SDHistCon, 21-23 May 2021

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Coming soon:

SDHistCon 2021: ‘Spring Deployment’! May 21-23, 2021
The San Diego Historical Games Convention (SDHistCon) is an annual event hosted and coordinated by a dedicated cadre of local gamers and friends, led by Harold Buchanan.

This “Spring Deployment” will be held virtually. There will be online historical gaming sessions and demos, seminars, live streams and other wargame community events. Most events will be coordinated using the Discord app (available free to all users).

The link to register is here:

https://tabletop.events/conventions/san-diego-history-con-2021-spring-deployment

Events during the con are free, but you need to get a ticket to attend anything; you also need an attendee’s badge which is a $10 donation (for all three days of the event).

I will be be conducting a session on China’s War 1937-41 at 1600 Sunday 23 May (that’s Pacific time, so UTC -7:00)

https://tabletop.events/conventions/san-diego-history-con-2021-spring-deployment/schedule/36

Only a few tickets are left! (I was surprised about that too.)

I’ll be talking about the history of the war, the different factions in the game, and other bits about game mechanics.

I hope you can make it! And if you can’t see this one, there are dozens and dozens of other events for you to check out:

https://tabletop.events/conventions/san-diego-history-con-2021-spring-deployment/schedule

CFS: TESA Collective wants to see your game design!

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https://www.tesacollective.com/we-are-seeking-to-sign-and-publish-new-board-and-card-games-about-changing-the-world

After 10 years of publishing work by internal designers and commissioned work by social organizations, the TESA (Toolbox for Education and Social Action) Collective is calling for outside designs.

A link for a submission form and additional details are available at the link above, but here is information on what they are looking for:

Please read: What we are and are not looking for

Here’s what we’re looking for: Board and card games that address an issue – such as nature and environmentalism, social justice/social change matters, historical events, building people’s power, climate change, and other important issues. The issue your game addresses can be big (like stopping climate change) or small (like growing a community garden) or anywhere in between. In summary, we are looking for games with a strong theme and a message about making the world a better place, in either a big or small way.

  • The game you pitch to us can be literal, but it does not have to be literal. Allegories or addressing important topics in fantastical settings is just fine. For instance, our games Space Cats Fight Fascism and STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion both do this. Either approach – literal or fantastical representation of the theme – is fine, as long as the game is about something.

  • We are primarily looking for games that would be exciting to be played during game nights with friends and family.

  • Your game doesn’t have to be finished for you to pitch it to us, but you should have a playable demo that you feel good about – even if it will still needs some fine tuning. Part of our responsibility is to help get the game to the finish line. We would prefer if you have at least some minimal graphic design and placeholder art (do not commission final artwork, that would be our responsibility) to help us when we play the game. But if we sign the game, it is our responsibility to make the game beautiful and ready for print.

  • We’re not looking for pitches that are just an idea you have for a game. (If you want us to develop a game for your organization, however, that’s a service we offer.) We are looking for games that have been created and playtested already (even if they are not 100% done).

  • We prefer games that are accessible. They don’t have to be super easy to learn, but we’re not looking for incredibly complex games that take an hour to learn and 4 – 5 hours to play.

  • We are looking to work with people who are open to collaboration. We may have some gameplay improvement suggestions as well as other ideas for marketability purposes. While we will not steamroll your vision, we want to make sure folks we work with are open to suggestions.

  • Though not a requirement, we have a preference for games that have a hopeful message.

  • We are open to both cooperative and competitive games.

CFP: Wargaming and the Military (Journal of Advanced Military Studies)

Found off H-net feed:

CFPs for the Journal of Advanced Military Studies: Wargaming and the Military

by Jason Gosnell

Call for Submissions for the Fall 2021 Journal of Advanced Military Studies (JAMS)

Marine Corps University Press publishes JAMS on topics of concern to the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense on international relations, political science, security studies, and political economics topics.

Our Fall 2021 issue will have a broadly construed theme:

Wargaming and the Military

This issue will address the past, present, and future state of wargaming and the military. The editors are interested in exploring the topic from a variety of perspectives, including the current status of wargaming and how the Services can prepare for tomorrow with innovative professional military education and wargaming. This exploration can include a historical analysis of wargaming and PME; an analysis of current military use of wargaming in an operational setting; and future wargaming concepts for PME and the battlefield. Article submissions are due by May 31.

The Journal of Advanced Military Studies is a peer-reviewed journal, and submissions should be 4,000–10,000 words, footnoted, and formatted according to Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition). Junior faculty and advanced graduate students are encouraged to submit. MCUP is also looking for book reviewers from international studies, political science, and contemporary history fields.

To receive a copy of the journal or to discuss an article idea or book review, please contact MCU_Press@usmcu.edu.

Punched, punched

Out today, the second number of Punched, a free online zine on wargames edited by James Buckley of Cardboard Emperors!

https://www.cardboardemperors.co.uk/punched-2#coin

This one is a special issue with lots of content on COIN everything:

  • James Buckley discusses the four keys to the success of the COIN engine
  • Jason Carr talks about COIN’s success, discusses some mechanics, and considers the future of the series
  • Volko Ruhnke discusses how insurgencies are modelled in the COIN series, and what Control and Oppose/Support mean
  • Fred Serval writes about the seething mass of fan-made COIN games churning around on the GMT COIN Discord server; it’s frightening to poke your head in there. Of special interest is an upcoming quad of short games by Stephen Ranganzas using cut-down COIN system mechanics to explore “the British Way” of counterinsurgency: Palestine, Malaya, Kenya and Cyprus.
  • Also, a really nice review of Brief Border Wars!

It’s free, it’s there, it’s waiting for you at the above link!

Oh, and would I ever love to attend this con in July – Camden is so neat (setting aside the tourist-trappy stuff). But maybe next year.

Camden

Reorg

Today we had a moderate reorganization of my Ministry – doesn’t affect me much except where dealing with the Suits is required; I lost a good go-to-bat-for-you Boss though.

But titles always change in a reorg, and now I am in the Strategic Policy and Initiatives Branch.

I’d make the logo my Zoom/MS Teams background or whatever, but no one would get it.

No jib at this jab

 Today I got my first shot of AstraZeneca. In B.C. this is being dispensed through pharmacies to anyone over 55; Pfizer and Moderna are being given through an age-based provincial system that I won’t get into for another 6-7 weeks at least. The third wave of COVID-19 and variant P.1 is bad here (not as bad as Ontario though), supplies of vaccines to Canada have been bumpy generally and people have been avoiding a vaccine that is 10,000 times less likely to harm them than the actual disease.

I had made up my mind yesterday to look into getting AZ; today I went to the pharmacy to pick up my wife’s prescription, and asked the pharmacist what the situation was. He said, book an appointment here, hey, we have an opening right now. Ten minutes later I had been jabbed.

Somewhat sore arm and I feel tired but that is my normal reaction to my annual flu shot, so I am not worried. And two weeks from now I will be a lot less worried about a lot of things!

[ETA: I spoke too soon… that night I had fever, chills, body aches and joint pain and was pretty lethargic the next day; arm was kind of stiff for the following 2-3 days. Much more than my usual reaction but it certainly provoked something!]

Once again, it is proven that innumeracy is 10,000 times stronger than actual statistics… next shot is in four months.

[ETA: I think I got this just in time, lucky break. Two days after my shot, they opened eligibility for AZ to people 40 and over, and now there is none left on Vancouver Island. Also, much of Canada’s AstraZeneca supply comes from India. With the recent huge upsurge of infections in India and collapse of their health care system, I am wondering how likely it will be that I will be able to get the second shot at that time… unless the Americans send some of the millions of doses their people say they will refuse to take.]

District Commander: FAQ, errata, clarifications and comments document

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Here and now: a FAQ-so-far, together with collected errata, clarifications and some comments on play on the DC system and the three modules released. Also posted to Boardgamegeek under the DC: Maracas module page and on the Free Games page.

Thanks to James Buckley for his help and editing! James has also written a longer, joined-up example of play for the Maracas module on Boardgamegeek.com for people who want a bit more demonstration on how to put missions together.

Connections Online – Practical Game Design presentation on Youtube

Just a quick one… here is the link to the event on Youtube.

Zones of Connection: 21-22 May 2021

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Nick Mizer, who I first met in connection with the national conference of the Popular Culture Association several years ago (Bored of War…  and News Paper Games) recently sent me an “Invitation to Collaborate” to the Bradley Tabletop Games Symposium, an online event to be held 21-22 May, 2021.

The Symposium is itself a collaboration between the Interactive Media Department of Bradley University and the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences Program of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where Nick is currently teaching. First, this event is quite welcome because it focuses on tabletop games; people have heard me often enough moaning about how the academic field of Game Studies is wilfully ignorant of its analog past and all it still has to teach. Second, this event is unusual because it is designed to be a collaborative event, a collection of events and sessions between the interdisciplinarian individuals involved in the field without the formal structure of keynote speakers, presentation of prepared papers, or scheduled fun-time events (that is, you’ll have to provide your own wine and charcuterie).

In wargames, a zone of control refers to the area of restricted movement and activity that occurs when two units become adjacent. As a theme for the first of these tabletop symposia “Zones of Connection” expresses our belief that bringing together a diversity of emerging voices and perspectives on tabletop games has much to offer through the connections that can be forged, interpersonally, emotionally, and intellectually.

Have a look at the invitation to collaborate document here Bradley Tabletop Games Symposium – Invitation to Collaborators and note that rather than submitting abstracts, they are asking for ideas for sessions (to be formatted as workshops, roundtables, panels and seminars but with as much audience participation as possible). If you have an idea for something you would like to participate in, let them know at the link in the document. Deadline for submissions is 26 April 2021.

To give you a further idea of what they might want to see, here are some topics of interest:

  • Games as media
  • Games and simulation
  • Games and anti-colonialism
  • Games as resistance
  • Games in/as education
  • Industry studies
  • Cultures of play
  • Board game cafes
  • Hybrid games
  • Ludo-textual analysis
  • Virtual tabletop play
  • Storytelling in tabletop games
  • Legacy and campaign games
  • Games and speculative futures / alternate histories
  • Discourse analysis of play sessions
  • Streaming and actual play podcasts
  • Phenomenology of play
  • Ludic fandom
  • History of tabletop games
  • Gaming and the military industrial complex
  • Games and translation
  • Games and play therapy
  • Board game renaissance
  • Games in the age of the pandemic

There must be something in all this to interest you!

Personally, I was interested in the speculative futures/ alternate histories topic and am considering submitting a suggestion for a session on that, related to this:

One thing that tweaked me while working on the games-as-journalism piece for the Eurowargames anthology was the section on games on hypothetical wars produced in the 80s, mainly on a Third World War. Regardless of whether you thought that was a farfetched event at the time, it did occupy a lot of interest – at the time. But over the last 10 years or so there has been a resurgence of new games coming out that study that same subject – a Soviet invasion of Europe in the mid-1980s (examples include the World at War series (2007 – 2015), Corps Command: Dawn’s Early Light (2010), Red Tide West (2014), Brezhnev’s War (2018), 1985: Under an Iron Sky (2018), Less than 60 Miles (2019), Red Tide South (2019), and The Fulda Gap: the Battle for the Center (2020)).

Nostalgia for an actual past that one remembers imperfectly is one thing. But nostalgic game design to commemorate a then-hypothetical future that is now a fictional past, it seems to me is a strange inversion of historiography indeed, and an additional twist beyond the approach taken by the designers of Twilight Struggle (where the disproved “domino theory” is consciously used in the game as the logic and incentive for players to act, within their roles as world leaders during the Cold War). So it’s a recreation of a hypothetical future from our past, but what kind of “retrofuturism” is it?

  • Dissatisfaction with the complex and quite changed power structures of today, and nostalgia for the bipolar world with its predicted wargasmic collision of the ideologies?
  • A notion that this war (potentially personally involving players then and now) would have been that generation’s “Good War” (per Studs Terkel), a moral exercise of Us vs. Them with clear-cut roles, unlike the troubling conflicts of Korea, Vietnam and half a dozen other interventions? (I do note that practically all of the examples I’ve given have been by American designers.)
  • Simple-minded huffing of nostalgia fumes for the games that these designers played in their youth? (Sure, I played my SPI NATO, Fifth Corps and BAOR like everyone else, but I miss other games from Back In The Day).
  • Rivet-counters looking for neato technical match-ups, and missing the contextual point as they often seem to do?

I can’t decide what it is; like always, it’s probably a little bit of everything, varying with the individual. It’s just something I’ve noticed and find perplexing, and while it’s pretty narrow I wonder if there are similar veins in other types of tabletop games.

Eurowargames anthology

One project I undertook during the winter was to prepare a piece for an upcoming anthology on Eurowargames – basically an expansion on my “games as citizen journalism” wheeze. This project is edited by Riccardo Masini, Fred Serval and Jan Heinemann, three very good names; they put out a call for articles last fall.

https://eurowargames.wordpress.com/

The original focus has somewhat widened, and the range of submissions will reflect that I think. Latest is that the anthology will be published in fall or winter of 2021, after getting sufficient funding through Kickstarter.

They did ask me my opinion about crowdfunding this, and I had no objection to using it as a pre-order system, but please, NO STRETCH GOALS!

Just get the book funded, and only the book. No tooled leather slipcases, commemorative tea cosies, or sets of commissioned miniatures of the authors (that last one is tempting though. I wonder what I would look like as a small action figure).

Anyway, the above interview (made before the final deadline for article submissions, so they did not yet know for certain what-all they had) gives more details.