Drive On Pyongyang
Modern War #5
Designed by Ty Bomba
Updated by Joseph Miranda
The Korean War was a war that was fought between the Republic of Korea (South Korea), supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), supported by the People’s Republic of China. This conflict was primarily the result of the political division of Korea that occurred at the conclusion of World War II. From 1910 until the surrender of Japan the Korean Peninsula was ruled by the Empire of Japan. Following Japans surrender in September 1945, the Korean peninsula was divided along the 38th parallel, with U.S. military forces occupying the southern half and Soviet military forces occupying the northern half.
The failure to hold free elections throughout the country in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides. The North established a communist government under the Soviet occupation, while the South established a right-wing government. The 38th parallel became a political border between the two Korean states.
During this period, negotiations for the reunification of Korea continued. Between 1948 and 1950, cross-border skirmishes and raids across the 38th Parallel persisted and tensions increased. The situation finally reached its peak and escalated into open warfare when the North Korean forces invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950.
The fighting continued for a little more three years. An armistice agreement was signed and the fighting ended on 27 July 1953. This agreement restored the border between the Koreas near the 38th Parallel and created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This DMZ is a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) wide fortified zone between the two Korean nations. Minor incidents across this DMZ continue to the present day.
Modern War Issues
This is the 5th issue of the Decision Games magazine devoted to Modern conflict situations. The first four issues were devoted to the following topics:
- Red Dragon/Green Crescent (RDGC)
- Oil War: Iran Strikes (OW)
- Somali Pirates
- Six Day War
As we find out later in this issue in the Design Theory article, the original design of this game was done by Ty Bomba approximately 10 years ago. However, Joseph Miranda kept the game current by adding historical events as they unfolded to the game design. What we have here is a game that is the culmination of approximately 10 years of work and the result of two of the hobbies best designers. However, before we get into the game itself, let’s take a look at what is in the issue of the magazine.
The magazine is approximately 80 pages in length with an excellent mix of articles from cover to cover. There are three feature articles in this issue which are:
- Drive on Pyongyang
- Up Front in the Falklands
- The Selous Scouts
· The other areas in this issue of the magazine, which are referred to as “Departments”, are:
- Design Theory
- On the Horizon
- Systems of War
- Game Edition Rules
- Next Issue
We will start by taking a look at this issues feature articles and then progress to the departments and end with a look at this issues game.
Drive On Pyongyang
This article begins with a short background glance at the conflict and the terrain over which the fighting did or will take place. There is a side panel which provides the reader with a look at the recent clashes that have occurred between North and South Korea between 2002 and 2010. There is a large map that shows the Military Bases, some points of interest and the Nuclear reactor facilities on each side. Following this the balance of the article deals with each sides armed forces and their composition. The final section of the article is devoted to a short insight into each sides Strategy if armed conflict was to break out. Here we are provided with a look at the strategy that can be expected of North and South Korea in these events should unfold.
Up Front in the Falklands
In 1982, a military conflict took place between the Argentinians and British over the Falkland Islands which are approximately 300 miles off Argentina. The Falklands, also known as Las Malvinas by the Argentinians, has been a point of contention for over 200 years. This article looks at the war that took place in 1982 providing details on how each sides strategy unfolded. Since the Falklands was originally in British control, we are first given the strategy that the Argentinians used to gain control starting with Operation Rosario. Following this, we learn how the Argentinian infantry drove through the islands capturing the British outposts and conquering the islands.
After this, we see how the British response unfolds as England decided to reclaim the Falklands from Argentina even though it was approximately 8000 miles away. The article includes a number of maps which puts this military action in perspective and increases the readers enjoyment of the article.
The Selous Scouts
As the article begins, “One of the most notable units to come out of the 1964 – 79 Rhodesian Bush Wars (a.k.a. the Second Chimurenga War and the Zimbabwe War of Liberation) was the Selous Scouts. The Rhodesian military created the Scouts in 1973 as a tracking unit to locate guerrillas infiltrating across the border. Mainly a Black Ops unit they never numbered more than 1500 but had a tremendous impact on operations as their fighting philosophy stressed unity. This article looks at this impressive unit and the impact they had on a little known war.
As previously mentioned, this area looks at the game design included in this issue of the magazines. Drive On Pyongyang has a long history with some interesting game design developments and they are explained here. Joseph Miranda provides the reader/game player with an excellent insight into the game included in this issue of Modern War.
On the Horizon
On the Horizon provides the reader with the upcoming Modern War issue topics. Here we learn that the next issue, Modern War Issue #6 will be titled Decision Iraq and Modern War #7 will deal with the Vietnam Battles: Snoopy’s Nose and Iron Triangle. We are provided with a brief look at each game.
Systems of War
Systems of War is really a series of articles devoted to different subjects. The main subject areas covered here are:
Systems of War
The first article in the Systems of War section is devoted to “The XB-70: Mach 3 Bomber that Failed”. We are provided with some background into this early high tech bomber that was expected to fly in excess of Mach 3. We are told of the history of this plane from its early design to its failure. We also learn that while the original concept of the XB-70 was to replace the B-52 the lessons learned from the XB-70 would benefit the Concorde and the B-1 Bomber. While the article is short, it contains a number of photos and drawings of the XB-70 that the reader should enjoy.
The next article is devoted to “War In Space: Anti-Satellite Weapons”. This 9 page article provides the reader with an interesting introduction into this type of weapon system and a number of its variants. You also see some of the platforms from which these weapons can be launched. Readers receive a nice general introduction to this subject with a number of pictures that complement the written information provided.
New Arenas discusses the advances of computers specifically in the arena of Microrobots. In the article, it is pointed out that “Computer and Communications Networks are becoming more and more sophisticated” which will allow these types of weapons to be used in the battlefield environment. The article provides an interesting look at this subject.
The final article in this issue of the magazine is the Spotlight in Gen Walton Harris Walker and the defense of Pusan during the Korean War in 1950. Here we are given a quick look at the early period of the war and the effect that Gen. Walker had on the events of that time.
Drive On Pyongyang Game
Now on to the game. To begin to understand what the designer had in mind for his design we must first take a quick look at the games scale.
Each hexagon from side to side is approximately equal to 8 miles or 13km from side to side. Every turn in the game represents a period of 2 days. Finally, the units represented in the game are mostly Corps and Divisions that represent anywhere from 9000 to 15000 men and each armor unit represents approximately 350 vehicles. There is also Brigade combat teams used in the game which represent between 3000 and 5000 men. The game has factored in Coalition Tactical Air Supremacy in numerous phases of the game, so there are no air units represented in the game.
Drive on Pyongyang arrives with a typical map which shows the area over which the battle will be fought. Over this, a hexagonal grid has been placed that facilitates movement. You also received 280 die cut counters which represent the units that could be combatants in the war.
Sequence of Play
The next item on the agenda to look at is the Sequence of Play. The game turn sequence is presented below in outline. The remainder of the rule sections are organized to explain the rules in the order of the Sequence of Play. Since the rules are organized in this manner, they are easier to reference as you are reading them. The Sequence of Play is:
- Coalition Player Turn
- Reconstitution Determination Phase
- Coalition Movement or Combat Phase
- Coalition Combat or Movement Phase
- · North Korean Player Turn
- ·North Korean Movement Phase
- ·North Korean Combat Phase
- ·North Korean Echelon Phase
- · Coalition Recovery Phase
Coalition Player Turn Phase Sequencing
During the Coalition players phase they may decide the sequence of the phases within the turn sequence. What this means is that the Coalition player must announce whether he will use a combat-then-movement or movement-then-combat sequence at the very start of each of his player turns. The sequencing choice is always up to the Coalition player and is decided on a turn-by-turn basis.
North Korean Player Turn Phase Sequencing
The North Korean player turn always follows the Coalition player. As shown in the Sequence of Play above, the North Korean phase sequence is generally move-then-combat. However, in both scenarios, once a game turn begins in which all three Pyongyang city hexes are under Coalition control, the North Korean sequence then becomes combat-then-move, and the Echelon Phase is no longer used. Furthermore, it the North Korean Sequence remains combat-then-move and there is no Echelon Phase even if the North Korean player manages to regain control of one, some or all of the Pyongyang city hexes (3208, 3107 & 3108). This rule simulates the total collapse of the North Korean Command, Control, and the Central Political Leadership.
Meps, or Meeps are short for Media Perception Points. If you look at the overall military situation between North Korean and the Coalition, you can see that there is little doubt that the Coalition will win a military victory. However, while a military victory may be inevitable, the Coalition player may lose the war as it is reported by the news media and perceived by the general population. To simulate this type of event, at the beginning of each scenario the Coalition player is allocated a specific number of MePPs. The number of MePPs the Coalition player receives can never go above his starting value and constantly decreases depending on events in the game. Specific items that can decrease the Coalition Players MePPs value are;
- Coalition Causalities
- North Korean Attacks
- Failed Coalition Attacks
- North Korean Recapture of City Hexes
- Time Passing
- Loss of NATO Units
- Survival of Hardened SCUD Sites
- Survival of WMD Sites
The Coalition Player checks his victory at the end of every game turn. The Coalition players Victory is determined by the number of Coalition Controlled North Korean City Hexes. This is considered a collapse of the North Korean regime and is an immediate victory for the Coalition. The North Korean player wins if it is game turn 15 and the regime hasn’t collapsed. Another way the North Korean player wins is if the Coalition players MePPs value reaches 0 (zero). So, it behooves the Coalition player to act quickly and to capture as many North Korean city hexes as possible to cause the collapse of the North Korean regime.
A unique feature of Drive on Pyongyang game is the combat system that it employs. Most games utilize a single Combat Results Table (CRT). However, Drive on Pyongyang employs a two CRT system. The CRT that is used depends on the units that are involved in the combat. The first Combat Results Table (CRT) used is an Assault CRT which is a standard type of CRT system. However, if an attacking coalition unit has an up-arrow shown below
between its attack and defense factor it denotes that this unit employs a new military doctrine that links military units together with a real-time data sharing environment. This type of combat system provides commanders and unit leaders with an extremely accurate assessment of battlefield conditions and provides them with unequalled coordination capability. The advantage of this type of system is nothing less than revolutionary and is perhaps the next step in the evolution of battlefield communications.
When the Netcentric CRT is used in Drive on Pyongyang, there are some different CRT results to differentiate the Assault CRT from the Netcentric CRT. One of these results is the “DN” result that is on the Netcentric CRT. “DN” refers to “Defender Neutralized” which results in the defender taking one additional die roll and comparing this die roll result with all of the defending units’ movement factor. If the die roll was greater than the movement factor than that unit must perform a “step reduction”. However, If the die roll was less than or equal to the movement factor of the defending unit, than the unit takes no loss. Once all of the defending units’ losses are determined, any remaining units must retreat the number of hexes equal to the die roll. As you can imagine from this Netcentric CRT result, if the defending North Korean player has just a little bad luck, the Coalition player will create large gaps in the defending line from which they may never recover.
A unit in the Drive on Pyongyang game that has some very unique capabilities is the US Airmobile unit. During the Coalition Players turn, an airmobile unit can either move or fight but cannot perform both actions during a turn. Additionally, an airmobile unit does not pay for terrain costs when they are moving. They are considered staging or rebasing and as such may enter all hexes at the cost of a single movement point. An airmobile unit is unique when they attack as they can project their attack factors up to 10 hexes away from their base elements location hex. When they do perform an attack, if they are victorious, they cannot advance after combat even if the defending unit was adjacent to the airmobile unit during the attack. However, even when they project their attack strength, they still suffer and adverse effects of the attacking force. Finally, an airmobile unit can project its combat strength for defense if it has neither moved nor attacked during that turns Coalition Phase, and it does not have any North Korean units adjacent to the base elements at that instant. You can see that with some subtle use of these forces they can have a profound effect on the outcome of your game.
Battlefield Nuclear Attack
There are a few different Optional Rules in Drive on Pyongyang that can add different perspectives to a standard game. However, one of the rules that I think most gamers will use no matter if they play the game solitaire or against an opponent is the North Korean Battlefield Nuclear Weapon rule. This rule provides the North Korean player the ability to declare a Nuclear strike against the Coalition Player at the start of each turn beginning with turn number 2. To make a Nuclear attempt, the North Korean player announces he is making a Nuclear Attack and places a Nuclear Explosion Marker on top of any hex he desires on the map. Once this declaration is made, the NKVA player rolls a single die and consults the Battlefield Nuclear Detonation Table. On a die roll of 1, the Battlefield Nuclear Hit was “On Target” and on a die roll of 2, the Battlefield Nuclear Hit was “Off Target”. On a die roll result of 3, 4, 5 or 6 and Nuclear Attack Strike Failed.
Now, the main question that should come to mind is what is the difference between an “On Target Hit” and an “Off Target Hit”. If the North Korean Player rolls a 1 and obtains a “hit” another die is rolled immediately to determine the number of step losses that must be suffered by Coalition units that are in the target hex. The die is rolled, and divided by two, rounding up. So, if the North Korean Player rolls a 5, the result would be 3 step losses for the Coalition Player. Finally, the Nuclear Strike Marker remains in that hex for the remainder of the game.
If the North Korean player rolls a 2 and the Nuclear Strike is “Off Target”, this means that the North Korean player must roll another die to determine exactly where the strike will take place. On a roll of 1, you would move the Nuclear Strike Marker “North” of the intended hex and on a roll of 2 the Nuclear Strike Marker would be moved in a clockwise position around the intended hex. So, even though the North Korean player may miss the intended target hex, it does not necessarily mean that the Coalition player will get away unscathed.
As an alternative to making a Battlefield Nuclear strike, the North Korean Player may attempt a Strategic Nuclear Strike on a South Korean City or one of the off-map countries but still near Korea. The North Korean player may choose on a case-by-case basis to make a Strategic Nuclear Attack. Once the North Korean player declares their intention, they roll a die and consult the same Detonation Table that was consulted above. If a roll of “Hit On Target” is received the North Korean player rolls two dice and subtracts that number of MePPs from the Coalition total. If they roll “Hit Off Target” a single die is roll and that is the number of MePPs that are subtracted from the Coalition total.
The final item we will cover is the Coalition response to a Nuclear Attack. No matter if the strike is Battlefield or Strategic the Coalition player should immediately roll a single die to determine their response. On a die roll result of 1 through 5 there is a Tactical response and the Coalition Player follows the same procedure as the North Korean Nuclear Battlefield Attack. If the die roll is a 6, a portion of the Strategic Nuclear arsenal has been unleashed and the Coalition Player is immediately declared the winner.
Another Optional Rule that many players will most likely use deals with Strategic Events and how they can affect the game. There are a total of 16 Strategic Events, 8 will affect North Korea and 8 will affect the Coalition. The Strategic Events are;
- North Korean
- Defense of Worker-Peasant Paradise
- EMP Strike
- NATO Fizzles
- Improved Ballistic Missile Targeting
- Improved Doctrine
- Pre-Emptive Attack
- Rioting in South Korea
- US Military Drawdown
- Coalition Events
- Additional US Mobilization
- Additional Coalition Forces
- Anti-Communist Uprising
- Improved Ballistic Missile Defense
- Littoral Combat Ships
- North Korean Meltdown
- ROKs Re-equip
- Rolling Start
As you can imagine, each of these events have varying effects on the game and can directly effect a game’s outcome.
Drive on Pyongyang is an interesting “what-if” wargame based on contemporary events. It is a low-to-medium complexity game that is well suited to solitaire play. The game that has two major scenarios and it encourages players to create their own scenarios. There is no standard set-up of units as in all cases players are encouraged to experiment with their own creations. It is an interesting game that will cause discussion between gamers as they look for alternatives and try to create a winning strategy for the underdog. Winning this game as the North Korean player, while not impossible, can be difficult unless you experiment with the MePPs or Strategic Events. Some of the rules could be a bit clearer, especially the Airmobile rules, but overall they are well done and what you have is a solid, enjoyable game. Drive on Pyongyang brings to the conscience a current event that has been and will be with us as we move forward deeper into this century. Even more important, the Strategic Events and Nuclear Attacks that are covered in the Optional rules provide gamers with an excellent platform for current and future discussion.