Colonial Twilight in Warsaw!

A Distant Plain in Warsaw!

Last year Piotr Bambot, a teacher who uses games in his classrooms and sometimes engages with members of the Polish military for their professional development, reported on his use of A Distant Plain with a group of officers and senior NCOs.

Recently he did much the same thing with a similar group, using Colonial Twilight. He ran three games at the same time, each game was played with teams of five or six.

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Piotr gives initial instruction. Apparently the head-grabbing went away after a while.

Piotr said that many of the participants, some of whom had had several Afghanistan tours, appreciated the mechanics used to mimic insurgent actions. That’s always good to hear.

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Difficult to tell the ranks here but that is a Captain in the centre, and I think the one in the front right is a senior sergeant. I’m not sure where to look for insignia on the two in camouflage, but the one on the left has a shoulder patch that reads A Rh NEGATIVE, an interesting touch.

Thanks so much Piotr, and I am glad to hear that they found the games useful!

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Back from Connections-UK 2018

Well, that was a great time! Connections was great, went better than I expected.

Rex Brynen did a very good report, and the Connections-UK website has audio and some slide decks.

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/connections-uk-2018-conference-report/

http://professionalwargaming.co.uk/2018.html

The first day was the megagame – “Green and Pleasant Land” by Jim Wallman. It concentrated on UK government internal operations as they dealt with different natural and artificial crises and emergencies – floods, a death in the Royal Family, and some nefarious doin’s as well. I had fun as the the “Adversary” (Russian) Minister of Defense (Phil Pournelle played Putin). Before the game began, Anja v.d. Hulst and I “bugged” seven tables in the UK Government room with sticky notes – they had no game function but when the Cabinet found one of them they panicked and withdrew to a secure bunker. Their nuclear submarine fleet had just put out to sea so we didn’t know what they were up to! Uh oh…

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Photo: Tom Mouat

Second day was my “Game design as Journalism” presentation and later, the dialogue between me and Volko Ruhnke. It went far better than I ever thought it would, I had been spinning so many brain-cycles over it I thought it was no good. But I never want to talk or write about Creativity itself ever again, it’s easier just to make things.

There was also a game fair: I had brought giveaway copies of Guerrilla Checkers, which attracted quite a few people, and got two fellows into a game of Second Lebanon War.  “We are Coming Nineveh”, which we had playtested a couple of days before, was also on display. (two right photos: Tom Mouat)

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With LCol Neil Stevens and LCol Ranald Shepherd, all looking very pleased with ourselves.

On the third day, I chaired a plenary session on “validation” that featured two presentations by people who had used my work. The first was by two LCols in the British Army who had used A Distant Plain as a training aid for their staff officers to give them some appreciation of the complexity of the Afghan situation, and in the second John Curry talked about recent games that examined the Ukraine Crisis… I am quoted as saying I got it “half right and half wrong.” (Yes, just don’t ask me which half is which.) Even if the games are not a perfect mirror of historical reality I felt validated myself and was very grateful, as always, to hear about my stuff being used in contexts outside sheer entertainment.

Before and after the conference, I had a day or two to enjoy London… I went museum hopping. At the Imperial War Museum I saw this:

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“Douglas” the ventriloquist’s dummy.

“Douglas” and his handler have quite a story. Arthur Harden joined the Artillery and served in the 59th Division’s Divisional Ammunition Column. He was a hobby ventriloquist and entertained the troops with Douglas (possibly named after Douglas Haig) when out of the line. His commanding officer recognized the morale-maintaining function of the dummy and took him on his orderly room staff and promoted him to Sergeant (Harden, not the dummy). Harden said later, “The Colonel enjoyed Douglas so much that he prevented my posting elsewhere and mildly discouraged my taking a commission.” It certainly saved his life, though Douglas’ case has a hole in it from a piece of shrapnel (hidden in this shot).

https://www.forces.net/news/creepy-dummy-entertained-soldiers-during-ww1

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The kids didn’t quite get the point.

I also went to the National Army Museum, which was quite fun. There was an interactive display where a CGI drill sergeant from the Guards would come out and berate you (in clean language) over your sloppy drill when you stood on the footprints.

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Wellington’s cloak and barometer. Also, the skeleton of Marengo, one of Napoleon’s horses.

 

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T.E. Lawrence’s robes and dagger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also went to the Victoria & Albert and British Museums, but did not have a lot of time to spend in either. I liked the 20th century design rooms at the former and just went to the Roman Britain room in the latter to take some pictures for my dad.

I also went to Richmond, to see a puppet show in a barge moored in the Thames river. The barge is brought up into London during the winter for shows. Very talented puppeteers.

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Puppets from earlier shows hung on the walls.

On my last day I went out to suburban Dagenham to visit David Turczi, where we talked about our newest projects and played Root, a very interesting asymmetric game by Cole Wehrle. I didn’t really know what I was doing but still won as the Cats, on a Domination card.

Now, back to work!

 

“Paper Computers” at UVic

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Think I’ll make this the standard image for posts concerning games and game studies. Until I find a better one.

This fall Jentery Sayers, a professor at the University of Victoria (my alma mater and still favoured hangout, when I have the time and opportunity) will be running a fifth-year English seminar/special topic course on prototyping of tabletop games. His very detailed and ambitious syllabus is at the link below.

https://jentery.github.io/508v4/

The “paper computers” term is a reference to a very good piece by Matt Kirschenbaum from 2009, “War Stories: Board Wargames and (Vast) Procedural Narratives” but the course is not about wargames specifically.

No one reading this is likely to be in a position to take advantage of this interesting offering, least of all me, but it’s nice to see the topic being treated in this way.

 

The Other 9/11, +45

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This September 11 marks the 45th anniversary of the coup d’etat which unseated (and killed) Salvador Allende and installed a 17-year military dictatorship under Pinochet.

Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive

Democracy Now!’s coverage of the coup

Tiny Battle has this one on sale right now: $20.00 for physical form, only $10.00 for the PnP version!

Buy Here

Chile ’73: necessary errata file and expanded sequence of play

Colonial Twilight nominated for IGA!

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Colonial Twilight has been nominated for a 2018 International Gamers Award, in the “General Strategy – 2 player” category!

http://www.internationalgamersawards.net

GMT Games tweeted the news, with the additional information that of over 300 games they have published, fewer than a dozen have been nominated for an IGA. Only one has ever won, and that one was Twilight Struggle.

However, one of the other nominations, and the next most wargamelike, is 13 Days: the Cuban Missile Crisis, so that one’s going to win for sure. That one, or Fog of Love, which also looks quite interesting.

But it’s nice to be named.

And awaaay we go once more…

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For the Last Big Trip of 2018. I’m leaving for the UK on Friday the 31st, for the Connections-UK conference on professional wargaming at Kings College London, 4-6 September.

http://professionalwargaming.co.uk/2018.html

I’ll be presenting on game design as journalism (a very revised version of the San Diego PCA presentation), doing a semi-structured dialogue on creativity and design with Volko Ruhnke on stage (and I think I will never write about creativity or the creative process again, I’ve spent weeks dithering and thinking about it and it has been driving me nuts…), and chairing a plenary session on “wargame validation” where the speakers are using A Distant Plain and Ukrainian Crisis as examples.

“Journalism” presentation text: Games journalism 29 Aug and the slides: Games journalism 29 aug

We’ll also have the game demos and plays: I am bringing Guerrilla Checkers as always, and advertising play of Second Lebanon War from the Brief Border Wars quad (actually I am bringing the whole quad, in case someone wants to play Cyprus 1974 or Vietnam 1979 instead). And we will be demonstrating We Are Coming, Nineveh! too.

Before and after will be playtesting of things, merry meetings, a megagame organized by Jim Wallman (one of my favourite madmen), a puppet show on a barge, and general snooping around!

I may post from Blighty, or I may not… as usual I am working off the little tablet with tiny keyboard.

Be good while I’m gone!

Temp +10%, OSS -20%

Illustration: just a few of the things you could get….

One Small Step Games is having a “Boy it’s Hot” sale!

Go to the cart at www.ossgamescart.com and use the code ITSHOT20 to get 20% off your purchase!
Applies to all in-stock games, excluding things already on sale, on pre-order, or magazine subs.

Sale ends August 5 2018.