A Brief History of Zeus IV and V

by Fred C Davis

Chris Northcott and I put a lot of work into improving his first draft, which you published in Spring Offensive 5 as Zeus IV.  To begin with, I didn’t realise that Zeus IV was actually the first of Chris’s designs.  I’d assumed that the numbering system referred to similar designs.  Instead it seems that his zine at one time was called Zeus, and each variant design was simply given the next Roman numeral as it was published.  I only found this out after I’d produced Zeus V

Anyway, when I first saw the original Zeus IV (North American Variant Bank Catalog No.gf09), I saw there were several errors in it, and some spots which needed improvements.  I wrote Chris a lengthy letter giving him some suggestions.  First, I advised him that his choices of names were incorrect for a World War II scenario in some cases.  For example, “Guam” should be “Okinawa”, and “Yap” should be “Solomon Is.”.  The Chinese city of “Lanchow” should be “Chungking,” the wartime capital of Nation­alist China.  “Rostov” should be “Stalingrad,” etc.  The original locations for “Sapporo” and “Sendai” had to be reversed as Chris had got them the wrong way round. 

I also added a new province called “Alaska” and divided the “Wake Is.” into two, a sea space called “Caroline Islands” and a SC called “Marshall Islands”.  More importantly I broke the land bridge ability of armies to island-hop across the Pacific by requiring a convoy across the Caroline Is.  This added a bit of realism to the map.  Chris accepted most of my sugges­tions and subsequently published his as Zeus IV – Final (gf17) in 1982. 

Later, I decided I wanted to run Zeus in Bushwacker, but there were still a couple of changes I wanted to make.  For one thing, I did away with the Marshall Is. SC and put two sea spaces in mid-Pacific, “Caroline Is.” and “Central Pacific.”  Then I changed the name of the former Central Pacific to “South Pacific.”  This made it sound more like a WWII scen­ario.  I made North Africa a separate space from Tripoli.  Mexico and “C.Z.” were merged into “Panama,” with the Canal clearly shown on the map.  A few more changes were the addition of “Iran” between Middle East and India, and “Nepal” between India and Chungking.  Also, “South China Sea” was made out of the western half of the “East China Sea”.  All of these changes served to keep certain key SC’s separated, plus adding more manoeuvring room.  This version was dubbed Zeus V (gf10). 

While working on Zeus V, I thought about the anomaly of France not being a Great Power.  I decided to offer players a choice between having France or Italy as the 7th Great Power.  Since in reality Italy was knocked out of the Axis by 1943, it seemed more real­istic to make France the 7th Power.  SO, whereas in “V” France consists of only “France” and “Vichy,” in Zeus V-F (gf11), Vichy becomes “Marseilles” (a SC), and the provinces of Burgundy and Gascony are added.  The 3rd French SC is Algiers (ex-N.Africa).  The 3rd Italian SC in Tripoli is abolished, becoming the ordinary space Libya.  MAO once again touches France.  Also there’s a provision in the rules that Germany can build Fleets in Rome if it owns that SC. 

Note “Hungary” has also been added to the map in both Zeus V and Zeus V-F.  The version we played in Bushwacker was V-F.  It was fairly successful, lasting 11 game-years, ending in 1950 with a two-way draw between China and USA.  Japan and GB were wiped out early, mainly due to NMRs.  USSR got up to 9 centres in 1943, but then gradually went downhill and van­ished in 1949.  Germany and France did fairly well until the last two game years, when China and USA were able to concen­trate on them.  At the end, China had 17 SC’s, USA 15, and Germany 8 (having dropped 3 SC’s on the last season). 

Incidentally, I lost touch with Chris Northcott some­where around 1984, just after this Bushwacker game ended.  My last letter was returned “Unable to Forward.”  I presume he never returned to the postal hobby. 

SA: Thanks for the background information Fred.  The version I have started in Spring Offensive is Zeus IV-F which doesn’t appear to be in the UKVB, so I must send James Nelson a copy.  If there is any interest I will publish the Zeus V versions and see if I can encourage another editor to open a waiting list.  I must say that I think it is a pity to exclude Italy on the grounds that they were knocked out of the Axis by 1943, yet replace them with the French who were knocked out of the war as early as 1940.