Strike for Berlin, yong zhongwen

Yaah 11 cover

http://www.bananaboardgames.com/

I was informed yesterday that a Chinese-language version of my game Strike for Berlin will be published in folio format by Banana Board Games. I don’t know if they are based in Taiwan or on the mainland. They are offering a few products already, including Hostage Negotiator and Neanderthal, so we’ll see what develops. I’m not sure why they went for this particular title with the publisher.

Meanwhile, to any Chinese fans out there – enjoy!

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Phil’s Phlush With Greatness

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On tonight’s broadcast of Jeopardy!, Philip Sabin’s book shows up as a clue.

After a considerable pause, the contestant guessed, “….the Battle of Troy”.

Political Boardgames; Italian Rumbles

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Interesting artifact of the Spanish Civil War: Anarchist paper cut-out soldiers.

http://organisemagazine.org.uk/2019/07/23/the-boardgame-is-political-rbg/

Organise! magazine in the UK has published a short piece on radicalism and conflict in board games. Games cited include Monopoly, Class Struggle, Corteo! and RIOT! Cast the First Stone.

  • Monopoly (not The Landlord’s Game) is an example of how fangs get pulled, and has become a silly set-collection game
  • Class Struggle is dull (sorry, but it is) and out of print
  • Corteo! is interesting but long out of print and was only ever available in Italian
  • RIOT! is a newer game (2015), available from noboardgames, an Italian outfit (but rules in English are available)

RIOT! is interesting in that it is a 2-4 player game, with up to four factions: Autonomists, Anarchists, Nationalists and Police. Game mechanics revolve around movement and combat in the streets of a district of a fictional city, with the various goals of occupying buildings (for the Autonomists and Anarchists), confronting the protester forces (for the police) or accomplishing a secret goal (for the Nationalists). There is a good amount of asymmetry between players, with different player powers.

I got a copy with minimal trouble from the UK some time ago, but shipping is expensive. At the end of 2018 noboardgames made a print and play version of RIOT! available on Boardgamegeek, and Organise! magazine will publish a version of it in its next printed issue. I recommend it to your attention.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/177356/riot-cast-first-stone

Other boardgames I would recommend on the theme are:

Funny thing about that last one: I just went to the noboardgames website and found that they had put up Battle of Seattle on their own PnP section in October 2018!

https://noboardgames.com/2018/10/12/printplay-section/

They didn’t ask but no worries, the game is meant to be out there and it’s already been “copylefted” by some other radical sites. I don’t mind, since they left my name on it and did not alter the files at all. Oh, not only that, they have a link to a Spanish-language translation of the rules, which I was not aware existed.

Other games available at the section are their own RIOT! and Suffragetto, an interesting artifact.

District Commander Maracas: interview at The Players Aid

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https://theplayersaid.com/2019/07/22/interview-with-brian-train-designer-of-district-commander-maracas-from-hollandspiele/

The doughty (now that I’ve looked it up, I’m confident that’s a good word) Grant Kleinheinz over at The Players Aid has published an interview with me about District Commander: Maracas, the first of four modules in the District Commander series to come from Hollandspiele.

Grant says this is the eighth interview I’ve had with him, and I believe it!

(Why wouldn’t I? Well, perhaps I should – these days I’m feeling rather like Hank Kimball from Green Acres.)

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It’s quite long – over 7,000 words – but it tells you most everything you might want to know about the system itself, and the changes rung on it for the Maracas module, which covers the action in a made-up large city (the capital of Virtualia, reeling in the aftermath of the sudden departure from power of the charismatic strongman Jesus Shaves).

Hollandspiele will bring the game out in probably late August; I’m not sure of the price at this point. But in the meantime, you can still score a free print-and-play copy here, if you want a closer look at the rules and mechanics of play.

Free Games!

Space-Biff! on Guerrilla Checkers

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Playing Guerrilla Checkers with Michel Boucher, long ago.

https://spacebiff.com/2019/07/19/guerrilla-checkers/

The very clever Daniel Thurot at his blog Space-Biff! has posted a very nice set of thoughts on his plays of Guerrilla Checkers.

He thinks it’s a clever and very pointed game, and I cannot but agree.

Thank you Daniel!

This piece is the second in a series of “political abstract” games he is writing; I look forward to further instalments.

Sitrep: the Syrian Arab Army

SAA Order of Battle early 2019

SAA OOB, early 2019. Credit: Gregory Waters.

https://www.mei.edu/publications/lion-and-eagle-syrian-arab-armys-destruction-and-rebirth

Here is a brilliant bit of contemporary history and analysis by Gregory Waters of the Middle East Institute on the collapse of the Syrian Arab Army during the Syrian Civil War and its rebuilding under Russian tutelage. Includes complete, detailed Orders of Battle for years between 2013 and early 2019. Current OOB was partly assembled and verified through checks of Facebook pages!

My Third Lebanon War game (which will soon be issued in physical form as a BTR Games product, I hope) has Syrian intervention units in it, however they were not given distinct numbers – I assumed at the time (2010-11) that they would be the 1st Corps, perhaps reinforced with some extra armoured forces. Apparently the 1st Corps has spent the entire Civil War still deployed in approximately the same area (covering the Golan Heights, Deraa, and Damascus generally). The divisions haven’t changed much though they are now more mechanized/motorized infantry since the Syrian tank fleet is quite reduced from what it was.

Brief Border Wars quad now available for pre-order!

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All images from Compass Games website. All art by Mark Mahaffey.

Compass Games has just announced that my Brief Border Wars quad of games is available for pre-order!

$52.00 US now, $69.00 later.

https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/brief-border-wars.html

I’ve made a few passing references to this project over the last year or so, but here are the details:

BRIEF BORDER WARS

A set of four mini-games on short border conflicts of the 20th and 21st century, using a card-driven system that models the chaotic, stop-and-start nature of these impromptu wars. The system is a development of the one used in The Little War, the mini-game that was published with the Hollandspiele edition of Ukrainian Crisis. The main change is that instead of using a deck of ordinary playing cards with a linear set of values, there is a deck of special action cards that gives players a choice of movement or combat, with values on a bell curve – so players have some flexibility but must still do some improvising.

Each game is small (40 to 50 counters each) and short (one to two hours): an ideal short match to finish off an evening of gaming, or fill a long lunch hour. Each game also features rules additions and variations to reflect the peculiar nature of each conflict.

All four to be published together, in one box. Yes, I did hector Mark Mahaffey, the artist, into giving the game box the old SPI Quadrigame “look”. I’ve brought back the quad, in my shabby, nostalgia-fume-huffing way! 

Mark did a great job on the counters and map too.

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The four conflicts are:

The Football War

El Salvador vs. Honduras, 1969: this is one of history’s shortest wars, clocking in at about 100 hours. People often joke that this was was provoked by one side losing a soccer match: in fact, like most wars, the war was the climax of years of political and economic pressure. In the game, both forces are largely similar – El Salvador has a slightly larger ground force, while Honduras has a bit more airpower – and both must contend with rugged terrain and poor roads in their efforts to seize or hold Honduran territory. To my knowledge no one has ever done a wargame on the Football War, other than a short training scenario in the old Victory Games Central America.

Operation Attila

The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, 1974. Greeks and Turks have co-existed uneasily on the island of Cyprus since Classical times. In 1974 a coup d’etat by “EOKA-B”, a violent organization seeking unity with Greece, overthrew the Cypriot government. This was the trigger for the Turkish military to intervene, ostensibly to guarantee the safety of Turkish Cypriots living in small enclaves across the island. In the game, the Turkish player has a small number of professional units to seize and dominate as much of the island as possible, opposed by a larger number of Cypriot irregular forces. To my knowledge no one has published a wargame on this conflict before.

Third Indochina War

China vs. Vietnam, 1979. The Chinese government claimed that this brief war, purposely limited in its aims, was launched to “teach Vietnam a lesson”.  The real incentives behind this first war between two Communist countries were rather more obscure and remain so to this day. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which had not fought a war for 25 years, performed very poorly against the determined Vietnamese People’s Army, then one of the largest and most battle-experienced military forces in the world, backed up with a large force of determined local militia and guerrillas. This is the largest-scaled of the four games, with divisions instead of brigades and battalions and turns representing a week or more. Particularly galling for the Chinese player is having to contend with two widely separated, non-communicating battle fronts. A very undergamed conflict, at least in English: a scenario in the 1980 SPI game The China War (Strategy and Tactics #79) and there are some Chinese-language games including China-Vietnam War, a long out of print game from the early 1980s by a Hong Kong gaming club, and more recent games by Chinese publishers (Battle of South Caobang, Red Dragon Storm).

Second Lebanon War

Israel vs. Hezbollah, southern Lebanon, 2006. The action begins around July 20, 2006 which marked the beginning of increasingly large incursions by Israeli ground troops after eight days of intense aerial bombardment of Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. The time covered by an entire game may represent up to three weeks, ending in a ceasefire on August 14, 2006. The Israeli player’s main objective is to seek out and destroy the Hezbollah rocket and missile units raining destruction on their territory, while balancing the need to avoid mobilizing too many reserve forces. Another very undergamed conflict: Second Lebanon War, a small game by a former student in Phil Sabin’s Conflict Simulations MA course; and scenarios from Millennium Wars Advanced (The Lebanon Scenarios) and my Third Lebanon War game.

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