Although NATO Brigade Commander (NBC hereafter) was unveiled publicly as recently as 2006, I have notes going back to the mid-1990s. It appears from these that I came up with the NBC name in 1997 so with such a snappy title a game inevitably followed.
In designing any game I tend to start off with deciding on the ‘experience’ I want the player to enjoy. My objective with NBC was for the player to command a NATO-style brigade or a pair of Warpact-style regiments. I wanted a game pitched at this level for the following reasons:
I wanted something which allowed a detailed examination of the issues faced by brigade and regimental commanders.
Larger-scale (operational) engagements were already catered for by Megablitz.
There are many games around which allow players to successfully handle battalion sized formations.
The game had to be capable of incorporating air and sea landing actions.
The other design parameters were that the game had to be playable using 6mm toys on my games table (5x3 ft) in a couple of hours.
It is perhaps worth noting at this point that many of my 6mm toys were already based on my standard-size Megablitz stands as follows. Bear in mind that most stands in Megablitz represent battalions.
Most stands are 3cm wide by 4cm deep. Leg infantry 3x3cm. Recce companies 2x4cm. Large artillery pieces etc may require deeper stands.
Using the ‘two down’ rule, the smallest unit I wanted to represent in NBC was the company/squadron/battery. Of course, NATO companies tend to be much larger then WP companies, so I settled on the NATO style company as the basic stand. Such a company tends to consist of 14-17 tanks, or infantry in around 14 APC or IFV. Some smaller units (typically recce) could be represented by the thinner stands mentioned above. To illustrate, here is a US tank Battalion from the 1980s. As can be seen it consists of (left to right) 3 tank companies (M-60) plus a scout platoon (M-113) together with an attached AT company of M-901.
As a further example of a NATO unit, here is a British TA Battalion in Saxon APCs. There are (again, left to right) 3 Infantry companies, a mortar battery and an AT company with Milan. As mentioned above, however, Warpact units tend to be considerably smaller and with many fewer ‘tail’ elements. It is reasonable that they take up much less space on the table and are rather more brittle. The photo below shows a 1980s Soviet T-64 Tank Battalion (31 tanks in real life) on the right and a Motor Rifle Battalion with BTR-70 on the left. Each of these units is represented by 2 company (actually half-battalion) stands.
The NBC game system does not (perhaps surprisingly for those of you familiar with my other games) make use of strength points. Instead, each company-size stand can take 2 hits before it ‘dies’. The platoon sized stands (eg the US Scout Platoon above) are destroyed by a single hit.
I reached my conclusions about representation ages ago but it was only thinking about a gridded system and, following experiments with squares, succumbing to the convenience and expense of Kallistra’s Hexon system that finally galvanised me into action.
So far the game has been tested with a number of scenarios from the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971 through the 1990/1 Gulf War to fictional WW3 engagements set anywhere from Norway to Japan by way of North Africa. Additionally, Martin Rapier has adapted NBC for WW2 games under the title of ‘RKKA Brigade Commander.’