Nuclear War Simulator is Out

Nuclear War Simulator, a detailed simulation of nuclear war (obviously 😀 ) on any scale from “one missile” to “one destroyed world”, of any type from “meticulously placed real units and real locations” to “hypothetical custom clashes between two countries that never historically developed nukes at all” is now out.

It can be gotten here.

All Union February Update

All Union, my alternate history novel project, is coming along very, very nicely. The first volume (yes, it’s grown big and ambitious enough to require multiple volumes) should hopefully release sometime in the spring. I’m very excited.

I’ve long since wanted to write a book like the one I’m making now, and I’m finally doing so. And yes, I’m doing things that the snarker me would have slammed several years ago. Oh well.

Review: Star Wars vs. Warhammer 40k Season 1

Star Wars Vs Warhammer 40k, Season 1

Star Wars and Warhammer 40,000 combine science fiction with mystical fantasy, albeit the latter to a much larger degree. So it came as little surprise that one self proclaimed “fan with too much time” made an elaborate crossover audio drama of Era Indomitus 40k and prequel-era Star Wars. A large fleet from the Imperium of Man gets blown into the Star Wars galaxy at the height of the Clone Wars. Stuff then ensues.

An open-ended fanfic is always hard to review exactly, so I’m sticking with the first season in this review. And it’s excellent. First, the audio drama has some great written and voiced scenes, like describing what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an Astartes/Space Marine attack (hint: not very pleasant). Second, it manages to balance the factions well. The clash of Astartes vs. Jedi is balanced in an apples vs. oranges way, as they’re not symmetric superhumans the way that say, Astartes and SPARTANs from Halo would be. Finally the culture clash (as in, what happens when a sane universe meets a crazed one) is handled great as well.

This reminded me of Worldwar, with the Imperium as the lizard-race. It’s been a very fun way to pass the time.

Review: White Horizon

White Horizon

TK Blackwood’s 1990s continued Cold War gone conventionally hot series continues in White Horizon, an excellent installment. The Fuldapocalypse not only continues apace but features the powerful but often overlooked country of Sweden as a major setting. Featuring everything that has made the past installments so good, this was a joy to read.

The only real “problem” was teasing a successor. But that’s a good problem to have. This shows that the “cold war gone conventionally hot” subgenre still has quite a bit of life in it.

A Thousand Words: Cave Dwellers

Cave Dwellers

Officially, this was the second movie in the Ator series of Conan the Barbarian knock offs. But it’s as “Cave Dwellers” that it leapt into my heart as the greatest Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode I have watched. The small and sus company known as Film Ventures International took a questionable strategy of getting the rights to show clips from movies, changing the titles and credits, then calling the rest of the movie a “clip” for legal reasons. It only worked because they were small.

Anyway, the film started with an extremely blurry clip from a 1960s Italian Tarzan knockoff in its bootleg credits, and then only got crazier from there, following up with an action-packed climax featuring a hang glider and concluding with nuclear bomb footage(!). Joel and the robots excelled, especially because this is the kind of mock where the movie itself has enough great material to build on (for instance, it’s hard to do that much with a stilted, no-budget 50s movie).

Yeah. This is my favorite Mystery Science Theater episode of all time. It’s amazing, and the movie it’s mocking is amazingly bad.

The Vehicle Puzzle

The GENFORCE-Mobile organizational chart got the then-still-in-development BTR-90‘s stats wrong. It’s both too light (at 17 metric tons compared to the 21 of the real one), and more importantly has too many dismounts (ten as opposed to seven I’ve seen in every real source). The real BTR-90 was cursed by coming right as the USSR fell, but in many ways it was also just a wheeled BMP-2, so its lack of entry into service is understandable.

But I thought (both for the All Union story and for my own fun) “Well, what if you could get a vehicle with ten dismounts?” The squad would grow to USMC size (two or three in the vehicle plus ten dismounts), and it presents a very tricky puzzle: Get a vehicle that is fit for a mobile corps (so it has to be viable in direct combat, both offensively and defensively), can carry ten dismounted troops as standard, and can’t be too big or heavy. If you want heavier weapons, it basically needs a remote uncrewed turret to not tip the scales. It’s not technologically impossible by a long short, but tradeoffs will have to be made.

Finally, the big squad means I can finally introduce my “eastern fireteam” concept I rejected for the next-gen BMP. Which makes more tactical sense, since doctrinally they’ll be fighting away from their vehicle more often, especially in rough terrain or as part of a tactical heliborne operation. So they need to be (theoretically) better in terms of both equipment and skill.

As for how it works, well, I’m writing right now a chapter where such a motorized rifle unit storms a Romanian town…

The Ultimate Trench and Dugout Building Guide

I stumbled into this 1920s American training document on building fortifications with the lessons of World War I in mind. The full piece has detailed guides on everything from “the kind of thing you build when you have only a few hours” to “the kind of thing you build when you have a few years”. Both fighting positions and gargantuan medical/residential/command underground dugouts (or “cave shelters” as the document calls them) are there.

There are a couple things I found interesting in particular. The first is that antipersonnel mines, despite becoming a hallmark of later fortifications, are only mentioned very briefly and dismissively. According to it, they take too much effort to emplace for something that’s going to be knocked aside/detonated by the big artillery preparation already. (Antitank mines, including ones rigged to be sensitive, are treated somewhat more favorably.)

The second is that what became known as an overpressure system (ie, higher pressure in the area than out of it, pushing clean air out instead of poisoned air in) is talked about as a counter to poison gas for large bunkers. I didn’t know it was talked about that early, and thought it was a Cold War invention. So that was interesting.

The third is that while machine guns were present, very few of the later infantry support weapons were. Besides indirect mortars, the only thing talked about for forward emplacement is the 37mm infantry support gun. So this was a very interesting time capsule, and some of its TTPs (techniques, tactics, and procedures) are still relevant. After all, artillery hasn’t exactly gotten less lethal since the 1910s.

Review: Infiltrated

I recently finished Infiltrated, the latest (as of this post) entry in the Duncan Hunter series by Mark Hewitt. I was extremely relieved to be done with it, having gone ahead with the final two books out of plain curiosity. It probably was not the wisest decision out there.

By now the main character is an internet Navy SEAL meme done unironically. The set pieces are reduced to the same old superplane gimmick that’s already been repeated many times over. But those are small problems compared to the absolute biggest sign of devolution: The series has become more than ever like William W. Johnstone.

Like Johnstone, the final two books have been taken over more and more by repetitive political rants. They reach a particular low in Infiltrated, not helped by a change in tone. The conspiracies go from “The Hindenburg was destroyed by communists and Amelia Earhart kidnapped by a Soviet submarine and sold into slavery in the Middle East” to boring, annoying, and slightly creepy internet conspiracy theories turned real. It’s like going from “Actually, JFK was killed by a combination of Jackie and the car’s driver” to someone going on tirade after tirade on the “international bankers”.

So yeah, I’m glad to be finished. It was a fun ride for a few books, but overstayed its welcome without a good stopping point.

Review: Small Unit Infantry Ambush Tactics

Small Unit Infantry Ambush Tactics

It’s very rare that I find a book that’s essentially a “strictly worse” version of another one. Where another work exists that can do literally everything it can and do it better. Yet that is the case for Small Unit Infantry Ambush Tactics, a how to fight guide about-look at the title.

By itself it’s not too bad, showing different ambush types and critiquing rote training. But it’s just that Special Reconnaissance and Advanced Small Unit Patrolling has everything it does and so much more. Plus the latter book has a far better tone, giving credit to the establishment where the author thinks it’s due instead of the more overly critical one of this book. So I feel comfortable in saying: Get Wolcoff’s masterpiece instead.