DC Maracas: available for sale!

dc_maracas medium

https://hollandspiele.com/products/district-commander-maracas

The day has come!

Yeet Yeet Woohoo!

GET IT NOW for $45.00, ’cause it will be $50.00 later.

I’m withdrawing the Maracas module from my free Print and Play selection, but I will be replacing it with another. Other modules will be published in due course by Hollandspiele but I still want to leave up a District Commander module with the core rules, so that people can try the system for free.

So which module should I put up next?
Help me decide!

I can’t have a poll with this thing unless I get an account with some other creepy sounding company, so I put one up over on Boardgamegeek:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2273252/what-dc-module-should-i-post-next-free-pnp

or you can let me know your desire in the comments.

ZNO (Zone Nord Oranais) (Algeria 1959)
Features supply units, airmobility, population resettlement, random terror

Binh Dinh (Vietnam 1969)
Features US and ROK units, supply units, airmobility, Agent Orange, random terror, monsoon rains, the Phoenix program

Kandahar (Afghanistan 2009)
Features ISAF units, non-State militia, criminals, airmobility, Command Nodes, KAF and Pakistan sanctuaries

I’m leaning towards Kandahar myself….

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WW2 +80

80 years and one day ago the Second World War began with the German invasion of Poland. Boardgamegeek user “Grisz” commemmorated the occasion with a video review of Summer Lightning.

Thanks Grisz! I do not speak Polish, so I hope it is a nice review. The video does not end with the game being swept off the table into the Round File, or crumpled, or set afire, so I guess it’s at least OK.

PS: For those who drop by here regularly, I’ve made an addition to the rules to Kashmir Crisis. The “1sep” rules and player aid card now available have an additional optional rule with an alternate, “sudden death” victory option; they replace the “28aug” version. Stop by and replace your rules: New game: Kashmir Crisis

New game: Kashmir Crisis

KC_Cover mid

Image © Nathaniel Brunt, 2014. “The view towards the India/Pakistan border from the Sadhna Pass, Kupwara. The border between the two countries, known as the ‘Line of Control’, is one of the most militarized regions in the world.”

Not long ago Nathaniel Brunt, a researcher and photographer doing postgraduate work at Ryerson Polytechnic University, contacted me about the “Game Design as Journalism” presentation I made last year at the Connections-UK conference.

Nathaniel is a gamer and has spent years travelling and taking photographs in the Kashmir Region. He suggested that perhaps we could put together a simple game, in this “gamer-citizen journalism” vein, to let people find out a bit more about the current crisis in Kashmir.

So, we did.  And in that same vein, we offer it to you for free print-and-play.

Kashmir Crisis is a quite simple card-based game for two players. It takes about 15 minutes to play. You need to print out the rules and player aid card, and optionally the player mat to help keep things organized – you also need a deck of ordinary playing cards, with one Joker.

During each game turn, players will begin by revealing the Event Card that will be in effect during that turn. Then, both players will receive a number of cards from a deck of ordinary playing cards, and play them onto Diplomatic, Information or Military Fronts (or keep them in a Reserve, for a later turn). After this, players will compare the totals of cards played to see if one player will score Victory Points on a given Front, and whether one or both players will lose cards and Victory Points.

Originally we started with something that abstractly looked at the 30 year insurgency in Kashmir, but soon decided to focus on events subsequent to the February 2019 suicide bomber attack at Pulwama. We still plan on doing a more detailed game that looks at different periods/campaigns within the insurgency; it might work well as a module in the District Commander series. Nathaniel and I are going to explore this in the next while.

So, here are the files – I hope you will give this a try, and try to enjoy it in the spirit in which it is offered. [edited to add: the “1sep” rules and player aid card now available have an additional optional rule with an alternate, “sudden death” victory option; they replace the “28aug” version]

kc-rules-1sep19 rules

kc-pac-1sep19  player aid card

kc play mat 22aug19 play mat for cards

KC Narrative Prompts narrative prompts sheet

A word on the “narrative prompts”: this game involves placing cards representing resources on different Fronts during play. This abstractly shows the scale of effort a country is investing in obtaining a favourable result in that sphere of activity. For example, the Diplomatic Front concerns a country’s efforts to get international support and assistance for its viewpoint or to condemn its adversary’s, or to pursue legal and economic threats and harassment against the enemy. “Information” is perhaps a somewhat more nebulous concept, relating to message dominance and ability to control the narrative on the conflict. Finally, the “Military” Front is a more straightforward application of covert and overt military forces and assistance to pursue insurgent/ counterinsurgent warfare, or to prepare for large-scale conventional conflict.

Some players will recognize this concept from my pol-mil game Ukrainian Crisis. Others will have no idea what’s going on, what playing a “5” represents, and why a “5” is better than a “3” but not as good as a “7”. To give them a bit of a verbal prompt in building the story of the unfolding of the conflict together (which is the goal of playing a game with another person), we include a sheet of adjectives, verbs and nouns that might help someone describe or imagine what they are doing in the game.

PS: if anyone’s moved to comment, you can do that here, or the game now has an entry on Boardgamegeek.com (approved almost suspiciously fast, too).

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/287786/kashmir-crisis

What’s in a name?

 

scheldtmapsnip

Vlissingen? Flushing? Vlissienge? Flessingue?

When GMT put up notice of China’s War going to P500 on their Facebook page, there was quite a bit of comment. One user, Hank Wong, made this point about nomenclature, when the topic of “Kuomintang/Guomindang” came up:

Hank Wong While Hanyu pinyin is linguistically more accurate, as Ron mentions, using it does have political implications, especially among people of mainland China/Taiwan/HK background. It was the system adopted and promoted by the Chinese Communists, and so using it can give the appearance that the game is from, or favors, the Communist point of view. Wade-Giles is not as accurate, and it was the method preferred by the KMT/Nationalists, but it was also how the Western world knew those names and locations during the actual World War II period itself. In between, I’ve seen newer history books compromise by one of two methods: (1) keeping the “famous names” in WG and then translate more obscure names as PY, or (2) Communist names in PY and Nationalist names in WG.

Interesting compromise, and one that demands more background knowledge from the reader than normal.

I have had similar discussions in the past with other people, when designing WW II games on the Balkans occupation and the Scheldt campaign… do I use the name of the city as it is now, or the one it had at the beginning of the War, or while it was under German/Italian/Hungarian occupation, or the name Flemish people use for it…? Any choices I do make will be slammed by some and ignored by others.

In general, I try to use the name that was in the most common usage at the time the game takes place, in a form as close as possible to the original language, not some Anglicized version… which is why I put pronunciation guides in the playbooks for A Distant Plain and Colonial Twilight. But I do slip up (for example, “Algiers” on the Colonial Twilight map should have been rendered “Alger”, as Joseph Vanden Borre reminds me every time I see him at CSW Expo) and even the method of pronunciation I choose has political implications, you see.

I think perhaps in this case I will do my best to avoid this linguistic and political stickiness and refer to the government player as “Nationalists” or “Nationalist Party”, since that is the English equivalent of the Chinese word no matter how you pronounce it. And Beiping/Peiping was renamed Beijing from 1937-45 while it was under Japanese occupation (and renamed so again in 1949 by the CCP, after 4 years of being Beiping again), so for the sake of historical accuracy/contemporaneous currency I will use Beijing.

 

China’s War is up for P500!

CWp500cover

Preliminary artwork, of course. (Rachel Billingsley)

Yes, now it can be told.

Today GMT put China’s War up for P500, and the clock starts ticking… to what end I don’t know, because it will come when it comes, and that’s when it’s ready.

$55.00 now, $80.00 later. I see it’s up to 230 pre-orders already, but I think that is about the number of people who have a “give me anything COIN” standing order with GMT.

https://www.gmtgames.com/p-830-chinas-war-1937-1941.aspx

I will be working with a developer on this, and we’ll be ready to start playtesting with groups soon, after a Vassal module has been got ready (dammit, I really need to learn how to make these things…).

Other information, also available from the page where you went to place your order RIGHT AWAY, and then came back here:

China’s War: 1937-1941 examines the first five years of the conflict, when China stood alone against the Japanese Empire. Each player takes the role of a Faction seeking to attack or defend the Republic of China: the aggressive Japanese, the harried Government (represented by the Nationalist party), the rebellious Chinese Communist Party, or the unruly, fractious Warlords who are obedient when convenient but have their eye on gaining state power. Using military, political, and economic actions and exploiting various events, players build and maneuver forces to influence or control the population, extract resources, or otherwise achieve their Faction’s aims. A deck of cards regulates turn order, events, victory checks, and other processes. The rules can run non-player Factions, enabling solitaire, 2-player, or multi-player games.

COMPONENTS
One 22”x 34” mounted game board
One deck of 52 playing cards
167 wooden playing pieces, some embossed
12 small pawns (6 red, 6 white)
One full-color countersheet
Rules Booklet
Playbook
4 Faction Player Aid foldouts
Cards, Player Aid, and Rules for the card-based solitaire opponent*
1 Sequence of Play sheet
2 six-sided dice

Players: 1-4 (full solitaire system)
Map: Area movement
Time scale: about 1 year per 12-card campaign

*I’m not exactly sure about how to approach the solitaire system for this one; you-all know that I am not all that interested in them. But I was intrigued by the card-based one used in the recent release of Gandhi, and the 12-card AI that David Turczi came up with for Nights of Fire was amazing, so I think I would like to see something like that rather than more flowcharts. Again, if I could get away with not having one, I would, but it is something people have come to expect… after 11 previous volumes in the series!

Laissez les bon temps rouler…

[ETA: 10:00 am the next day and we are up to 406 pre-orders! Might be able to make it by the end of the day, or by the weekend. Whoops, 412 now… 428…]

[FETA: I woke up Saturday morning and it was 501. So, that’s that.]

Here is a look at a prototype map, as exhibited at CSWExpo 2019. Not much to see. The yellow and pink pieces are now green, how prototypical is that for you…

Chinas_War

And speaking of CSW, I have set up a discussion area for the game here:

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.1de0d6b6/0

BGG entry for the game is here:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/287515/chinas-war-1937-41

Sitrep: the Syrian Arab Army

SAA Order of Battle early 2019

SAA OOB, early 2019. Credit: Gregory Waters.

https://www.mei.edu/publications/lion-and-eagle-syrian-arab-armys-destruction-and-rebirth

Here is a brilliant bit of contemporary history and analysis by Gregory Waters of the Middle East Institute on the collapse of the Syrian Arab Army during the Syrian Civil War and its rebuilding under Russian tutelage. Includes complete, detailed Orders of Battle for years between 2013 and early 2019. Current OOB was partly assembled and verified through checks of Facebook pages!

My Third Lebanon War game (which will soon be issued in physical form as a BTR Games product, I hope) has Syrian intervention units in it, however they were not given distinct numbers – I assumed at the time (2010-11) that they would be the 1st Corps, perhaps reinforced with some extra armoured forces. Apparently the 1st Corps has spent the entire Civil War still deployed in approximately the same area (covering the Golan Heights, Deraa, and Damascus generally). The divisions haven’t changed much though they are now more mechanized/motorized infantry since the Syrian tank fleet is quite reduced from what it was.

Back from Consimworld Expo 2019

 

nickkarp

I met Nick Karp (attending CSWExpo for the first time ever) in the dealers’ room!

Here I am again, after another hot week in the desert!

I can’t recall how many times I’ve been to CSWExpo, I think this might have been my tenth or something near that number. I always have a good time. I think the worst might have been the first or second time I went and got a horrible cold or something exacerbated by the air conditioning, caught laryngitis and couldn’t talk to any of the people I so much wanted to talk to. I recall there was no pharmacy nearby (there is a CVS now) and in my quest to get something like Listerine to gargle I ended up going to a Circle-K to get a mickey of their cheapest vodka, reasoning that it would a) sterilize my throat and b) be cheaper than actual Listerine. I was right about it being cheaper but still, won’t do that again.

Anyway, this year was fine though Lianne was laid low by the A/C monster this time, for a day or two.

China’s War got lots of attention, natch. I showed it to Gene Billingsley and he was quite happy to accept it for P500 after making one significant but also significantly simpler change in the design – so after making the proper edits I will be sending it off to GMT’s COIN family developer and it ought to hit the P500 list in a few months. Not much point in hurrying because it should make the 500 point briskly (appetite for COIN system is still strong and this is a better known war than the Algerian War) and GMT games now spend around a year in the physical pipeline between pulling final triggers and the physical product showing up in Oakland.

Gene and his son Luke also looked at Strongman, and were by and large impressed by it (Luke seemed particularly taken by the silly Spanish-language puns in the personality names). So that will likely be picked up once it has had more mechanical development; Gene also suggested some tricks for greater narrative development and involvement that will need to be framed up too.

Squares of the City and Virtualia II didn’t get a look in – they need some development and testing anyway, and when they are ready I will likely just upload them here for free download. Semi-abstract games aren’t all that popular anyway.

Designer dinner 2019

L to R: Bruce Geryk, me, Nick Karp, Harold Buchanan, Mark Herman. (photo credit: waiter who overheard we were all game designers and told us how much he loved Magic: the Gathering (hey, let people enjoy things!))

But what was really fine was running into and chatting with two of my design heroes while there – Mark Herman and Nick Karp! We went out to dinner in a group and had a great time telling stories and anecdotes about games, designers and publishers past and present. This was also my first time to meet Bruce Geryk, who I have corresponded with many times.

2019-06-25-19.42.04

Photo by Harold Buchanan. I must have nodded off in the middle of talking about myself.

Another fun thing was getting to talk with Harold Buchanan for another edition of his podcast “Harold on Games”… this time we talked about an even wider range of topics, from creativity and design innovation to the development history of the Pantzooka, a remarkable piece of sartorial ordnance (and sadly, now obsolete). I pity the man, having to edit my ramblings down to an hour or less of coherence.

pantzooka

Ave hominem vestitum.