Arms Army. Consisting of three divisions, the 128th Motor Rifle Division, 34th Motor Rifle Division, and the 8th Tank Division, the army’s orders were simple. Rip a hole in the American lines, push through, and relieve the 17th Airborne who were currently holding the Wurzburg bridges over the Main River.
Simple orders, but the execution would no doubt be less so. In front of the 10th CAA waited the American VII Corps, an armor-heavy formation that was trained to repulse exactly the attack that the Soviets would execute. This war would pit the Soviet fast-moving, massed formation doctrine against the Americans’ alleged technology advantage.
No doubt the Americans think we are inferior, mused Stepanov. And not without cause. A polyglot of ethnicities, languages, and culture comprised the Red Army. With such diversity, training was problematic at best. Take these problems and multiply them by the enormity of the Soviet land forces and you are presented with only one viable solution: simple tactics, massed formations. But that was the macro. Stepanov knew that within that macro there were capable soldiers, aggressive junior officers, and damn fine equipment. Fine enough? He didn’t know, but they would soon learn. In a little over ten minutes, the first regiment would cross the thin red line separating peace and war. On the other side waited the American screening force. On the other side waited death. On the other waited the highway to Wurzburg. On the other side waited The Long Road.
Designed by Mark Walker, The Long Road is a platoon-level system that replicates the fast-paced, deadly, and chaotic combat of the Third World War. The system marries a combination of alternating combat impulses with a streamlined player-specific movement phase. Action cards, representing everything from artillery barrages and airstrikes to Spetsnaz and electronic countermeasures, replicate the confusion and fog of war.
The units represent the men and machines that fought in Europe during the summer of 1985. Included are Abrams, Sheridan, M-60, T-80, and T-64B tanks. Rifle platoons, recon sections, engineers, and Spetsnaz are transported across the battlefield by M113, M-2 IFV, BTR-70, BMP-1 and 2s, and Hind helicopters, while M-3 Bradleys and BRDMs provide recon, increasing the effectiveness of air and artillery strikes.
Although an easily learned system, The Long Road allows gamers to fight as the real commanders did in 1985. You can use artillery and air to soften up your enemy, and mobile bridges to flank them. Infantry in the open are susceptible to overruns. Artillery-delivered minefields channels the enemy attacks, but may be cleared by engineers, mine-roller tanks, or enough firepower. Infantry assaults are deadly against armor, especially in cities, and Dual-Purpose-Improved-Conventional-Munitions can deal a deadly blow to a swath of enemy armor. Attack helicopters, although fragile, were lethal adversaries in the early stages of the war, and so they are in The Long Road, using pop-up attacks to snipe at tanks. The American’s advanced technology gives them an advantage whenever Bradleys and Abrams fight, their sights able to penetrate smoke and provide longer range accuracy, but the Soviet's Konkurs and Songster anti-tank guided missiles will take a heavy toll... at least until their carrier runs out of ammo..
All this in a game that can be learned quickly, and played, scenario-depending, within a couple of hours. Better still, Mark H. Walker has woven the 16 game scenarios into a story that will (hopefully) make you care about that T-80 platoon defending the river, or perhaps the handful of Abrams attacking them. Coming to Kickstarter in Spring of 2020. Stay tuned for more information.
Each copy of The Long Road includes.
· 4 sheets of thick (2mm thick), large (1" square, large) counters.
· 3 MOUNTED 17” x 22” map geomorphic boards. Not paper, not stiff cardboard, but rather 2mm-thick, wrapped and backed mounted game boards.
· 27 full-color Action Cards. The game isn't card driven; it's card assisted.
· Full-color rules.
· 4 Player Aid Cards.
· 5 ten-sided dice for resolving combat.
· 16 scenarios.