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).

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

 

Playtester call: Civil Power

Untitled-1

Provisional cover art, by “seado3”

Comrades, the time has come to render aid.

Civil Power, my tactical “sandbox” game on civil unrest will be published by Conflict Simulations Ltd. next year but first it’s time for some concerted playtesting.

Kevin Conway has made up a Vassal module, and we are looking for people to take the game and its scenarios for a spin. If you want to get involved, here are the requirements:

  • Have Vassal on your machine, and know how to use it.
  • Know what Basecamp3 is and how to use it, or have rudimentary experience with some similar web-based project management software (mostly leaving messages and downloading files).
  • Email rweiss@consimsltd.com to get onto the site.
  • Don’t be a flake. I appreciate your time and help; let’s make it worthwhile.

I’ve been doing some more work on this game the last while, overhauling language and revising mechanics. This is one of the first games I designed (technically the second; my very first was in 1982, a very derivative game on the Pusan Perimeter) and I’ve written a lot of rules since then.

I’ve also been revising, dropping and adding scenarios: currently there are 13.  Back in 1991/92 I was drawing them up based on newspaper headlines, so there are scenarios for things like the LA riots and one based on keeping Afrikaner neo-Nazis out of a hotel… but these are restive times we are in, so I have added 2019 Hong Kong and Caracas protest-counterprotest scenarios for 2019. It won’t be difficult for players to make their own.

Nights of Fire here at last!

NOF pic

Just ecstatic, yass…

 

At last, my designer copies of Nights of Fire have arrived!

Very pleased with the production overall, and the great artwork on the map, pieces and player aids.

Lianne was wowed by the “toys”, too! That submachine gunner does look just like Yul Brynner….

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.