Green Beret is in the house!

"Comes with everything you see here!"

“Comes with everything you see here!”

I got my copies of the new, OSS Games folio edition of Green Beret. Very pleased! (not pleased with the quality of the photo though).

Everything is quite functional and well laid-out, and the counters are very nicely die-cut – so well cut that they are falling out of the frames by themselves. OSS thoughtfully put the counter sheet into a small ziploc bag for transit, and then gave you three small ones for storage. Also very happy to have a 17×22″ map.

$22.95 each, my friends!

Some time in the next six weeks will see Operation Whirlwind come out, which has a very nice map of urban Budapest. Not sure about when Kandahar, the fourth and last one will appear; its subject matter is not as much of a draw and it is a bit more complex than the other three.

Night Wolves

No, I am not and was never going to make a “Night Wolves” counter for Ukrainian Crisis. But this is part of an interesting story. I recently finished reading Peter Pomerantsev’s Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, a look at the utterly (and deliberately) surreal and disorienting mirrored funhouse that is Putin’s Russia. There is an interesting page or three about the Night Wolves and their transformation from hooligans to State-sponsored enforcers.

And one more thing – why do the Night Wolves (and Putin) ride Harleys? Shouldn’t they be riding Urals, or maybe Dneprs? (Okay, maybe not Dneprs…)



Alexander Zaldostanov, Russian biker, makes Canada’s sanctions list

Leader of the Night Wolves, a pro-Putin motorcycle gang, targeted by sanctions

By Evan Dyer, CBC News Posted: Feb 19, 2015 4:03 PM ET Last Updated: Feb 19, 2015 4:57 PM ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin presents Alexander Zaldostanov with Russia's Order of Honour. Zaldostanov, described on Putin's website as 'head of a national motorcycle club,' has been added to a list of individuals under sanctions by Canada over Russian involvement in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin presents Alexander Zaldostanov with Russia’s Order of Honour. Zaldostanov, described on Putin’s website as ‘head of a national motorcycle club,’ has been added to a list of individuals under sanctions by Canada over Russian involvement in Ukraine. (Vladimir Putin’s website)

Canada has added the name Alexander Zaldostanov to the list of Russians under sanctions because of the war in Ukraine. But unlike the other prominent Russians targeted, he is not a senior military officer or the CEO of a major oil company. The 51-year-old Zaldostanov, nicknamed “The Surgeon,” is the head of Russia’s biggest biker gang, the Night Wolves. And his elevation to the ranks of Russia’s power elite says a lot about the country Russia has become under President Vladimir Putin. Born as an underground group of heavy metal and motorcycle aficionados in the dying days of the Soviet Union, the Night Wolves have become one of the props of the Putin establishment. According to the U.S. State Department, they sent members to fight in Ukraine and took part in storming the naval headquarters in Sevastopol. Last August, the Night Wolves staged a sound and light show in Crimea to celebrate the territory’s annexation by Russia. The leather-clad Zaldostanov told an audience estimated at 100,000 that “enemies who hated us, killed the Soviet state, and took away its territory and its army.” “We are celebrating our sacred victory at a time when fascism, like putrid, poisonous dough, has overfilled its Kyiv trough and begun to spread across Ukraine. The new battle against fascism is inevitable. Stalin’s 11th strike is inevitable.” The event was carried live on Russian state television.

Ties to the Kremlin

Around the same time, Ramzan Kadyrov, president of Chechnya and a close ally of Putin, became a full-patch member of the club. Putin has appeared with Zaldostanov at numerous public events, as well as riding with the club on his own Harley-Davidson three-wheeler on more than one occasion. In 2013, Putin presented Zaldostanov with the Russian Medal of Honour for “activity in the patriotic education of youth.”

Putin and Zaldostanov

Putin, left, rides with Zaldostanov, leader of the Night Wolves biker group, during his visit to a bike festival in the southern Russian city of Novorossiisk in August 2011. (Ivan Sekretarev/Reuters)

In one recent speech, Putin told the assembled bikers, “You do not just ride your motorcycles; you also perform military-patriotic work. Historical memory is the best cement that binds people of different nationalities and religions into one nation, in one powerful country — Russia.” The Night Wolves, in turn, have offered their 3,000-strong membership to the state as an unofficial militia. Zaldostanov joined a group of Russian nationalist politicians in setting up a pro-Putin movement called “anti-Maidan,” a reference to the protests in Kyiv that led to the fall of the previous, Russia-aligned Ukrainian government last year. At the group’s inaugural event, the Zaldostanov​ warned that his bikers would crush any attempt to launch a “colour revolution” street protest against the Putin regime on Russian soil. “The ‘orange beast’ is sharpening its teeth and looking to Russia,” said Zaldostanov, suggesting the anti-Maidan group could adopt “Death to Fags” as an alternative name.

Defenders of Orthodoxy

Zaldostanov’s Night Wolves have moved so far from their outlaw rebel roots that they now proclaim themselves protectors of the Russian Orthodox Church, which enjoys close ties to the Kremlin in Putin’s Russia.

Putin and Zaldostanov

Putin and Zaldostanov attend a ceremony to open a restored fountain, a symbol of the Second World War, in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, in 2013. (Reuters)

Following the arrest of members of the punk-rock group Pussy Riot, who shot an allegedly blasphemous video in a Russian Orthodox church, Zaldostanovled a parade of bikers through Moscow carrying balloons with Orthodox symbols and pledged his bikers would defend holy sites. “I am against the ‘possessed’ who humiliate the believers,” he said. The Night Wolves have also announced a definitive rupture with the international biker movement, declaring on their website: “We do not want to belong to foreign bikers’ traditions that are not able to give good fruits to our Slavic Orthodox country! We Night Wolves are proud that we were born in the land of the great people, the land of Slavs, the rebellious Russians, land of undefeated heroes, the land which does not let the rest of the world sleep since the Roman Empire or even earlier.” Zaldostanov, who was already sanctioned by the U.S. in December, has welcomed his new status as a pariah in the West. “I would very much like to thank [U.S. President Barack] Obama for recognizing my modest services to the motherland. And I promise that I will do all I can so that his concern for me only grows.”

YAAH! Magazine #2 will have two (no, three) of my games

Shortly the second issue of YAAH! magazine will hit the bricks. This magazine is one of the new products from Flying Pig Games, a new company run by Mark H. Walker – who used to run Lock n Load games, which published my Poland 1939 game Summer Lightning.–magazine.html

This issue will feature two three small abstract games by me, Army of Shadows ( and Uprising ( and Guerrilla Checkers ( .

The first two games come from 2011-12, back when I started on the CTFP-ECCO project for the Naval Postgraduate School ( and We wanted a simple game on a situation that highlighted the essential mismatches between the antagonists in an insurgency: low information vs. high information, and low power vs. high power. So these two games are two quite different takes on the same idea.

Army of Shadows was implemented for the CTFP-ECCO website under another name  (sorry, general public can’t access the game part of the site) and I made a few copies of Uprising to give away at conventions and conferences. But Mark and Tom Russell, the editor, asked me if I would contribute something, and I was happy to comply. They are quite small in physical size: map the size of a single page, 40 or 45 counters per game, and they play quickly. However, because they rely on asymmetry of information they can’t be played solitaire.

No samples of game art to show right now, but I will post them when I see them.

Working on these abstract games was quite different: I have done only these and Guerrilla Checkers (I don’t really count Paranoid Delusions as an abstract).

Also, a short article by me on the lineage of these games, and the think-value of abstract strategy games, along the lines of my presentation at King’s College London at Connections 2013.

(And no, I don’t know the provenance of the magazine’s title: Battle Cry has been used too much in the past I guess. And yes, I thought of Howard Dean too when I heard it, I know that does date me!)

To Coup or Not to Coup, in Venezuela

What could have been… this image from the 2002 coup, when Hugo Chavez was thrown out of power for 72 hours, and somehow talked his way back into it!

Minimal or no coverage in US or Canadian media, but these links are from the BBC and the Guardian:

The articles make the point that Maduro often alleges coups or conspiracies by foreign powers, as a way to distract attention from the very real social and economic problems in Venezuela. But the conspiracies may be real, for all that.

However, when is a coup not a coup? The parties responsible say that it wasn’t, that it was only military action against their head of state, justified by their belief that he isn’t exercising power in the right way:

Seems to me to be pretty familiar rhetoric, with an identical end state… reminds me of that group of mutants the Oath Keepers in the US. Also interesting that these coup plotters are also “birthers” who claim that Maduro was born in Colombia, and therefore cannot rule Venezuela!

Anyway, just another end-of-player-turn shenanigan in Caudillo….

“Game over, man”?

Perhaps, if the ceasefire holds.

Let’s hope it does.

Let’s see… in Ukrainian Crisis game terms, the situation would be something like: the eastern areas of the pro-Russian ethnic zone well populated with Russian irregulars and Special Forces, opposed by a mixture of regular and irregular Ukrainian units; Crimea has joined Russia through a Critical Incident roll; Ukraine declared an Invasion Phase some time ago in its “Anti-Terrorist Operation” to get kinetic on the pro-Russian irregulars, with mixed results; final score somewhere between a Draw (crisis has stabilized for now, but the advantage will be to Russia should it resume) or Tactical Victory (Russia will continue to be the primary influence in Ukraine’s decision calculus). Or it could be that the Ukrainians have just gotten a Truce, to get to the end of the current Strategic Round.

Meanwhile, last week I got a note from the Victory Point Games people: they had been diverted by having to finish other games in the queue ahead of mine, and it will be a little while before they finish it off, but they expect to get back to it “fairly soon”.

Green Beret on sale through One Small Step Games!

Folio cover art.

Sunday will be the last day for you to get Green Beret at its pre-order price of $18.95 from OSS Games! After then, it’s $22.95, though you will have proven your resistance to marketing enticements.

As before, the BTR Games DTP version of this game will be withdrawn while this edition is available. You’re better off: the map is larger, the counters two-sided and DIE-CUT.

COIN Day in St. Paul!

Poster by D. Dockter. Carbine by Inland Division of General Motors.

The redoutable David Dockter has alerted me that next next next Saturday will be COIN Day, sponsored by the 1st Minnesota Historical Wargaming Society! Games to be played include the entire GMT COIN series (Andean Abyss, Cuba Libre, A Distant Plain, Fire in the Lake) as well as some great oldies such as Bloodtree Rebellion (an SF game by Lynn Willis that’s actually about Vietnam, and one of the best insurgency games I’ve ever seen) and 1776 (yes! it was an insurgency!). So, if you’re anywhere in the neighbourhood, drop in and see what’s up!