In 1995 a series of Sino-Soviet border conflicts expanded into general war between the Soviet Union and China. The Sino-Soviet war rapidly escalated from conventional warfare into exchanges of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. In 1996 a cabal of East German and West German military officers seek to reunify their country. Unified German forces stage a coup d'état against the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. The US and NATO allies initially attempt to stay out of the war, but are quickly drawn into the European conflict.
Between 1996 and 1997 a largely conventional war is fought between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces throughout Europe. There are limited exchanges of battlefield nuclear weapons, and chemical and biological weapons. During Thanksgiving 1997, the Soviet Union launches a surprise first strike against targets in the United States and Europe. The U.S. and Great Britain launch retaliatory nuclear strikes against the Soviet Union.
In the aftermath of the nuclear exchanges, both blocs struggle to recover from the damage. The war continues - despite increasing shortages of men, equipment, and fuel. In the United States there is a breach between the civilian government and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. An open rift develops between "Civgov" (the civilian government) and "Milgov" (the military government), which leads to a low-intensity civil war.
By the summer of 2000, the European theatre of operations had been fought to a near stalemate. In one final effort to break the deadlock and end the war NATO forces planned a summer offensive across Northern Poland and into the Baltics, but the offensive ground to a halt in the face of a Warsaw Pact counter-attack. Several divisions & corps on each side were virtually eliminated. In the chaotic aftermath, supply lines are lost, high level command breaks down and armies in the European theatre lose cohesion beyond the platoon unit. Some go "native" and integrated with the militias of independent "free cities", others turned into gangs of marauding bandits and some small groups of surviving soldiers sought to find their way home.
The Second Edition (published in 1990) and subsequent editions featured a reworked background intended to be an alternate history closer to 1990s real-world history. Version 2.2, Game Designers' Workshop final edition of the game, was published in 1993 and featured a background in which the KGB's Alpha Group obeyed the coup leaders in the August 1991 Soviet coup attempt and stormed the Russian White House, killing Boris Yeltsin and effectively preserving communist control.
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