Qwexit: a scenario for Canadian “Civil War”

 

CCW qwexit variant cover

Variant cover by Cavan Cunningham!

My non-Canadian readers may or may not know that on October 21, 2019, Canada had a general election. The incumbent party, the Liberal Party of Canada, was returned to power, but with fewer seats in the House of Commons. This strong-minority government was the most likely outcome predicted by most media outlets and polls, at least in the final ten days before the election itself, but two things were unusual:

  • the resurgence of the Bloc Quebecois, a party that ran candidates only in Quebec and whose platform includes a drastically altered relationship between Quebec and the federal government; and
  • the near complete dominance of representation by Conservative Party of Canada candidates in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta (though the popular vote was more diverse), combined with the accession to power in recent years by right-wing provincial governments there that have been quite vocal about the imbalance of power in the current federal-provincial relationship, at least where the Prairie provinces are concerned.

Neither of these movements is new. I recall attending a meeting of the “Western Canada Concept” party in Victoria BC in 1980, for the sake of research – I was then in my high school’s debating club and we were going to debate a resolution on Western separatism. The meeting was led by WCC founder Doug Christie, who gained notoriety by defending Ernst Zundel for denying the Holocaust, got slung out of the WCC for being too extreme and backed other right-wing movements (including a provincial WCC party in BC) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Christie_(lawyer)). And it was the surge to power by the Parti Quebecois in the mid-70s that prompted James Dunnigan to design Canadian ‘Civil War’, the sixth and last of the SPI Power Politics series of games, in 1976-77. 

For obvious reasons Canadian Civil War was not popular in the US, and there were few Canadian wargamers to buy up the remaining copies, so it has survived as more or less an orphan game with no updates or scenarios save a “Meech Lake” variant that ran in #23 of The Canadian Wargamers Journal in July 1990. Like many other Dunnigan designs, the game has some interesting mechanics in it, presented in a less appealing framework – and a requirement for four and only four players for the full game.

So, after having a look at the electoral map after October 21, I thought I would try my hand at an updating and variant scenario for the present situation.

The first thing I ought to say is that I do not think that the country of Canada itself is at serious risk. The Bloc Quebecois rhetoric is far less heated than in the 1970s, and it is unlikely that there will be any more referenda on sovereignty-association; the last one was in 1995 and I think it will remain so. I also think that the Western separatist talk is mostly that, just talk, that will be used by the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan when and how it pleases them (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-canada-wexit-analysis-1.5335328). Not surprisingly, the founders of the “Wexit Alberta” movement have been identified as far-right activists, including a former spokesman for the Prairie Freedom Movement, a Western separatist organization that preceded this one (https://north99.org/2019/10/25/wexit-far-right/) (https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/59na9q/wexit-founders-are-far-right-conspiracy-theorists ) . Also not surprisingly, “bot” and aggregator activity has considerably boosted the signal and apparent numbers of the movement in Alberta ( https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/wexit-company-says-bots-aggregators-boosted-alberta-separatist-movement-on-twitter-1.4650507) so when people talk about tens or hundreds of thousands of signatures on an online petition, those signatures weigh about as much as that petition does.

However, we have never let facts get in the way of an interesting game problem, so the following is presented as a thought-experiment expressed through a rather old Dunnigan game: the “Qwexit” scenario. We hope you’re able to give it a try.

qwexit-4 nov  introduction and scenario rules

Cdn Civ War ctrs 2 nov  new counters

CCW var cards 30 oct  new cards

ccw spi ctrs, changes SPI conversion kit: if you happen to have a punched copy of Canadian Civil War, and don’t want to make up a whole new set of counters, this sheet gives you images for a small set of replacement counters and notes the changes to the Political Opportunity Cards.

EDITED TO ADD (3 November):

This may end up to be a bit of a work-in-progress… I was making up a set of the new counters last night and a thought struck me that should have struck me before.

One thing that bothered me a bit about this game is that one Interest Group is much like any other – so why not map them to their (most of the time) logically prime interests, and give them a game function?

So, game function is that an Interest Group gets a favourable column shift on the Contest Table when attacking or defending an Issue that it maps to: 1-1 becomes 2-1 on the attack, 3-1 becomes 2-1 when defending, eg.. Recall though, that an Interest Group cannot control an Issue by itself, only a Constituency piece can.

INTEREST GROUP -> ISSUE (# issue chits)

Chemical -> Healthcare (1)
Farmers -> Environment (2)
Francophone -> Language (1)
Hydro -> Territory (2)
Indigenous -> Indigenous (1)
Intellectual -> Education (2)
Manufacturing -> Industry (3)
Media -> Media (3)
Petro -> Finance/Banking (2)
Transport -> Transport (1)
Unions -> Immigration (1)
Wood -> Tariff/Trade (2)

Most of these are fairly logical I think, and cover all of the Issues except Foreign Affairs and Taxes.

I thought of letting the Prime Minister match to Foreign Affairs, since the PM counter isn’t the PM him/herself but the Prime Minister’s Office and functionaries/staff, who wield even more power than they did in 1976, but decided to leave it consistently Interest Groups, which don’t change when there is a change of government. Also, Taxes didn’t have a logical single IG match, quite complex so best to leave it as it was, I thought.

Anyway, if you give this scenario a try, add this small change to the rules. Or even retrofit it to the original game.

Climate change and the US military

IMG_0094

I don’t write about climate change much here, but like many people I think about it a lot. A story in VICE magazine today led me to a study done by staff of the US Army War College in summer 2019, “Implications of Climate Change for the US Army”. It’s available at the following link:

https://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/implications-of-climate-change-for-us-army_army-war-college_2019.pdf

The points the study makes that are closest to its home are those that relate to the US military collapsing during or even before its attempts to respond to the challenges posed by climate change. It’s obvious that the Army is not an environmentally friendly organization, but there are many things it can do to help itself to survive these challenges.

Let’s take a really basic example: water. Over a third of a force’s sustainment requirement is water. A soldier in an arid environment like the ones where US troops have been fighting for the last 17 years needs about 30 litres of water a day to drink, wash, and prepare food… and the Army has been satisfying this with bottled water shipped from halfway across the world and tapping local wells with sadly depleted aquifers (where these aquifers haven’t been contaminated by salt water from rising sea levels). A Brigade Combat Team does not have its own water generating or purifying equipment, only vehicles and trailers to carry it around. This will have to change and there are technologies under development that will work, but they must be tested, adopted and purchased.

Setting aside the problems a US military force would encounter on arriving at a foreign intervention or entanglement, there would be enough problems at home: the imminent collapse of American infrastructure, from bridges and roads to the power grid (even without the attention of an enterprising enemy) and epidemics of diseases new to the continental US pose serious threats to the Army’s equipment and people. Americans are used to the Army stepping in to help, rescue and restore when natural disasters strike but I think the day is fast approaching when they will not be able to count on this.

Have a look at this.

“At man in purple suit waving axe, one round, FIRE!” – CIVIL POWER now available for pre-order from Conflict Simulations Ltd.

civilpowerdraft.png

Preliminary cover design by Ray Weiss.

Now it can be told:

CIVIL POWER, one of the first games I designed, will be given a proper publication by Conflict Simulations Ltd.!

Constant Readers and obsessive ludographers will know that this game has already had a couple of editions: in 1996, as the issue game in #294 of Strategist, the newsletter of the Strategy Gaming Society, and more recently from my BTR Games. In both cases they were DTP level products where you had to copy out the counters and mount them on cardboard and cut out – or just stick them to cardboard and cut out – but in either case you had to do a little craft project first.

Conflict Simulations is going to release this as part of their “2140” series, with 140 back-printed counters and nice maps (by Ilya Kudriashov) in a small cardboard  box (about the same size as GDW used to use for the boxed editions of its Series 120 games, if you go back that far in the hobby).

As of today, the game is available for pre-order for $34.99 at:

https://www.consimsltd.com/shop/civil-power

Expected release is Q1 or Q2 of 2020, if’n the crick don’ rise… Meanwhile, here is the ad copy:

“In this critical hour we don’t need love, we need WEAPONS — the newest and best and most efficient weapons we can get our hands on. This is a time of extreme peril. The rising tide is almost on us….” – Raoul Duke

Civil Power is a game from Brian Train which models mass civil disorder, riots, raids, and other violent urban phenomena. One player will take command of the Police/local authorities while the other player takes command of the Mob. The game is asymmetrical in its means, motives and opportunities: the Police player has discipline, firepower and esoteric technology while the Mob player has outrage, numbers and Molotov cocktails. The Police must manage to contain and subdue the crowd through carefully distributed violence: the right amount will suppress or demoralize Mob forces, while too much will cause casualties costing the police victory points. The Mob player is less constrained but is also aware that a riot is a temporary thing.

Scenarios are included for several types of situations: riots (including a five-day Chicago 1968 campaign and a three-player Belfast 1975 scenario); raids (featuring a skirmish by the Berlin Wall); and gang warfare (including the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a Crips-Bloods gang war, and a 1944 Warsaw Uprising scenario). There are enough examples supplied that players will easily be able to design their own scenarios, inspired by the headlines of today and tomorrow.

Brian Train was inspired to design this game after reading “The Police Chief”, a particularly savage article by Hunter S. Thompson writing as “Raoul Duke, Master of Weaponry” about the inadequacy of equipment in the police armory to deal with civil disorder. We hope you, animated by the Spirit of Gonzo, will take the chance to explore his take on modern urban violence.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” – Raoul Duke

Civil Power includes:

2 8.5×11 geomorphic square-grid maps of an imaginary urban area
140 double-sided  counters
1 rulebook
Player aids & displays

 

 

“STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion” is now on Kickstarter

 

Backer #68!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1713701812/strike-the-game-of-worker-rebellion

STRIKE! is a strategic, cooperative, and beautifully-illustrated board game for 2 – 4 players about building a city-wide rebellion to stop a mega-corporation’s takeover. It was created in a collaboration between The TESA Collective, a publisher of games about changing the world, and Jobs with Justice, a leading labor rights organization.

Complete description of play, videos showing the game, a preview of the rulebook, etc. etc. all at the above link. Rules are pretty short but gameplay looks interesting and so do the components.

Basic pledge for a copy of the game is US$35 plus $5 off shipping; stretch goals include T-shirts, cheaper copies of TESA Collective’s other radical games (Rise Up, Space Cats Fight Fascism) and notoriety.

1571760968975-full-board-action-shot-credit-aaron-simmons

Image: TESA Collective.

EDIT: this piece in VICE magazine (US) underlines the irony of how this game on solidarity and union-building is being funded through Kickstarter, which right now is fighting against exactly this thing in its labour force, and how TESA Collective and Jobs for Justice are using it.

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/pa7wyg/this-board-game-about-labor-revolts-is-protesting-kickstarter-on-kickstarter

(oh, and as of this posting they are 62% of the way to their goal, after 36 hours)

ANOTHER EDIT: As of the afternoon of the 25th, the game reached “funded”, with 27 days to go!

District Commander ZNO: new files

aff10

Recruiting poster for the Colonial Parachutist regiments.

I made a change to the exclusive rules for this module: the “Intervention” forces (three battalions of paratroopers, and a set of high-value Assets such as helicopters and Commandos de Chasse) have been reclassified as “Foreign” units and Assets for game rules purposes. They aren’t actually foreign of course, everyone’s still part of the French Army but the system rules allow Foreign units to use two Chance Chits in an attack, and they are also the last ones in a stack to be Disrupted… two good ways to show the effects of these elite troops and the resources they enjoyed. Also makes them harder to obtain and use, which is as it should be unless your sector really heats up and Division HQ is prepared to listen to you….

Download the new exclusive files; if you have already made up the counters, you just have to colour some Government units green with a highlighter marker, following the counter sheet.

DC ZNO x-rules 10 18 oct 19

DC ZNO x-charts10 18 oct 19

DC ZNO ctrs88 18 oct

If you are wondering what the fuss is about, the entire set of files for the game is available here:

New free game: ZNO (District Commander module)

and here, with some other free stuff:

Free Games!

 

More from TESA Collective: “STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion” and what you can do to help Kickstarter do the right thing.

smile_drone_detail

Image: some art from the upcoming game.

I got an email today from the folks at TESA Collective: the Kickstarter campaign for their new game “STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion” begins next Wednesday, October 16.

[Edited To Add: technical difficulties have postponed the launch to Monday, October 21.]

I intend to be there, and on that day I’ll post a link in case you were looking as well.  TESA also added something that I’ve been wondering about, since I saw a short news clip a couple of weeks ago. Quoted from the email:

We Support the Workers of Kickstarter – And We Want You to Do So Too!

Recently, the workers of Kickstarter started organizing a union – and they have faced resistance from Kickstarter’s management. We absolutely stand with the workers of Kickstarter. You can read our full statement of support here.

The workers of Kickstarter have asked people to continue launching campaigns and supporting campaigns on the platform while showing their support for the workers and their unionization drive. As always, we will follow the lead of people building movements.

So that’s exactly what we’re we’re going to do: We’re not just going to make this a Kickstarter campaign; we’re going to make this a labor campaign too. We are going to use this campaign as a way to lift up the voices of the Kickstarter workers. When we launch the Kickstarter campaign, we will launch it with a number of ways you can support the Kickstarter workers as well.

In addition, we’ve teamed up with Jobs with Justice to make it so funds from this game go to benefit real campaigns fighting for working people. When the campaign launches mid-next week, we hope you’ll share the game with your friends to help us raise funds for JWJ’s work!

In solidarity,

The TESA Collective

I respect this, and I hope that you’ll consider this in your decision to back this game (and the workers of Kickstarter).

Private Paula

 

Here’s something I didn’t know…

In the German-dubbed version of Full Metal Jacket, Vincent D’Onofrio’s character Private Pyle is rendered “Private Paula”.

GySgt Hartmann’s (“hard man”) berating Pyle is just as impressive auf Deutsch! Though the expression “if it short-dicks every cannibal on the Congo” is no more illuminating when it’s translated into German.