Monday, 21 March 2022

We played a lot of Twilight:2000 back in the day...

... who would have thought a Russian invasion of Eastern Europe would have been stopped cold in Ukraine?

Of course when Twilght:2000 hit the shelves in 1984, the Warsaw Pact was certainly a thing1, the Cold War was still fought by proxy, and people thought Ronald Reagan and Margret Thatcher were going to get us into a real fighting war that would end in a mutual exchange of nuclear weapons. So, a combat front in Poland made sense in 1984. The post-apocalyptic theme and framing of Twilight:2000 makes for a great setting. The mechanics of the game, a pinnacle for "crunch lovers," make for some truly Simulationist play.

While we have drones today, the conventional machines of war have largely not changed since 1984. The first flight of the UH-60 Blackhawk was in 1974, by 1984 it was 10 years old; it is still a mainstay in the US Armed Forces. The Russian M-24 Hind gunship still used and seeing combat. The T-series tanks by both sides are largely the same; the T-90 being a 30-year old design. The TOW anti-tank missile is as old and is a technology that influences weapons like NLAW and Javelin. Recall that the Stinger Anti-Air missile was used by the Muhajeeden against the Russians in Afghanistan! Certainly improved, but the same weapon system.

With the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, it is natural that the "front" move east to Ukraine. And we see now something that was largely, but with hindsight, truly a nightmare for a then Soviet army: a determined Ukraine nationalist fervor. Twilight:2000 largely ignored such nationalism, whether in Poland or any of the satellite Soviet states. The nuclear aspects of the game made some gross assumptions that suggest a beaten society in Poland—Warsaw was largely a ruin from tactical nuclear strikes. Nevermind, that even pre-Internet, 1984!, computer systems were largely destroyed—there was a underlying campaign theme in Twilight:2000 called Operation Reset that held a background promise of restarting the world's microprocessors destroyed in the results of a nuclear weapon's Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP).

How has the Cold War and Twilight:2000 informed my views of the Russian's Ukrainian invasion? Certainly enough that I can reason about the results and the fighting, never mind I'm the product of grandfathers that fought in WWII, of a military upbringing, and went to a military college, where military study was a requirement. I can discern quite a bit about what is happening to the Russian army and why, and I can filter the main stream reporting through this background and history.

And yet, I want to add this real time history to my own games, especially if I ever bring Twilight:2000 again to the table.

Lastly, I stand with the Ukrainians in their defense of their homeland. But I have to remember watching a Ground-to-Air missile take out a Mi-24 is not a video game or a tabletop RPG. Real people are not going home (and may never be identified or recovered), but I can hope that such results cripple the belligerent in this war, Russia.

I, however, will never boycott the Russian people or its culture and influences. Never go "full Liberty Cabbage."




  1. [1] The Warsaw Pact was a corollary to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the West. The Warsaw Pact was only seven years from dissolution in 1984. With the "end of the Cold War" the Warsaw Pact ended.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:00 AM in d10
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