A Look at Nord Kapp: World War III in the Arctic Circle

Strategy & Tactics Magazine has been around a loooong time. And just to show you how far back it goes, take a look at the price of the issue in the top right corner of the photo below.

Yep. Six clams.

Nord Kapp is the game included with the Fall 1983 issue of S&T. It features a wide mix of international units all working together to stop the Soviet hordes from taking over the Kola Peninsula and using the air bases to hammer Central Europe while using the naval bases to burst through the GIUK gap.

Of course, that's just the game. The magazine has a really great article on the German invasion of Scandinavia in 1940. Notable in here is a review of Hell's Highway from a new wargaming company called Victory Games. To help date this thing even further, we have Ian Chadwick's article discussing the pros and cons of various commercially-available computers at the time, including the Atari 800, the Apple IIe, and the Commodore C64.

Anyway, the game's accompanying article does a terrific job of highlighting the unique aspects of fighting World War III in Scandinavia, including the make-up of NATO forces, the different Soviet strategies that would combine naval and airborne landings with armor and motorized rifle regiments. The need for troops on both sides who are equipped and trained for mountain and cold weather warfare is discussed as well as the special equipment such as snow-moving equipment.

Of course, the problems of fighting in damp cold and its effects on weapons and technology is explored too. There seem to be a whole lot of unknowns here as to just what could have gone wrong - many more than are usually brought up when discussing the traditional Central European theater of conflict (and that's saying a lot!).

The chief issue for the Soviets would seem to be maneuvering and coordinating attacks in hostile terrain that is not tank-friendly. A big problem for NATO would be getting the bulk of its planned defensive forces into theater on time and in one piece. It's notable that the Canadians were tasked with getting several regiments to help defend Norway but this would possibly take upwards of a month due to lack of transport capability. By then, I suspect the Soviets would have been washing their boots in the North Atlantic.

The US Marines had the capability to get there fast but didn't appear to have enough training for the mission. Most promising were the Royal Marines and the Dutch 1st Amphibious Combat Group, who might have been able to get there in a few days and get to work.

So you can see right away that this game has something for everyone to get frustrated about in a variety of ways.

Units in Nord Kapp.


The Game

The game itself is pretty standard fare for the most part with some exceptions. Players can roll to see what season the invasion takes place in and this, of course, will change the game considerably for both players. This is going to affect a whole bunch of stuff, such as aircraft operations to terrain effects and movement.

To win the game, the Soviet player needs to control airbases. Territory itself is of little concern. This is a great way to show the importance of this theater of operations and why it is essential for the overall war strategy.

The game last 10 Game Turns. Each Game Turn consists of two Player Turns. Each turn consists of nine phases, covering everything from air interdiction, supply, amphibious movement, ground movement, and ground combat.

One very interesting thing about this game is that players can opt to give up equipment for the sake of speed. Units on their front face represent combat units with all their equipment - they have higher attack ratings and lower movement points. On the back of each unit, you have the unequipped version of the unit with lower combat values but higher movement. One great thing is that if you unequip the unit, the equipment itself stays behind in the hex and is marked. The unit can go back and grab the equipment or an enemy can march into the hex and destroy it.

Combat is pretty standard, with a CRT used to determine results. Combat modifiers are due to terrain, aircraft, and chemical weapons.

Air transport is a big deal in the game and it's at the very heart of Soviet operational planning. One of the cool things about this game is that the Soviet player can ninja drop his airborne troops on top of occupied airbases and attempt to seize control from the Norwegians. This brings in another dimension to the "equip/unequip" option because you can choose to use your air capacity to drop a few well-equipped airborne units or you can strip them down to the bare essentials (a pocket knife and harsh language) and drop tons of them in an attempt to swarm the airbases.

Amphibious landings are even neater. You can transport the amphibious troops' equipment ahead of time by sea transport, drop it off on a coastal hex and land your guys further away to link up with their equipment. Again, you would want to do something like this to maximize your transport capacity for sheer numbers of troops.

NATO reinforcements are rolled for prior to the start of each game. Some of the units may simply be unavailable for the entire game. The Swedes and Finnish troops may enter the game if the Soviets violate their territory.  Both countries may just agree to allow Soviets to transit through their country if the die roll is favorable to the Soviet player.

The map




Components:

The map is of Scandinavia with a 16 kilometer per hex  scale and the time is 48 hours per turn. Lots of neat units ranging right from Canadians, Italians, US Marines, British, and the Dutch troops. The Soviets get a full range of invasion options with airmobile, amphibious, tank, and infantry units. The map is colorful and I like it. The counters are functional and work fine for the time the game came out.

Cannot wait to play this thing. I'll update you on my next playthrough.

Comments

  1. I remember seeing/hearing about this game back in the day. Looks interesting, especially since it's not WW3 in Germany.

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    1. Thanks Ken! Yep, I'm interested in seeing what this theater is like to fight in. I know GDW had a TWW set in the Arctic. I'd like to see how that compares to this one.

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  2. Sounds interesting, Brad. Great write up, too.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Aaron! Always good to hear from you.

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  3. Good review. I have piles of old S&T mags that i bought years ago,and never got around to playing. Never got this one though,which is a pity,because it's my 'period' too. So i echo the others in looking forward to the playthrough !

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Hoping my playthough will do it justice.

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