The Shock Force campaigns consist a series of linked battles, each of which must be won before progressing to the next. I won't delve into each battle, which tended to be roughly similar struggles with NATO forces attempting to dislodge dug-in Syrian defenders. What's more interesting are the lessons learned. The battles often depended on the quality of the defenders. Sometimes the game felt like Iraq in 2003, with the Syrian side made up of conscript infantry and fedayeen armed with a few rocket propelled-grenades and machine guns. Other times, the game felt like Lebanon in 2006, with hidden Syrian commandos using advanced Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles to blow holes in my Leopard 2 tanks and Marder troop carriers.
As the German commander, I hoped that the Syrians would channel Stalin in 1941 and try to fight in the open against my blitzkrieg. Instead, Shock Force's computer-controlled Syrians, who may or may not be smarter than Assad's actual generals (who haven't fought a real war in 30 years, much less a victorious one), retreated to the villages and cities. There my 10th Panzer division faced a dilemma that would afflict any NATO force: I had plenty of advanced vehicles and firepower to pulverize urban terrain, but relatively little infantry to occupy it. The Germans lose victory points for inflicting civilian casualties or damaging mosques and schools, though the United States is not penalized for doing this (oh, my, have things changed since World War II). But in a war of village strongpoints, either you have the infantry and the stomach for street battles, or you stand back and blast away before sending the grunts in to comb the rubble. I found myself using more firepower than finesse, and advancing very slowly, because I could not afford to lose half an infantry squad in a sudden ambush. The Germans in Shock Force are powerful but fragile; they never receive any replacement equipment or men during the course of the campaign (like NATO running short of munitions during the Libya campaign), and automatically lose if they take more than 15 percent casualties in a single battle. The old 10th Panzer division might have fought to the death in Russia (they actually surrendered in North Africa) for their glory of the Fatherland, but their successors are in no hurry to die for regime change in the Middle East.
Shock Force is not a predictive game of a NATO invasion of Syria. Even as a simulation of modern combat, it has flaws, such as omitting the unmanned aircraft that would give today's commanders a great deal of battlefield intelligence. There are also no Hezbollah or Iranian "volunteers" aiding Assad (though the game's scenario editor allows players to add them), nor rebel soldiers and volunteers to help NATO (assuming they would help the invaders rather than fight them).
And because the game is tactical, it does not address the strategic truth, which is that the minute the first NATO tank crossed the border, the Assad regime would be doomed. The Syrians simply lack the advanced military capabilities needed to halt a NATO advance. But an invasion would still face military realities at the tactical level, where the resultant body count would have strategic resonance for Western and world public opinion. Germany opposed sending troops to aid the Libyan rebels last year; a bloody ground war in Syria could easily result in regime-change in Berlin as well as Damascus.
The question is what price can the doomed dictator extract, and it is there that a game like Shock Force is illuminating. If the Syrian military disintegrates, or if it is only effective when shooting unarmed civilians, then a NATO intervention would be relatively -- though not totally -- bloodless. But if an Alawite-dominated Syrian army, with its back to the wall and fearing retribution by the Sunni majority, fights to the last, then they have enough advanced weapons and defensible terrain to inflict politically damaging losses. Maybe the Assad regime would prove to be a paper tiger. But don't count on a blitzkrieg on the road to Damascus.