Next War in Lebanon, redux

Well, it happened AGAIN (refer to Greek Civil War, redux).

Constant Readers will recall that I sent “Third Lebanon War”, my original game design on a near-future Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah, in to Decision Games at the end of 2011. DG asked me several months later, in early 2012, to redesign the combat system, which also required some changes to other systems in the game. So I did, and that was the last I heard of it.

Rules: AGAIN, they made a number of major rules changes between 2012 and now, without my knowledge. Besides discarding the new combat system I had to work out for them in the original revision, there are a number of fundamental changes made, that make nonsense of my original points and emphases in designing the game, especially the victory conditions. There are also substantial errata and contradictions in the game-as-published, where they did an incomplete/inconsistent job in making these new changes.

Counters: besides going from a total of 228 to 176 counters, they have changed the unit ratings on some but not all Israeli units, and added some units. Counter layout is completely different. Insurgent unit counter mix completely different (cut it from 43 to 26 units, and changed all the ratings). And there are 18 new counters representing a deck of playing cards: 4 suits, 1-10, Jack, Queen, King, and an Ace for good measure, though it could also be another “1” – they don’t specify).

Map: my original map of 23 irregular areas is now 23 giant hexagons, with most (but not all) of the adjacencies preserved. Each hex now has a “Disrupted” square in it, which I guess is like a time-out box – it’s not made clear in the rules.

I do not agree with these changes, and my name is still attached to this.

Part of the publishing agreement a designer signs with Decision Games reads: “Decision is responsible for the development, graphics and publication of the Game. Decision is free to edit, develop, and make other changes it deems necessary for publication of the Game. Decision has final approval for all materials utilized in publishing the Game. Designer incurs no obligation for any of these, other than those specified above. Decision agrees to credit Designer in the published game rules.”

So, AGAIN, they have done their part in the above. The first time this happened, I felt uncomfortable publicly disagreeing with the publisher, and held my tongue for a bit. But I am also uncomfortable standing behind this game in its published form with my name on it; the final sentence in the above quote now has a new complexion for me.

Now, at this point I have two options. I think I will exercise both of them.

OPTION THE FIRST: A FREE REVISED GAME

I thought that they might have left the counters and map alone, as happened with Greek Civil War, so you could just drop in the replacement rules. That’s not going to work this time. So, as I did before with Greek Civil War, I am making the REVISED rules and charts I submitted in early 2012 available here for download, so that players can play the REVISED game in the manner I originally revised it. You will also need to print out the set of counters (2 sheets, front and back), mount them and cut them out, and play with the rules etc. provided here. The map is still useful if you ignore the Disrupted penalty box.

NextLeb_ctrs_color_DG_v2

NextLebwar charts v2

NextLebwarCRT v2

NextLeb OOB mats v2

NextLebwar rules v2 19 Mar 12

Edited to Add: The inestimable Ken from Japan has made a very nice and professional-looking Japanese-language translation of the v2 rules to Next War in Lebanon (the original revised version, with step reduction and 1d6 CRT). And here they are! Arigato gozaimasu Ken, o-tsukaresama deshita!

 NextLebwar rules v2 JPN

OPTION THE SECOND-AND-BETTER: A FREE NEW-OLD GAME

I plan to publish and sell in DTP format the “original original” version of the game, as I designed it in 2011 and first submitted to Decision Games, under the BTR Games mark and title “Third Lebanon War”. It will take a little time to get some snazzy cover art and a colourful but smaller map done, so that will come later in the year.

But in the meantime, I am making the files for this very first version available here, FREE. This is what I wanted to have run in the magazine; I’ve made a few edits relating to differences in the game’s physical components. You can still use the map from the magazine (ignore the Disrupted boxes), or use a smaller one I have made.

3Leb counters2

3Lebwar Cascading Effects Event Chart

3Lebwar rules 3 Nov 11

3Leb OOB mats

3Lebwar charts

 3Leb war map2

I realize that few of the total number of people who receive or buy copies of this game will read this; I wish I could explain to them but this is none of my doing. All I can do is offer them two free print-and-play game kits to change the game they paid for to something like what I intended.

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About brtrain
This blog is mostly devoted to posts, work and resources on "serious" conflict simulation games.

16 Responses to Next War in Lebanon, redux

  1. Erskine Widemon says:

    Thanks Brian. Is there a solo variant for this game. The system sounds very interesting.

    • brtrain says:

      Hi Erskine, thanks for asking.
      The game is playable solitaire; the choices of J-chits have more to do with what you want to do in a turn, not hiding what you are doing from the enemy, and the processes of discovering hidden units and having them evade are easily randomized.
      Like most games, it is better with two devious minds but you might be clever enough to fool yourself – I do it all the time!

      Brian

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  3. Eric says:

    Brian,

    I read your post about your dissatisfaction with the development of The Next War in Lebanon.

    I am rather surprised about some of your complaints after our talk at the CSW Expo when I showed you the game.

    I am more surprised about your comments about those issues that you already knew about (if you simply forgot – like the discussion I had with you during development about the need for the playing card game pieces, since your game requires a deck of cards – it sounded like feigned surprise when I read your complaints).

    Furthermore, some of the complaints seem peculiar to me; e.g., the change from the squiggly map territories to the large-hex territories didn’t change the layout of the terrain as you had designed it, and furthermore you saw all of that when I showed the game to you at CSW Expo a few months ago. So, to hear of the complaint now strikes me odd.

    All in all, I can only suggest that we agree to disagree, and I’m sorry that your game as originally submitted was not exactly suitable for the magazine-game customer that wants games with less complexity, by and large (as I explained to you when I showed you the printed version of the game at the convention).

    I wish you had voiced these complaints to me at CSW Expo when I showed you the game, but that ship has sailed. Moreover, as I already told you, we have no objections to you putting up your own [original] set of rules to present the game per your true vision, but Doc would appreciate it if you’d not denounce the game publicly. Of course, going forward from here, this will no longer be an issue, but regarding your designs that have been published already, that’s not exactly cricket, as the saying goes.

    Assuming my post isn’t deleted, thank you for listening, and I wish you all the good luck as a designer in the future.

    Eric

  4. aamirzakaria says:

    It’s a shame. I don’t know why I continue my subscription to DG publications – nostalgia I suppose. I am hearing more and more negative news over the past few years, and I may need to consider bailing.

    • brtrain says:

      I see you’ve read the following post, where I close by commenting that the development of another game of mine forthcoming from DG has had the benefit of communication and the expected back-and-forth. I have high hopes for it appearing the way we’ve worked it out together.
      I would also add that the first two games I published in DG magazines, Arriba Espana and Battle for China (2009/10), appeared pretty much exactly as I submitted them, and where there were changes I was consulted (except for the counter artwork, which is not what I would have chosen, but that’s not so important in my view).

  5. ken says:

    I made the Japanese translation of this rule(NextLebwar rules v2 19 Mar 12 & charts).
    Could you possibly open this with your blog?
    If possible, please teach me the destination of the file.

  6. Lubbert Abbe says:

    Q: What category is Bint Jubail? Is it “remote” as states on the map or is it “populated” as it is described in the 8.13 example in the rules? This difference is in free version of the game of course…

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