2023-01 Urban Operations Planner Course

(all photos: Jayson Geroux)

I’ve spent the last week attending the third serial of the Urban Operations Planners Course, run by the 40th Infantry Division (California Army National Guard) and held at Joint Force Training Base Los Alamitos. Went very well!

A solid week of really great lectures and exercises on urban warfare, featuring the usual suspects like COL John Spencer of the Modern War Institute’s Urban Warfare Project, Stuart Lyle of the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Dr. Jacob Stoil of the School of Advanced Military Studies, Dr. Sahr Muhammedally, and MAJ Jayson Geroux of the Royal Canadian Regiment. These are some of the most knowledgeable people on kinetic urban conflict in the world. I met a lot of really interesting students as well – most were Americans but there were also students from other armies. Still no Canadians other than MAJ Geroux and myself.

There was more time for instruction and play of the the Quick Urban Integrated Combat Kriegsspiel or QUICK, designed by yours truly. We had an introductory period mid-week and spent the final day playing both basic and advanced versions, which I think was much better for the students to digest and get used to. Like last time there were a few former gamers in the class, but for some this was a completely new item.


(PAFF people made a short clip showing people playing the game… I don’t know how to link a Facebook reel. If I’d known the camera was on me, I might have used knife hands!)

It landed very very well; the students seemed really engaged by it. Also, a number of remote students played online at the same time, using a VASSAL module produced by Curt Pangracs at the Command General and Staff College.

(Of course people got to use their Military Pointing Skills!)

Fortunately I had a set of great facilitators including the heads of training for the Division, faculty from the Joint Special Operations University and US Army Command and General Staff College, and volunteer students and instructors of the course. It never would have worked without them!

The course had a bit more social media presence than last year and I was told “we were blowing up on Twitter” after some pictures of the game being played were posted to Twitter. Maybe I need to get on that medium too, before Elon scatters its ashes. Anyway, there was a surge of visits to the page here where I offer the game files to everyone for free print and play: The QUICK Page

However, be aware that like last year I will be making some changes and revisions to the game rules and charts due to feedback and comments from the students. Like all games, it’s a continual work in progress.

The standard grip-and-grin: me and BG Robert Wooldridge, Deputy Commander of 40ID, sponsor of the course and avid wargamer himself.

How to think about Red – video

Connections-Online was a couple of weeks ago.

Robert Domaingue and I made a presentation on the idea of “Red” as a prompt to creativity – how we think about Red shapes what we create.

You can see that Robert is by far the better presenter. Don’t miss my embarrassing coughing fit about 9:00!

The playlist of videos for all the presentations for Connections-Online 2023 is here:

Gaming the Unpleasant


At Conflicts of Interest Online, operated by Harold Buchanan and the gang behind SDHistcon, Volko Ruhnke held a  roundtable of seven designers responding to the question prompt:

Historical boardgames often tackle difficult, unpleasant, or unconventional topics like war, slavery, the economics and social structure of exploitive colonial economics, human rights abuses, terrorism, piracy, dirty politics, and medieval social systems, as a few examples.

As a game designer facing the paradoxical linkage between unpleasant issues and fun gameplay, what sorts of topics would you find most difficult? How do you decide whether to tackle a difficult topic? And when you do, what do you abstract out and what do you include in the game?

Some very deep and thoughtful replies from Sebastian Bae, Mark Herman, Amabel Holland, Jason Matthews, Akar Bharadvaj, Cole Wehrle.

And me, bringing up the rear….

Designer roundtable: Gaming the Unpleasant

Urban Operations Planners Course 23-01: D-29


Starting in one month’s time: the third serial of the Urban Operations Planner Course, sponsored by the 40th Infantry Division (CA AARNG).

As before, we’ll be playing the Quick Urban Integrated Combat Kriegsspiel on the last day; I will also be bringing along several smaller games on aspects of operations that I have been inspired to put together since last summer.

I’m VERY excited about going back and working with such a great group of professionals again.

Here’s hoping I don’t lose my voice like last time!

2022-02 Urban Operations Planner Course

Connections-Online: 17-23 April 2023


Coming next week: the 2023 edition of Connections Online!

As you can see above, the theme this year is “The Enemy Gets A Vote”, and most presentations will deal with some aspect of RED – Red teaming, Red watching, Red cabbage… there will also be demonstrations and plays-through of classical Kriegsspiel (the 1796 Italian campaign), Sebastian Bae’s very clever Littoral Commander, and more.

Main events are in the middle of the week (18-20 April) but there are also satellite events either side of that.

One of these is on 1300 PDT Saturday 22 April:

How to think About The Other- “Red” as a Creativity Prompt

Game designers and players Brian Train (hobbyland) and Robert Domaingue (ex-State Department) will talk about their thoughts on the broader concept of “Red” in games. Questions from the audience welcome.

Yikes, five people have signed up for that one already… have to get my imposter syndrome reaction under control.

Go here to sign up for the whole event (a paltry $5), and getcher badges (free free free)!


[edited to add: the video of our talk has been posted to Youtube. Robert is by far the better speaker!]

News from GMT

Today saw the monthly GMT Games update newsletter, with tidings of developments on all game projects and – most keenly anticipated by all – announcements of new items up for P500.


Two of these are notable:


A new four-pack of games on Latin American insurgencies by Stephen Rangazas, using a slightly encomplexified iteration of the cut-to-its-core COIN system he used in the first four-pack, The British Way. This one has games on the Tupamaros (1968), El Salvador (1979), Nicaragua (1979) and Shining Path (1980). You can play the El Salvador and Nicaragua games simultaneously side-by-side in the “Resisting Reagan” scenario.

More here: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-1032-the-guerrilla-generation.aspx


This one is a continental-scale game on the European revolutions of 1848, using a an area control system that was featured in 1989: Dawn of Freedom and Twilight Struggle, two perennial GMT best sellers. The designer is Jules Felisaz, whose name I do not recognize and does not show up on Boardgamegeek so this must be his first published design.

More here: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-1033-1848-the-springtime-of-nations.aspx

I designed a game on the Tupamaros in 1995, a game on the Shining Path in 1996, and a continental scale 1848-revolutions game in 1997. As far as I could tell these were the first designs on these conflicts.

So of course I am excited to see the second designs on all these conflicts coming out, over 25 years later!

Yes, I signed up for these, certainly….

Wargame Developments has a new website!

Wargame Developments, my favourite group of British madmen, has launched a new and very tidy website, thanks to member David Burden.

History, important gaming resources (including the WD Handbook), rules sets, and the nine days’ wonder journal The NUGGET (well, I call  it that because it comes out nine times a year, but it is really good).

Some extremely clever and inventive people belong to this group; one day I want to travel to their annual conference and meet them all.

Check it out!


I’m appearing at SDHist Con Online 2023

SDHist Con Online 2023 Spring Deployment is a one-day online event coming this Saturday, March 18.

I’ll be giving a talk on the games I’ve done on modern urban combat at the operational level, both irregular and regular flavours… from Tupamaro to EXURB (don’t know what that last one is? Tune in and find out!)


SDHistcon urban 17 Mar 23

SDHistcon urban 11 mar 23



Registration link: https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment

It’s $5.00 to attend but every event is free.

Link to the event, but be reminded there are dozens of other interesting panels and presentations too (just not at the same time as mine). https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment/schedule/73

Overall event schedule, searchable: https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment/schedule

Here are some I think would be interesting and intend to check out:

Talk on We Are Coming, Nineveh! out at last from NUTS! Publishing: https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment/schedule/58

Land and Freedom, an interesting new game on the Spanish Civil War (title of good Ken Loach movie too): https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment/schedule/42

ZOIN, or zombie-inspired COIN system game about an outbreak in the northeastern US I guess… played out on Tabletop Simulator: https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment/schedule/59

More COIN, a presentation by Yann de Villeneuve on A Fading Star, the newest GMT COIN system game (volume 15 in the series!) about insurgency in modern Somalia: https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment/schedule/6

The very clever Vesa Arponen presents Order & Opportunity, his new game on the making of the post-Cold War new world order: https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment/schedule/9

Okay, this looks neat: Chicago ’68, a “tactical asymmetric game” by Yoni Goldstein on the famous police riot: https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment/schedule/16

And in case you wanted to find out all the secrets, “How To Design a Board Game”, a table featuring Joe Schmidt (GMT Designer and Developer), Alex Knight (Designer of Land and Freedom: The Spanish Revolution and Civil War), and Sebastian Bae (Research Analyst, Wargame Designer, and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University) where they spill the beans: https://tabletop.events/conventions/sdhist-online-2023-spring-deployment/schedule/52

And though the event is taking place in the Pacific time zone, there will be extended hours and events so our friends in the UK and EU don’t have to stay up late to attend!

I hope you will drop by and check it out.

Also, if you happen to live near Rhode Island, be advised that the weekend of August 18-20 will see SD Hist Con East, hosted by the US Naval War College in Newport RI – registration opens at the end of this SD Hist Con!
This promises to be a very special event: numbers are strictly limited by the host to 60 only – first come first served!
The lucky few will spend time touring some cool local historical sites from the American Revolution and WW2 (Battleships! Submarines!)
You can access the registration link at http://www.sdhist.com .

Panel: Colonialism in Boardgames, 26 Feb 2023


Exciting news, everybody!

This Sunday at 2000 UTC, I will be on a panel on Fred Serval’s Homo Ludens Youtube channel considering depictions of colonialism in boardgames – with a lineup of people that I never, ever expected I would share a stage with.

Description of topic and participants from Fred’s announcement:

“We will focus on the evolution of colonialism’s depiction in our games, examine ethical and historical considerations of this depiction and discuss a possible way forward for the hobby.”

The panel:
Mary Flanagan: Pioneer in the field of game research.
Jason “ShelfStories” Perez: Content creator and cultural advisor for board game publishers.
Brian Train: Legendary designer of weird wargames.
Cole Wehrle: boardgame mogul.

These are brilliant people…. accomplished academics and thoughtful designers… my Imposter Syndrome is surging so much right now.

Anyway, tune in, and see if I can keep my finger out of my nose while the big kids talk.

[Edit: I think it went quite well, even if I was not at my most articulate.]

We Are Coming Nineveh: make your pre-orders now!


The time has come for all good people to make their pre-orders for the English-language version of We Are Coming, Nineveh! from Nuts! Publishing.

This is a grand-tactical/operational scale block wargame on the battle for Mosul in 2017, designed by two former students of Rex Brynen’s and further developed by Rex and I. This one is a challenge to balance speed and casualties and time as Iraqi government forces hem ISIS fighters into a smaller and smaller perimeter in the Old City. The game has many event and capability cards that vary play, by accident or on purpose respectively.

Price 52 Euros (about $56 USD), reduced from regular price of 65 Euros. Not sure of shipping cost of course, but for once the European customers will get a break on this part of buying a wargame.

Deliveries begin in March 2023, so no long waits! The link below is for pre-orders and has some very good images of the high quality graphics to help you make up your mind about that part… as for the play and replay value, I definitely will vouch for that.