Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Review - Book, Confrontation, The Strategic Geography of NATO and the Warsaw Pact

I picked up on this books existence from a TMP thread, if your interested in wargaming the cold war this is an invaluable reference, why? Put simply gaming a war that never happened is an easy thing to do in a trivial way but requires a level of involved study if it is to be in any way a recognisable representation of the conflict in question. For this you need to understand:
  • force composition
  • force quality
  • force doctrine
  • equipment
  • force quality, equipment, organisational and doctrinal evolution against time
  • the political context and its evolution
  • the geographical context

whilst items 1-5 are covered to a level in many references the geographical context is generally poorly understood and poorly discused. In this book Hugh Faringdon not only sets out to analyse the geopolitical nature of the Cold War against a range of well understood Geo political models which he does in part 1, the basics of Security and `war, he also examines the detailed nature of the Terrain across the Central Front.

In part 2 The Map of Confrontation, he looks at the specifics of the conflict the two superpowers their associated alliances, the regional areas of potential conflict and the effects of the geography on the nature of the conflict. Why is this important well its a comprehensive independent analysis of the force distribution composition and the effects of the physical and social geography on operations. This is examined from the perspective of the current operational plan and deployment and from the perspective of History, primarily world war 2. In this he provides a wealth of understanding of terrain, its impact and the deployments together with a range of very useful maps.

why should you be interested in this as a war gamer, well in one fairly inexpensive volume he succinctly summarises what must amount to years of geographical, historical and contemporary military and political analysis. This book was written in 1986 and was based on information available at the time so like all models some of this will be wrong but it provides a readily digestible framework against which cold war games and campaigns can be framed and can save a lot of effort studying maps and google earth to pick the right spot for the game.

the first two scenarios I penned took a degree of study of the ground against the operational context to find places that would allow me to explore the nature of the operational and doctrinal activity that I wanted to develop. With this volume it was a matter of reading to identify location and deployment and understand the potential impacts a significantly reduced work load.

quite simply a gem, as ever its not that digestible cover to cover but once you have familiarised yourself with what it has to offer it will remain an invaluable reference for an eternity. If you are into scenario generation and want to understand the geographical context to the operations you are creating this is a gem of a book. If your games are based on points values and imaginary terrain it is not for you. A great buy if you can find a decent second hand copy below £13.

Confrontation, The Strategic Geography of NATO and the Warsaw Pact @ Amazon

Other Book Reviews:

Review - Book, Mil Mi 8/Mi - 17 Rotary Wing Work Horse and War Horse
Review - Book, A History of Soviet Airborne Forces 
Review - Book, Soviet Tactical Aviation
A History of Soviet Airborne Forces
Soviet Tactical Aviation
Armies of NATO's Central Front
Red Thrust, Central Front
The Soviet Afghan War, How a Super Power Fought and Lost
Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army
Soviet Air Land Battle Tactics
The Military Balance
Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army
The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Manoeuvre
First Clash
The Third World War
The British Army in Germany

The Cold War Bookstore contains links to over 60 Cold War titles covered in my book list


  1. Although this is not my wargame period, I find your review most interesting - describing the kind of book I would like to have as my source and resource. I have a feeling that its value to a wargamer historian might well extend beyond the horizons of the NATO-WarPac confrontation at that.

    1. I think your right, the major difference between this and world war 2 is it considers the terrain from East to West (in West Germany) and of course there is a fair degree of change in the social geography; communications, urbanisation, industrialisation, of which the main issue is Urbanisation. Very useful text it would be interesting to know if any other similar works exist for other periods, but for most real conflicts this gets wrapped up in the discussion of the campaign.

  2. Great find Andy, it looks like wargaming gold with the principles valid for any major conflict within the period ....... added it to my wish list.