China’s War: near-final map art


I haven’t written much about China’s War lately, but here is something to look at – the near final map art!

Much heavier visual emphasis on the Lines of Communication because of their critical importance to the game, and the need to give pieces some space to unambiguously occupy them.

Chinese characters have been vetted with native speakers.

Next up for visuals will be finding illustrations for the Event Cards… then finishing off writing for the Playbook – I won’t be doing the tutorial or the solo system playthroughs but there will be Designer’s Notes, Faction Interaction Chart, Event Text and Background, Transliteration and Pronunciation Guide, and reading list, capped by a short piece on the war for historical background for people who don’t know anything about the war already.

Work is proceeding, at a dignified pace which suits me.

Free game: Call Sign by Sebastian Bae

Free postcard game: Sebastian Bae’s “Call Sign” gives a look at carrier combat

Normally, I do not play naval or air wargames, and this game is about both, but I am a sucker for the format and intention of the postcard game format. I hope that Sebastian and “CNA Corp” will make more of these available!

Review: We Are Coming, Nineveh


At the blog “A Wargamer’s Needful Things”, a very complimentary and detailed review of We Are Coming Nineveh.

2023-01 Urban Operations Planner Course

(all photos: Jayson Geroux)

I’ve spent the last week attending the third serial of the Urban Operations Planners Course, run by the 40th Infantry Division (California Army National Guard) and held at Joint Force Training Base Los Alamitos. Went very well!

A solid week of really great lectures and exercises on urban warfare, featuring the usual suspects like COL John Spencer of the Modern War Institute’s Urban Warfare Project, Stuart Lyle of the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Dr. Jacob Stoil of the School of Advanced Military Studies, Dr. Sahr Muhammedally, and MAJ Jayson Geroux of the Royal Canadian Regiment. These are some of the most knowledgeable people on kinetic urban conflict in the world. I met a lot of really interesting students as well – most were Americans but there were also students from other armies. Still no Canadians other than MAJ Geroux and myself.

There was more time for instruction and play of the the Quick Urban Integrated Combat Kriegsspiel or QUICK, designed by yours truly. We had an introductory period mid-week and spent the final day playing both basic and advanced versions, which I think was much better for the students to digest and get used to. Like last time there were a few former gamers in the class, but for some this was a completely new item.

(PAFF people made a short clip showing people playing the game… I don’t know how to link a Facebook reel. If I’d known the camera was on me, I might have used knife hands!)

It landed very very well; the students seemed really engaged by it. Also, a number of remote students played online at the same time, using a VASSAL module produced by Curt Pangracs at the Command General and Staff College.

(Of course people got to use their Military Pointing Skills!)

Fortunately I had a set of great facilitators including the heads of training for the Division, faculty from the Joint Special Operations University and US Army Command and General Staff College, and volunteer students and instructors of the course. It never would have worked without them!

The course had a bit more social media presence than last year and I was told “we were blowing up on Twitter” after some pictures of the game being played were posted to Twitter. Maybe I need to get on that medium too, before Elon scatters its ashes. Anyway, there was a surge of visits to the page here where I offer the game files to everyone for free print and play: The QUICK Page

However, be aware that like last year I will be making some changes and revisions to the game rules and charts due to feedback and comments from the students. Like all games, it’s a continual work in progress.

The standard grip-and-grin: me and BG Robert Wooldridge, Deputy Commander of 40ID, sponsor of the course and avid wargamer himself.

How to think about Red – video

Connections-Online was a couple of weeks ago.

Robert Domaingue and I made a presentation on the idea of “Red” as a prompt to creativity – how we think about Red shapes what we create.

You can see that Robert is by far the better presenter. Don’t miss my embarrassing coughing fit about 9:00!

The playlist of videos for all the presentations for Connections-Online 2023 is here:

Gaming the Unpleasant


At Conflicts of Interest Online, operated by Harold Buchanan and the gang behind SDHistcon, Volko Ruhnke held a  roundtable of seven designers responding to the question prompt:

Historical boardgames often tackle difficult, unpleasant, or unconventional topics like war, slavery, the economics and social structure of exploitive colonial economics, human rights abuses, terrorism, piracy, dirty politics, and medieval social systems, as a few examples.

As a game designer facing the paradoxical linkage between unpleasant issues and fun gameplay, what sorts of topics would you find most difficult? How do you decide whether to tackle a difficult topic? And when you do, what do you abstract out and what do you include in the game?

Some very deep and thoughtful replies from Sebastian Bae, Mark Herman, Amabel Holland, Jason Matthews, Akar Bharadvaj, Cole Wehrle.

And me, bringing up the rear….

Designer roundtable: Gaming the Unpleasant

Urban Operations Planners Course 23-01: D-29


Starting in one month’s time: the third serial of the Urban Operations Planner Course, sponsored by the 40th Infantry Division (CA AARNG).

As before, we’ll be playing the Quick Urban Integrated Combat Kriegsspiel on the last day; I will also be bringing along several smaller games on aspects of operations that I have been inspired to put together since last summer.

I’m VERY excited about going back and working with such a great group of professionals again.

Here’s hoping I don’t lose my voice like last time!

2022-02 Urban Operations Planner Course

Connections-Online: 17-23 April 2023


Coming next week: the 2023 edition of Connections Online!

As you can see above, the theme this year is “The Enemy Gets A Vote”, and most presentations will deal with some aspect of RED – Red teaming, Red watching, Red cabbage… there will also be demonstrations and plays-through of classical Kriegsspiel (the 1796 Italian campaign), Sebastian Bae’s very clever Littoral Commander, and more.

Main events are in the middle of the week (18-20 April) but there are also satellite events either side of that.

One of these is on 1300 PDT Saturday 22 April:

How to think About The Other- “Red” as a Creativity Prompt

Game designers and players Brian Train (hobbyland) and Robert Domaingue (ex-State Department) will talk about their thoughts on the broader concept of “Red” in games. Questions from the audience welcome.

Yikes, five people have signed up for that one already… have to get my imposter syndrome reaction under control.

Go here to sign up for the whole event (a paltry $5), and getcher badges (free free free)!

[edited to add: the video of our talk has been posted to Youtube. Robert is by far the better speaker!]

Strike For Berlin: Chinese edition!


Several of my games originally published by Flying Pig/ Tiny Battles have also had Chinese-language editions, produced by arrangement with Banana Games (think they are in Tianjin).

Here is the Chinese edition of Strike For Berlin.

Looks nice except they misspelled my name on the box!

More broadly, for anyone who is interested I ran across this interesting summary of wargame shops, publishers game clubs and other resources across Asia, recent as of 2019.

And of course this leads one down a bit of a rabbit hole, where I found some panels of “Girl Genius Wargamer”, a manga drawn by Fraser Chang of Taiwan in 2014. Here is a short piece of his giving an introduction to the different forms and scales of board wargaming, featuring cartoon girls with large heads, odd coloured hair and short-skirted high school uniforms.

News from GMT

Today saw the monthly GMT Games update newsletter, with tidings of developments on all game projects and – most keenly anticipated by all – announcements of new items up for P500.

Two of these are notable:


A new four-pack of games on Latin American insurgencies by Stephen Rangazas, using a slightly encomplexified iteration of the cut-to-its-core COIN system he used in the first four-pack, The British Way. This one has games on the Tupamaros (1968), El Salvador (1979), Nicaragua (1979) and Shining Path (1980). You can play the El Salvador and Nicaragua games simultaneously side-by-side in the “Resisting Reagan” scenario.

More here:


This one is a continental-scale game on the European revolutions of 1848, using a an area control system that was featured in 1989: Dawn of Freedom and Twilight Struggle, two perennial GMT best sellers. The designer is Jules Felisaz, whose name I do not recognize and does not show up on Boardgamegeek so this must be his first published design.

More here:

I designed a game on the Tupamaros in 1995, a game on the Shining Path in 1996, and a continental scale 1848-revolutions game in 1997. As far as I could tell these were the first designs on these conflicts.

So of course I am excited to see the second designs on all these conflicts coming out, over 25 years later!

Yes, I signed up for these, certainly….