Off again, off again, jiggety-jig…

battle-of-algiers

On Monday I am going to Washing Tundy Sea, for the 2018 iteration of the Connections conference on professional wargaming.

https://connections-wargaming.com/connections-2018/

I’ll be at National Defense University at Fort McNair… among other things, facilitating a gamelab table discussion and giving a short seminar on “Perspectives on Counterinsurgency Gaming” (largely my usual talk on how games on modern irregular warfare are rare and subversive, and don’t get no respect because they upset people for a variety of reasons when they pay attention to them at all… so you’re not missing much if you’ve heard it from me before).

Also, demonstration/participation games of Guerrilla Checkers, Second Lebanon War and We Are Coming, Nineveh (Mosul urban combat game).

Looking forward to seeing many of the Usual Suspects again!

Going to be hot (32-35 degrees) and humid (with two days of thunderstorms). Quite a change from Arizona (though I hear the monsoon season has started there now).

Probably won’t be posting from there as I will be working off a teeny tiny tablet; more when I get back.

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New free game: Maracas

Maracas mapsnip      Maracas ctrsnip

Maracas is one of the four games I’ve designed so far that uses the District Commander diceless, operational-level counterinsurgency system.

It takes place in Maracas, the fictional megacity capital of the equally fictitious nation of Virtualia (which was also the locale for my game Caudillo).

I am making it available for free print-and-play download as an example of

a) the District Commander system itself; and

b) an introductory game on asymmetrical warfare in a modern large city.

I intend to do more of this kind of thing. I’ve been interested in urban combat for a long time (Tupamaro was one of my first game designs) and I think this is a crucially important topic for present-day and near-future wargame work. There’s certainly going to be a certain amount of the real thing soon enough.

Game components consist of:

The counters are made to be printed out at 5/8″ and the map at 17×22″, but if your eyes are young and strong and your fingers nimble go ahead and print them out smaller. Or if you’re half-blind and near-palsied like me, print them out on 1″ foamcore and as big a map as you can find.

Permission is granted to downloaders to make a copy for their own personal use, under the usual Creative Commons Licence adopted for this website.

NOTICE:

All material on this website, including all its subsidiary pages, that is written by me is made available through a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

This game, and up to three or more other modules in the system (so far Algeria 1959, Vietnam 1969, Afghanistan 2009, Maracas 2019), will be released over the next year or two by Hollandspiele.

I hope you will give it a try.

Thanks!

Shining Path back in stock at One Small Step!

FS01SP

Si!

Like the title says, you can buy copies of Shining Path again… $22.95 each.

Here is the link:

http://ossgamescart.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20&products_id=48

Green Beret and Algeria are still marked as sold out, but that may be fixed soon as well. Meanwhile, Kandahar, Operation Whirlwind, Binh Dinh 69 and Tupamaro are all available.

Back from CSWExpo 2018

me and masahiro

At CSWExpo with Masahiro Yamazaki, a profound and prolific game designer.

Well, I went, and now I’m back… it was a great week!

As You Know, Bob, I went down to Tempe with ten designs and I think I have found homes for twelve of them.

  • The Brief Border Wars quad will be published by Compass Games, all four in one box;
  • the District Commander series (the first four anyway) will come out singly from Hollandspiele;
  • Thunder Out of China gathered a lot of interest and some very good initial player test input (lychee-nut clusters to John Burtt and Ian Weir, among others), time permitting in between it should be ready to deliver to GMT for P500 next Expo time;
  • We Are Coming, Nineveh attracted some nice attention and partial or full tests from passersby, notably Paul Van Etten and Steve Lieske who gave me a page or two of notes and suggestions. Needs some work but an established publisher is definitely interested!
  • I showed Caudillo to GMT and they were interested too but it needs some R&D for added light-heartedness without it becoming like Junta… I know the man who  is up for this kind of job, and hopefully can report more soon.
  • Finally, Steve Jones of Blue Panther games proposed sales of a spiffed-up version of Guerrilla Checkers (board printed on canvas with poly back, little wooden punch-out pieces) to SoCal pubs… a market I had never considered, though the linen-napkin and glass stones versions I had been selling are just as beer-proof.

Whoof, it was hot though… 42 degrees and more every day. No excursions as we had planned, but we had fun in the hotel and general area, and it was great to meet both the people I meet once a year here (John Teixeira, Kerry Anderson, John Kranz the expo organizer, Joel Dahlenberg etc.) and new friends (Masahiro Yamazaki from Japan (he was there last year but I was too shy to speak to him, this year I essayed my broken Japanese), Florent Coupeau from Nuts! Publishing in France, Zach Larue, Sam Losthisname (but he’s a cool guy), Tom Switajewski, Randy Strader, etc.).

Besides the revision and refining work to be done on some of these designs, I also came home with several ideas for new games that I hope to work out over the rest of the year. So stay tuned….

buchanan intvw

Being interviewed at CSWExpo for Harold Buchanan’s podcast “Harold on Games”. Photo: Harold Buchanan.

While I was there, Harold Buchanan (designer of Liberty of Death and more besides) interviewed me for his podcast “Harold on Games”. He let me ramble on for almost two hours, I don’t envy him the job of editing it down to fit. Anyway, when he does I’ll let you know here and you can listen to me, too.

Off to Consimworld Expo 2018!

lawrncoarabia_032pyxurz

Best cut in cinematic history.

So, very early tomorrow we take off for a week and change in Tempe Arizona, to attend Consimworld Expo 2018. This convention gets bigger every year, there will be at least 275 hardcore gamers there this time.

I am taking lots of things with me, to show and/or test with people:

The Brief Border Wars quad:

Four minigames on border conflicts. Uses a development of the system in The Little War. Pretty much done testing but they are fun and short. El Salvador-Honduras 1969, Turkey-Cyprus 1974, China-Vietnam 1979, Israel-Hezbollah 2006.

Thunder out of China:

4-player COIN system for China 1937-41, I got this one to the 50% mark in 2015 but had to stop due to the need to finish off Colonial Twilight. Event Deck needs work as do a few tuneups. This will be a different twist on the COIN system but only slightly; twist of emphasis, not addition of mechanics.

The District Commander quad:

What, am I bringing back the Quadrigame? This is a diceless system of counterinsurgency at the operational level that I have been working on for a few years. Standard rules are rather long but they are “chatty”, the system is pretty simple and there are lots of possible options/ variations on play; each set of module exclusive rules is written as additions and exceptions to the standard rules.

Four modules: Mascara (Algeria 1959); Binh Dinh (Vietnam 1969); Kandahar (Afghanistan 2009); Maracas (imaginary megacity 2019). Modules feature things like population resettlement, airmobility, insurgent logistics, Agent Orange, monsoon rains, Phoenix Program, non-state militias, criminal gangs, insurgent command nodes, informers, sabotage, etc..

Caudillo:

Multi-player game on Latin American power politics, this brings up the tension between cooperation and competition. Not testing but CSW is a good place to try and snag people for multi-player games (3-5).

We Are Coming, Nineveh

Something new, not my design but I am helping on its development and need some playtester input. Designed by two graduate students of Rex Brynen, a Political Science professor at McGill University in Montreal who uses games in his classes a lot. This is their first essay into game design and it’s good enough that Rex and I are helping on its development for commercial publication.

It is an operational-level game of the Iraqi government campaign to liberate the western half of the city of Mosul from the forces of Daesh between 19 February and 9 July 2017. This was one of the largest and most difficult urban operations of the post-WWII era, and marked a major defeat for Daesh and its so-called “Islamic State.”

Area-movement map of west Mosul, including the densely-built Old City where Daesh forces made their last stand. Unit scale is groups of 100 or so Daesh fighters each, or battalion-sized units of the Iraqi Army, Ministry of the Interior, and elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS). Time scale is about 2 weeks/turn but this is flexible, and not that important. Blocks for both sides, to maintain uncertainty and the “fog of war.”

Capability cards: Before the operation starts, players choose a number of special capability cards. Gives great replayability.

Also during each turn, event cards can be triggered at any time by either player. Some of these indicate the growing collateral damage done to the city and its people. Others generate tactical vignettes: troops can get lost in the maze of small streets, communications can break down, and commanders can be faced with difficult moral and operational choices.

Victory: Unlike most wargames where there is a single measure for victory or loss, the game assesses three key aspects of the campaign: the speed at which the operation is completed, the casualties suffered by Iraqi government forces, and the collateral damage done to Mosul. One might outperform the historical case, capturing the Old City faster—but at a terrible civilian cost.

Going to be HOT and sunny, every day!

I may post from there, probably not as I will be working off a tablet with a tiny keyboard that is an exercise in patience to use.

Be good to each other while I’m gone.

Strike for Berlin has struck

Yaah 11 cover

Yesterday I got an entirely-too-large-for-the-purpose box from Coolstuff Inc., containing my designer copies of Strike for Berlin (along with a year’s worth of styrofoam packing peanuts – unfortunately not the edible kind).

Very nice physical presentation; quality map and counters by John Cooper; good diecutting and the maps match up if anyone wants to play the Link Game; even some interesting articles in the magazine. The rules are bound into the back section of the magazine and you cannot remove them; you should probably make copies of the more useful charts.

One thing they did not have room for was an expanded and annotated Sequence of Play that I have taken to writing for my games, as a way of ushering players through a turn until they get used to the sequence. So here it is:

S4B exp sequence

Thanks, hope you enjoy the game!

And if you haven’t had a chance yet, buy it here: https://flyingpiggames.com/products/yaah-magazine-issue-11

Brian

Chile ’73: errata file

2006-08-27.destroyed.israeli.tank

“Gang aft agley.” Getting a bit tired of this, though…

Regrettably, there were a number of production errors and unsolicited additions and changes to the rules and components of Chile ’73. Most of them are rather minor on their own but taken all together, detract quite a bit from what people seem to think is an interesting design.

Tiny Battle has moved to address and correct most of these errors, and remove the changes (which only introduced further confusion in the game) in the print-and-play version available at wargamevault.com. But when I received my physical designer copies after they were mailed to me on April 20, they still contained all of the errata that I had brought to Tiny Battle’s attention as soon as I saw the first PnP version, on March 3.

Tiny Battle will do something about this; they usually do. So far they have emailed what buyers of the physical version they had addresses for with a link to get a free copy of the PnP version, so they can print out the corrected rules and assemble the corrected counters for themselves.

Not everyone is going to want to, or be able to, do this, and there are other customers out there who would never have received that link at all. Which means I am going to be answering errata questions about this game that may or may not have been addressed, for some time. It all counts as “game support” but I would really rather be doing other things, like making new games, instead of answering for or about someone else’s mistakes.

So, here is the file for all the Chile ’73 errata that I have found or have been brought to my attention.

Consolidated Errata for CHILE 73 13jun

(as of June 13, 2018)

Also, here is an expanded sequence of play to use as a player aid to prompt you through the game – something I included in my submission but which they couldn’t fit into the rules booklet.

CL73 expanded sequence 20mar

Oh, and some final points, if you do make a set of the PnP counters:

In the game I submitted, all of the unit Control Chits were the same colour on the back. I just left them white. This was so that when you drew them out of the Control Pool no one could tell what Faction of unit (Civilian, Paramilitary or Military) you were picking and choosing – just that when you took one in and discarded an Infiltrate chit at the same time, the unit you took was not of your faction or you did not have the faction leader (or you could just have been faking people out).

This gave more depth to the pre-Coup phase, so people would have more incentive to play Investigate chits on other players, or trying to make deals with others to sound them out for what faction they were. Colouring the backs of the unit Control Chits by their faction (which TBP’s artist did for some reason) removes that mystery, and makes it obvious pretty quickly who is what faction…

Again, like the other counter errata, this does not make the game unplayable. But those of you who are making up your counters with the free PnP download might want to make this change when you are pasting up the counters.

Also, it would be a good idea to print the counters out at a smaller size than 1″ square, and print the map out larger if you can. TBP’s doubling the area of each counter (from 5/8″ to 1″) but leaving the map at 11×17″ results in several map areas where only one stack of units can comfortably fit.