District Commander Maracas: VASSAL module available!

dc_maracas medium

Trevor Lieberman has braved the demons of Vassal and created a module for District Commander Maracas!

Download it here: http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:District_Commander_Maracas:_Virtualia_2019

It needs a few people to work it and check it over for errors or bugs, so this may not be the final version, but there is the page to find it when it is.

Thanks so much for your work Trevor!

(Honestly, I have tried off and on for the past few weeks to finally get it together to understand Vassal and Tabletop Simulator, and both have thoroughly defeated me except for the simplest things. I did make a functioning version of Guerrilla Checkers on TTS, but have no idea how to distribute it now.)

[ETA: Trevor also made an Excel spreadsheet to automate scoring for Population and LOC Control victory points for the module: https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/213982/automated-scoring ]

BTR Games available through Wargame Vault

I am making my whole line of “BTR Games” products available for PnP on Wargame Vault.

To produce these games, I would go to the copy shop to have small batches of counter sticker sheets, maps etc. made up. But I’ve been working from home since March 2020 and can’t get near any copy shops, and it is not worth trying to print all this at home, so I have run out of components for most titles. I can’t print 11×17″ maps at home anyway. This also saves any delay in my having to organize a trip to the post office (which was also proving occasionally difficult).

The real value, though, from the customer’s point of view is that they can order Brian Train products drunk at 3 am, as most online purchases are made, and get them right away.

https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/18373/BTR-Games

When things begin to stabilize and I return to my office, I do plan to have physical versions of the games available again for people who do not want to go the PnP route.

The Zenobia Award

Mentor.

Signal boost for a worthy cause: the Zenobia Award.

Rex Brynen is a better writer, speaker and when it comes down to it thinker than I am so I will quote from his announcement:

“Historical board games are enjoyed by people from all walks of life, but their designers are predominately white men. The Zenobia Award hopes to change this by encouraging game submissions by people from marginalized groups. The Zenobia Award is not an ordinary design award. Promising applicants will receive mentorship on their designs from established industry designers, and the winners will receive help navigating the game publication process in addition to a cash prize.”

Daniel Thurot at Space-Biff! is also far more eloquent than I, at his post at https://spacebiff.com/2020/11/22/zenobia/

More details are all here: https://zenobiaaward.org so go and have a look.

I write a lot about my game designs on this blog, less often on politics, and only occasionally on the state of the hobby. But anyone who’s been in it for long soon susses out that just as there are definitely more “outputs” (published games) on certain topics than others, there are also more “inputs” (designers of published games) of a certain category than others – white, male, and older.

This is an observation, and hardly a profound one at that.

I don’t see anything nefarious about this situation. It was well known, Back In The Day, that this was a hobby that was generally indulged in by white, educated males… the Great Dunnigan remarked on this, particularly the gender imbalance, in the pages of SPI-era Strategy and Tactics many times, and often referred to the whole shootin’ match as “the hobby of the overeducated” – which back then largely also meant white and male.

I also don’t see anything particularly praiseworthy about this situation. It is also well known, Now, that many cylinders of this hobby’s engine have run on nostalgia fumes for a very long time, and many players and designers from Back In The Day are still with us, just older. That’s expected – time does march on – but society has marched on too and the audiences, actual and potential, for tabletop games are far different in gender, ethnicity, nationality and cultural outlook from 40 years ago.

I think it’s pretty simple: if you want to see the hobby continue to function, to encourage new ideas and explore different topics, to invite new people and their experiences into the fold, either help to spread the word yourself or consider contributing, either as a member of an underrepresented group or part of a team that includes such. It’s not about the prize (personally, I don’t see why money has to be be involved at all), it’s about the offer of help, advice and mentorship to people who want to become involved… which is something I have tried to extend to everyone who has approached me, as a designer (and in my day job).

If these things are not important to you, or you think they will happen by themselves, or you think that historical board games are not inherently political objects, then carry on as you have – this initiative doesn’t require anything of you, and I am sure you can find someone who will agree with you elsewhere. But I have never had time for self-appointed gatekeepers.

Civil Power: interview with The Players Aid

Will neither confirm nor deny this was considered for the rulebook cover.

https://theplayersaid.com/2020/09/28/interview-with-brian-train-designer-of-civil-power-from-conflict-simulations-llc/

Yes!

Over at The Players Aid, an interview about the provenance and mechanics of Civil Power

In this interview I was glad to have the chance to point out some of the obvious bits:

  • that while the technology might change, riots are still much like ancient/medieval battles;
  • even though it is a battle, it is still a confrontation with citizens in a relatively civilized overall situation and you cannot shoot your way to victory (except in the 1944 Warsaw scenario of course); and
  • using the idea of an Engagement Level to acknowledge that there are two mobs at every riot: the civilian and the non-civilian, and that while they have different structures they feed off each other’s energy.

We’re getting into the final stretch of Getting It Ready For You, laying out rules and player aids. 

Fight the Power!

(or be the Power, or both… there’s no solitaire AI or anything like that)

Heat Ray!

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54187961

An Army National Guard officer has testified that his unit was asked by military police whether they had a “heat ray”, more formally known as the Active Denial System, as Washington DC authorities prepared to clear demonstrators from Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020.

This is a vehicle-mounted system that uses a tightly focused beam of microwave energy to make the target feel as if their skin is burning, though the chances of actual physical damage are low. It was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 but sent back unused, and was proposed to be but wasn’t deployed to the US border with Mexico in 2018. I am not sure it has ever actually been used in other than demonstrations for the media; a smaller version may have been used in prisons (possibly to break up impromptu performances of “Telephone” in the exercise yard).

The National Guard unit did not have one of these jolly contrivances, but YOU can have one of your very own – IF you get a copy of my forthcoming game Civil Power!

The counter for it is pictured above (art by Ivan Caceres). Rules are as follows:

  • The ADS may be used in scenarios taking place after 2010.
  • The ADS may apply its Shock Combat strength of 10 to one target unit in the Fire Combat Phase. The die roll is not modified. In the case of an X result, no WIA is counted.
  • The ADS has an infinite range (even at night) but only one unit in a stack may be targeted. 
  • The ADS may not attack units that are in a building, in the same area as a Gas cloud, or units where the LOS to the target crosses a Fire area or Barricade (the beam does not penetrate solid objects, and even a small amount of smoke or mist will reduce its power to the point where the target only feels toasty warm).

[EDITED TO ADD: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has developed its own version of the ADS, and has reportedly used it against Indian Army troops in the Himalayas: November, 2020. (Source is the Daily Mail, but if I find a more reputable source I will link it here too.)

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8957019/China-used-secret-microwave-pulse-weapon-Indian-soldiers.html

Brief Border Wars: shipping at last!

bbw-boxcover-1100px

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

Available and shipping as of today!

Still shows price of $52 so perhaps you can order quickly and save a few dollars too!

As was briefly discussed in the recent interview with John Kranz, I have been mulling over another set of four conflicts… nothing succeeds like a sequel (which is rather idiotically self-referential, now that I think about it).

Interview with Compass Games, 5 June 2020

District Commander system and ZNO module: changes/updates

binhdinh bits

Binh Dinh module map and pieces. (photo: Mary Russell)

I have made some changes to the standard rules of the District Commander system:

  • changes in the Ambush and Intimidate missions,
  • a new use for Intelligence Advantage chits, and
  • disrupting Militia units no longer deducts TP.

New standard rules, updated player aid files for the Maracas and Binh Dinh modules, and updated rules and player aid files for the Zone Nord Oranais module (Algeria 1959) with these and other changes are available for download at the Free Games page.

Free Games!

 

China’s War: P-update

CWp500cover

China’s War has 999 pre-orders as of tonight!

WHO will be the lucky number 1,000?

Will it be YOU…

or YOU….

or YOU?

ETA, February 6: Pre-orders are now exactly 1,000!

I wonder who it was helped us across the Rubicon?

The Influential Fifteen

Image result for fifteen fingers

photo: Henle House.

In one of the better “that was the decade that was” pieces I’ve seen, over at The Players Aid blog, Grant Kleinheinz has posted his list and impressions of the 15 most influential board wargames he has played in the last decade.

https://theplayersaid.com/2020/01/07/15-most-influential-wargames-of-the-decade-2010-2019

Winter Thunder gets a shout-out, as do two of the COIN series games!

In other news, I had some unstructured time off at the end of December, so in between watching a lot of TV and movies with my wife I got some testing and development work done on Civil Power and Strongman. Getting quite pleased with them!

Compass Games recently announced that the release date for the Brief Border Wars quad will be February 14, 2020. Sneak preview of the game’s cards above. So look out for that!

EDITED TO ADD

Not to be outdone, Rocky Mountain Navy posted his top picks for influential wargames of the 2010s and picked Nights of Fire as advancing the state of “waro” games (or “weuro” games, as I have also seen it).

https://rockymountainnavy.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/rockymountainnavys-influential-wargame-from-to-2010s-h-t-to-playersaidblog-for-the-idea

 

Soundtrack to Civil Power

In the new year a revised version of Civil Power, a tactical-level game I designed on urban riots and mayhem, will be published by a company called Conflict Simulations. I first designed this game back in 1991-92, and it came with a set of scenarios taken from history and then-contemporary headlines… this new version has a lot of changes informed by over 25 years of designing in between, and a whole new cast of global angst and violence.

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

So I thought, why not make a playlist to serve as a sort of soundtrack to playing it? The above is 78 minutes of anti-authority music of many genres (most of them loud and snotty), in an easy-to-handle 44K VBR. Hope you enjoy, even if you don’t order my game!

 

Track listing:

Glory to Hong Kong – anonymous student rebel orchestra
Tommy Gun – The Clash
Fist – Test Department
Solidaritätslied – Ernst Busch Chorus (film clip)
Landlord – Test Department
Ready to Blow – KMFDM
Babylon’s Burning – The Ruts
Wake Up – Rage Against the Machine
Riot – Dead Kennedys
Ghetto Defendant – The Clash
All That I wanted – Belfegore
Smash It Up – International Noise Conspiracy
Kick Out The Jams – MC5
Fight The Power – Public Enemy
Rise Above – Black Flag
Killing In The Name – Rage Against The Machine
Guns of Brixton – The Clash
Police Truck – Dead Kennedys
Wild in the Streets – Circle Jerks
General Strike – DOA
Clampdown – The Clash