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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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

Coming from TESA Collective: “STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion”

smile_drone_detail

A Smile Drone, brought to you by HappyCorp. (image: TESA Collective)

TESA Collective is a group that works with clients to make educational games about workers’ rights, ecology, activism, co-operatives and other progressive issues. They also publish their own games, including Rise Up! The Game of People and Power and Space Cats Fight Fascism.

(Rex Brynen at Paxsims reviews Rise Up! here: https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/review-rise-up/)

They’ve been doing their thing for ten years. Their next board game, STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion will launch on Kickstarter in October 2019.

From the TESA blog (sorry for quoting at length, but they say it better than I ever could):

We at The TESA Collective are excited to announce that we have teamed up with the labor organization Jobs with Justice for our next board game: STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion. We are thrilled to be developing this game in such close partnership with a nationally renowned leader in the movement for workers’ rights.

Following in the footsteps of our previous releases, including Rise Up: The Game of People & Power as well as Space Cats Fight Fascism, we will continue our tradition of merging cause and play with the publication of this game about labor rights and worker empowerment. It is fun, strategic, humorous, and full of tense gameplay.

We will launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for STRIKE! in October. TESA has run several successful Kickstarter campaigns for our previous games, using the platform to grow our community and raise funds to manufacture our games. A portion of all funds from the game will go to directly support the incredible work of Jobs with Justice (more details below).

STORY AND GAMEPLAY PREVIEW

HappyCorp, the richest company in the world, has just unleashed its most evil plan yet: turning Mercury City into an entirely corporate-run city. From the schools to the sidewalks, everything will be owned and run by HappyCorp, and every resident will become a HappyCorp employee. There will be no more minimum wage, no more public services, and no more unions. HappyCorp has already begun unleashing its Smile Drones to convert the city’s infrastructure, crush protests, and ensure every resident watches its Commercial Breaks.

Players take on the role of the Strike Council to lead a city-wide strike of workers against HappyCorp’s take over, while also fighting for better livelihoods for all. Players will use energy tokens to grow their ranks, mobilize their workers, and complete strike cards. As the Strike Council scores victories for workers around the city, they will gain the support of more allies, from the dockworkers to the teachers, and build new bases of support from the manufacturing district to the university.

So do you have what it takes to lead the worker rebellion to defeat HappyCorp? Or will you soon be an employee of HappyCity?

Game stats:

Player count: 2 – 5 players
Game length: 45 minutes to an hour
Special features: STRIKE! will come with three versions in the same box. The standard version is a strategic cooperative game, where everyone wins and loses together. STRIKE! also has a simplified rule set, for people who are less experienced with strategic games as well as for educational settings. Finally, the third version of the game allows one player to be the evil corporation and take on the role of HappyCorp!

HOW TO FOLLOW ALONG
Make sure you are on our mailing list to get updates about the game. We will be sharing behind-the-scenes content about the development process. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In the near future, we will also have a “print-and-play” version of the game you can try at home.

You can also donate directly to the development of the game. Like with all of our other games, we will donate copies of STRIKE! to community centers and social change organizations to support their important efforts. (Most recently, TESA donated copies of Rise Up to students leading the strikes for action on climate change.) Donating will help cover the expenses involved and allow us to share the game with more of these groups. Everyone who donates will also get a thank you shout out in the game’s final rulebook!

PARTNERSHIP WITH JOBS WITH JUSTICE

The initial concept for STRIKE! came out of conversations between TESA and the amazing labor rights organization Jobs with Justice. JWJ is one of the nation’s foremost leaders in strategic campaigns to shape public discourse around labor and build power for working people. They have a network of over 200,000 people as well as numerous chapters across the country. For roughly six months, TESA has been collaborating with JWJ on every step of the process for this game, from developing the storyline to creating the game mechanics and running a lengthy series of playtests. Our shared purpose is to engage in culture change by developing a fun game about worker empowerment that speaks to labor supporters and regular board game players alike.

Jobs with Justice and TESA will be sharing proceeds from the game’s profits. Therefore, when people purchase the game, they will be directly supporting JWJ’s vital work!

I backed their Kickstarter for Rise Up! and they were as good as their word. I’ll be backing this one too.

Another notable thing about TESA is that their games are produced in the United States, using sustainable manufacturing processes (e.g. vegetable based inks, few or no plastic pieces, recycled paper and cardstock) and union or worker-owned businesses.

Company blog: http://www.toolboxfored.org/category/tesa-news/

Also, today is the last day of their 50% off sale for their board games! You can get Rise Up!, Space Cats Fight Fascism or Good Dog, Bad Zombie for $20 each! Their shipping is reasonable too.

http://store.toolboxfored.org/

District Commander Maracas nears release!

dc_maracas medium

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/286616/district-commander-maracas

It’s so close… it now has a Boardgamegeek entry!

Nights Are Falling

repairmanjackNOFminis

Photo: Jason Moore

At last, copies of Nights of Fire are landing on doorsteps across the planet. People seem to be pleased! Still awaiting my personal copies.

So far, queries have been limited to finding one small misprint on one Konev (card-based AI system) card, and the usual pointing out to people where their question has already been answered – in the rules….

The above image is from Jason Moore (user “repairmanjack” on Boardgamegeek), so you can have a look at a game in progress using the miniatures. He has also written the first BGG review of the game, and it’s nice: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2247615/out-ire-pan-and-fire-solo-play-first-impressions

By the way guys, for some time there has been a Nights of Fire Facebook group. But for some reason it hasn’t had much traffic. Stop by and make some noise!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/589636498046898/