Gathering Storm, both a game in its own right and a prequel to GMT’s A World at War, covers the period from 1935 to the outbreak of World War II, whenever that might be. Like A World at War, Gathering Storm simulates the military, economic, political, diplomatic, research and production preparations for the Second World War, allowing the players to explore what might have happened if:
– Admiral Doenitz had convinced his superiors of the importance of submarine warfare in the impending war with Britain.
– Germany had pursued the Z Plan earlier and more consistently.
– The development of the “Ural bomber” had been pursued.
– Poland had become a German satellite, rather than resisting German aggression.
– War had broken out over the Sudetenland, or even the remilitarization of the Rhineland.
– Mussolini had given a lower priority to naval armaments, to the benefit of the Italian armor and air forces.
– France had extended the Maginot Line.
– de Gaulle’s arguments to expand and strengthen France’s armor units had been accepted.
– Britain had rearmed sooner.
– Russia had deferred the Great Purges. Or accelerated them.
– The Spanish civil war had been won by the Loyalists.
– A civil war had broken out in Yugoslavia. Or Greece.
– Atomic fission had been discovered earlier.
– The Second World War had begun with a Franco-Italian conflict. Or a French pre-emptive attack on Germany. Or a Russo-German war, with Italy and the Western Allies neutral.
– War comes early. Or later, in 1940 or even 1941.
– YOU had been in command.
Gathering Storm can be played as a separate game in a single session, with its own victory conditions, but A World at War players will want to press on and see how the war they have created plays out. While using different mechanics, Gathering Storm’s structure is consistent with A World at War and allows for a seamless transition to whatever alternate war the players planned – or stumbled into. Some 30 years in development, with three years of design and playtesting, Gathering Storm, includes the following:
– Six random events each turn, providing unlimited replay value.
– Economics based on tiles and activity counters, eliminating any paperwork.
– Flexible mobilization rules, allowing players to emphasis civilian or military production – each at the expense of the other.
– Unit construction which allows players to activate reserve units for immediate benefits, at a cost of limiting future options.
– Variable research, which can focus on air, naval, military or intelligence projects, as well as short or long term gains.
– A fast-moving diplomatic system, with each player allocating diplomatic counters each turn. Diplomatic targets are public, but the points allocated to them are not.
– Shipbuilding that allows varied fleets, including the possibility of 5-factor super battleships.
– Ahistorical A World at War counters, including armor units of different strengths and additional ships.
– A dynamic crisis system, in which the Allies can appease or oppose the Axis, with neither side necessarily being certain whether war might break out.
– No dice.
Gathering Storm is a must-buy for any committed A World at War player, an excellent – and possibly dangerously time consuming – introduction to the A World at War universe for those unfamiliar with that game, and a enjoyable and instructive fast-paced game all on its own.