Upcoming games in Modern War magazine

The most recent issue of Modern War magazine, published by Decision Games, had a preview of upcoming issues over the next three years. Four of them are mine:

#9 (Jan-Feb 2014) Next War in Lebanon – This is “Third Lebanon War”, with a somewhat revised combat system. The Staff Card system remains and I think shows well the asymmetries between the two types of military forces. There is also a 2006 scenario.  

#11 (May-Jun 2014) Andartes – The Greek Civil War 1947-49, using a system for COIN warfare by Joe Miranda that will be introduced in his game “Decision Iraq”, coming in issue #6 of the magazine. My game on the Greek Civil War using the original “Algeria family” system, will be coming out from Fiery Dragon at the end of 2012. 

#13 (Sep-Oct 2014) Kandahar – Afghanistan 2009-10. Substantial tweak  to the counterinsurgency game system I used for games like Algeria, Greek Civil War etc. Players are regional commanders (Afghan military (not NATO!) and Taliban) scrabbling for the resources to allow them to earn Victory Points, which are granted in accordance with objectives set them by the same higher authorities that provide them with those resources. Players will find themselves in the position of having, if they wish to continue to get high levels of support, to follow courses of action that are not the most effective in opposing the enemy but are more valued by their superiors, and which themselves change from time to time during the game. When you run out of support, the game ends – the war continues but with a different commander! Comes in three versions so players can add complexity as they go. Intelligence/counterintelligence system, hidden information, morale, training and unit quality, civic infrastructure, economic development, lasting effects of violence and terror, differntiation of kinetic and non-kinetic missions, etc. but we’ll see how much of this actually makes it into the magazine as printed (fortunately DG pledges to support its games with space available on its website for advanced and optional rules, counters and so forth). 

#18 (Jul-Aug 2015) Green Beret – Central Highlands of Vietnam 1964, before the large American units arrived in 1965. On one side, the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups, raised trained and advised by Special Forces A-teams, resist the Viet Cong and NVA to control the population and prevent them opening supply routes to the coast. The game focuses on processes of progressive recruitment, population control, evasion and detection. Map-and-counter port and extensive revision of a card game I did a long time ago.

So, good news!


Edited to add: 29 March 2013

I have been informed that #9, “Next War in Lebanon”, has been replaced in the lineup by the publisher with  “Target: Iran”, a game by another designer that was originally for #17. Whether future military US/Israeli action against Iran is more likely than Israeli action against Hezbollah, I really can’t say. But I’m not the publisher either.

The more worrying thing is that Lebanon has been bumped back to #13, the issue slotted for “Kandahar”, and no word for now how far back that one will be bumped – perhaps to #17, which must now be vacant? Anyway, there will be an extra wait of 8 or 9 months for everything, but the good part of the news is that as far as I know all of the games will be published eventually.

Playtesting of A Distant Plain at BottosCon 2012

November 2-4 was BottosCon, named for Rob Bottos, the guy who works so hard to organize it, at the Compass Points Inn in splashy Surrey (honestly, seemed like it did nothing but rain all weekend). This is the fifth time Rob had run the convention there, it gets a bit bigger every year. All kinds of wargames are played, even some non-wargames, and maybe half of the people who come are avid Advanced Squad Leader players (a wargame that is not so much a game as a lifestyle, where competitive play requires toting around gym bags full of counters and binders of rules 3 inches thick. I am not kidding.)

Anyway, I spent most of my time conducting two and a half playtest games of A Distant Plain (the half-game was called for a meal break and we moved on afterwards), about three hours each time. Volko Ruhnke’s newly released game on Colombia, Andean Abyss, was present, with at least two copies being played. About half of the playtesters involved had also played this game, which uses much the same system. That helped a lot to get people into the game and enjoying the subtleties of play.

A crucial difference between the  two situation is that the Colombian game features one Counterinsurgent (the Government) versus three Insurgents (FARC, AUC and Cartels). the Afghanistan game has two Counterinsurgents (Coalition and Afghan Government) versus two Insurgents (Taliban and Warlords). Though they may be on the same side for game purposes, neither partner is meant to cooperate with the other very much – a point missed as the Government won or had the upper hand each time, through being able to siphon off large amounts of Graft and keep almost all of the Afghan Army and Police spread throughout the countryside, ensuring control of more population – due to generous donations by the Coalition and energetic Train operations. So there is certainly such a thing as being too much of a team player!

Other than that, I got a big stack of old wargaming magazines cheap and had a bit of  a chance to catch up with people I generally see only at this convention.