Kabul 15 aug 21

As you might have expected, I’ve seen threads popping up on Consimworld, Boardgamegeek, and Facebook game-related pages musing about an update or a new scenario for A Distant Plain, for what’s happening in Afghanistan right now.

I said my piece about this several years ago; short answer is “No”, or at least “Not Me”.

A Distant Plain, 5-10-15 Years On…

Given the speed of events, I think if anything what we are seeing now is each faction’s game pieces being swept around on the map and scooped up prior to being put back into their ziploc bags.

Game’s over, man.

If you want to carry on, I think you will need a different game.

How about one on winning the peace?

Reconciliation or at least successful absorption of factions in the post-intervention order in Afghanistan is going to be difficult; the Taliban may form the government but they are not the Khmer Rouge and there are enough weapons and money and grudges to make a balancing act necessary to form a semblance of an operating state. Perhaps “reconciliation” is not the right word to use, but when power falls into the Taliban’s hands – again – and they build the Emirate – again – they need to understand that the calculus has changed in the last 20 years.

Among other things, everyone has a cell phone now; the country is still awash in money and weapons and the organized, fighting part of the Taliban is still not a large or dispersed enough force to extract compliance from the entire country. If they fail to build some kind of internal order that works to hold enough of the country together, Afghanistan will simply subside into a fourth or fifth civil war. Some of the pieces or indications of such a game would have to acknowledge some of what’s in this article by Anatol Lievin, “An Afghan Tragedy: The Pashtuns, the Taliban and the State” Anatol Lieven
Politics in Afghanistan, well most countries, are far more complex than any outsider gives them credit for and I will be the first to say that I do not fully understand them.
But I think it deserves a fresh game, not writing up a dozen new Event Cards or some such.

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

5 Responses to Endgame

  1. bsetser says:

    Nah man – there’s not a real game here. The real game is to project a bit into the future to forecast if the Taliban can keep the peace amongst all the Afghani warlords. You know they alienate them at some point. There’s your game

    • bsetser says:

      What you said actually 🙂

      • brtrain says:

        Yep, that is what I said!
        A long time ago I had a simple Macintosh game called “Hidden Agenda” where you played the leader of an insurgent movement who had just stormed the Presidente’s palace; the shooting was over but now you had to run the country (it was a thinly disguised Nicaragua, of course). From day one you were beset with policy decisions and choices, and as the game went on you found yourself more and more hemmed in by what and who you had hammered, placated or ignored. If/when you messed up enough someone else appeared and threw you out of power. This was a simple solo game; there are some very clever multiplayer political games coming out that could provide some indications for this kind of game.
        But hobby wargamers don’t talk much about winning the peace.


  2. James Sterrett says:

    You can play Hidden Agenda via the Internet Archive:


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